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Hosting Discussion > Operating a Web Hosting Business > Customer Service and Support Issues > Things you need to know prior to starting a web hosting company. Pro's and Con's
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  Post #1 (permalink)   08-19-2011, 08:26 PM
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Before and After
I have been working in the web hosting industry for many years. I have seen a lot of different things. Included in this "lot of different things", i have seen the rise and fall of good and bad web hosts. Sadly, the customers they had felt every bit of the "fall".

What i believe it takes.

I believe it takes more then knowledge and money to start a web hosting company. It takes many different things. Yes, dont get me wrong you need knowledge and money, but what people don't see is what else is behind the scenes. To become a successful web host in my opinion you need:


Knowledge: You need the knowledge and background of how to run a server. Your clients need somebody that they can rely on when something goes wrong. Sometimes when an issue arises it needs to be dealt with immediately. I do understand that some issues take time to resolve because they require troubleshooting. You as the web host must know where to start, what the signs lead to. For example, if none of your customers websites are loading, where do you start? First of all would you ping the ip to see if you get a reply, or would you try to login to your server to see if it is online? Do you simply call your datacenter (which can take longer to get a live person then to fix the issue at hand). These are some of the issues you need the knowledge to fix.

Patience: One of the most important, yet most forgotten aspects you need to run this sort of business. Some days will be good even great, but yet a lot will be terrible. You will have customers that need something done and want it done right then, no matter how big the issue is. Then you could have a customer that needs something done and its dire need to run there site, and will wait 2 or 3 days to get a reply (don't ever make a client wait that long). Clients will yell, clients will harp, clients will complain. Patience is what sometimes keeps that client. Sometimes you will feel the need to "type in all caps" to that customer when you are at the end of your patience. No matter what, you need to keep all conversations with your clients professional. Show them that you have the patience to look into there issue no matter how much of a bug they are to you. Patience can end your business instantly.

Support: You may think you have the know how to do everything and anything, and you may! You may be able to take on 30 clients and help them all with every issue that they have. Wait until you get 300 clients and they are all asking different issues. I can promise you that you will not be able to keep up with them by yourself. You must have a team. A team that is willing to work under you and with you at the same time. A team that is there for your clients 24/7/365. Support is one of the most valuable things you can offer your clients. Support is one of the things that can also destroy your host or build your host.

Time: I can not stress enough, you will need time, time and more time to run your web hosting business. You have to put your business as your first priority. If you are doing something and a customer needs your help, you must have the time to help them. You must be able to drop what you are doing at the snap of a finger, because if you dont... 9 times out of the 10 you will lose that customer.

Money/Funding: Money is what drives your business, money is what drives everything. You must know how to manage your funds. Most businesses let it be web hosting or something else don't make profit until there second year in business. Lets say you purchase a dedicated server for $250.00 per month. The first month you most likely will only gain a few customers. Just for example, lets say you gain 5 customers in your first month of business. You sell all three of them the same package for $10.00 per month. That is only $30.00 a month. You still have to come up with $220.00 to pay your server bills. You will need to have access cash saved up to cover losses. I can promise you that you will have losses for at least the first 6 months to a year. If you don't pay your server bill guess what? The datacenter is going to give your server to someone who can. They don't care about your business. They will shut down your server and your clients will charge there money back. YOU NEED TO HAVE FUNDS TO FUND YOUR OPERATION.

These are just a few of the things you will need to run your web hosting company. There are so many more, and this list grows every single minute of every single day. Your clients look up to you, they trust you with there money. How would you feel if tomorrow you needed web hosting and you paid $10.00, spent 3 days building your site. Your proudly went to show your friends your work of art and all you get when you visit your domain is "Firefox was unable to resolve this address"? Would you be happy? You as a web host have the obligation to make sure there site shows what they built. Its business and most of all its morals.


Now, we are just getting to the fun stuff. After you have made it through the ruff parts, well i should say the start of the ruff stuff, and have built a name for yourself. You have the need to keep your name flowing in the industry, because i can promise you that once you let your name drop a spot, there is a person right under you waiting to take it. They will jump on that spot immediately and take it from you. Then most of your hard work is for what? To be second best.

Reasons NOT TO GET IN THE BUSINESS

1. To get rich quick
2. To take peoples money
3. Because you are bored
4. Because you think you know what you are doing.

Them four reasons to me are the most horrible reasons of all to get in the business. This is not a business that is going to make you rich quickly. It will make you poor and give you a horrible name before it makes you rich quick. It will waist your time and walk away from you quicker then anything else in this world will. I know that is not the best way to put it, but i can promise you that its the truth. If you "think" you know what you are doing, or been told that you know what you are doing, then i recommend you work with someone who has experience with web hosting first, because that is really the only thing that will get you ready for this side of the world.

