There are lots of options for small business email, choosing the right system can become quite daunting.
This post walks through choices for professional email addresses, where they can be hosted and which email client might benefit you.
Separate business and personal email addresses
I strongly suggest having separate email addresses for business and private life.
The personal address can then be detached from the business. I caution against ever putting a personal address on a website because putting an address online is bound to attract SPAM emails.
Having the two separate ensures that you don’t get distracted by personal sales emails when answering business emails.
Presenting a professional business address looks also looks far more polished than handing out a personal ‘Yahoo’ one.
Let’s start with paid for email addresses, which I recommend over free services – for security, reliability and professionalism.
Paid for domain name and email
On starting a business, the most creditable option is to reserve a domain name (website address). One that outlines the name of your company or what you do.
Domain names are available for anything from £20 per year, depending on which ISP (internet service provider) you choose. I list some reputable ISPs at the end of this post.
The benefits far out way the cost if you are enthusiastic about running a successful business.
Once you have purchased a domain name the email addresses need to be created on a server.
I.e. Purchasing an address such as outdoorslove.com would allow you to then add any email address that ties up with that domain. Such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Setting up email accounts server side
Email accounts can be set up with the ISP you reserved the domain with, or you can point the domain at a second ISP and have the email accounts set up there. Maybe one ISP is cheaper than the other for certain services, maybe one is more secure, faster; a whole host of reasons.
If you are starting to struggle – I offer professional email addresses and I can set up email accounts (server side) that coincide with our new domain name. You can choose whatever prefix you like.
But let’s carry on with the options to actually start using the email.
Using your business email – the options
To use the email addresses you will need an email client, which is basically a programme that sends and receives mail.
You can use a web based email client or some software on your computer.
Web based email clients
What slightly confuses people is that to use Gmail you need a Gmail address, which is used to log in.
Obviously you could use the personal gmail account that you already have, but I would advise reserving a second, especially for business. You can keep the two accounts independent of each other.
Use the business name as a prefix to the Gmail address. Logging in and out will be much less confusing.
Your business email addresses can be set up within the Gmail interface under SETTINGS. Set the business email account as the default.
There is a paid for Google service which is called G Suite. To use this you would point the domain (or at least the MX records) over to G Suite, bypassing the ISP. So you don’t pay twice.
Within G Suite you can use Gmail (without the need to reserve a gmail address), the Calendar, Docs, secure messaging and storage space in Drive. Plus more if you choose the higher packages.
There are different packages to choose from, but the basic G Suite account is about £8 per email address per month.
The beauty of using any of the Google services is that you can download the Gmail app to any phone or device, log in to your account (or accounts) and start to send and receive mail straight away. You don’t need to set it up again.
I do like to use the Gmail app, because I can then remotely support my clients when something goes wrong.
Microsoft 365 online email
Microsoft also offer a web based email client which is Outlook on Microsoft 365. Starting at £3.80 per user per month at time of writing.
Microsoft offer all the standard apps – Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Access online for this price.
For a little bit more you can also have the desktop versions of the apps.
Computer based email clients
There are different reasons for choosing email clients. Some, like Thunderbird are free, but is secure and easy to use. Apple provides Apple Mail which is already installed onto Macs. Microsoft Outlook, which is paid for, can be used with a calendar.
To set up email within any email client, you need the email settings from your provider.
Use IMAP accounts on computer based email clients because the emails can be synced with your phone or device.
To keep things simple at the initial stages of business, email forwarding can be set up. This is when the new business address (firstname.lastname@example.org) would redirect to another address. This could be one that you use already like email@example.com.
The down side to this is that when you hit reply the email is sent from the latter address.
Free email addresses
Service such as Mail.com offer free email addresses with a large choice of suffixes. The free service is all available online. If you’d like to use the address any where else, such as on your desktop the service is charged for.
I can see the draw for a free service like this but in my experience expanding businesses end up switching to paid for services very quickly.
Even if you are just starting out it is good advice to reserve a business domain name from the beginning. Pay for professional email services. It really isn’t expensive, looks way more professional and will save time switching in the future.
Tip: choose a domain name will last the life time of the business – a longstanding domain name sends signals to Google that it is owned by a trusted company.