National Small Business Week (May 4-8) celebrates entrepreneurs who are building companies from the ground up. But with nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S. alone – that’s bigger than the entire population of Australia – just 53% of these businesses have a website.
Hard to believe, as a website can be your biggest ally in company growth, especially in an era when most commerce starts or ends online.
Name.Kitchen editors have identified ten small businesses that understand this and are simultaneously setting a new trend: going "not-com."
They are joining a growing number of entrepreneurs choosing domains that don't end in 'dot-com' (.com). More than 500 new options have been released, with categories as diverse as 'dot-fitness' (.fitness), 'dot-legal' (.legal) and 'dot-boutique' (.boutique), and this provides a whole new palette of choice when it comes to crafting a memorable name.
These ten businesses below recognize this and are getting in on the ground floor as the roll-out begins. By 2016, there will be more than 1,300 "not-com" options from which to choose.
Perhaps their approach will inspire other businesses out there, including those that remain the twinkle in the eye of budding entrepreneurs.
Amici Catering www.amici.catering Phoenix, Ariz.
Lori and Scott Harlig are poised for their third business expansion since founding the Phoenix-based catering company in 2007. This year they catered a VIP Super Bowl party and switched to a 'dot-catering' (.catering) domain because, as Lori Harlig explains, "it's more personalized" and "describes our business."
Art of Fitness www.artof.fitness Orlando, Fla.
Ron Betta founded his Orlando fitness studio, Art of Fitness, in January 2015. It integrates the artistry he embodied as a creative for Disney into his current career as a personal trainer. He chose a 'dot-fitness' (.fitness) domain because it is "unique" and "simple." Says Betta: "Even our website is on a diet. It doesn’t have ‘dot-com.’ We got rid of it. We lost the ‘com.’"
Icarus Photo www.icarus.photos Bloomington, Ind.
Katy Lengacher has spent the past four years growing her photography business. As she looks to amplify her brand and carve out a niche in wedding photography, Lengacher recently switched to a 'dot-photos' (.photos) domain. "Having a unique domain that describes what I’m thinking about, doing and breathing all day was a no-brainer," she says. "It’s the perfect new branding identity tool."
Prince Gallery www.prince.gallery Petaluma, Calif.
In 2014, Nathan Larimer founded a gallery in California's Wine Country that stands out: It features modern and experimental art instead of the same-old vineyard paintings found elsewhere. His domain name also stands out: It's on 'dot-gallery' (.gallery). "It aligns perfectly because it’s new, it’s kind of avant-garde, it’s creative," says Larimer. "That’s what we have on our walls in our brick-and-mortar space, and that’s what you see when you see our digital site."
The Blitz Events www.theblitz.events Cleveland, Ohio
Chis Harris is launching a series of Tough Mudder-style obstacle courses for kids across northeastern Ohio. His company resides on a 'dot-events' (.events) domain because "it just made sense" and challenges people to rethink "the whole 'dot-com' [.com] thing."
Driftaway Coffee www.driftaway.coffee Brooklyn, NY
Suyog Mody and Anu Menon ditched their corporate careers to create something from scratch: a coffee subscription service delivers fresh-roasted coffee personalized to your palette. Mody says switching their domain to a ‘dot-coffee’ (.coffee) has been a great conversation starter with those curious about their two-year-old business, and it provides a more obvious digital storefront. “We are an online business exclusively selling online,” says Mody. “It’s a URL that implies what we do.”
Teton Fishing Co. www.wyoming.fish Dubois, Wyo.
Geoff Stevens is a fly-fishing guide who traded his 'dot-com' (.com) domain when he learned that 'dot-fish' (.fish) was available. He wanted a domain that was short and memorable -- and would hook people searching online. "To try to get something creative on a ‘dot-com’ is next to impossible," Stevens says. "It just makes sense to have your whatever business you’re in, instead of a silly ‘dot-com,’ to get something a little more descriptive of the industry that you’re in."
Taco Bike www.taco.bike Nashville, Tenn.
Cayla Mackey founded her organic breakfast taco company on a 'dot-bike' (.bike) domain, which signifies how she delivers her product: by bike. She opted for the domain because it shows creativity and that she's an entrepreneur who's "with it." Mackey adds: "When you tell people that the website is 'taco.bike,' it’s interesting, it’s funny, it’s quirky, it makes people remember the business more. When they actually visit the website and see that ‘dot-bike’ [.bike] actually exists, it makes them think more deeply about biking, too."
The Fermentista's Kitchen www.fermentista.kitchen Applegate, Ore.
Kirsten and Christopher Shockey teach people about the art of fermentation and have recently published a book on the subject. They chose to build their online brand with a 'dot-kitchen' (.kitchen) domain because they wanted the name to evoke the culinary art that fermentation is. Says Kirsten Shockey: "People like to be in their kitchen, and we want it to bring this idea that fermentation is really easy and really accessible into your life."
Fathom Clothing www.fathom.clothing Patchogue, NY
Dexter Dible co-founded a counter-culture clothing company to infuse his love of design into a fashion career. Also doubling as a web designer, Dible opted for a '.dot-clothing' (.clothing) domain because he wanted something simple and to the point -- yet different. "We're not a 'dot-com,'" he says. "'Dot-clothing' supports who were are. 'Fathom Clothing LLC' is the name of our company, so using 'dot-clothing' just makes sense."