Im not saying that everything is completely bad in this business because its not. There are actually a lot of great things that come out of web hosting. You have the pride of helping other people. There is nothing better then waking up to a ticket that you just worked on for 4 hours the night before saying "Thank you, i love your web hosting company." It is one of the most amazing things in the world. You will smile everytime a customer says thank you. You will smile everytime you sell another web hosting package. Knowing you helped someone with something that they really needed assistance with is also a very good feeling.

My advice to you, is if you are looking or even thinking about getting into the business. Do your research and make sure its something that you have the time to do, make sure its something that once you start your not going to want to stop. Find a reason to drive yourself. Start small and work your way to the top. Good luck to you and remember, don't upset your customers. If you can't help them make sure you tell them. Don't promise them the world and only give them a rock. Don't promise them something you cannot give them and most of all, treat them how you want to be treated!


REMEMBER THESE ARE ALL MY OPINIONS, AND NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME OPINIONS AS ME.
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Last edited by Edwart : 08-19-2011 at 08:36 PM.
 
 


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  Post #2 (permalink)   08-19-2011, 11:17 PM
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I fully agree with this article. Awesome job!
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  Post #3 (permalink)   08-20-2011, 01:14 AM
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A question that is asked quite frequently. First and foremost we must point out that web hosting is not a get rich quick scheme or an easy business to run. It takes alot of patience, computer and technical knowledge and a solid background in Computer Science to run a successful and solid web hosting company. Some may disagree with this, especially with the innovation of "Control Panels" that makes it easier for anyone to get a pre-built server and start hosting sites. In reality, it's not really that simple. Yes you can lease a dedicated server from a provider and start hosting sites once you are familiar with the control panel BUT a very important point to remember is those control panels still have their limitations. If you do decide to start your own hosting company, here are some basic questions to ask yourself *before* starting a hosting firm.

1. How much time do I have to invest into this company?

In this day and age, most clients are expecting 24 hour support. Are you able to be on call 24 hours a day to handle all the technical and sales requests that will be coming in once you start your company? Prompt support is a very key aspect of having a successful hosting business, so this is one of the first questions you should ask yourself before starting your company. Am I able to offer the support my clients will need?

2. Familiarity with the latest software and platforms?

Have you done your homework in terms of researching what are the latest software, how they work and the pricing. It is very important to be familiar with the software that needs to be installed on the server(s) that you will be using to host your client's websites. For instance IIS when using Windows 2000 server is something you will need to be very familiar with, if you are going to be hosting sites on a Windows Server.
On a good note, Microsoft offers a huge library of information on all their software, but it will take a serious time investment to be familiar with all the options available, security leaks, and you have to be always on the look out for the latest patches. In terms of Linux, this is a bit more complicated. A strong command and knowledge of SSH (Secure Shell Security) is needed. Even if you have a control panel such as Cpanel which offers a program called Web Host Manager, a strong background in Telnet Commands will be needed or you will be lost.

3. Financial Investment

Are you willing to spend the money necessary to start making some money? In many cases you will need to make some serious finanacial investment when starting your own hosting firm. Be very weary of the fact that many of the software on the market are not cheap, and the type of servers most of your clients will be expecting their sites to be hosted on, will not be cheap either. Many expect their site to be hosted on Dual Pentium servers that are sturdy and reliable, so some investment will be needed.

On the other hand, there is the cheaper way, which is to simply lease a dedicated server that offers a high amount of bandwidth from another hosting firm, and then host your clients sites on that server. It's an easy way to start your own company with little investment, BUT be forewarned that with network outages, server crashes, you will have little or no control unless you can contact your dedicated server provider for a prompt reboot or resolution of the network problem.

4. Hiring of Employees?
Will you be hiring any employees to start, or will you be a one man show until the business picks up? If you choose to not hire any employees then obviously your financial investment is less, BUT your time investment into the business has now skyrocketed. No employees will mean you will have to handle all the technical and sales requests along with any other problem that may occur. It is important to weigh this aspect carefully as it could make or break you.

5. Resources/Steps To Start A Hosting Company

and more..
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  Post #4 (permalink)   08-20-2011, 08:23 AM
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Yes besthosts, it is an endless list of things. I could and im sure you could has well go on forever talking about it. The industry is a constant learning battle and the battle will never end. If you get tired of learning, then you might as well get tired of the idea and not start it in the first place.
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  Post #5 (permalink)   08-21-2011, 08:48 PM
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Thanks hostparlor and Besthosts for your insight.
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  Post #6 (permalink)   08-22-2011, 07:08 AM
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I couldn't agree more with both hostparlor and Besthosts as well. Especially when it comes to having the funds to maintain your business.

Too many hosts (or should I say "kids"?) enter the industry with the idea that they will get rich overnight and therefore not having the funds to run the business won't matter.

After a month or so they find out just how competitive the market is and cannot afford to sustain their business due to their lack of funds and quickly bow out with no remorse for the clients they leave behind.

It gives the industry a bad name and also leaves a lot of innocent clients with a negative outlook on web hosting providers when searching for their next provider.
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