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How to start an online business

November 12, 2013

imagesCAP01YGJDo you have an innovative idea that you know could turn into a career, but you are not sure how to make it happen? Learn how to start an online business! Building a business online is the most cost-effective way to take your passion from a dream to reality. In this day and age, having an online presence is more important than ever. Even if you do not have an eCommerce business, consumers may try to research you online when deciding if they should even make the trip to your store. In many cases, your website serves as a customer’s first impression of your business.

When you create a website, you are proactively taking steps to ensure you do not miss a single business opportunity. Here are the three major steps involved in starting an online business.

1. Build your website

The first step in setting up an online business is purchasing a domain name and setting up your hosting account. When choosing your domain name, it is best to choose a name that describes your business and is easy to remember. Purchasing a domain and hosting is extremely simple. Just call up the kind people at GoDaddy and they will be happy to help you.

So now, you have a domain name and hosting… congratulations! However, the work is far from over. The next step is actually building your site! There are many platforms available that allow you to build a simple website, but I recommend WordPress. There are countless themes and plugins out there that allow people to customize their sites as little or as much as they desire. Here is an easy-to-follow tutorial from WordPress to get you started.

2. Enable Ecommerce Capabilities

Your website is set up… so now what? You want to be paid, of course! The first step to giving your site ecommerce capabilities is to choose a merchant provider. There are several options out there when it comes to merchant providers, but it is best to find one that can help with everything from developing a product catalog to processing payments online. Bank of American Merchant Services is a great merchant provider that offers these services and more.

No matter who you choose as your merchant provider, there are a few things you should definitely look for in your search. It is helpful to choose a merchant account that is linked to an actual bank to cut down on fees and avoid security risks. It is also important to make sure your merchant account has credit card processing capabilities, so that you can have a convenient payment method for your customers, which will enable you to be paid faster.

3. Market your Website

At this point in the process, your online business is up and running. However, none of this matters unless people can find you! Engaging in pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization are tried and true methods of getting your website found online. The first step in this process is to make sure your site has relevant content that talks about your services. The cliché “content is king” exists for a reason.

Having a social media presence is also important. Setting up a Facebook and Twitter account is a great first step, but be sure to actually ENGAGE customers through social media. Nothing looks worse than coming across a company’s social media profile that has not been updated in months. If you do not have time, there are several different marketing platforms available that can help you reach customers online and increase your company’s visibility, like the iDeals Marketing Platform for example.

Starting your own business definitely is not easy, but it is worth it. Take it from one of one of Goodwill’s successful entrepreneurial partners, Second Helping. The owner of Second Helping runs a successful business with eCommerce capabilities, which bolsters its online catering sales.

Now you know how to start an online business! You have all the tools you need to succeed in the ecommerce world. Get out there and begin the next phase of your career!

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