The Startup
Published in

The Startup

by Jen McFarland January 4, 2018 0

What No One Tells You About Website Ownership

Share This Tweet This Get Updates Share This Subscribe

As a small business owner, you cannot do your job alone. But that doesn’t mean completely handing the reigns over to your tech guru.

Although you may the expert on the subject, you will need to enlist help to make every aspect of your business run smoothly. When hiring help, it is important for you to trust them as much as Batman trusts Robin.

Yeah… Batman trusts Robin, but have you ever seen Robin driving the Batmobile? Doubtful. The same is true about website ownership. There have to be limits because sometimes relationships change (or go bad).

One of the experts that you are likely to hire is an expert web developer.

I don’t want to give web developers a bad rap because most are awesome and completely trustworthy.

Don’t forget that service providers are Robin — but YOU ARE BATMAN. Own that sh*t.

However, within every crowd of good people, there is the possibility of a hidden villain who can bring you and your business down. That’s why when you are hiring anyone to develop or support your website it is important to protect your assets like a superhero protects their city.

Here’s how to do it.

Why this Stuff Is Important

You might be thinking, no way, my bestie totally created my website. I’m good.

Here’s the dealio. In the course of my work I’ve come across a few nightmare scenarios. Where things were great … until one day it wasn’t so great anymore.

In one case, a client lost her domain, email, and website — all her blog posts, contacts, everything — because the developer who owned all of her accounts got angry and stopped communicating. A hijacked website can kill a business.

I think they’re still in court. And this was a friend.

Domain companies look at who owns the domain. They don’t care if you let your service provider buy it for you. They care about who pays the bills and what name is listed. Period.

In earlier blog posts we’ve talked about how to change your relationship with your web developer and the importance of skimping on lattes instead of web developers. These are all strategies to help you get what you need.

But the number one, single most important thing you can do for your business is to own every single account tied to your website and grant access to people who work for you. If all else fails, just ask yourself: what would Batman do?

Don’t let a joker hijack your business. Protect all of your hard work. You worked your assets off to get where you are.

What Does Website Ownership Mean?

Let’s take a second to get really clear about account and website ownership. We’ve talked a little about account ownership in earlier posts, but I’d like to clearly define it here.

You Pay the Bills Directly

Make sure you’re paying your website service provider for services only. You pay for your own domain, hosting, web platform, email, etc. — directly.

You have Administrative Account Access

Not only do you open the accounts and pay the bills, you also have administrative access to all of the accounts.

You should always have the ability to grant and remove access to your business assets. This is true for your all phases of your business — not just your website, but also things like accounting, and even email.

You Know Your Passwords

In order for a web developer to do their job properly, they will need to have access and create passwords to your hosting sites, domains, stores, and databases.

Although they need access to these accounts, it should be clear that you are the owner.

At no point should a password be changed without your knowledge. This will help to ensure that if they quit (or go rogue) that you won’t be left in the dark.

You Know Where Your Stuff Is

During web development you might not have access to the draft site. Developers sometimes work on their servers. They also need to make sure they get paid…

The point is, it’s important to know where your stuff is. If for no other reason, than for contingencies alone — accidents and natural disasters happen all the time.

Batman is too busy chillin’ in the Bat Cave waiting for the Joker or Penguin to try to take over the world. A good contract will keep you from needing a superhero to save your website.

Understand Your Contract

Upon hiring a web developer, it is wise to have a contract in place and to understand that contract.

Your contract should allow you to change web developers as you see fit, or at specific points within the project.

Additionally, make sure it is understood that YOU own the website and everything that goes along with it.

Remember: they are working for you.

If you’re not sure what you need, schedule a free Technology Strategy Session. As a small business technology strategist, I help you create a technology plan to support your business vision that can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Jen McFarland
Originally published January 4, 2018,
Foster Growth blog

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 281,454+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jen McFarland

Passionate about women-led businesses. Advocating leadership, project, and digital marketing best practices.