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Planning and starting an online business


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You will find that the basics and logic of business remain the same, regardless of whether it is an online business or offline. The difference lies in the fact that, to run an online business successfully, you will need to know the fundamentals of any business and have an understanding of the dynamics that drive web-based businesses. Let’s break this up. To start a business, you will need to have:

• A great business idea
• A solid, realistic business plan, including the financing aspect
• Understand legal issues
• Understand accounting and taxation issues
• Construct a marketing strategy
• Create and maintain a customer base and plan customer service

To start an online business, you will also need to:

• Make sure your business idea works for an online business
• Decide whether or not you need to start a website
• If you do need a website, you will need the technical skill to know how to start, run and manage one
• Understand online marketing and advertising tactics and tools
• Find new and creative ways to drive traffic to your start up online business
• Understand dynamics of customer interaction for an online business

So start with your business idea – try to do a SWOT analysis, i.e. an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that face your concept. Be sure it will work as an online business by thinking – will people buy this product or service online and what value can I offer online that a customer does not get offline? Find out about legal issues surrounding your product or service before starting anything. Determine your start up’s business model – do you want to sell on eBay or start a site or extend your offline store?

Next, come up with a business plan – include all costs, all means of possible financing, how you will achieve the financing, logistics of how to procure the product and how to deliver it, and keep in mind that an online business needs to have realistic projections of future income, just like an offline one. Websites can be expensive to start and maintain. Make sure you really need one and account for the expenditure. Be sure that you find reliable service providers – such as the right web host and pay channels. Consider accounting and tax issues in your analysis and planning phase, so you will be realistic in your projections.

Build a comprehensive marketing strategy – understand the concepts of internet marketing like search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, and other ways to increase traffic to your website. Finding a great name is important – something short and simple. Further, make a plan that includes effective and efficient customer service and builds a database or mailing list of customers. Remember that this is an ongoing process for any business and in the case of an online business, it is even more crucial to stay ahead of the game. An online business does not have face time with the customer so it’s important to maintain a healthy communication with all customers.

Keep the above pointers in mind and start planning your way to a successful online business.
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