The growth and popularity of the Internet has produced numerous online entrepreneurs. Despite the internet and online entrepreneurs having been around for a long time now, it does not change the fact that as a first time entrepreneur, you will have several queries and questions.
If you search the terms ‘resources for starting an online business’, you will be inundated with responses. Impractical, though it may be to go through all of them, even skimming through the top few results can offer contradicting information. And the last thing you need is to get into a situation of ‘paralysis by analysis’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if there was a ‘master list’, that would contain all the resources that you would need to refer to ensure the start, survival and success of your online business.
Creating such a master list is what I am attempting through this article. In this article, I have tried to put together some of the most useful resources out there, which can assist you when you want to start an online business. I have considered five areas that are critical to any online business, irrespective of its nature. And I shall put forth two of the most useful (in my opinion, of course) resources available online, which cover that area comprehensively. So in all find below the top 10 resources for starting an online business.
So shall we get started?
1. Business ideas – What are the various business options?
This is in one of the first questions you probably need an answer for when you decide to become an online entrepreneur.
The range of online business ideas is unlimited. These include affiliate marketing, offering web hosting services, blogging, e-commerce and auction selling on internet sites. These businesses require you to create a website. Some online business ideas that do not even require a website include freelance or full time content writing services and online research services for companies. In these cases, all you need is a computer and an internet connection to get started.
- This Business Idea Centre is a valuable resource for web based business ideas that you can explore. The estimated start-up cost for each idea is mentioned and each idea is explained in a comprehensive manner. Though (obviously) the list does not cover all possible business ideas, it is a very good place to start and take stock of what possible options are available to you if you want to become an online entrepreneur.
- If you are looking for something that is less financially demanding, have look at a range of online home based business ideas here. Whether you want to supplement an existing income through an online business and want to get into an online business full time, you will find ideas here. A particularly useful feature on this site is its ‘Directory of Legitimate Online Business opportunities’, which you can access at once and find out if there is anything suitable for you.
2. Finances – how to get started? How to approach investors?
The financial requirements of your business would obviously depend on the nature of the business. For instance if you are becoming an affiliate marketer or intend to earn money through blogging, perhaps, the financing may not be such an issue.
But finance intensive online businesses include web hosting, becoming an e-bay consultant, operating ecommerce portals etc, where you may need to approach external parties for finance.
- Know more about various finance options available like banks and financial institutions, angel investors and even borrowing from friends and family from this resource. This resource has informative articles on how best to make a positive impression on a prospective investor.
- A must read article that offers simple yet effective tips that will really help you clinch that meeting with your investor from the word go.
3. Staff – do you need help or can you ‘go it alone’?
As your online business takes off, you may find yourself needing more help. Though not initially, but surely later, you have to take decisions on hiring staff for your online business.
- Should you hire someone or is outsourcing the job to an independent contractor the better option? This resource helps you understand the pros and cons of each circumstance, so that you can make the best decision for your business.
- The legal obligations when you hire staff for your business. Be aware of your legal obligations, once you become a ‘boss’ in the true sense of the word.
4. Marketing- How do you market your business, so people become aware of it?
Promotion is an essential component of any business, online or offline to ensure success. The good news is you do not need huge marketing budgets to promote an online business. Simple, cost effective techniques work just as well. It is all about choosing the right channel of promotion and targeting the right customers.
- Free ways to Promote an Online Business offers tips and techniques for promoting your online business, which are absolutely free and extremely effective. A must-read if your marketing budget is low or even non-existent.
- If your online business is in the form of an online store, do refer to these ten ways to promote a web store effectively.
5. How to Survive in the big bad (online) Business World?
The competition in online business scenario is quite intense. The low barriers for entry are responsible for there being a large number of players in any sector or niche of the online business world. Therefore, you need to know exactly what you have to do and do it right so that your entrepreneurial flame keeps burning and is in no danger of prematurely getting extinguished.
- With the economic scenario still bleak, these tips will show you how to keep your ecommerce business alive and kicking in spite of the recession.
- The online business differs from an offline business model in several ways. As a result, the rules for survival are different. As a simple example, an online business is ‘open’ all the time and does not close at a fixed time like a regular brick and mortar business. These tips for your online business survival discuss this and other issues and how they impact your online business survival. A must-read, especially if you are a first time online entrepreneur.
As I mentioned earlier, the internet is full of resources to help the first time online entrepreneur. I have listed a few, which in my opinion, offer comprehensive guidance and help. Do you have any other resources that you feel will be helpful to would-be online entrepreneurs? Share it with me. If you are an online entrepreneur yourself, I would love to hear your success story.
Do share if you have special resources that you referred to and still continue to refer. It will be helpful to my readers who are looking to begin their career in the field of online business.