Doing business on the web can be overwhelming when you're first
starting out, so I put together a few of the most common questions with
some of the solutions that I've found over the years to help you get
How do you get a website?
going to be doing business on the web, you'll need a website. Websites
are made up of two things (basically, they can be MUCH more complicated
of course) - a URL (the www.yoursite.com name) and storage for your
files that will be accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
Your URL is your address, like your house address, and it's how
visitors find your files onlilne. Your storage is called 'hosting' and
is brought to you by a company which will link that storage with your
URL. Actual web pages are just made up of complex file structures served to the viewer in a particular way.
How do you get paid online?
you're doing business on the web, you'll need to figure out some way to
get paid. I use PayPal because it's easy and allows anyone to accept
credit cards without needing a complicated Merchant Account. Also, they
do all the complicated things that make your transactions secure. Yes,
they take a percentage of every transaction for this privilege, but
that's how it goes.
How do you accept credit cards on your website?
out how to accept credit cards securely is one of the most complicated
parts of doing business on the web. Accepting credit cards directly on
your website requires setting up a virtural merchant terminal on your
own sercure website. You must buy a year long subscription to a
security certificate, which will be implemented to make your website
safe. Next, you must have a merchant account. Many banks do this and
there are also online companies (PayPal does this too, although they're
not the cheapest for this) which will do this. All the online companies
and most banks these days will also provide you with a merchant gateway
subscription. These merchant gateways will integrate with your site and
allow you to accept cards on your site (so long as you've got a
How do you advertise online?
literally billions of websites. To succeed in doing business on the
web, you'll need to get your website seen by the people who are looking
for it. Advertising is one way to do this. There's several types of
online advertising. Choosing the right one for your business can allow
you to expand your business beyond your own natural search reach.
CPC advertising companies place adds on their network of sites and
every time someone clicks a link, you pay a fee. It's called "Cost per
click" and Google Adwords is the most famous and advanced of these
CPA advertising companies require you
to place conversion trackers on your pages and every time someone comes
to your site through their links and does what you want them to do (buy
a product, sign up for a newsletter, take a survey, etc.) you pay a
fee. It's called "cost per action" advertising. Bing Cashback is the
largest and most popular (and hardest to get into) of these networks.
Affiliate programs are where individual website publishers or
bloggers can sign up to create their own unique links to your site.
Every time someone comes to your site and makes a conversion, you pay a
percentage of that conversion or a flat fee per conversion to that
publisher. These can be expensive to integrate initially, but they can
be lucrative and cost effective advertising in the long run.
Banner Ads are where you pay a flat monthly fee for a specific
advertising position on a specific website - usually negotiated
directly with the website's owner or parent company. Banner ads refer
not just to the top banners on websites, but any sidebar placement and
some text link placements.
Pay to Post
advertisements are popular ways to create more online buzz about your
company and products or services. These advertisements are where you
pay bloggers or social media heavyweights a flat fee to talk up your
company to their followers.
Do you charge sales tax?
you're doing business on the web, whether or not you need to charge
sales tax is always a question that comes up. Most of the time, you
only need to charge sales tax if you're selling something in your own
state. However, you should always check with your state or country's
tax authority before beginning your business to make sure you do it
right. Oh, yeah, and keep good records of your sales for the
How do you do your bookkeeping?
you're doing business on the web, you'll probably be working with fewer
staff and probably not have a bookkeeper. Learning how to do your own
books is important, but so is not letting it consume your life. I love
and swear by Outright.com for completely online bookkeeping. They don't
charge anything, so even if you decide to use them I don't get any
kickbacks. They're just an awesome service and an awesome community of
fellow small business persons. Their community area has so many answers
to frequently asked questions!
However, Outright isn't yet set
up to handle anyone who isn't a sole proprietorship. If you've got a
larger business structure, it's totally possible to still use Outright,
but it gets more complicated and you've got to set up some 'hacks' to
make it all flow together. Instead, my friends with corporations and
LLCs recommend investing in high-quality bookkeeping software,
especially if you run payroll. If your business handles many clients
instead of customers, you might consider outsourcing a bookkeeper
through Odesk or something for more personalized attention.
How will you answer the phone?
you get most of your business from clients or customers, you'll need a
phone. Spend a few extra bucks and get a 1-800 number. Many folks I
know have this set up to automatically forward to their own cell phone
for ease of use. That's seriously the easiest way to do things.
Toktumi.com is a great service and has awesome quality for the price.
It's just $15 a month and you get a virtural PBX, call handling, call
forwarding and unlimited incomming calls. LOVE IT!
have more customer service needs than you can handle yourself, you'll
need to hire someone to do it for you. I suggest hiring someone local
to your nation instead of outsourcing overseas for ease of management,
but that's up to you. Overseas virtual assistants can be very cheap,
especially when you're first starting out. There's also many services
that make doing business on the web and providing customer service very
easy - but depending on your product you may wish to have this done
For me, doing
business on the web means not being tied down. Therefore, since I don't
use my business phone for more than an initial contact location for
customers, I have it go to my Google Voice account. This then emails me
a transcription of their voicemail if I don't get to the phone in time. Toktumi does this as well, but offers 800 numbers too.
I can then call the person back from whatever number I wish or I can
email them. Again, part of my business plan when I started was to
create a 100% online business. If I'm forever tied to a phone, I've
failed. If that's not your business plan, this isn't a good solution
Ask your own question about doing business on the web!
Are you interested in doing business on the web? Just learning or do you have years of experience under your belt? Ask your questions here and I'll do my best to answer them. Plus, others will have an opportunity to see them as well and add their own input.