Why is the .com.au domain registration process is so frustrating?

Domain Registration

Going through the .com.au domain registration process for our new business has been a frustrating experience. To qualify for a .com.au domain you need to be a registered commercial entity within Australia. This means you need to have an ABN (Australian Business Number) or another commercial identifier.

The .com registration process is simple. It took all of 10 minutes to register www.slightincline.com. The hosting service took another 5 minutes. Within an hour I had a functioning website.

Our new site requires us to go through the .com.au domain registration process. After a month of waiting for the ABN, I finally discovered tonight that it has been listed on the ABR website. We haven’t received the official notice, but in the next few days we can finally move to the next stage.

The .com.au domain registration process

AuDA is the authority in control of the .com.au domain registration process. According to AuDA regulations, .com.au or .net.au level domains can only be registered to entities with one of the following:

  • Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Australian Company Number (ACN)
  • State Business Number
  • Trademark Number
  • Incorporated Association number

Mandating that .com.au level domains are for registered commercial identities only isn’t a horrible idea. It minimises domain name speculation and cybersquatting. Great. But it means that new business startups are often caught in unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. What is scary, the World Bank rates Australia as the second out of 183 countries for the ease of starting a new business.

World Bank - ease of doing business

To make things worse, New Zealand is ranked number one!

The next stage for our new business.

The whole process of registering an ABN has taken almost a month. While we have been able to work on some content issues, I have been eager to commence work on the actual website. As previously discussed, we intend on using WordPress for our content management system.

Over the next few days I hope to tick off the following tasks:

  • Finalise the .com.au domain registration
  • Purchase the hosting service
  • Install WordPress and other base plugins
  • Test and review a few premium WordPress themes

Hopefully over the next few days I’ll have a bit more to say about the new site. To be honest, I am still unsure if I will provide a link to the website from here.

Slight Incline is still very much in its infancy. My original intention was this would be a personal finance blog. However, most of the posts, and therefore the traffic generated have been based around the creation of a new website.

Launching a website – how much content should you have?

Content Flow Chart Blackboard

Early in the new year we will be launching a website. As we write our Launch Plan, one question keeps popping up. How much content should we have when we launch our site?

I can see two main options for launching our website; sprinter or marathon mode.

    A sprinter comes out of the box with all guns blazing. They throw every last ounce of energy into one amazing piece of content. They give their all, and hope to reap the benefit within a short period of time.
    A marathon runner takes it one step at a time. They know the race will not be won in the first post, or even the first 50. However they know that it is possible to lose their race within the first few steps. They are in it for the long haul.

launching a website: Sprinter mode

Could one smashing piece of brilliant content generate the interest we require? Sure, we may get it right and the piece could go viral. If this were to occur, we could expect to see our unique visits skyrocket over the first few days. If we are really lucky, we could see tens of thousands of visitors at launch. Awesome, right?

Maybe. Everyone loved that first article. All our energy went into that one perfect piece of content with just the right mix of arousal emotions and useful information to go viral. But our launch has now come and gone and our content cupboard is bare. That awe-inspiring number of new visitors has not translated into returning visitors, leaving only a handful of readers interested when then next piece of content is posted. This is not the best way to build your authority.

There is one more scenario to consider. Your smashing piece of brilliant content could be a flop. This can be a hard one to get your head around. You throw your heart and soul into 500 perfectly crafted words, yet only your mother bothered to read it. Whilst sitting on the toilet. If this happens, regroup, wash that image of your mother from your mind, and move into marathon mode.

Launching a website: Marathon mode

Marathon runners like to plan our their race. They investigate every minute detail of their race. They capitalise on their strengths, and minimise their weaknesses. They ensure that they have enough energy to start strong, but also keep enough in the tank to go the whole distance.

A marathoner will not be disheartened with only a handful of unique visitors on the first day of launching a website. They will understand that the traffic will come, all they need to do is be consistent, and post high quality content. They know that if their content is repetitive, uninspiring, or downright boring, that they will find themselves in trouble.

Our launch day

We want to be marathoners. We aim to have multiple pieces of high quality content when launching our website. While having a piece go viral would be nice, it is not something we will rely on. We do expect copious amounts of traffic to rain instantly from the sky through organic searches, either.

We will have a few cornerstone, pillar-type pieces of content which will set the overall theme of the site. This content will encourage our readers to buy into our brand and take the first steps towards establishing our authority within our niche. Our cornerstone content will be the foundation of the website. It will feature the keywords that we anticipate to be our primary search keyword and our initial ranking target.

You can’t expect to be number one from your first day. It takes time, and a lot of effort to build your authority and traffic. Just be patent and keep producing kick-ass content.

