OK, You Don’t Need a Domain Name for Your Small Business – but What about Your Kids?

If, like a curmudgeonly friend of mine, your business is doing fine without a web presence, then you might not need a domain name, much less a website. But the fact is you’re not going to be around for ever, and your kids are going to need all the help they can get.

My friend built his business all by himself. His name and the business are one in the same. Everybody in his line of work knows him, if not personally, then by reputation. His children, on the other hand, are better known as his employees than as his kids. In the last few years he has stepped away from the business to let them run it. But he still makes the big decisions.

For months I’d been telling him to spend the crummy ten bucks for the domain name that would protect his business. Maybe he could get along without a website, but unlike many businesses slow to take to the net, it was still possible to get his name with a Dot Com extension; build the website later. His kids were on him about it too but over the years his stubbornness has paid dividends and he didn’t listen to either one of us.

So guess what? Someone on the other side of the country picked up what should have been his domain name. Of course the old guy had never trademarked it; it was, after all, just a common first name and a verb; and now a stranger with apparently the same first name is getting the benefit of his reputation.

He argues that it doesn’t matter: everybody in the business knows who he is. True enough in his case, but his career is near the end. His generation made it before the Internet arrived; his business contacts are, like him, pre-Internet dinosaurs. His kids will have to compete in the new environment where something as simple as a few words on a computer screen can make a big difference in their pocketbooks; it’s his sons who are going to be at a disadvantage as he fades from the picture.

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By Mike Nardine