10 Critical Things Every Small Business Owner Needs to Keep Track Of. On paper.

The I File red folderBuy a RED folder. Keep this information in it.

For over 12 years I have been helping small businesses with their online presence and every one of them who built their “I” file (for Internet stuff) came back to thank me. Some important stuff just needs to be available on paper in case your computer dies, or you’re not in the office and someone else needs this info. You can keep track of all of this in a spreadsheet or text document, but you need to print it all out and save it in a folder too.

  1. Your Internet Service Provider
    If you have internet service in your office or place of work, you have an internet service provider. Find their customer service number. Find their emergency contact number. Write down your account number, username, password and any other important access information. Do this on a day when your internet is working fine. Because if you wait until it’s broken…
  2. Your Web Hosting Company
    This is NOT the same as the company that provides internet access. This may or may not be the same company that built and/or maintains your website, but it’s usually not. This is the company that owns the server where your website lives. Find out what your account info is. Don’t wait until the day your website stops working. Make sure that you are the owner of this account and not your former receptionist or your brother-in-law who set up the account for you.
  3. Your Domain Registrar
    Your domain name – mywebsite.com – is registered with an approved company that is allowed to provide web addresses and they are a domain registrar. Some web hosting companies throw in domain registration as an additional service. So your web hosting company may also be your domain registrar. But in most cases, it’s a separate company. You may have registered your business domain name some years ago, and you’ve changed web hosting companies and redesigned your website several times since then. But if you ever need or want to move your domain from one registrar to another, you will find out how painful it is to do. And you’ll be glad you spent the time finding out and writing down who your registrar is, when your domain name was registered, when it expires, and all of your account login information.
  4. Your Web Designer/Developer
    Someone built your website. If that person wasn’t you or one of your employees, get their contact information today. Find out what programming language was used – you don’t have to learn it, you just need to know what they used. Is it ASP? PHP? Does it use JavaScript? Was it built using WordPress? Or Dreamweaver? Is there Flash in it? Was it built using free tools provided by your web hosting company? Do you actually own it? Is it portable to another web hosting company? Get all of this information now, and if you ever want to make changes in the future, this will be helpful informtion for your next web developer.
  5. Webmaster Tools/Analytics Accounts
    You may have a Google Webmaster Tools account. It is full of rich information about your website and its visibility on Google. Write down your account and login info for this important account. If you have other tracking tools or analytics accounts, get all of that information. Write down the URL you have to go to to log in. If you don’t know if your website is being analyzed or if your traffic is being tracked, ask your web developer.
  6. Graphics and Stock Photo Accounts
    You may have purchased images and photos from a service like iStock Photo. Or your web designer may have purchased images and photos to build your site. In order to prove that you’ve paid for and/or gotten permission to use the images on your website, you need to have this account info.
  7. YouTube Channel and Other Video and Photo Assets
    Do you have any videos you have made or have had someone make for your business? Do you know where they are located online? Do you have a channel or account at YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, or any other video/photo sharing site? Get a list of all of your accounts and the assets you own that are stored there.
  8. Online Advertising Accounts
    Do you have a business listing on Superpages.com? Do you run any pay-per-click or pay-per-call campaigns? Do you have a Google AdWords account? A Microsoft adCenter account for Bing? Do you know how to log in to your accounts at all of these sites? Or where the login page is? Write this all down.
  9. Social Media Accounts
    Does your business have a Facebook page? A Twitter account? A LinkedIn profile? Google Places, Google+ Foursquare or any others? Do you know how to log in to each of these? Do you have the account info for them?
  10. Link Building, Link Buying, Link Exchanges
    Hopefully you’re not buying links from shady websites that promise you traffic. And you’re not exchanging links with businesses that have no relevancy to the line of business you’re in. But if you have any accounts for link building using any method, find out what your account info is and add it to this folder.

And here’s a tip that will help make your digital life easier: On all of the accounts you own, make sure you’re using an email address and phone number that is permanent and will not change. Too often I’ve seen situations where the office manager or the IT guy or the web designer who no longer work there used their own email address and phone number when setting up the account. Log in and change this today. Before you need to in an emergency situation. And while you’re at it, change your password on each of these accounts. Make it strong. Write it down.

About Marion Jacobson

Editor, writer, web developer, SEO maven, teacher. It's all about the content with me. As Manager of Traffic Services for Dex Media, I'm responsible for SEO, SEM, Social Media and Content and how they work together to drive traffic to our B2B and B2C web properties: DexMedia.com, SuperMedia.com, DexOne.com, Superpages.com and DexKnows.com.

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Comments

  1. Good article, Marion! Having all of that information in one place can be a lifesaver when (not if) things go awry with your website.

    • Marion Jacobson says:

      Thanks Jonathan! I know you’ve run into this yourself, working with small businesses. It’s time consuming but well worth it.

      Also, if you have documentation about your domain registrar and web host, it’s much harder for the scammers out there to rip you off with their fake “your domain is expiring” letters. I had a couple of clients lose their domain names to these scams because the letters looked official and they couldn’t remember who their domain registrar was.

  2. I agree, all that information is vital. Of course if you have a smartphone, don’t forget you can still reach the Internet and get those contact numbers. It’s a handy backup. And if you have a smartphone, you should have a backup in place for *that* in case it gets lost or stolen (as happened to me last year).

    • Marion Jacobson says:

      Thanks for weighing in Charleen! And if your smartphone has a camera, you can snap pictures of important account info too. I find that I use my phone’s camera more and more for documentation I need to save.

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