The Golden Domain: This is no time to compromise
Welcome to the Golden Domain
The .com domain is well established and universal. It has credibility, and it adds brand authority and clarity to a business. The .com has been called the Golden Domain - and for good reason: it has real value.
But getting the .com for your brand isn't easy - most have already been registered and aren't available.
That's why some entrepreneurs go to great lengths to secure the perfect .com for their business. (Check out this story of how Mac Nagaswami of Carvertize.com even exchanged equity in his business to get the domain he wanted.)
But many others add the Golden Domain to their list of 'Things To Deal With Later'. Just like the ideal office space or staff recruitment, they see the .com as something they can live without, or deal with down the line.
They're happy to compromise by using another domain suffix, like .net or .us - or even a fashionable .io - and reassure themselves that they can always buy the .com in the future ...if required.
So what's wrong with a compromise domain?
If the .com isn’t available for your preferred name, compromising by using another domain suffix is just demonstrating a lack of confidence.
By adopting this approach, you're not planning for success. You're signalling to potential investors, partners and customers that you're either not taking branding seriously, or not planning on being a major player.
The dominance of the .com domain means that all big brands use it. Despite the plethora of alternatives (.ninja anyone?), can you think of a major brand that uses any other domain?
Like it or not, businesses that are brands have a .com web address, so using anything else lacks gravitas.
Thinking about branding when you're starting up seems like a luxury or, at best, a little academic. After all, if you're not up and running, you can't have a brand yet, can you? But this is the wrong perspective, because when you're starting out, a business name is the only tangible thing you have.
Your domain matters from Day One. People will use it to check you out and to make referrals. If they can't remember your web address or - even worse - they assume you use the .com and find themselves looking at someone else’s site, it's not good news. Now is not the time to confuse people or to lack credibility.
Domain compromise is a business risk
So you have a fantastic business name, but the .com isn't available. Assuming that your name isn't already used by a well-established business that's using the .com address, it might well be owned by someone who is willing to sell it to you. This could be an individual or a business like Novanym.
The cost of domains varies from a few hundred dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. But even a few hundred dollars might seem like an expense too far for an embryonic business.
So despite the downsides, you might decide to compromise and use another domain. You can always buy the .com later, can't you?
That may seem like a smart move, but it could be risky. After all, the more successful you get, the more a domain owner is likely to ask for when you try to buy it. The price of the domain today might seem like a modest cost in the future.
And there are other risks. The longer you are up and running with your compromise domain, the more likely it is that the owner of the .com will use it for something else, or sell it to another business. Even if isn’t a direct competitor, it could still become annoying - and detrimental to your brand - if the name becomes better known as theirs, not yours.
A Golden Domain is not an easy upgrade
Starting a business is full of compromises - it's vital to distinguish between things that you would like and things that are must-haves. So a glitzy office in a desirable part of town might have to wait. Your business can always move later.
But your brand name and domain might not be so easy to upgrade.