So you have a great idea and have decided to start an online business. Great! But what’s your next move?
I am a firm believer that owning your own business is the ideal professional situation for anyone and everyone that is capable. Having said that, starting and maintaining a successful online business is hard! It is especially easy to get off track.
For this very reason I have created a tried and tested checklist for folks who want to get an online business running in 90 days! Sticking to the below plan will help you stay focused and on track. Remember one thing at a time.
- Day 1-10 – Put your business idea on trial. Try to convince yourself your idea won’t work. What I am really trying to get you to do here is make sure this is what you want to do. Talk the idea over with potential users and customers. The closer to your target market the better. Also do some research relevant to your idea. If at the end of day 10 you still want to proceed then you probably have a winner.
- Day 11-30 – Write your business plan. Find a formal business plan template and dive in. You will have to make changes to this thing through out the first couple years but keep up with it and make sure you have a whole plan before you move on.
- Day 31-34 – Decide on your Business Name. If you are starting a local business then you will probably do best to put “what you do” in the business name. If you are starting a business that is targeting customers nationwide then you want to decide on a name that lends itself to branding. For example if you are starting a web design company in Williamsburg VA and you have decided to go the “personal and local” route then a name like “Williamsburg Web” or “Williamsburg Web Design” are great choices. This is because folks looking for a local web design will know that’s what you do right away. However if you are going to try to service the whole country then you want something like “Go Daddy“.
- Day 35-36 – Register your business name. Time to make it official.
- Day 37-38 – Decide on a Domain Name. When picking a domain name you want something that is easy to remember and easy to type in without making a mistake. It is a billion times harder to get the “.com” name you want compared to a “.info” or “.site” etc. Though it is tempting to some to go with one of the odd ball endings I would strongly suggest trying to get a “.com”. This is because people tend to trust “.com” sites and perhaps more importantly people tend to distrust the odd ones. If you do go with a non “.com” make sure it is a “.net” “.org” “.biz” or “.us”. Nothing else will be approved by me except for a “.edu” but you can’t get those unless you are a school.
- Day 39-39 – Register Domain Name. Make sure you register with someone you can trust. If you don’t know who then either do hostgator, godaddy, or bluehost (all .com’s).
- Day 40-45 – Set up Location and Office. (check applicable zoning laws if necessary) If you are working from home this still applies to you. You need your own dedicated room at the very least. No exceptions.
- Day 46-50 – Decide on the legal entity to organize under. Make sure you give this decision plenty of thought. Do your homework. Most of you will decide on a LLC. They offer debt and liability protection by the corporate veil just like a stock corporation, but don’t carry as much start up costs and are far less tedious and time consuming (less rules).
- Day 51-60 – Legalize Business. If you are starting some sort of partnership or a class c corporation then I would highly suggest you seek the help of an attorney. If on the other hand you are going to go with a LLC or a sole proprietorship on your own just do it yourself and use that money for advertising the new business.
- Day 61-65 – Apply for Business Accounts. It is in your best interest to keep all the business stuff separate from your personal stuff.
- Checking/Savings and any Credit Cards
- EIN – Employer Identification Number
- Business Insurances
- Sales Tax Certificate
- Day 66-70 – Website Development Vendors. This is a very important step. Make sure you do your research if you need to. I gave you five days here so you would have ample time to choose wisely.
- Marketing Services
- Day 71-80 – Develop Website Content and Plans. Time to start writing and creating. Content is king. You need to create the basic web pages first then create as much great content as you can over the next 10 days. Also develop a plan to keep creating content. If you don’t have the time then you may want to look into paying someone to create it for you.
- Day 81-88 – Put it all together online. It’s time to open up shop!
- Day 89-90 – Social media Pages, Search Engines, Marketing Plans
- Day 91 – Everything is up and Running – Congrats
You may have to alter a few bits or details of this overview timeline designed to help you get an online business up and running in 90 days. However I think you will find that the overall order of operations is done in a very logical and effective way.
This is not going to be a super easy process. You will definitely run into some snags and hang ups. But fear not. My helpful finance blog here has a ton of useful business help resources to aid you on your way to becoming a successful and rich entrepreneur.