Getting Started: What do you need to get up and running?
There are many types of businesses online that you can look into starting. You may want to sell items on Ebay or Etsy, you can use FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), you can write a book, sell online courses, offer your skills or services on sites like Fiverr, Elance or Upworks.
None of the businesses above require a website, but for now I’m going to assume that you do want your own website to sell your own products or services.
One of the main benefits of starting a business online is the low cost. You don’t need to buy a franchise or rent retail space. You don’t need to hire employees (at least not in the beginning) or buy lots of expensive equipment.
Not only is having an ecommerce store low in cost but it never closes, people can access your site 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, and not just the people in your country. Having an online business allows you to market your product to people across the globe.
If you’ve just created the next big ‘must have’ thing (let’s say, Bluetooth earbuds for dogs) with a local ‘brick and mortar’ store, you are reliant on the people in your town to find out about your fantastic new product and come in to buy them. With an online presence you have access to the entire world (well, 55% of it) an estimated 3 billion people worldwide have access to the internet. How’s that for a customer base?
Okay so now you’re convinced, but where do you start?
- Define your Product:
Do you make and sell jewelry, paintings, clothes or baked goods?
Do you provide a service such as dog walking, grass cutting, catering or lawn mower repair?
Figure out what you want to do first. Don’t just say “I want to make money”. You need a plan and a way to get there.
- Decide on a name:
Pick a name for your business website and register the Domain Name URL (uniform resource locator) this name is the address of your website, such as www.google.com. Try to keep it short and easy to remember, something like www.dogwalker.com, not www.iwillwalkyourdoganytimeofthedayornight.com (I will walk your dog anytime of the day or night). No one will remember something that long and confusing. The cost is $10-$12 per year (yes, it must be renewed every year).
You can do this at a site such as NameCheap.com
- Find a company to Host your site:
All this means is that your website is built and kept on the servers/computers of the hosting company. This allows your website to be online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The cost is extremely low, usually $3-$6 US a month. WebHostingHub.com or BlueHost.com are good places to start.
- Build your website:
These days most people use WordPress for their websites (it’s free). Most hosting companies have WordPress already installed and WordPress has templates for you to use that makes it relatively easy to build a site. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) used to build websites, the two other CMS’s are Joomla or Drupal (way too complicated for beginners).You can use other programs like DreamWeaver or free programs like Expression Web or Kompozer, but unless you know HTML (hypertext markup language) you will have a lot of difficulty trying to build a site using them.I’m not thrilled with sites such as Wix, Weebly or SquareSpace. They do have nice templates and are free in the beginning, but when you decide to upgrade (and you will) in order to look more professional, the monthly and yearly cost is about double of other hosting sites. They are easier to set up and get started, but you pay for it.
- Getting Paid:
You will need a way to get paid when the money starts rolling in. In the beginning keep your expenses low. Don’t start spending a lot of money that you don’t have when you are still trying to figure things out. Run your business on a tight shoestring budget in the beginning.Paypalwill help you to do this. To join and get yourself set up is free. They make money by taking a small percentage of each sale that you make. Most people who shop online have a Paypal account and even if they don’t, they can simply use their Visa or MasterCard to pay. You no longer need an expensive merchant account to take credit card orders. The internet is truly wonderful, in the way that it levels the playing field for us ‘little guys’.
There is a lot more to really get your business going and we’ll have to go into more detail later, but this will get you started and keep you excited and motivated about starting your new life.