When starting a business, there's a need to keep costs low, and hence, a need to keep expenses low.

Suppose that you've already decided to start-up a small company / business, and you've decided to use your own domain (ie, mycompany.com or mycompany.net for example), so that when someone contacts you, they email you at yourname@mycompany.com. There are a few ways to do so.

You register a domain with a domain registrar, so that mycompany.com belongs to your company. This costs about somewhere between S$30 - S$50 annually, depending on which country you're in. Alternatively, you can also hook onto other free domain providers, for example, afraid.org, so your own domain could be something like mycompany.afraid.org. Visit http://freedns.afraid.org/  to register a free domain under afraid.

What's a domain registrar? A domain registrar is a business that registers Internet names, so that anyone can send email to you, or visit your website. An example of a domain registrar is GoDaddy.

After getting your own domain, your next step is to setup a MX (Mail Exchange) record on your domain registrar. You could then either point the MX record to your own machine at your home, or office, or a free email server, such as Google's.

If you've decided to use Google's email server, you need to create an account on Google. Visit https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/standard/new3?hl=en (which clicking the Get Started button from http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html will get you to) and create an account. Google's email server has a restriction of 10 email accounts, before you need to pay Google money. It doesn't matter whether you have 1 person having 10 accounts or 10 persons having 1 account each. 10 email accounts is Google's free limit.

Once you're done, go back to the domain registrar, and just set the MX record to point to aspmx.l.google.com. Then, on Google, create the accounts (for example, myname@mycompany.com) that you would like, and you're done! Now you have your own email server, and anyone can email you at myname@mycompany.com.

Even if you're using a free DNS domain provider like afraid.org, you can also create mycompany.afraid.org on Google's site. Just be sure to set the MX record at the domain registrar.

To access your email at Google's, just visit http://mail.google.com/a/mycompany.com or http://mail.google.com/a/mycompany.afraid.org.

The cost of the above work? Anywhere from $0 to $30 (the cost of registering a domain at one of the domain registrars!). Congratulations, for a very low cost, you've just set up your own email server.

For those who wonder, I've set up a few systems this way!