Thank God for “Joe” at a company called Netfirms in Toronto.
Joe is a supervisor who took the time to do what no one else would do for 10 hours yesterday … figure out how to get Insider Louisville back online.
Most companies would have posted a vague statement about “technical difficulties.” And I’m about to be more forthcoming than I should.
But I feel like our audience is owed a real explanation since thousands of people come to Insider Louisville each day. And we learned a lot.
What happened is, we lost control of our domain name for 10 hours.
We have many domain names and sites for expansion, and in the rush to stake out more digital terrain for the future, we forgot to renew “Insider Louisville” by the deadline of midnight, July 27.
So, this website just shut down.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Even a small digital company such as ours relies on technical people working thousands of miles apart.
The original person in Louisville who set up our company is long gone. We’ve gone through at least four technical people in two years as they moved on to bigger and better jobs. Ditto for advertising designers and all the other people who fill the roles of pressmen and composition at the newspaper business we’re replacing.
Right now, though we occasionally use contract technicians in Pakistan, our main tech consultant is in Portland, Ore. We thought she had visibility on the domain names. And she did. Except no one realized some of the details of the renewal had changed. Suddenly, we needed to know who actually controlled “Insider Louisville.” Turned out it was a domain registry in Toronto.
We made at least 15 calls to Canada, to Portland and to other cities trying to re-register the name.
A colossal bungle on my part, complicated by the fact that digital companies tend to have the worst customer service on the planet. Why? Because everyone in the digital space is pushed to the limit.
We learned a huge lesson – we can’t offload the crucial details of our business to third-party consultants and to accountants, as tempting as that might be. So, when we’re not digging up scoops, we’re compiling and sharing massive electronic records, which is not all that much fun.
We have to negotiate the trials all growing companies face … successful companies get to a point they’re too big to manage with informal systems and processes. Yet, small business owners are too busy with the core mission to stop and institute more sophisticated business practices.
This is an age when so many people want to be entrepreneurs and start businesses. Which is great.
What they’ll learn is, this is harder than it looks. When hosting servers aren’t down, or there aren’t problems with the publishing platform, the domain name has expired.
My epiphany: With all other competitive factors being equal, the company mastering the tiny details early, wins.