Web Guide For Non-Techie Entrepreneur -Part 2: Power Your Business Email with Google Apps

17 May, 2010

You’re an entrepreneur and just launched or want to launch the business of your dreams but don’t know the first thing about how to leverage the Internet to empower your business?

This series of guides is for you!  This is the second part of our “Get on the Web: A Guide to the non-techie Entrepreneur”, and it covers how you can setup your corporate email to run on Google’s powerful platform.  You can read Part I: Domain Names & Hosting Explained here.

You are now familiar with the concept of Domain Name Registrars and Hosting companies, and by now you have hopefully selected a company, selected your domain name and bought a hosting package.

The next item on your to-do list should be setting up email addresses for you and your employees, to start communicating with your prospects professionally, rather than relying on a @gmail.com or @hotmail.com address.  So many people and companies still do that, and it portrays a lack of professionalism and brand identity.

Generally speaking, email is offered by hosting companies, but most probably comes at an extra cost.  Furthermore, Gmail has gained so much popularity in the last few years, that many people are now accustomed to its unusual interface, its brilliant search functionality, and the combined Email & chat interface and wish to see this extended to their business email.

Rejoice: Google, through its Google Apps engine allows you to do just that, and doing it is widely documented on the Internet, here is how you can do it for your own business in 10 simple steps:

  1. First and foremost, go to Google Apps Standard Edition page here and click on the “Get Started” button.

    Google Apps Standard Edition - Starting Page

  2. Select “Administrator of the Domain” and enter your domain name as follows

    Enter Domain Information - Google Apps Signup - Screenshot

    Google Apps: Enter Domain Information

  3. In the next step, Google will ask you to enter some details and check some boxes, fill in your details and click on continue
  4. You will then be asked to enter the first email account of your company, this will be an administrator account by default: enter an address of your choice, select a password, re-enter it for confirmation purposes, follow the steps, and confirm your acceptance of the terms and conditions and click on continue.
  5. The next step is the verification process: Google needs to ensure that whatever domain you are trying to do this for, you actually have the rights to do this, so you will be asked to either upload a file to your website or change a CNAME record.  Mind you, both options will verify your domain, so you can choose either of the two. My preference is for changing the CNAME record, since I would not have to worry about downloading a file, saving it somewhere on my laptop or PC, then uploading it on my website and checking that all went well.
    Change CNAME Record - Google Apps - Screenshot
    Google Apps Verification Process
  6. You will then be asked to create a new CNAME record with a certain unique string of characters which Google provides you with and point the CNAME record to Google.com.  I lost you? Don’t worry, I did not know much about CNAME records either (I confess).  The good news is that your hosting provider will generally have a section in your administrator panel typically called “DNS Management”.  In case you cannot locate this section, ask your hosting provider for how to create or change CNAME records, it’s a very simple process once you know where to do it form.
  7. Once you’ve completed the steps above, confirm by clicking on “I’ve completed the steps above” button:

    Google Apps - CNAME Change Complete Screenshot

    Google Apps - CNAME Change Complete

  8. The next step would be to “tell” your hosting provider that they should deliver the emails to Google, and to do that, you would need to define some new “Mail eXchange” (MX) records, Google’s guide provides you with this information here, a screenshot of which you can find below (Make sure when you enter the “Goes To Address”, you type the ‘.’ at the end of each of the addresses):

    Google Apps - MX Record Changes Screenshot

    Google Apps - MX Record Changes

  9. Now that you have verified your domain, and requested emails to be delivered to Google, you need to ensure that you can access your webmail by using an easy to remember address, typically: mail.mycompany.com.  So you create a new CNAME record for “mail”, and point it to “ghs.google.com” as follows:

    Google Apps - Pointing "mail" to "ghs.google.com" Screenshot

    Google Apps - Pointing "mail" to "ghs.google.com"

  10. Congratulations, you have now verified your domain, requested delivery to go to Google Apps’s engine and can access your email at an easy to remember address.

You can now start adding users, creating group mailboxes, and collaborating using Google Talk (Google’s chat client).  You can also personalize the look of the mail login by adding your logo, changing colors and so on.  You can configure Outlook to get your emails and sync your calendar as well.

Once you are on Google Apps, this will open the door for you to so many applications part of Google Apps Marketplace including business tools such as CRM tools, ERP software, invoicing, accounting and so on.

Google Apps’s free service allows you to have as many as 50 users, and you can upgrade to a Premium version at USD 50 per mailbox per year, to get the benefit of an SLA and much more storage capacity (25 GB at time of writing this article).

Good luck with your business!

#Photo by: Adria Richards

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  1. fatin khwarizmi  |  May 17th, 2010 at 4:08 PM #

    Very interesting Gaby , i liked the way you explained the steps from A to Z , it is really helpful ! ((*__*))

  2. Amir Kabbara  |  May 17th, 2010 at 6:16 PM #

    Great Post!
    Wanted to also point out that there are other great and free productivity applications including http://www.openoffice.org and the new Office 2010 which will be launched in June (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2011818423_microsoftoffice09.html).

  3. Gaby Abi Aad  |  May 17th, 2010 at 8:58 PM #

    Thanks Fatin :)

  4. Gaith Saqer  |  May 18th, 2010 at 8:37 AM #

    thanks Gaby nice post :) Amir office 2010 seems interesting,Office is MS best product i am looking forward to test it. hope it will have real time collaboration features.

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