Thursday, July 26, 2012

Take your business online yourself at just $10

Last week, I started a partnership firm called Bright Angles Consulting with a friend, in the digital branding and marketing space. One of the first questions that we had to tackle was getting our business online. We needed to put up a website immediately and we certainly could not operate using our gmail IDs. However, we did not have money to spend on  getting professional help. As the self-designated technophile, I was asked to look around and figure what we could do. There were three things that we needed to take care of

1. Official email IDs
2. A website
3. Social media

I soon figured that the easiest route was Google Apps. The basic suite of services is free and includes upto 10 email IDs, Google Drive, Calendars, a blog, website etc. All we needed was a domain. We could purchase one independently and link it to Google, but it was easier to spend $10 on Google Wallet and purchase it from one of Google's affiliates - you have a choice of eNom or GoDaddy. Google then automatically configures the domain for email and blogger, without my needing to do anything manually. 

Our email was up and running in 2 hours time, and I get cheap thrills from the fact that I am now the designated 'superadmin' of our two-man company. 

The next step was to get our website up and running. Since I have used blogspot for 2 years, I was more comfortable using blogger to create our website, rather than Wordpress. I spent some time in blogger, mostly trying to figure out a blog template which looks more like a website and less like a blog. Blogger lets you do basic stuff like remove date and time stamps, create pages and remove the blogger NavBar, so that the blog like elements can be hidden from view. 

http://www.brightangles.in/ is the result of our efforts. This site took two hours to create, sitting on my comfortable sofa, on a wet and rainy day. It is not going to be winning any awards, and we will obviously continue to improve on it as we learn more. But my point is, we created it at zero cost, with zero experience, no effort, no coding and no help. It's not a testimony to our skills, but rather to Google, who have made it so simple and intuitive for small businesses to acquire online presence. 

As our business grows, we will spend on a professional site. But I love the awesome feeling of doing everything on our own for the first time. It made us feel smart, confident and good about ourselves. It is a reminder of the basic power of the internet as a tool to empower people. Anyone can take their business, their hobby or their idea online easily. It's one of the things I love about the web. And  it's available to all of us. A big thank you to Google. I know that to the advertising giant, I am a target and a product. But I feel more than compensated when I look at the result I have achieved, in ten dollars and two hours