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Steps To Starting Your Own Online Business

Even after reading this entire blog post, you might still consider having an online business to be a dream -- a vision for your future. You might want to take small steps, testing the water to se whether an online business is right for you, just as you dip your toe into a pool before diving in. At some point, though, you have to decide to go for it. To that end, this checklist describes what you need to do to begin wading into your own online business:

Make the decision to commit

Although you don't have to quit your day job, you need to acknowledge that you're ready to pursue your goal. Say aloud, "I want to start an online business!"

Set clear goals

Write down why you want this business and what you expect to gain from it. These goals can be related to financial objectives, lifestyle goals, or both. If you know what you're looking for, you can also more easily choose the right business to meet your needs.

Talk with your family

After you commit to your idea and establish your goals, share your plan. If you'e married or living with a partner, talk about your vision for the future. After all, your dream for an online business affects that person's life too. Discussing your plans with family is also a helpful step in making your business a reality.

Create an action timeline

Unlike the broad goals you set in this list, writing down specific action steps can help you realize tangible results. From researching business ideas to obtaining a business license, assign a targeted date of completion to further ensure that you make each step happen.

Identify a business

As we show you in the preceding section, you can choose from different types of businesses to operate online. Before going any further, however, you have to decide which business to pursue. Narrow your choices by thinking about what you enjoy doing or which specific qualifications you already possess. Consider your professional experience and your personal desires. You might even have a hobby that can be developed into a moneymaking business.

Develop your business idea

Define your idea and determine how you will turn it into a profitable business.

Startup Actions for Your Online Business

  • Finalize and validate your business idea

  • Write a formal business plan

  • Select a business name

  • Register your business name

  • Choose a domain name

  • Register your domain name

  • Identify a business location

  • Check zoning laws (if home-based)

  • Set up office (computer, telephone, and so on)

  • Decide organization status of company (sole proprietor, corporation, etc.)

  • Legalize business structure (file incorporation papers)

  • Obtain business license (and other necessary permits)

  • Set up business bank account

  • Meet with an accountant to review tax requirements

  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

  • Secure business insurance /health insurance / other

  • Secure funding (if using outside sources)

  • Apply for a sales tax certificate (if applicable)

  • Select : Hosting service, Web developer, Distributor or drop shipper (if applicable)

  • Create content for the website

  • Select products, or finalize services, or both

  • Develop a website

  • Add shopping cart or other e-commerce applications

  • Obtain merchant account

  • File trademarks and / or copyrights

  • Submit site to major search engines

  • Initiate marketing plan

  • Test (and correct) all site functions

  • Launch site to public

I hope this gives you some guidance in your pursuit of starting your own online enterprise. Follow the checklist and set a tentative date for your launch. This will keep you on track so you can maintain a realistic timeline.

Carlos C. Johnson III

Author, Speaker, Business and Investment Coach