Taking it for granted that you know the business basics and have a product or service with good potential, let’s look at what you need to start an online business.
You need start up capital.
Don’t be fooled by all the talk of low start up costs. Sure you may not need to spend too much to get started, but unless you are one of the very lucky ones, it will be some months or maybe even a year before you start making profits. You need to be able to sustain your business and yourself during that time.
Presuming that you will be working from home, all the equipment you need is a good computer, an internet connection, telephone lines, and some office stationery. Maybe a printer if you need one. And, if needed, a power back up.
You need a brand new corporate identity.
Your logo design should be created professionally and should try and convey the right message to your target audience. Any investment you make for your brand logo is well worth it. The right logo can help you present your company in a professional way. Read this article on how to select a logo design company.
What about your website?
That’s what the world sees. Never compromise on the quality, appearance and ease of use of the site. Can you design and set it up yourself? Or will you have to pay someone to create a website design for you? If you need professional help in setting it up, be sure to include a maintenance contract. Websites are prone to operating glitches that need to be fixed fast. Perhaps, you could also get a content management system that could help you edit your website by yourself.
Ensure that you have a reputed company to host your website, even if it costs a bit more. Someone who is trying to find out about your products, services or your company and finds the website down will not only begin with a negative impression, but may also not take the trouble of coming back later. Better still, if you can get a online business solution, that includes hosting, maintenance and other business tools such as newsletter management, shopping cart, sales and website tracking reports, booking forms and more.
If you are selling from your site you need ways of accepting payment like a merchant account. If you plan to accept credit card payments or need customers to give personal information, you need a secure server where information security is guaranteed – this is essential for both you and your customers. You also need a customer relationship management system that would track all your sales and enquiries and builds a customer database from it.
If you are selling, you will need software or some other system to keep track of orders, payments, deliveries and inventory.
You need a great deal of self discipline.
You will be working from home, probably on your dining table. It’s easy to let you work ethic slip and start keeping irregular timings and get distracted by household goings on etc. Remember this is your work and your company. If you are not serious about it, no one else will be and then good bye.
Be prepared to do everything need to make your business a success. You are the CEO and the Gofer and everything in between. Be prepared to do the online equivalent of clearing a clogged toilet if you have to. There’s no one else to do it for you.
No matter how good you are in your chosen business domain, you will constantly encounter the new and unexpected. Be prepared to keep on learning. And if some aspects of your operations remain weak, be prepared to look at trying something new. Just because something worked in the past and you like that way of doing things is no reason to continue with it. Be ready to admit to your mistakes – if you don’t make any you should be doing business with the angels – and find a better way.
With all these things in place, you should be ready to take off. If you have any other tips or advice, please feel free to share them here.