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3 Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make When Setting Up Their Website

We’ve received the call for help from a desperate business owner time and time again — A business owner loses control of their website due to a soured relationship with their web developer or IT consultant, and now that things aren’t so friendly, the provider is holding the business owner’s website hostage.

  • Sometimes the business owner wants to move their hosting, or switch from an old HTML site to a new WordPress site — and they can’t because they technically don’t own their domain name.
  • Sometimes the business owner just wants to make a simple change to their website — and they can’t because they don’t have a content management system built into their site, and their provider has disappeared.
  • Sometimes the business owners needs to get access to the files on their website or in their hosting account — and they can’t because they don’t own their hosting and they don’t have access.

Don’t let this happen to you! Here are the three biggest mistakes these business owners made when setting up their website — and how you can avoid making the same ones:

Website Mistake 1: Not Owning The Domain Name

Never allow another person, consultant, company, service provider, or even family member to purchase your domain name for you — because then they own it and control it and you don’t.

Your family member may have the best intentions, but if they forget to renew the registration, you’ll be in a bind! You may be on good terms with your website consultant or IT provider now, but what happens if someday you’re not?

Every business owner should purchase their own domain name with their own credit card in their own account, so they retain total control over calling card of website.

Website Mistake 2: Not Owning The Hosting

Like with your domain name, never allow another person, consultant, company, service provider, or even family member to purchase your hosting for you.

You may have a great IT consultant, but don’t let him or her talk you into hosting your website on their servers — again, what happens when your relationship is no more?

Also, be sure to purchase your own hosting with your own credit card, in your own account at a well known, reputable, reliable hosting company. Not only will you retain total control over your website and the files/database associated with it, but you will have the peace of mind that comes with choosing a great hosting company.

With hosting you get what you pay for, and it pays big time to do your homework. Look for a well know host, with a great reputation, great customer service, and a focus on security. For hosting we recommend WPEngine.

Website Mistake 3: Not Using a Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system (cms) is the software that allows a website owner to edit their own website, including content, images, video, and more.

WordPress is the perfect example of a content management system — and because it is open source, getting started with a basic WordPress website for your business is actually free. With WordPress, you can also purchase a premium theme and tweak it a bit to match your brand, or if you’re more particular about your brand and your website needs, you can go with a completely one-off custom theme.

From free open-source platforms, to private high-end systems, there are literally hundreds of CMS options available to choose from, so there is no reason to create a website without one — and don’t let any website designer or consultant tell you otherwise.

Here’s The Bottom Line:

Make sure that you always retain control of your businesses most valuable marketing asset — your website. Purchase your own domain name, your own hosting, and always maintain your own online accounts.

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Comments & Feedback:Check out what others have to say about this post!

  1. Yep Jennifer, I’d agree with that totally.

    Way too many small businesses are not in control of their websites and that is a very dangerous situation to be in.

    Yes, ‘tech stuff’ can be intimidating but if it’s your business you can’t bury your head in the sand, you HAVE to get in control, and that doesn’t have to mean you’re actually DOING all the tech stuff yourself, just that you have all the logins/account details you need.

    • I agree Robert! You as a business owner need to remain in control of all facets of your website and online persona no matter what — and you’re right. That doesn’t mean you have to do all the work.

      I’ve seen it happen over and over … a business owner upset because their website is being held hostage by a non-responsive third party. Sometimes we can help, and in some cases, the business owner had to buy a new domain name and start over. Huge Bummer!

  2. Great topic Jennifer if business owners only knew how simple it is to manager their own websites they would be amazed. I’m in the process of setting up a consultation service that will allow new website owners to take control of their domains and be their webmasters. Nice post

    • Rob – Thanks! I do think that “fear of the internet” comes into play for a lot of business owners – Especially those who didn’t grow up with tech. Too many play “tech-victim” and refuse to learn … but for those who do, they realize it’s a lot easier than they think to buy a domain name, buy a hosting account, and get started… especially with WordPress!

  3. I usually find the number 1 problem with small business websites is that they’re not designed to help a potential customer understand what value the company brings to their clients.

    • Gareth – I’d challenge that a bit … I’d say it’s not that the design is wrong, it’s that there is no strategy in the content, calls to action, and how the visitor moves through the site.

  4. Oh Jennifer, sister, I hear you, because I have had way too many of those distressed calls from my consulting and coaching clients too. It is unethical what some web designers, graphic designers, etc. do, but the bottom line is that it’s YOUR responsibility as a business owner to ACT like one, and this means taking the reins of all important information and decisions for the business. I know that you don’t operate this way Jennifer and neither does any REPUTABLE company. But for every unscrupulous business owner, there is an equally distracted, easily persuaded, unknowledgeable business owner who thinks they are getting a great deal. Bottom line, do your homework. Thanks Jennifer for sharing these tips.

    • Yes, yes, yes! While I do believe it is the responsibility of the provider you hire to act with integrity and put your needs before theirs, I also believe the business owner needs to do their homework instead of playing the victim of technology.

  5. I had a great role model for this – Thank you Bourn Creative – I have control of my domain, my own hosting relationship and a great CMS. While I don’t do much of the work anymore it is great to know I always have the ability to take control!

    Thanks for teaching me that early on.


  6. Jennifer, it really is sad how many of my smaller clients don’t know the difference between a domain name and a webhost. They are confused on what is what. I see a lot of folks who don’t have control, don’t know who has control, and don’t know where to go to get help. It seems like bad practice to not educate someone on at least the very basics. I guess a lot of web designers like keeping their clients in the dark. I always believed that an informed person was a much happier person!


    • Some service providers don’t educate their clients because reselling hosting etc. is an income stream for them. It’s the same reason some designers don’t build websites with content management systems built in — so they can charge for the revisions and updates.

      It’s an out-dated, old school approach … mostly used by those who don’t understand marketing or sales, don’t network the right way, or don’t stay up to date on the latest skills and practices … this is income they otherwise wouldn’t know how to get or wouldn’t be able to get.

  7. Just yesterday a client asked if he should buy the premium plugin or if I should do it. My response was that clients should always purchase their own premium plugins so they stay in control of their destiny. I say the same thing on hosting.

    Clients should “want” to do business with us and not “have” to stay with us because we have them held hostage. While I’m confident, you, Brian, and I are all worthy of the “want” part, I know many are not.

    I’m happy to see we three share the same philosophies on this topic. =)

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