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The corporate world has left you feeling drained, unappreciated, underpaid and yearning for another option. One or more of your former co-workers, friends or family members has achieved financial independence through starting an online business, and now they’re working a few hours a week and spending more time actually enjoying life. You’ve decided this well-worn path is also the best option for you, but before you even discuss website design or product distribution, it’s important to realize that with any new venture, starting an online business is fraught with potential pitfalls. Here are the top six points to consider before beginning this journey and why outsourcing your payroll services is a smart move.
What Exactly Am I Offering, and Do People Really Need It?
Believe it or not, many venture into the world of online business without even knowing what service or product they’ll offer. If you’re a computer wizard, consider starting a website that offers your service at a competitive rate. A crafty individual could easily sell their wares to customers across the globe, thanks to the power of the internet and competitive global shipping costs. Beyond this, it’s also important to determine if your product or service is in demand, or if there’s simply too much competition in the marketplace already.
Create a Smart, Flexible Business Model
Once again, creating a realistic, working business model is accomplished only after asking yourself a few tough questions. For instance, do you have enough available start-up money, or will you need to take on investors or borrow the extra money? What’s your advertising budget? What are your goals in six months, and what will you do if the demand for your product or service becomes too overwhelming? Ask yourself these questions before formulating a business plan that you can alter and expand, as your business evolves.
It’s All About the Domain Name
When it comes to a domain name, simple and catchy is always the better option. Don’t try to be too clever and instead choose a name that people will remember, without even writing it down. When a potential customer hops online, they’re more likely to visit your site if they remember the domain name; so keep it short, sweet and relevant.
Is Creating the Website Myself a Feasible Option?
The actual process of designing your website is easier than ever, thanks to the copious amounts of do-it-yourself software and services geared toward small business owners. If you’re familiar with website creation, go ahead and let your creativity dictate your site’s layout. If you don’t know the first thing about creating an effective landing page and choosing the right fonts or graphics, consider hiring outside help. The initial investment in a professionally-designed website is well worth the compliments and satisfied clients.
Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
Your online venture is expanding, and as a result, you’ve decided it’s time to take on extra help. Everything is going great, until the tax man comes knocking at your door. Several small business owners are unaware of the tax obligations associated with retaining employees, which is where outsourcing your payroll services comes into play. A knowledgeable payroll services provider is well-equipped to handle more than just making sure everyone is compensated in a timely fashion. They will also ensure everything is squared away before tax time, which could save you thousands in unnecessary penalties.
Celebrate Success and Learn From Your Failures
That first tumultuous year of owning your own online business will be fraught with unexpected lows and unforgettable highs. When your business isn’t performing as expected, take this opportunity to restructure and learn what you’re doing wrong. Reinvest in advertising or seek the assistance of another small business owner. During periods of success, don’t concentrate too deeply on how you got there. Instead, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back and keep moving forward. Determine how this new found capital can be reinvested in the business, but don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a much deserved weekend with your family.
If you’re passionate about starting your own online business, but low on funds, don’t be afraid to think small. Begin by creating a website yourself, and offering your product and services on a limited scale. As your business begins to expand, use the extra cash to hire a professional website designer and advertise through social media and print.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the author: Lydia Myers is a guest blogger and the proud owner of an online business. She began selling homemade children’s hats and mittens online nearly five years ago, and has recently taken on several boutique clients. She outsources all of her payroll services to save her time for more important things, like going to her daughter’s soccer games.