Jump to Main Content
USA flagAn Official Website of the United States Government
Archive

Blogs.Archive

Register

Starting and Growing an Online Business: An Entrepreneur's Checklist

Comment Count:
35

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

Starting and Growing an Online Business: An Entrepreneur's Checklist

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 27, 2010 Updated: April 15, 2011



Of course, an online business is merely a vehicle for the product or service you are selling. So starting a Web-based business' and making it a success' will take more than just'getting onlin'.

There are two fundamental steps you will need to take. The first is to treat your online business like any other business venture and pay attention to business start-up processes; second, yo'll need to generate traffic to your site.

Below are some tips and best practices that can guide you through these steps' with all your check boxes ticked.

Starting an Online Business: Be a Responsible Business Owner

Whether you are starting an innovative new online business or setting up a hot dog stand, you must pay attention to the fundamentals of business ownership. For online business owners, this means more than just building a Web site and registering your domain name. You'll also need to comply with the regulations that govern your type of business and the products and services you sell.

You'll also need to understand your tax obligations, make decisions about your business structure, know your responsibilities as an employer, and so on.

A useful resource to help you get your arms around being a responsible business owner is Business.gov's 10 Steps to Starting a Business. This step-by-step government guide consolidates everything you need to know and do to honor your legal obligations as a new business owner.

If you are engaging in any form of e-commerce in your online business venture, you should also be aware of these federally-mandated e-commerce rules and regulations.

Marketing an Online Business: Using Online and Offline Channels

To succeed in your online business venture, it's critical that you generate traffic. But without a store front or obvious physical business location, let alone any kind of physical signage, generating traffic is one of the biggest challenges of starting and online business.

Take time to write an integrated marketing plan that maximizes both online and offline channels - and delivers a consistent brand message through both.

Below are some tips for using both online and offline channels to market your online small business venture:

1. Promoting Your Online Business Using Online Channels

Using Web-based marketing channels to promote your online business can be accomplished in many ways. But, unless you have a substantial marketing budget, your best advice is to employ a mix of low cost and free tactics. At a minimum these should include these three intertwined tactics:

 

  • Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - You don't need to hire an SEO expert to help make your small business Web site search engine friendly. Getting your site to rank high in organic search results, such as Google, gives your site a presence and there are some basic strategies that you can implement. Here are some Tips on Doing SEO for Small Business.

 

  • Pay-per-Click (PPC) Advertising - PPC advertising is an online advertising model used on search engines (usually appearing under the heading Sponsored Links), advertising networks, and content sites, such as blogs, in which you only pay when your ad is clicked. It's a cost-effective option for many small businesses who can't afford more complex SEO campaigns. For more information on pay-per-click advertising read 'Google AdWords Explained - Growing Your Small Business with this Cost Effective Marketing Tool'.
  • Social Media Marketing - From Twitter to Facebook to blogging, the concept of building the profile of online business through social media is being used by over 260,000 companies in North America, not just to engage with their markets, but to actually generate sales. John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing has many tips on social media marketing for small business. Read how to Hit the Social Media Sweet Spot or view his archived webinar Social Media for Small Business.


To help track and measure the success of these initiatives, free tools such as Google Analytics or Yahoo Web Analytics can provide insight on conversion rates, ROI, etc.

2. Promoting Your Online Business Using Traditional Offline Channels

If your online business is local in its focus, get out there and make the most of on-the-ground tactics such as flyers, or advertising in local newspapers, community newsletters or at niche market events. You can even generate free press for yourself by getting involved in cause-related events. If you have writing skills, contact your local free press and volunteer to write an article or quick column on your particular area of expertise.

Other Resources
 

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

The online business is already picking up more people to be self employed. SEO is getting harder day by day. But I have confident and I am focused to success. I hope it will go well for everybody in the future.    This comment was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
Promoting an online business is important - on every channels especially if this is the service you are offering. inchirieri garsoniere cluj napoca
You forgot to add the fact that you must be extremely brave to start an online business, without any offline base. I would also recommend that you concentrate on a single city, and getting to be known, before rising the stakes. Webmaster at Cipru
Look for local citation listings so you can start your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) placements and up your Local SEO rankings.
Now online business has become really very difficult after the recent Google change. SEO is getting harder day by day. But I have confident and I am focused to success. I hope it will go well.
Getting your website on the first page of google is essential for the thrive of your business always! Bring the Fresh is the right guide to help anyone succeed online!
Hi Caron, This is a great post you have written, so much valuable content. Having an online business today is the way forward, but it is vital that people go about it correct and put the work into it. Traffic is very important, as without it, it is like having an offline store that no one knows about and you don't get any customers. ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
Hi Caron, This is a great post you have written, so much valuable content. Having an online business today is the way forward, but it is vital that people go about it correct and put the work into it. Traffic is very important, as without it, it is like having an offline store that no one knows about and you don't get any customers. ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
Starting an Online Business means hard work. Many don't realize that and keep chasing opportunities instead of thinking about building a business online strategically. Making it on the internet isn't that easy anymore. If you want to be successful online you'll need to start seeing it as a real business and treat it that way. Choose a market, make a proper plan and you're half way. Just my experience after ore than 2 years in this business. A. Dinesh ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
Starting an Online Business means hard work. Many don't realize that and keep chasing opportunities instead of thinking about building a business online strategically. Making it on the internet isn't that easy anymore. If you want to be successful online you'll need to start seeing it as a real business and treat it that way. Choose a market, make a proper plan and you're half way. Just my experience after ore than 2 years in this business. A. Dinesh ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.

Pages

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an SBA.gov account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!