"Do I need an <firstname.lastname@example.org> email for my business?"
"Can't I just manage with free email account like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail?"
These thoughts are not strange to a new business owner.
Professional email setup should be one of the first few things you should do after starting up a business. You should be using <email@example.com> email right from day one.
Unfortunately, this is something that quite some SMB owners neglect. Here is why you should not:
1. Be Serious about your Business
Sure, you are serious about your business; else, you would not have started. However, show that you are as serious as you actually are.
Having an @yahoo.com or @gmail.com in your business card indicates you are not too serious about what you are upto. Would you prefer dealing with a company having their own <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>? The answer is obvious.
2. Build Your Brand
Building a "new brand" is not an overnight job. It takes time, effort and patience. Having your own domain email address is one of the first steps in building your brand.
Follow this up with your own website, social profile pages on Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. all linking to your website and company email. But, professional email address is a must.
3. Grow with better control
When your Company grows, create more email addresses, aliases and email groups; but don't create more Gmail/Yahoo accounts. Have more control having one or more super users who can create and manage all email accounts for your company.
4. Email Aliases
Make use of email aliases.
Email Aliases are virtual email addresses associated with an actual email address. For e.g., while you hold and receive emails into <firstname.lastname@example.org> (your primary email account), you can have an alias <email@example.com> that would act like another email address for all practical purposes, but any emails sent to that would end up in your original email account. You will have option to send email as any of the aliases attached to your primary email account.
5. Email Groups
Email groups are very handy when your company grows and have more functional divisions.
Email Groups are virtual email addresses, each of which containing multiple email addresses or even other email groups. Any email sent to a group email address will get broadcasted to all the member email addresses. For e.g., you can setup groups like <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com> containing email addresses of respective users in Sales (or) HR group.
6. Safeguard your IP (Intellectual Property)
By having professional email setup for your Company, you can legally protect any confidential emails 'sent from' or 'received into' any of the email accounts of your Company.
Legally, your company domain emails are Intellectual Property (IP) of the Company and owned by the Company; and not by individual Employees though they use them.
You cannot bind Gmail, Yahoo! or any free personal email service accounts to your Company legally.
7. Better Email delivery and % views
Having your own email domain betters the chance of your emails getting opened and viewed. Professional email is a must if you are planning for any email marketing campaigns, newsletters, product/service update notification, etc.
8. Don't Spam, also, don't end up in Spam
Having legitimate domain reduces the probability of your email getting marked as Spam. You might have worked hard to acquire a valid customer base, and would like to use it to promote your Product or Service offerings via email marketing campaigns. Last thing you want is to end up in Spam folder of your Customer email-boxes.
Note: This applies only for valid email campaigns and won't help if you are actually spamming.