Starting An Online Business
If you’re concerned about funding your new venture, not sure if your idea is viable enough or just want to keep the costs to a minimum, setting up an online business is the best option for you.
This gives you the opportunity to see where and how far your idea may take you, without giving up your day job and having nothing to fall back on if things don’t go according to plan.
What do I need to set up an online business?
To get started, all you need is a computer, an internet connection and a small dose of business savvy. To keep things simple, you can just create an online shop through eBay or Amazon selling items that you’re interested in or think will sell well enough to make you some money.
These could be everyday items such as kitchenware, furniture, games, DVDs , books or music. Or you could choose to deal with more novelty items such as children’s toys, stationary, party supplies or seasonal decorations.
If you have your own unique product or service you want to market and sell, setting up a website to do this is not particularly difficult.
Creating a website
First of all you need to choose a domain name – this is the URL where visitors can find your website, and therefore the gateway to your business.
With the explosive popularity of the internet since its inception in 1989, it is more difficult these days to choose and register a domain name.
Websites such as easily.co.uk make it simple to find which domains are currently not registered, and how much it costs to buy them (usually no more than £50 for 5 years).
When choosing your domain name, make sure it’s something memorable and clear enough so that users automatically know what your website is about. For example, the sockshop.co.uk – people instantly know it’s a website where they can buy socks from.
If you’re not sure what to choose for your domain name, try coming up with a few ideas and buying several. This way you can test all of them to see which one is the most popular with users.
As well as a good domain name, you will also need to have a good website. This means thinking about the layout so that your visitors can easily see what you are offering and how they can find out more information.
It’s important the design of your website is attractive too. Remember to keep it clean, simple and uncluttered, otherwise your visitors will be put off and won’t stay to look around.
If you already have some knowledge of designing and setting up a website, you can save money by doing it yourself.
Don’t worry if you do not possess these skills though – setting up a website doesn’t have to cost the earth.
There are many website design and developers out there who freelance, and their rates are normally cheaper than those quoted by web companies.
Guru.com is one place you can start looking for cheap website design, although there are lots of other freelance websites you can try.
Make sure you look at the person’s portfolio to check you like their work, have a brief written out detailing exactly what you require, and agree a price before asking anyone to do work for you.
The next thing you need to think about the server that will host your website, i.e. produce the physical data and information on it whenever someone visits.
A typical server package will set you back about £40 a year, but it depends how big your website is. The more text, images and other data on your site, the more you will have to pay out in hosting costs.
As with your web design, you should shop around to get the best deal.
Once you have your website up and running, there are certain efforts you will have to make in order to market your product or service, and get your site noticed.
These include search engine optimisation, advertising and PR – you can teach yourself quite a lot out of textbooks about these processes. Amazon.co.uk is one of the best places to search for good books on these topics.
An online business is certainly the easiest and cheapest way to start out. It allows you to completely control your costs and keep them to a minimum. As you become more successful with your venture, you can branch out and start expanding your business by hiring staff, renting premises, etc.
For more tips and advice on starting your own business and entrepreneurship, please see: