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As domain names expand, opportunities and concerns for businesses

Small-business owners usually have no shortage of challenges.

Creating and maintaining a viable business model can be difficult enough. Fending off competitors isn't easy, and neither is finding and retaining good employees.

Tax compliance is no picnic either. This has been particularly true in recent years as the IRS has been scrutinizing employee classification closely, looking for payroll tax violations. The complexities of Affordable Care Act implementation have also added to the list of issues calling for small-business owners' attention.

And then there is the seemingly constant need for technology upgrades. In this post, we will discuss one aspect of that large topic: the coming expansion of Internet domain names.

Up until now, the endings of domain names have fallen into only a few carefully controlled categories. These include:
• .com for business and other open sites
• .net for network providers and others
• .gov for government sites
• .edu for colleges and universities
• .org for various schools and nonprofit organizations

Now, however, the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is embarked on a process that would open up a wide panoply of domain endings.

There may be hundreds of these new domains, with newfangled endings like .sports, .dating or even - leveraging the allure of Eastern mysticism -- .guru. There is certainly room for businesses to be creative here, finding names that fit their images.

This sea-change in available options is perhaps a bit analogous to what happened a century or so ago when Henry Ford began offering vehicles that weren't black.

With Internet domain expansion, however, the conceivable implications include a lot more than merely expanding the list of color choices. From potential trademark infringement to concerns about cybercrime, there will be a lot to sort out for business owners as the Internet expands its already wide-ranging reach.

Source: CNBC, "New Internet domains are coming, and small biz needs to be wary," Cade Thompson, Feb. 9, 2014

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