How to Start a Small Business Online

Starting a small business online from home can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it's not without its challenges. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of starting a small business online, from choosing a niche to setting up your website. We'll also cover some of the most important things to keep in mind when starting out, such as branding and marketing. So whether you're looking to start a home-based online store or create a freelance writing business, let’s get started!



Starting a Small Business Online

If you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss then starting a small business from home is a great way to do just that! Before you can get into the nitty gritty details of starting a business, you need an idea. What will your business be and who will it serve? This is a great time to look around your community and see if there’s a need that you can fill. You should also do some research to check out your competition, if there is any. This is where thorough research will pay off in the end!


There are many different types of businesses you can start from home. In addition to finding a gap in your community, think of what you like to do, and what you can do or are good at. If you’re organized and punctual maybe starting your own VA (virtual assistant) business is for you. Or if you’re all about thrift shopping consider creating a business around flipping your finds. Another option that’s worthy of consideration is starting a dropshipping business. This involves buying and selling products that are already complete. All you have to do is run the business side while the shipping and handling is fulfilled by someone else. Get creative - people start new businesses every day and there are always new ideas out there.


At this stage of starting a business from home you should begin considering costs. Your start up costs will vary depending on what industry you are focusing in on. If you’re opening your own freelance website design business you’ll only need a trusty laptop and reliable internet. While if you’re starting a lawn care business you’ll need to invest in tools, equipment, and insurance. Remember to add in shipping and supplies cost if you’ll be sending and receiving products.


Small Business Business Plans

Every business needs a solid business plan. This is especially important when starting an online business from home. Your business plan will be your roadmap to success. While this document doesn’t need to be pages upon pages, it should outline some key points. NerdWallet recommends including the following:


This can be considered a “lean startup business plan” and can be used for a variety of purposes going forward. If you choose to seek additional funding you can use this as the basis of your presentation to potential investors. A solid business plan will set a solid foundation.



Naming Your Small Business

Now comes the fun part - naming your business! There are many considerations when it comes to naming your business. The very first step is to check that the name you want is available to use. Check availability of the name by going to your secretary of state’s website or business bureau, as well as the US Patent and Trademark Office. A quick Google search is an easy enough way to start checking. Since you’ll be starting a business online you want to make sure that the website domain is available as well.


Deciding on Your Business Type

There are a variety of different ways to set up your business - from starting an LLC to being a sole proprietor. Much of this decision will be influenced by how you want your business to run. If you think in the future you’ll be expanding, consider starting an LLC (limited liability corporation). Starting an LLC will ensure that you are not liable for business debts and your company will remain separate from your personal entity. However, when you’re starting a business from home, it may be easiest to go the Sole Proprietorship route. This doesn’t require registration with the state and taxes are straightforward.


Regardless of the type of entity you choose, you should apply for an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, through the IRS. This will be useful in the future for filing taxes, hiring employees, and generally keeping your business separated from your personal finances.


Marketing Plan for Small Business

You have your business idea, your name, and you’re all registered through the government but how will people find you? This is where marketing comes into play when starting a small business. You can have the greatest business in the world but without a solid marketing plan you’ll struggle to get sales. Your marketing plan can be a simple document that serves as a guide. The US Chamber of Commerce has a helpful list of what your plan should include:

  • An overview of your marketing goals.

  • A description of your target market and customer.

  • A timeline of tasks to be completed.

  • Important metrics to track along the way.


Consider outsourcing your marketing when starting a business online. A good digital marketing agency will work with you to create branding, improve your website’s SEO, and implement marketing strategies. Outsourcing to a marketing agency will also alleviate much of the stress of starting a small business! You can then build up your inventory, or focus on your product while your marketing is handled.