My First Year In Cyber Space

by : Michael Southon

My first year as a Cyberpreneur was a steeplearning-curve. I was an Anthropologist beforestarting an online business, so I had a lot to learn.But even if you were in offline-business before goingonline, you may still have to learn some new skills -online business is a whole new ball-game. Here aresome of the things I learnt in my first year in CyberSpace:

(1) Be careful who you register your domain with.Some domain name registrars make it very difficult tochange your web host. I registered my first twodomains with a registrar that caused me more headachesthan I care to think about. When I needed to transferone of my domain names to a new web host, my originalemail address had changed. I was no longer able tosend them an email from that address and so I couldn'tauthenticate my request for domain transfer. So Itried to update my personal record with my new emailaddress. I got a message saying that I could onlychange my email address by sending an email from myoriginal email address (which no longer existed). Sothen I tried using my password. Again, I got a messagesaying that my request for transfer of domain mustcome from my original email address.

This bureaucratic nightmare went on for 4 weeks. Toadd to my frustration, I was communicating with amachine, not a human being. By the end of that time Ihad no less than 35 computer-generated emails tellingme that my domain could not be transferred.

Finally, I sent my request for domain transfer in a5-page fax, including photocopy of my passport. Theythen sent me an email saying my request for domaintransfer could not be processed because my request wasnot on company letterhead. So I designed a letterheadand re-submitted the 5-page fax. Finally, 6 weeksafter my first request, my domain was transferred.

To avoid this kind of experience I recommend you

Using their online Domain Manager, it took me lessthan 2 minutes to transfer my domain!

(2) A slow-loading index page is still one of themain reasons that online businesses lose customers.Surveys show that the average surfer will wait no morethan 8 seconds for a web page to load before moving onto another website. So 'load-time' is a vitalconsideration when you choose a web host. Below is theURL of a web host directory that allows you to comparethe load-time of different web hosts:

I use this tool whenever I'm looking for a new webhost.

(3) Once you've designed your home page anduploaded it to your server space, check to see what itlooks like to other people. What you're seeing may notbe what other people are seeing.

I once designed a home page I was very proud of - Ihad added a piece of JavaScript that gave the day anddate. Then one day I checked my home page I was horrified to see that my homepage was invisible except for my company logo and thenavigation bar. For 2 weeks my home page had beenvirtually blank to most visitors! So take a minute andlook at your website through the eyes of yourvisitors:

(4) If a customer asks you for a refund, give itto them immediately, even if you think it'sunjustified. You'll be out of pocket by a few dollars,but your name and your integrity will be intact. There are so many scams on the Internet that your mostprecious commodity is your good name. Remember thesewords from Shakespeare:

"Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed." (Othello, Act III. Scene III.)

(5) Reply to emails quickly. Nothing impresses memore on the Internet than a rapid response to abusiness enquiry. Try and respond within 2 hours, orat least within 24 hours.

(6) Never reply angrily to abusive emails.Remember: your reply could be passed on to otherpeople and used against you. An abusive email can bevery disturbing (I've had three in the lastyear-and-a-half), but the best thing to do is ignoreit. Better still delete it - that way you remove itfrom your life and you remove the temptation to reply.

(7) Lastly, never give up. Most successes are due -more than any other factor - to sheer persistence:

"Nothing in the world can take the place ofpersistence. Talent will not; nothing is more commonthan unsuccessful men of talent. Genius will not; theworld is full of educated derelicts. Persistence anddetermination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'presson' has solved, and always will solve, the problems ofthe human race." (Calvin Coolidge)

(c) 2001 by Michael Southon