Starting an Online Home Business

Starting an online business is very similar to starting a brick and mortar business. The first step in the process is creating a business plan. Creating a business plan allows you to implement a road map of sorts and ensures that are fully prepared to launch your business on opening day.

Online Company Business Plan

Your company business plans should include your vision statement for the company and should set forth the basic concept for the business. It should include a detailed list of your short term and long term goals for your business. Where do you want the business to be in two years, five years, ten years? What short terms goals will you have to reach in order to achieve your long term goals? How will you finance your business? The company business plan should contain contingency plans in the event that market conditions shift or other changes occur which impact your business.

Financing the Online Business

Where will you get the money for starting a business? Many people borrow the start up money from friends, families, or the bank. Others save the money. While still others borrower against their retirement or pensions. In obtaining the money to start the a business, you must consider initial start up costs as well as operating expenses for at least 3 to 6 months, if not longer.

Start-up Costs include the following:

  • Website construction and hosting;
  • Initial Inventory purchase;
  • Licensing Fees;
  • Incorporation Fees;
  • Legal Fees;
  • Domain Name Purchase and Registration Fees; and
  • Advertising and Marketing.

Operating Costs include:

  • Continuing Inventory purchases;
  • Advertising and Marketing;
  • Taxes;
  • Website Hosting;
  • Payroll;
  • License Renewals;
  • Domain Name Renewals; and
  • Legal and Accounting Fees.

Make a Business Checklist

You should use a checklist for starting a business. The checklist will enable you to stay organized and will ensure that you have completed all legal step necessary for starting an online business. The checklist for starting an online business should include the following steps:

  • Register a Domain Name – This is will be your website address;
  • Have Website Built – Your website will be your store front and should make a good first impression on prospective customers;
  • Choose a Website Host – Your website host will support and maintain your website;
  • Obtain Necessary Licenses – You will need a business license as well as a federal and state employer ID number;
  • Purchase Inventory (if necessary);
  • Open Business Bank Accounts – Even if you are operating as a sole proprietorship, you should maintain a separate business accounts;
  • Ensure Compliance with Online Business Regulations – Online businesses must comply with special laws including Anticybersquatting Laws, Consumer Protection Laws, and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act ;
  • Ensure Compliance with Local, State, and Federal Tax Requirements – Online businesses must pay state, local, and federal taxes, as well as sales tax on merchandise the sell; and
  • Ensure Compliance with International Trade Laws – If you will be doing business internationally, you must comply with international trade laws.

Getting Legal Help

Before you start an online business, you should consult with an e-commerce attorney. An experienced e-commerce attorney will advise you as to all the legal steps you must complete to begin an online business and will assist you in completing those steps. If you will be doing business internationally, you may also need to consult with an attorney who specializes in international business law.

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