In today’s Internet business economy many small business owners leave one of their most valuable business assets completely unprotected and in the hands of someone else.  I am talking about your domain name.

Countless times over the last 10-15 years I have worked with clients that have no idea where or with whom their domain name is registered.  Sometimes it is an easy situation to make right – other times it is not.  It could be they trusted a friend to register their domain name or a web developer that built their first website for them.  Either way the end result is a valuable business asset that is not under your direct control.

Imagine this nightmare scenario – you spend countless hours and dollars promoting your website through advertising, promotions and collateral materials.  Then one day your website disappears since the domain was not renewed.  Or worse yet, it begins to point to another business – or even a competitor!  Or you simply want to make a change to your website and bring it up to date but your previous web designer holds all the cards since they registered and technically own your domain name.

There are ways around all these scenarios, but wouldn’t it be easier to not have the headache from the start? Here at Calvert Design Group we always guide our clients through the process of selecting and registering a domain name and always in their name.

To help you understand the process a little better you have to first understand that you don’t “buy” a domain name.  Think of it more like a rental.  You pay a registrar (a company that manages the reservation of a domain name) to lease the domain for a certain period of time, usually a period between 1 and 10 years.  After you have arranged for this lease you then tell the registrar where to “point” the domain to find your website (usually a separate company providing hosting and other domain services such as email).

If you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to wrestle control of your domain away from someone who registered it for you the best advice I can offer would be to contact the registrant directly and try to work things out.  Transferring a domain from one registrar (where you are not in control) to another (where you are) is a relatively simple process if both parties are in agreement.  If that doesn’t work out you are left with contacting the domain registrar directly.  Inform them of your position and they will offer advice that will vary depending upon who the contacts are that are listed on the domain lease record.

Beginning this process of claiming control prior having an issue or need is the best course of action.  A smart business consultant or coach will advise you as to the importance of this and this is a good “reason” to open the conversation with regard to the need to transfer your domain to your own registrar.  And of course, if you need help you can always contact me.

If you want to find out what information is listed on your domain “lease” initiate a search for the term “whois” on Google.  By performing a “whois” lookup for your domain you will be presented with information about who technically is in control of the lease on your domain name and who is listed as the technical, administrative, and billing contacts.  Hopefully you will find yourself listed one of these slots, which is the first step to an easy transition.