It's the rare new business that wouldn't benefit from a home on the Web. Quite the opposite: If someone goes looking for a business like yours and doesn't find at least a simple Web site for it, well, that's a customer who's going to a competitor.
You might think that setting up shop online costs an arm and a leg, but it's actually one of the most affordable aspects of running a business. In fact, sometimes it doesn't even cost a dime.
For a limited time, Google is offering a customized domain name and one year of Web hosting absolutely free. (Don't let the "Michigan" in the accompanying screenshot throw you; the offer is also available in other states.)
In other words, here's a soup-to-nuts solution for getting your business online, one with a price that's impossible to beat.
In addition to a customized domain name (along the lines of "widgetmasters.com," depending on what's available) and a hosted Web site for one full year, you get a complete Web site courtesy of Intuit's site-building service.
That gives you a choice of hundreds of templates, customization options to make the site more accurately reflect your business, analytics tools, and so on.
The especially good news for newbies is that it's all pretty drag-and-drop simple; you don't need any HTML coding experience or the like to build a decent-looking and functional site.
The only real downside here is support: You get 30 days of online chat support free of charge, and after that you're stuck with online forums and the like. (You can pay extra for live support, natch.)
Once your free year is up, you'll pay $6.99 monthly to keep the site and domain -- very reasonable rates by any account.
There are plenty of other inexpensive site-building and -hosting options out there, but if you want to get your business online quickly, easily, and as cheaply as humanly possibly, this is definitely a deal worth investigating.