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When you're starting a small business, it can cost a lot of money! Many people will tell you that you need this expensive tool or you have to spend lots of money on that specific service. I am not one of those people! I am all about free tools and DIY like I share here. Even with free tools, there are definitely certain things that you must pay for to succeed when building a small business. Keep reading to find out the five things that are wise investments for new business owners!
In the digital age, it is essential for every business owner to have an online presence. That is why my absolute first investment was a domain for my business (mayvirtualassists.com). I needed an address for my business!
It can be challenging to choose the name for your business, so it's important to think about what your business represents and how you want to market your business. It's also a good idea to check that there are no trademarked items with that name and that the name won't lead to mix-ups with other companies with similar names. Finally, you want to make sure that some version of the company name is available on social media platforms, so you can grow your presence there. If you would like to read about the process I went through to find my business name, you can do so here.
Tip: While people will sometimes choose a domain that has a different domain extension such as .net or .us when the .com is taken, I think it is a good idea to find a different name or web address for your business. You definitely don't want to lose business because people can't remember the correct domain extension to get to your website!
I purchased my domain through namecheap.com (affiliate link) and I'm very happy with it. Their prices are comparable to pretty much any of the other sites where you can buy domains, but they include privacy protection services for free. This means that my name, address, email address and telephone number are hidden if people do a Whois search for the website owner. Having this information hidden seriously cuts down on the number of promotional emails and spam that you can receive.
Most other companies offer this privacy service at an additional cost, which might lead business owners to skip it when they purchase the domain. This is a bad idea! #personalexperience
When I first purchased a domain from another company, I paid for the domain privacy, but it somehow didn't get activated right away. Within five days, I had received multiple emails and phone calls from companies that wanted to sell me web design services for my new website. I immediately called the company and they activated my domain privacy service, but it definitely showed me how important it is to keep that information private.
A second of the wise investments that you should make for your business is quality web-hosting. If you aren't familiar with the difference between purchasing a domain (wise investment #1) and paying for web-hosting, I've seen it compared to buying a home. The domain is the address of your home, but the web-host is where your website is actually located, like the spot where your home is built.
When you choose web-hosting, you want to consider several things. You need to find out where their servers are located, the reliability and speed of their servers, the ability of the plan you use to handle your website traffic, their customer support, and the flexibility they offer for customization of the website. And, of course, you'll probably consider the price for their web-hosting services.
There are good web-hosting companies and not as good web-hosting companies. If you only look at the price of web-hosting and go for the cheapest one, you will regret it! Trust me, I know. I've had web-hosting with four different companies, and I've been happy with some and not so happy with others. If you only look at the price of web-hosting and go for the cheapest one, you will regret it! Trust me, I know. #beentheredonethat Click To Tweet
The one web-hosting company that I have been the happiest with is 1&1 (affiliate link). I have never had outages, their servers are reliable and fast, and the customer service is amazing! Plus, they are reasonably priced. Disclaimer: I have not had to move up from their basic package because my baby website has not generated enough traffic to cause an issue. Hopefully, someday I'll have to re-evaluate, but it works for me now!
1&1 also offers are free SSL certificate with their web-hosting. This means that your site is secure and the little lock appears next to the https in the web address. It's important that your site has the safety measures in place to keep client information secure, plus Google and other sites are more likely to recommend your site to possible customers with that in place.
Tip: While you can have a free website through WordPress, Weebly, or Wix, I don't recommend this for a business. You do not have the customization that you have through paid web-hosts, your website doesn't belong to you in quite the same way as through paid hosts, and you usually do not have as much freedom to post ads and monetize your website. Paid web-hosting really is the way to go for any small business!
Number three of the wise investments you can make for your small business is the theme or framework you use to build your website. This has to do with how your website looks and works. There are multiple options for this, and some of them are free.
I use WordPress.org for my website builder. I have never had a Squarespace website, so I cannot comment on that. I've read it does not require as much learning as WordPress, but it does not have all of the customizations that WordPress has.
When I started looking at themes for my website, I tried the free ones that are available inside of WordPress. They were ok, but I didn't have the skills to change them to be exactly what I wanted. I tried paid themes that I found on Etsy. They were easy to install and worked fine, but they slowed down my site. I didn't want that!
I finally decided to purchase the Genesis framework for my website. It is $59.95 to purchase the framework, and their pro themes are an additional cost. I use the Genesis Sample theme, which is free. Buying a pro theme is an additional $70, and I didn't want to spend that money at the time.
I liked the Genesis framework, because it made it easy to add additional functionalities to my website. It also allowed a lot more customization than the other themes I had tried. It also helped the website load more quickly than how it was loading with other themes I tried. It also did not require a yearly fee that other website builders have. Finally, the Genesis framework will continue to be updated to improve its capabilities with changes to WordPress. This isn't guaranteed with the free and budget themes that I was trying to use.
If you would like to learn more or purchase the Genesis framework, you can do so here (affiliate link).
The fourth item on my list of wise investments for small businesses is Google Suite or G Suite. This service costs $5 per month, and it's totally worth it!
G Suite lets you customize your email address to match your domain. For example, my business email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I can go to gmail.com and log in to this website just like I log in to any Gmail email address.
Tip: Many web hosting services, including 1&1, offer email for your domain. However, you usually have to go to their website to access the email. I think that's a pain and not terribly user-friendly. While you can also forward these email addresses to your regular Gmail account pretty easily, it can mess with the security of the email. As a business owner, it is essential to make sure your email is secure for your online safety and your customer's safety. You don't want to mess around with unsecure email addresses.
G Suite also provides extra storage in your Google Drive with your subscription. The basic plan at $5 per month has 30 GB of storage while the Business plan provides 1 TB of storage per user at $10 per month if under 5 users or unlimited storage if over 5 users.
There are also other advantages to using G Suite, but I'm not as familiar with them. You can learn more about G Suite or sign up for your own account here (affiliate link).
My number 5 item on my list of wise investments for a new small-business is Tailwind. Pinterest is such a great platform to grow your online presence, and Tailwind makes it simple to pin consistently to grow your business. In fact, it's so useful that I wrote an entire post on the value that Tailwind provides! You can read it the post here.
I believe in Tailwind and its value so much that I require my Pinterest management clients to have their own Tailwind subscription to use when managing their account. Although some people may have concerns about spending the money on a Tailwind subscription ($15.99 for 400 pins a month or $119 annually for unlimited pins), it actually provides significant savings as compared to the cost of paying me for the time to pin the same number of pins manually. At my current hourly rate for pinning manually, the annual Tailwind subscription is paid off in less than one month. Talk about wise investments for your business!
Plus, Tailwind is quite easy to use if you prefer to take care of your own Pinterest account. And you can get a free month of Tailwind to see how you like it if you sign up through my link (affiliate link). It makes the deal even better!
I know there are lots of wise investments that I didn't discuss, but these are definitely my top five when starting a new business. You might have some other favorites that you prefer. I would love to hear what tops your list of wise investments for a new business. Please share them below or on my Facebook page. I can't wait to hear from you!
Until next time,