Starting a Business in Canada

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Flock Free Nation

No nonsense information on small business.

Nov 1, 2011 - 3 minute read - websites

Don’t Build Your Business On Someone Else’s Foundation

I was reading an article recently about how a once dominant player in the print advertising industry had fallen on hard times and was now attempting to remake itself as a digital marketer that put small businesses online by giving them websites. What disturbed me about this new business model was that the company would essentially “own” the small business’s sites and unless the business owners continued to pay the monthly fee, their sites would be taken down.

A small business’s website is a very important piece of online real estate. It’s important that you have full control over this asset. There is a lot written these days about how important social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are. Some “experts” would suggest that these days you don’t really need a traditional website and that your business can just live on these social sites. This would be a mistake.

Social media sites are valuable because they allow for easy communication with customers and potential customers. They should be a valuable part of your business’s marketing mix, but building your whole online presence on them would be a mistake. The business models of these social media companies are always evolving because they are all marginally profitable at best. The agreement you have with them today, might not be the agreement you have tomorrow.

I strongly recommend that you purchase your own .com or .ca domain and set up your own website. It’s true that you will have to pay a monthly fee for web hosting but if you don’t like your web host, you can always cancel your account and take your website’s files and put them on another host.

It has become more popular in recent years to build company websites on blogging platforms like Wordpress, Squarespace and Weebly. These can be good tools because they allow people without the skills to write their own code to build to build and design a site themselves. A Wordpress site you self-host on a web hosting account that you pay for is probably the best choice because it will give you the most control over your site and your data. You may be able to export some of your data out of the other two platforms but it will be more difficult.

The bottom line is that you are better off having your own website on your own domain, even if it is built on one of these platforms. If in the future you decide to redesign your site, it may be a lot of work to transition off a platform but at least you’ll have people coming to a domain that you own and that people are used to finding your business at.