In years gone by, starting a business was a long drawn out crusade, and expensive as well. It was either jump in and swim, or drown. Today, all of that has changed due to the Internet. Nowadays, starting an online business has become easier and cheaper. In fact, you can start your online business for practically nothing! With a bit of research and clever maneuvering, you can have your online business set-up in no time. The trick is not to get caught-up into spending tons of money on services that you really do not need, especially if there are much cheaper alternatives.
You need to have a good idea of what an online business is, and what type of online business you want to establish before getting started, and not only a vague notion. If you are serious about starting your business, you need to know what you are getting into. An online business, also called ecommerce or e-commerce, means that a business has its main, or all, of its customer dealings through the Internet. Business is conducted on a website that sells goods and services that customers purchase through that website.
There are numerous ways to begin your online business adventure. Creating a website or personal blog is best. Signing up on Blogger or WordPress is easy. Just select a name for your site, choose a password, fill-in a bit of personal data, and you have created an updatable existence on the Internet, all for free. The only cost to you is your time.
Seeing as these blogs are not intended for e-commerce transactions, treat them as a means to get yourself out into cyberspace to “test the waters.” Through these types of internet networks, you have a means of sharing your work with the world and to see if you can strike-up interest in your product or service. Just consider the time you spend on Facebook or message boards, now, turn those networks into possible customers and cash. By publicizing your blog or test website, you will get an idea of how well potential customers will take on what you are offering.
In addition, compare what you are selling to others in the same niche. This step is very important. Whether you are selling leopard print can openers or hair extensions for pets, you need to test the waters. With your new blog or website, you will have something to start with.
If you begin to see “signs of land,” which means that you are beginning to receive positive feedback, it is time to find a web host. Many hosting plans for small businesses offer basic features to easily get you going on the right track. In addition, many offer various templates that are easy to setup as well. The usual package includes basic unlimited storage space, customer support, several gigabytes to a couple of terabytes of info each month. Most will charge a fee with a one-year contract, depending on the host. Some are cheaper others are more expensive. If you take the cheaper option, you can always upgrade later.
Some web host have “free” e-commerce websites with some restrictions. You will have at least 85% of a full functioning e-commerce website. The only drawback are the advertisement of the web host services on your website. However, you can always upgrade later and have these annoying adverts removed. The best way to select your web host is to check online reviews or Google, “top web hosting services.” This will help to cut down time used for searching and you have an automatic list of the best web host services on the Internet.
If you have a concrete idea of what your business is selling, you can create a logo online practically for free. Numerous websites will assist you in creating a full color logo that will match the vision you have for your product or services.
You can always hitch a ride on websites that are already established such as Amazon, eBay, and the e-commerce sight for handcrafted items, Etsy.com. However, fees are usually charged for each item listed and for the amount of the transaction. You will have to be on top of your sales if you choose to go this route. Selling $50 worth of items and paying $13 in fees is not cost-effective in the long run. If you want to keep all the loot for yourself, going it alone is the best alternative.
If there is anytime to “put your business out there,” is when you are starting one. SEO, search engine optimization, allows your website to be found quicker by Google. When you Google for information, those website appearing on the first page is where you want to be. There is plenty of online information to assist you in this area.
Every online business owner wants to grow. However, many are stumped when it actually happens. The added infrastructure and logistics that comes with expansion can be daunting. If you do not acquire assistance, the rest of your business may suffer. Issues like taxes, and incorporating your business can override your core responsibilities.
Whether you require additional help with shipping or unskilled tasks, there are companies that can help you do just that. For example, Amazon rents space in its immense shipping locations, to small outside businesses, to assist them with their shipping and packaging duties. The more packages you have to ship, the less you have to pay. Moreover, once you begin looking for warehouse space, maybe it is time to move out of your garage!
Now that you have the basics and your online business is starting to grow, you may want to take a look at the specific licenses required in the city where your business operates. Even though your business is virtual, you still have many of the same responsibilities of brick ‘n’ mortar businesses.
Now is as good a time than any to put that hobby or idea to the test and see if you can make it work. Start small, be practical, and think positive. Who knows, you could become the next online business sensation.