How to set up your website and email

So you’re starting a startup. First step: Create a website.

There are few things less professional, nowadays, than not having a website. Especially if you’re a tech startup.

You need a website, and you need an email address that uses the same domain as your website. If you use a gmail or (gasp) yahoo email for your startup, you’ve just broken rule one: Fake it till you make it.

Game over, insert coin.

Before you can can built a website, you need a URL. Before you register a URL, you need to choose a name for your startup.

This is important, pay attention.

Rules for choosing a name:

  1. Don’t use names with more than 7 characters, ie: Resourcefulassetmanagement. If you have too many characters not only is it a pain to write it down every time, but your customer might misspell it. If your customer can’t correctly spell your company name, she won’t be able to find you. If she can’t find you, you can’t sell to her. If you can’t sell to her, you’ll fail.
  2. Don’t use names that are difficult to spell. See previous point.
  3. Abbreviations are ok, as long as the abbreviation is the name of your company. Repeat: The name of your company must be the exact same name as your URL.
  4. Before settling on the name, check if the .com is available. If not available, come up with another name. It is not easy getting a decent .com. No one said starting a startup would be easy. If you insist on limiting your dreams to South Africa, then don’t choose a name unless you can get the .co.za.
  5. Don’t use special characters in the name, i.e.: +>$! You’re just making it harder for your customer to type your URL or email address, and increasing the risk of your emails going to your customer’s spam folder.

How do you find available URLs?

Your easiest path is Hetzner: https://hetzner.co.za/domains/

When you find an available URL, you can register and host it on Hetzner. Its really simple. Ze Germans made it easy.

You can also set up your email addresses on Hetzner, ie: Johhny@avocado.com.

You don’t need to hire someone to do this. Do it yourself.

Ok, you have a URL and email address. Now you need a website.

WordPress.com is the answer. They’ve also made it really easy. Choose a template that’s not foolish. Park your heavy metal fantasies and think, “How can I look more legitimate than I really am?” Deep blue is a safe colour.

You only need two pages: About Us, and Contact.

Tell people what you do and why you do it. Then make it easy for people to contact you.

And make it all look slick. Especially on a smartphone. Nothing screams, “I’m clueless”, like having a website that doesn’t format properly for a smartphone screen.

Don’t stress, WordPress does it all for you.

The only tricky bit is pointing your Hetzner domain at your WordPress site.

Follow the WordPress instructions, and pray.

Or use WordPress for URL registration.

If all else fails, ask a techie friend.

If you can’t create your own website, your odds aren’t good for being a successful entrepreneur.