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Entrepreneurs Guide to Starting an Online Business

Whether you’re embarking on a whole new career, you’re looking for a side gig, or you need to take your existing business into the 21st century, an online business can help you achieve your goals. One of the nice things about running an online business is the elimination of the middle man, which can help you increase your profits significantly. As you get ready to launch, you’ll have many things to do to prepare for customers. From creating your business website to setting up your online shop to receiving orders and payments and fulfilling orders, your business website will be the place where all the action happens.

The first step toward creating your e-commerce business is to choose a name for the business. Generally, the business name and website name will be similar if not the same. Thus, once you arrive at a business name you like, you’ll need to find out if the name is available as a website name. You can do this by visiting a domain registrar online and entering the name into a search tool to see if it’s available. If the name is already in use, you’ll see a message indicating that it is not available. If the name is not in use, you can proceed with purchasing the domain. Optimally, your business name and website name should include keywords that people will use when searching for your product or service, and it should be easy to remember and pronounce. After choosing and purchasing your domain name, you’ll have to choose a hosting service for your website. The host is the company that stores your website files and makes it possible for it to people to visit it online. Hosting service companies offer plans that include a domain and email account.

Creating your website will be the next order of business. WordPress is a popular platform that enables users to use themes to create websites. You simply install WordPress on your website, choose a theme with the appearance and features you want for your website design, install the theme, and then customize it with widgets and plugins to make your business website your own. If you don’t wish to use WordPress, you can also build your own website using a builder tool that enables you to drag and drop features to design the site you want. After you finish customizing the website, it’s time to create the content that will appear on the website, which will likely include information about your products or services, information about your company, and a listing of the products and services you are selling.

To design and set up the e-commerce part of your website, you’ll need to create your product, determine prices and shipping options, and choose an e-commerce platform. Your e-commerce platform could link to a marketplace that is already in existence, such as Amazon, or you can build your own platform into your website to work independently. If you opt to set up an independent system, you’ll need to integrate e-commerce software into your website, which enables product-listing, price-setting, and shopping cart capabilities. Web hosting services generally have hosting packages that offer these capabilities.

To receive electronic payments from customers, you’ll need a merchant account. You can use well-known companies such as PayPal for this service. You’ll also find a wide array of other companies offering merchant services. Each company will have unique terms, services, and fees, so it’s important to research your options to choose the company that’s the best fit for you. You will also need to install a SSL certificate on your website, which encrypts the sensitive information your customers provide as they shop on your website. Most Web hosting services provide free SSL with your e-commerce account, but you might decide to upgrade to a SSL certificate with additional features such as showing the TrustLogo seal and displaying a green address bar to visitors when they are on secure websites.

After finishing the setup and launch of your online store, the final work involves promoting your website. You can promote your business and website by writing valuable content, by maintaining a presence on social media, and by using paid advertising. Many business owners use a combination of all three promotional methods for the highest success rates. It may take some time, but launching your online business can mean big things for your company.

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Seven Key Tools to Run Your Online Business From Anywhere

So You Want to Start an Online Business? Read This First

How to Start an Online Store: Seven Ways to Run a Successful Business

Advanced E-Commerce

How to Create a Great Product or Company Name

The Ultimate Guide to Create a Successful Online Business (PDF)

How to Create a Small Business Website

30 Tips for Building Your First Business Website

Eight Keys to a Small Business Website That Works

How to Make a Website: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

Five Ways to Improve Your Site’s Ranking (SEO)

Seven Things to Include in Your Online Shop

Online Shopping Choices: Less Is Sometimes Better Than More

Before You Start Selling Online, Learn About Your E-Commerce Options

Purchasing and Selling Online: What You Need to Consider (PDF)

Creating an E-Commerce Website: A Do-it-Yourself Guide (PDF)

How-to Guide: Open an Online Store (PDF)

Quick-Start Guide: How to Create Your Own Online Shop (PDF)

The Ultimate Guide to E-Commerce on WordPress (PDF)

Online Cash Payment Overview and Setup

Processing Online Orders

Measuring the Costs of Retail Payment Methods (PDF)

Sales Transactions and Taking Orders

New Payment Devices and General Principles of Payment Law (PDF)