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IT at Sea

The internet has become one of the essentials of modern life for businesses owners, employees and customers, especially for the charter industry which relies heavily on overseas clients. Given the pervasiveness of internet usage for business and personal activities, many charter boat businesses surprisingly have not established an internet presence. I will explore the fundamentals of establishing an internet presence for your small business—how and where to start and what some of the missed opportunities are for those small businesses who have not yet established an internet presence.

 

The Business
Let’s say you are the owner of a small charter business operating in the BVI to customers that are out of your physical reach. The name of your business is 247 Yachting. You are thinking of establishing an internet presence for your boat as one of the ways to increase revenue and grow your business outside of mainstream routes. You are also thinking of putting up a website that will allow your customers to look at the different excursions you offer, provide news and updates about charters you have running and facilitate online bookings.

Fundamentals
You have informed your IT consultant of your desire to establish an internet presence for your business. The first step is to choose a domain name and get it registered with a domain name registrar. The domain name registrar is a company that provides, among other services, the ability to register your domain name for use. For example, let’s say you decide you want your web address to be www.247yachting.com. If the domain name is available, then you have the option of registering it for one or multiple years. The cost of registering a domain name typically starts at approximately $8.99 per year with most domain name registrars offering discount on multi-year registrations.

You’ve Got Mail
Your domain has been registered, and you feel very proud that you have taken your first step to establishing a presence in cyberspace. If you did not purchase email hosting when you were registering your domain, then you will have to instruct your IT consultant to do this and also to setup the email addresses you want. One of my recommendations for email addresses are to establish a few general email addresses such as [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] This provides one place for emails of a particular nature to go and also, in the event that there is a change in staffing, there is continuity in the flow of emails without the administrative burden of establishing new email addresses and informing customers that the email address for the individual is no longer active. Email hosting comes with multiple options and can start from as low as $3.00 per month.

WWW
Establishing a website is more involved than registering a domain name and purchasing email hosting. You will be required to purchase website hosting, a similar process to purchasing email hosting. Your business’s website is essentially your storefront in cyberspace and is a very tangible representation of your business to current and potential customers. Website hosting rates typically start from $5 per month, depending on your hosting plan and hosting provider.
     
Establishing an internet presence for your small business is not a simple undertaking, but it can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding step for your small business. With the help of your IT consultant, this process can be seamless, providing your small business with yet another avenue for letting your customers and potential customers know about your business.  

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