Small Business: Your Domain Name is a Business Asset

In business, there are a few things we hold dear, such as our registered company name, trademarks, copyrights and patents. What surprises me on a fairly consistent basis is the number of businesses that don’t give their domain name the same regard.

Case in point, I had a customer a month or so ago ask me to just go ahead and register his domain name for him. I told him that I would help him, but that as a general rule, it was important for him to own his own domain name. Basically the case in point came down to the fact that he didn’t own a computer and it would most probably simply expire a year from now unless he had me watching it. So I registered the domain.

Then I had the icing on the case the other day. I was researching a site, prior to quoting on a much needed redesign. The customer had the standard problems, he was paying $50 a month for “hosting” to his designer, who was virtually impossible to get a hold of, and had to be begged to make changes. He actually still had a 2006 Holiday Special up on his site, even though he’d been after the designer for sometime to get it off.

So I looked at the domain ownership, and there it was: the designer owns the domain. Even though it properly lists his address, the designer is in place as both technical and administrative contacts.

That means the the designer has effectively set themselves up as a roadblock to making any domain changes. It alerts them that the customer is going away, and also creates a scenario where they can potentially blackmail the customer for their domain name. It happens…

So here’s your homework for the day: take a look at the status of your domain by going to Network Solutions and doing a Whois Domain search. Check that the info is up to date, that you’ve got two people from your company listed (or one person from your company and your webmaster as technical contact). Make sure it’s not due to expire within the next year. Then start thinking about doing a yearly technology review, if not more often, and as a part of that, always examine your domain. Your domain name is one of the most important assets of your company – don’t put it in someone else’s hands, and don’t put it in jeopardy by letting it expire. If you can’t figure out your domain information, contact me and I’ll be glad to help.

So what about the customer who doesn’t own his domain? We’ll find out soon. I promise to post more if it gets interesting…

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