Six Simple Steps to Starting an e-Business

Starting an e-Business

The idea of starting a business can be a very intimidating concept and many are scared off thinking that they will have to invest a ton of money, work sixty hours a week, and basically give their lives away to their business. The truth is, starting an e-business is not as hard as you may think and depending on what your goals are, it can be very inexpensive and can be started with very little financial investment. 

Why an Start an e-business

First, an e-business is affordable. While opening a brick-and-mortar retail establishment can cost several hundred-thousand dollars at the low end, starting an e-business can be done for as little as $100 or so. You don’t have to worry about working hours or reporting to an office, but you get the benefit of being in operation 24 hours a day, because your website is always open.   

Ideally, you should only start an e-business if you have the opportunity to do be doing activities which you enjoy. In this way, there is an intrinsic reward that results from your business because you find purpose and enjoyment in the hours you have devoted. Additionally, by starting an e-business you have an incredible opportunity to learn more about the field in which you are operating and a lot of general business and life skills. For example, I was always baffled by how HTML code worked, but starting my own business inspired me to build my own website using WordPress. Going through that process I learned a lot about HTML, CSS, and web design. Those skills had very little to do with my actual business, but I was able to use the knowledge I gathered in other, more resent projects.  Starting an e-business allows do to pursue the things you enjoy without being managed, held down by corporate policies, or tied to certain office hours.

Currently we are a in a recovering economy which doesn’t seem to be recovering very quickly. In fact, there seem to be a lot of mixed reports on whether or not the economy will dramatically improve any time soon. Further, with increased government regulation on the horizon, large corporations and even small companies will probably not be able to keep salaries up to par with inflation. Cost of living will continue to increase but employers will be giving a lot more of their earnings to the government and therefore have less to pay their employees. So with a high unemployment and potentially low salaries, an e-business can help provide some additional income on the side and potentially a full income.

Finally, an e-business provides a great platform to network and build partnerships with other entrepreneurs and business innovators. This is not only valuable to your e-business, but can be useful in other paths of work or enterprises you may be involved in.  An e-business can also be a great resume builder and is also a great way to show potential employers that you can take initiative and can complete projects which you start.  

Steps in Building and Developing Your Business

1. Develop Goals

This is a very important step. You have to ask yourself why you are thinking about starting an e-business. What is the purpose? What do you hope to achieve through your efforts? Are you in the business purely to try to get an income or is mostly like a hobby? This is critical because if you expecting a quick or major financial return you will have to be a lot more strategic, whereas if you are just pursuing a hobby that could make money, you may not to be as strategic because you will okay if you don't start making good money right away.

Personally, I recommend that you approach an e-business as a hobby, because you will be doing something you enjoy and you have not be disappointed because you do not have high financial expectations. Making money on the Internet can take time and results are rarely seen overnight.

2. Think about a Business Model and Plan

Anytime a significant of time or money is invested in something, every action should be very strategic. Business models (a blueprint for a business, defining the way revenue will be brought in, services provided, etc) and plans ( a plan for how the business will be operated, marketed, managed, etc) are important, but don’t let them bog you down. If you are pursuing more of a hobby and are not investing a lot of money, you can feel freer to just have fun with your little business and not worry as much about all the planning. However, If you or others are putting a significant amount of money into the business, then creating a model and plan is a must.

Creating a model and plan is not a has hard as you might expect. There are a lot of helpful guides for your planning purposes. Business Model Generation (sold on Amazon for just over $20) is a great buy because it can really help you understand what the components of a business model are and how you can design one. For business plans, you can find a simplified sample plan from bplans.com that is really useful.

3. Dealing with Legalities

Most people are afraid to start a business because they are worried about all the paperwork and red tape they will have to go through to get started. The truth is if you are starting an e-business as a sole proprietorship and without employees, there really isn’t a whole lot that you have to do. All your earnings and expenses are considered personal and are filed in your own personal taxes. There is one thing that you probably want to do however, which is to register your business name with the local authorities so you can accept payments in the name of your business. This is known as a DBA (Doing Business As) and will usually cost no more than $50 and in some states is free.

All that said; please understand that you as the owner of the business are responsible for making sure you follow all rules and regulations associated with your enterprise. Laws for small businesses vary dramatically by state and local government so please consult business.gov which is a helpful government site that you can use to make sure you have everything you need to operate as a business.

4. Develop Your Business

Establish affiliate partners, network (a lot), build business relationships, work on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), trade links with other sites to enhance SEO, and promote your business. These are just a few of the things that you can do to help your business grow.

5. Use Progressive Enhancement

Basically, progressive enhancement is way to develop your businesses presence on the web and specifically, the website itself. Progressive enhancement consists of three main parts: content, presentation, and client-side scripting. The idea is that content is at the center; it drives the site and gives it validity. Wrapped around the content is two layers of coating, one being the presentation which is the style and presentation of the site as determined by the CSS, and the other is client-side script or JavaScript.

In application: it is important to have quality content that draws users to your site and keeps them there. Without valued content you site will have a hard time retaining visitors. Finally, use CSS and JavaScript to make the content all the more appealing. Your business needs to have a good value proposition which is decorated and enhanced by a genuine, appealing, and welcoming appearance.

6. Evaluate Your Business

Once you have got your e-business established it is important to routinely step back evaluate your progress. You need to ask: is the business accomplishing its purpose? I am satisfied with my results? What could I do better? And (very important) am I enjoying what I am doing? Throughout this step you must be honest with yourself. It is important to have a good balance between persevering and knowing when to get out. You will encounter a certain amount of difficultly and road blocks in your efforts and I strongly encourage you stick with it, but you need to remember what your goals are be willing to let go if you are truly unhappy with your results. Also, be willing to modify the way that you operate to better meet your goals or to keep up with the ever evolving business world.

Summing it Up

The idea behind an e-business is that you always win. Either you start something you really enjoy that becomes a great success and is a lot of fun or you decide to stop and take a positive experience with lots of added knowledge and skills into your next enterprise whether that be working for someone else or starting another self-owned business. Enter your e-business planning with this in mind and you can’t go wrong. 

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Comments 5 comments

Volusion-Template profile image

Volusion-Template 5 years ago

Great article.. very detailed and incisive.


Jason Matthews profile image

Jason Matthews 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks Volusion-Template!


Don Simkovich profile image

Don Simkovich 5 years ago from Pasadena, CA

Nice article, Jason. Clarifying goals really is important. The owner of Air n Water started his business while working full-time and didn't stop working full-time until his online business was drawing enough money. The other aspect of an e-business is that it can focus on local businesses and what they offer -- for example, a personal health site may have phone numbers to local dentists, chiropractors, doctors.


Il_Padrino profile image

Il_Padrino 5 years ago

Thanks for that - is very useful!


Dan Kutuapi profile image

Dan Kutuapi 3 years ago from Papua New Guinea

An interesting and useful article, Jason. I've learnt something from reading this hub. Many thanks. Voted up as well. Sincerely, Dan.

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