How to get started with an online business

Starting a real-world business is, in one word, difficult. For starters, you need some amount of capital to get things rolling – buying or even renting a business space costs quite a bit of money, to speak nothing of having it equipped. Then comes the drawing of attention to it – unless you were able to get an attractive location for your business headquarters (which very few businesses are able to do nowadays), you’ll face no small amount of difficulty when trying to figure out how to shine a light on your brand.

Thanks to the popularity of the internet, however, entrepreneurs can now take an attractive shortcut: as opposed to going brick-and-mortar, one can choose to run a business that works almost entirely online and do just fine.

While it might be a shortcut, don’t think it’s easy – in fact, the added competition alone will make success achievable only for the truly driven. Still, if you can persevere, there are plenty of rewards to running your online business. Here’s how you can start one in the shortest amount of time possible.

Starting your non-goods online business

Online businesses differ mainly in what they offer: goods or services? If it’s the latter, your job will be considerably easier, yet much more difficult at the same time.

The great thing about starting a service-based online business is that you don’t really need anything other than a working website. In fact, depending on what you’re doing and how legitimate you need to appear, you might not even have to register your business or own any licenses – instead, much of your dealings can be done in an under-the-table capacity.

To start offering your services, you’ll have to buy an attractive domain name and some hosting for it first. From there on, see about having the website designed so that it projects the kind of image you want: slick, professional and ready to serve.

Afterwards, you’ll have to evaluate your competition and see about beating them to the punch. Round up your competitors in the area and work with a SEO consultant to see how far their influence is spreading and what you can do to wrestle clients away from them.

Instructions for goods sellers

Is selling goods your thing instead? No problem – online shops are almost as easy to start up, although you’ll always have the additional issue of shipping to worry about.

The most important thing is to decide whether you’ll be selling your stuff through a middle man service like eBay or on your own. Both choices have their perks and drawbacks: selling through something like eBay or Amazon will let you net customers more easily and will make shipping easier, but it’ll also mean you aren’t really independent and are forced to give a cut of your profits to someone else.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll probably want your own website in order to appear more legitimate. If you’re selling through a middle man, you’ll be able to save time, effort and perhaps a good bit of money on web design – your website will only need to feature basic information and a link to your eBay page.

Those looking to have a proper online store will need to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a web designer who can get things running – if you’re unsure of your ability to handle these costs, consider starting with a middle man and then splitting away once things get going.