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A Checklist for Starting Your Internet Business

by Shonali Burke on November 8, 2010

ChecklistLet’s get started

It is not exactly “news” that the Internet and access to broadband has been an extraordinary force enabling modern-day entrepreneurship and small business growth.

Our nation’s currently high unemployment rate of 9.6 percent and lower revenues for businesses and organizations have led to smaller pay raises, or none at all.

That means more people are looking for ways to supplement their income.  Internet-based businesses are an attractive option for bringing in additional income to help meet day-to-day expenses.

You’ve probably read many articles about launching an Internet-based business, and perhaps you are ready to get started.

Starting a business on the Internet is similar to launching a “traditional” enterprise; however, the tools and strategies are a little different. Make sure you consider the following:

Location location location

Instead of looking for that perfect retail or office location, you need to develop an effective web-based strategy which includes creating and registering a unique website name (Ed: Network Solutions can help you with this, in addition ).

In addition, you must construct a comprehensive marketing plan for driving interest, traffic and business to your site.

Overheads

Instead of buying desks, shelves or display counters; you have to consider accounting, e-commerce, time tracking, and appropriate website development software to meet the unique demands of your product or service.  Turning visitors into buyers will have its unique challenges.

The costs of starting an internet-based firm will likely be lower than a traditional “brick-and-mortar” business, but costs still exist.

Where does the time go?

Of course, how to allocate your time and energy – your sweat equity – will be a daily concern depending upon the opportunities at hand, as well as the unexpected issues that pop-up, and often at inconvenient times.

For those already employed and looking to start “a little something on the side,” you’ll have to consider the financial risks and your ability to, in effect, hold down a “second job.”

Many successful entrepreneurs have started businesses this way, with the big decision being when to cut the strings from full-time employment to full-time business ownership.

Real time customer service and response

In a world of instant communications, your customers or potential ones will expect rapid answers from your internet-based business.

Particularly in the web world, potential buyers expect an answer right now if they have a question about your product or service.

If they don’t get the answer quickly, you could lose a potential customer and may not have a second chance to win their business.

This may not be a problem if you are working from your home or office and running the business full-time; but it can be quite the challenge if you are starting your business while holding down another job.

Use resources ethically

Taking care to keep away from using your current employer’s resources – computers, faxes, printers, or your time (which they are paying for) is critically important.

Starting a business on sound ethical footing will set the tone for attracting the type of people – whether its employees, partners or investors – that will help guide your business to success.

What’s the plan, Fran?

Being an entrepreneur has never been easier; and the tools for helping you have never been more available.  Like any other endeavor, develop a written plan.

This business “road map” will include such topics as how your product or service meets a need; who your potential customers are; an assessment of the competition and what differentiates your product or service from theirs.  Is it price, convenience, better value?

Test your idea with friends, family and potential customers. Determine budgets, and create a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Adopt and adapt

Thankfully, the web is full of resources and “how to” guides.  There are many successful entrepreneurs who are doing it right.  Study what they are doing and how they execute.

Be committed to adopting (and adapting) their best practices.  Take a deep breath. And dive in!

More:

Image: XtremeXhibits via Flickr, Creative Commons

Karen Kerrigan is President & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, a prominent and respected advocacy and research organization. She is Founder of Women Entrepreneurs Inc., an organization dedicated to helping women business owners succeed through education, networking and advocacy. One of the world’s leading experts on policies and initiatives that benefit entrepreneurs, she is widely known for developing collaborative relationships with business associations, public policy groups, media, government, advocacy organizations and the private sector that have led to substantive reforms and initiatives to help encourage and sustain entrepreneurship across the globe. You can contact Karen at info [at] sbecouncil [dot] org.

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