Three time management tips for running a side business

Business woman sleeping at the keyboard

Managing your time between a side business, a regular job, your personal life can be difficult. If you’re not careful, you may find that all three are suffering. Having a few basic time management skills, and knowing what works best for you is essential to any successful entrepreneurial endeavour.

Talk to your significant other

If you have a significant other, its worthwhile that you take the time to explain to them why your side business is important to you. If they are supportive of what you are trying to achieve, your life and business are likely to be much more successful. Better yet, if there is a way for your partner to be involved with what you are doing, both your business and personal life can flourish.

Keep track of your ideas

As I spend around half of my day in meetings, a tablet or smartphone is always in reach. Either one is always at hand to keep on top of emails, take notes, or play Angry Birds when the human resources manager starts talking about our latest management restructure.

I use these devices to manage my time through my daily schedule, and to quickly jot down any thought that may pop into my head. It could be a reminder to buy milk on the way home, or addition revenue streams for the side business. Usually it is nothing more than two or three words, which is more than enough to trigger my memory when I review my notes later that evening.

Some your best ideas will come to you at inopportune moments; make sure you can take advantage of them.

What time of the day are you most productive?

Some people are more productive late in the evening. Others are at their peak early in the morning. You need to discover what time of day works best for you. If your a night owl, wait until everyone else goes to bed and get cracking. Otherwise, set your alarm a few hours early, and take advantage of the time you have available.

When I was at university, I was far more productive in the early hours of the morning. I could throw together a project at 3am, then get up at 10am (hey, it was uni!) and do a perfect presentation. These days, if I try to work after midnight its not worth the effort. But if I get up a few hours earlier? Well, I surprise myself how much I can achieve. The bonus is that it doesn’t effect my performance in my day job.

Its important that you work out what time of the day works best for you. Just be wary of burning the candles at both ends; after few weeks that you’ll be walking around like a zombie. Some basic time management skills can help avoid the laptop face-plant!

Do you have any time management tips for running your side business?

Selecting a website platform for your business

pegs

So you have the perfect idea for a side business, but don’t know how to get started? One of the first steps to building a successful online business is selecting a platform for your website.

Which website platform is best for you?

A customisable, powerful, yet easy to use website is the core of our new business. If the website does not provide clear, concise, and easily locatable content, our business will not succeed. Selecting a website platform that is right for your business can make your life much easier down the track.

The first website I ever built was as a 15 year old in 1995. It took three weeks and was made with Notepad. After this first site I built one for my dad’s business. Then for a local property developer. Then a national marketing agency. Within twelve months I had completed forty sites. Building websites became my first business.

The websites I built back then were not pretty. A good user experience meant that most of the links worked. Customisable implied that it would only take a day or two to update a few pages. The only conversion that counted was when someone picked up the phone to call your sales office.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but these sites provided minimal benefit to the businesses. It was about having a presence on the web. Websites were like the sign stuck on the back of your truck. Businesses wanted one, but didn’t expect it to improve, let alone become their main revenue stream. Fortunately, the world has changed.

Content Management Systems for your website

We needed an easy to use, customisable, and powerful content management system (CMS) for our business. This is the engine of a website. As we expect that at least 50% of our traffic will come from search engines. It is imperative that the CMS be Search Engine Optimised (SEO) as possible. We also wanted to minimise the amount of startup capital required so we could focus on producing quality content. Our only solution was an open source, off-the-shelf CMS.

After a bit of research, I narrowed it down to three CMS providers; Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress. All three are highly customisable, relatively easy to use, and have decent support. My hosting provider for Slight Incline provide all three as part of their service, so after a few quick clicks, I was able to test all three. After a few days of playing with each one, I decided to use WordPress.

Why WordPress

Without sounding like a fanboy, I selected WordPress for the following reasons:

    The WordPress interface was the most intuitive. I could add, edit, review and publish content faster than the other two alternatives.
    The variety and quality of the plugins available. Drupal and Joomla! also have extensive plugins or add-on features, but of the few I tested for the business, the WordPress versions were better.
    The quality and quantity of WordPress themes. All three have quite good free themes. But when I dug a little deeper, I found that the premium themes available for WordPress were a little better for our business.

All three CMS systems are of outstanding quality. If you have good technical knowledge and need a CMS with complex data organisation features, I would recommend Drupal. If you need strong eCommerce integration, I would lean more towards Joomla! But for our purposes, WordPress is the winner.

Our new business

Pushin_globe

My wife and I have decided to start a business. We have toyed with the idea of creating an online business for a few years. From the age of 16 I have started five small business, with varying levels of success. Since graduating from university a few years ago, I have settled into a solid career and have ignored the pull and excitement of starting a small business. Until now.

