7 Key Steps to Starting a Small Business Online TODAY!

So, you’ve been hearing that starting a small business online can bring in a nice income. You’ve heard how the internet can help make dreams come true for small business owners and average Joe’s.

You want to join the bandwagon, but keep putting it off, always coming up with excuses on why you “don’t have the time” or the “money right now”.

The great thing about starting a small business online is that little to no money is required. And, since you can work at home on your computer, you can set your own hours. Although it is imperative that this is treated as a business and not a hobby, you can still be flexible with the amount of time you put in.

Thus, “I don’t have the time” is just a way of trying to excuse your own slacking. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you could start this business with just an hour a day!

Small business girl

So, here are the 7 key steps to starting a small business online:

1. Pick a niche

That’s right. The best place to begin is always with your own personal interests. Is there a particular subject in which you have a lot of knowledge? Do you have any hobbies? What about your talents?

Make a list of all the things you have a passion for or at least a general interest in. Do research to find out if there is a market for any of them. Chances are, there will be. There is a market for just about everything, although some markets are much more popular than others.

2. Create a domain name

Even if you don’t have your website built yet, you should still create a domain name. Some businesses register a large number of them at once in order to protect their brand name. You don’t have to do this just yet, since you’re just beginning.

What you should do is create a domain name with popular keywords in your niche. If, for instance, you decided to start selling dolls, then make your domain name something like: www.dolls-4-sell.info or www.buy-dolls-online.net. It needs to be something that is both easy to remember and creative.

3. Get your website or blog together

Most online businesses have both. However, you don’t want to undertake a whole lot at once. All you need to do for now is create your own spot on the world wide web. You don’t have to create a large website just yet. Just register your own domain name.

If you don’t know anything about website design, you can get started with a blog. They are free and straightforward. You can have the blog directed to your domain URL if you choose the right hosting company. Trust me, creating a blog is a lot easier than you think and can actually take about 5 minutes of your time and without a whole lot of technical skills.

4. Choose a good hosting company

The importance of this step is often underestimated by many beginners. You can check to see if your internet service provider offers hosting. If so, make sure the hosting offers everything you need for getting your website up and running. If you create a blog, you’ll need to find a hosting company that will let you register a domain name for it.

There are many hosting companies that work with WordPress, for example. Make sure you pick a reputable hosting company recommended by others and stay away from free hosting unless it’s someone you know and trust. The last thing you want is to be merrily marketing your site only to find out it’s down for days at a time, because the hosting company isn’t very reliable!

5. Sign up for a merchant’s account

Even if you’re not going to be selling your own items, you still need to setup some sort of payment processing account. PayPal is the most popular, although some people don’t consider it to be the most professional. For starting out though it is absolutely fine.

As you grow you may want to look at a total shopping cart solution, but you don’t need to be worrying about that in the early days. Just get paypal up and running so you’ve got it ready for your first sale!

6. Educate yourself on traffic generation

In order to create a business the one thing you need oodles of, is customers! Do not be fooled into thinking you can put a website out there and loads of people are going to magically turn up to have a look at it, sign up to it or buy from it.

Many people starting an online business are scared off by the technical skills required, this is not the case. The basic engine of your business is the easy part, the hard work comes in driving traffic to your site. So be prepared to put in the work needed to learn how to drive traffic to your site and then….

7. Take ACTION!

ALWAYS DO SOMETHING! If you’re sitting in front of your computer, you need to be working on your online business. The aforementioned key steps to starting a small business are only the beginning. In order to actually make money, you need to WORK for it!

Go For It!!!!! (And Never Give Up)

Guest Article written by Jo Barnes. If you want to discover Jo’s No 1 Secret to Making Money Online then download her fantastic interviews with top internet marketing guys in the world right now at startyourbusinesssmartly.com/freevideos (she will also show you exactly how to create your blog in 5 minutes as per Step 3!)  Image credits to Ed Yourdon under CC license. You can also write articles here and share your small business tips.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.