Not all web-based businesses are created equal, but most require a common set of conditions to flourish. Here’s a look at six things that you’ll probably need to launch your first online enterprise — or, at least, wish you had as time goes on.
Lightweight Accounting Software
Make sure you know where your money’s going. With the right cloud accounting platform, you don’t need an accounting degree (or any familiarity with spreadsheets at all) to keep track of your company’s cash flow. Look for platforms with free trial options, invoicing capabilities, and integrations with other business software (such as time tracking tools, if applicable).
A Great Credit Card
First, a word of caution: the most important thing you can do with a credit card is use it wisely and well within your means. The fact that you don’t have to pay your balance due the moment you make each purchase doesn’t mean you can spend outside your means.
There are lots of credit cards for young adults to choose from, so do your homework and select a product that fits your credit profile, spending habits, and budget. With the right card, you’ll build your business’s credit and earn rewards on every dollar you spend. Some cards have long low-APR introductory promotions, too, which can come in handy if you’re planning a big purchase.
Is your company right with the law? Before you do much else, you’ll want to set up a formal business structure for your enterprise. Use a low-cost legal platform like LegalZoom to draw up articles of incorporation, choose a domicile state (Delaware and Nevada are both popular), and assign a local registered agent if you’re not able to serve as your own.
Active Social Media Handles
Give your audience a reason to know you exist. It doesn’t take much effort to turn up a halfway decent social media presence. Survey your peer landscape to determine which social media properties your competitors are using, and how. As a general rule, you’ll at minimum want Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Business pages — but do let your competitors lead the way.
A Great Website
You’d think this would be obvious, but think again. Plenty of web-based businesses lack standalone websites, thanks to robust sales channels hosted in self-contained platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and the like. While it’s tempting for lean e-commerce startups to go this route, particularly if their principals lack web development expertise, doing so could compromise your efforts to develop your brand over the long term. Plus, succinct top-level domains look better on business cards and email subject lines.
A Compelling Logo
Speaking of branding: your business needs a compelling logo that sticks in your audience’s mind. (It should be attractive, too.) Use an online freelance platform like 99Designs or DesignCrowd to source an affordable, professional-grade logo as you’re getting your website and social handles ready.
What Else Are You Missing?
Are these the only six things your first web-based business needs? Almost certainly not. The work isn’t done simply because you’ve ticked all these boxes.
If you haven’t already done so, find a mentor (or three) who’s been through the online marketing gauntlet before. Pick their brains. And get ready for a challenging, rewarding, life-changing endeavor. If we can do it, so can you.