The business model

Our business model will be centred on the provision of high quality, relevant online content for our particular niche market. Once the site reaches certain unique visitor numbers, we will introduce a series of products directly related our content. These products will add value to the existing content, and are designed to not alienate the sites’ existing readership base.

Our target niche has substantial organic search engine traffic. Within our country there are very few existing sites which are capitalising on this traffic. We intend on becoming the authority for several major aspects of this niche. This particular sector is well supported by advertisers seeks to gain exposure for their products. It is our intention to attract a few.

Startup capital

Like many online-based small businesses, our startup capital will be minimal. Apart from the creation of the legal business entity to protect our existing assets, our startup expenses will be kept to a minimum. Where we have the technical ability to undertake the work ourselves we will do so. Here are the initial estimates for the startup costs:

  • Domain Registration (24 months): $19
  • Hosting Services (12 months): $96
  • Premium WordPress Theme: $99
  • Total: $214

The real investment into the business will be time. I expect that in the initial phase I will need to invest around 30 hours per week to build a readership base worthy of the introduction of our first product. I have no intention of quitting my day job in the foreseeable future so I will need to be creative and productive in the time I have available.

So, what is this business?

For two reasons I have decided to keep the Slight Incline project separate to the business. Firstly I want to be able to discuss certain business issues, including revenue, in an open manner. In a competitive environment, it would be unwise to have this information readily available for prying eyes.

Secondly, the business is in the same industry as my current day job. This is a field where I have an existing personal brand and reputation to maintain. I want to be able to continue to discuss personal finance issues here, without having a detrimental impact on my private, or professional lives. Maybe in the future this will change, but for now I plan to keep quiet on the business.

Will our business idea become profitable? Who knows, but we’re going to learn a lot and have as much fun as possible as we find out.

Why you should keep your budget simple

budget calculation

A few months ago our budget was in desperate need of love. Over the last few years we had slowly slipped into a routine of spending more than we earned. When my wife and I sat down to discuss what went wrong, it quickly became apparent that the budget itself was the problem.

The complex budget

A few years ago I was a budget fiend. All our expenditure was tracked through a very complex series of spreadsheets. Every cent was allocated into spending dozens of different categories. We had weekly budget allocations for everything from toilet paper to spare tubes for my bike. The budget did its job, and we quickly saved a deposit to buy our first house and fund our wedding.

For a while the budget was working as intended. We saved enough money to purchase our first house, and fund our wedding. It all started to unravel when we fell pregnant with our son. Our spending continued to be within the limits, but I stopped maintaining the spreadsheets.

The problem was that the budget was incredibly complex. The system was so prescriptive and confusing that my wife would glaze over when I started to show her how it was managed. It was the type of budget everyone should avoid; unnecessarily complex and overly restrictive.

Living without a budget

In spite of our lack of budget our bank account continued to grow. I convinced myself that we had our finances under control. My free time was far better off spent watching mindless dribble on TV, riding my bike, or reading random blogs on the ‘net. I fell into the trap of thinking that as long as we didn’t go crazy buying endless junk, we didn’t need a budget.

Over time our spending slowly increased. Our grocery bill crept from $160 a week to $250 or more. We made a few large purchases on interest free credit cards. Individually, each increase in spending was minimal; we could afford a few dollars here and there. But after a while the cumulative impact of our spending started to become apparent. We needed to rein in our spending. We needed a budget that worked.

The simple budget

Instead of dusting off our old complex budget, we decided to build one that was very simple. We looked at a few of the personal budget management software packages, but decided to stick with a simple spreadsheet. A product like Mint would have been ideal, but unfortunately it does not function well with our banking system.

Our new budget is what I good budget should be. Simple. We have categories for the main household expenses, personal allocations for clothes and toys, and the start of an emergency fund. A few of our expenses include a contingency, but the majority are hard spending limits.

The effect of our new budget was almost immediate. Instantly, we started to spend less, and make positive, informed financial decisions. Our budget is far from perfect; but now we have a base on which we can improve.

Slight Incline – An Introduction

up_arrow

Slight Incline will follow my journey up the slope to financial independence. Here you will find information on personal finance, housing, budgets, debt, investments and related topics.

A few months ago I came to the realisation that my wife and I were no longer in control of our finances. Whilst we have no debt and a few investments earning additional income, we have a long way to travel to reach our financial goals. When I sat down and updated our long neglected budget, I discovered that we were often spending more than we earn.

Our finances were not always like this. Only a few years ago we were saving around 50% of our income and sticking to a budget while still living a pretty good life. This website will explore what we are doing wrong, and more importantly, what we can do to get back in control of our finances. This site isn’t just about large financial decisions, but also the little day to day changes we can make that can add up to be a substantial figure over time.

Slight Incline will evolve over time, improving at every opportunity. Please feel free to leave suggestions and comments. I’m happy to hear what works and what does not.