Do you outsource your website and related services? If so you must ensure you retain access and ownership of your online resources to prevent any potential negative impact to your businesses.
To help manage this process I've put together a resource which is now part of Econsultancy's Digital Marketing Template Files.
This is the second in a short series of posts which aims to primarily benefit small website owners, but consequently helps the web designers producing sites for those types of businesses.
In the first article we looked at all the essential website elements a small business should check have been added or done correctly.
This time round we're going to reaffirm why it's essential as a business owner that you are in control of your online resources.
To help you, I've created a resource you can use to manage the process.
Why you need to protect your online assets
I wrote about this in 2010 but almost three years later we are still encountering just as many businesses facing problems surrounding their online assets, so I wanted to create this resource to help as many people as possible.
If you speak to any other web design agency they'll probably have encountered their fair share of client horror stories too.
Probably the most frequent and problematic thing we come across is new clients who come to us for a new website but have no idea where their domain is registered and whether or not they actually own it. Believe it or not it's a very common scenario.
The reason most small companies encounter a problem with their domain or online accounts at some stage is they tend to outsource their web design, development, social media or similar and give away too much control, sometimes completely, of their online resources or business assets in the process.
Sometimes companies place too much responsibility in the hands of a single employee which can create the same problem. It's bad business practice which can literally end in tears.
Companies part with their existing web designers for lots of reasons all the time, especially if they are freelance. Perhaps they get a full time job and are too busy to help you, maybe they encounter a personal difficulty and are unable to work for a while, or maybe it's an agency you're using and you have a fall out or they go bust.
The list is endless but the outcome is the same if you don't control your online assets.
What would happen if:
- The only person with access to your domain name becomes hostile and holds it hostage?
- That person tries to sell your domain and they are the legal owner?
- You have a huge fall out with the only employee who controls of all the email accounts?
- You don't renew your domain name because the reminders go to an email address you can't access?
- The agency you rely on goes bust or your freelancer dies?
- You need to access your social media accounts to shut down access to an ex-employee?
- And so on...
This could impact on your company for weeks or even months. Think how much time and money it could potentially cost you.
Either way it's your responsibility as a business owner to make sure that you control your business assets and ensure that a third party can't easily interrupt how it functions on a day to day basis.
What can I do to take control?
The items you need to have control over are easy and quick to document and will take a fraction of the time to stay on top of compared to the potential impact of NOT keeping on top of them.
There are six main types of resources you need to keep details of:
- Domain names.
- Email addresses.
- Website logins - such as FTP, CMS, Databases.
- Useful website info - such as where it's hosted.
- Third party logins - like social media accounts or payment gateways.
- Design elements - such as logo files, fonts and site imagery.
How to use the Econsultancy Small Business Online Resource Manager
The front page, shown below, shows you all the items you really want to have control of and you can tick them off in the completed column as you've gathered each piece of information.
The information you gather can be entered on the various pages or tabs of the document which are already laid out and partially populated for you as shown below:
There's many reasons why it's a risky situation trusting your online resources in the hands of a third party or individual and the outcome could cost you a lot of time and money.
Completing this resource should take you perhaps a couple of hours but will give you peace of mind and one day might just save a few tears.
If there's anything you think should be included in the resource or if you find it useful please let us know in the comments!