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Before You Start an Online Business

What do you need to start a business online? These days, you don't need lots of hardware or software. As long as you have a good Internet connection and a computer or tablet, you can rely on the many online service providers that are available to help entrepreneurs just like you.

At the very beginning, what you need are the intangibles:

  • Roll up your sleeves. You need to be ready to really do some work.

  • Prepare a marketing strategy. You need to learn how to sell, market, and promote your business online.

  • Gather your nerve. You need something called gumption, which you can define as ambition, drive, nerve, and so on.

Next, you need an idea for your product or service. Sell something you know and love — something you won't mind spending hours possibly finding, then listing, describing, and selling. It helps if your items are small and easy to ship, too. You’ll need to find a ready source of such merchandise at wholesale prices so you can resell it for a profit.

After you have an idea of what you want to do:

  • Come up with a business name that can also serve as your domain name, which is part of your site’s URL.

    Yahoo.com and wikipedia.org are examples of domain names. Your domain name should be just as easy to remember.

  • Register your domain.

    Make it easy on yourself and head to GoDaddy.com.

  • Plan a logo that will express your business’s identity in a single image.

Finally, you’ll need a host, which is the website that will serve as home base for your business. You have a lot of options for the kind of web host you need.

  • If you want a website that’s also an online store, sign up for an account with a shopping cart service, such as Volusion, Shopify, or BigCommerce.

  • If you want to sell individual items with a minimum of fuss, turn to eBay or Amazon.com.

  • If you want to blog and talk about yourself or your area of expertise, find a host that streamlines the process of using blog software, like WordPress, to design and structure your site.

A good host will help you with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which helps your business turn up in search results. It might even help you with selling directly to contacts on Facebook.

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