Whether you are launching an ecommerce site, starting up an online consulting business, creating copy or video for online clients or selling products as an online merchant from sites like eBay, Etsy or Amazon, the possibilities for an online business are almost endless. Having an internet business also allows you to work from the comfort of your own home with lower overhead and no commuting costs. But you’ll still need some essential items in order to get your internet home business off the ground. Here are some things that can make running a business of any size easier.
Setting Up Your Internet Home Business
High Speed Internet
If you want to have a business online, the first thing you need to be able to do is access the internet. Make sure that your home-based online business is prepared with a strong and reliable connection so that you can manage all of the necessary online tasks. And make sure your internet service is sufficient to allow you to easily upload video and perform other tasks that may be necessary in the daily operation of your business.
You also need a good computer that not only allows you to access the internet but lets you store files, load photos and video, run management software or do anything else needed for daily operations . Many of today’s laptops are sophisticated enough to let you run pretty much every aspect of an online business on one machine. And they’re convenient since you can move them around your home or even to the local coffee shop if you need a change of scenery.
If you’re going to work on a laptop, then you’ll also likely need a WiFi network in your home. If you only have an Ethernet connection or something that requires you to be plugged in, you could miss out on some of the benefits of having a flexible, home-based business operation — or of easily connecting other tools like laptops or printers as your business grows.
Managing finances is an operational necessity for any business. Even if you’re running an online business from your home, you need a way to organize your payments, expenses, invoices and more. Quickbooks, Xero and other tools provide accounting solutions that work for online businesses and many now provide these services in the cloud making it unnecessary to buy any software and easy to upgrade and add capabilities.
Online Payment Service
To actually collect and send payments, you’ll want to use an online service like PayPal or Dwolla. These services allow users to transfer and accept money online securely. There are also other services like Authorize.net or Google Wallet that offer some of the same features.
Saving files and important documents to the cloud allows you to access them from anywhere. But even if you’re not planning to take your business on the road anytime soon, you can still use cloud storage as a way to securely backup your important files. Cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Carbonite let you save important files or even backup your entire system.
More and more businesses are going paperless. But that doesn’t mean that there will never be situations where you’ll need a hard copy of something. If you do feel the need to print documents or other items even on occasion, investing in a good wireless printer can be a convenient solution.
Calendar or Scheduling System
Keeping track of all your various meetings, events and tasks can be hard work. But there are plenty of different programs that can help you keep it all organized. Google Calendar and similar apps let you schedule appointments and even share events with other contacts. And others like Todoist or Acuity Scheduling can help you stay on top of appointments or even regular to-do list items.
Time Tracking System
For those times when you’re not necessarily meeting with someone, but still need to set aside a certain amount of time for a project, you can use time tracking tools like Harvest. Even if you don’t opt for a specific app or service, it’s important that you have a specific method for keeping track of how much time you spend on things so you’ll be able to keep up with your progress and know how much to charge clients for various activities.
Video Conferencing System
Even if you work from home, you’ll still probably need to be in touch with other team members, clients or partners from time to time. So video conferencing systems like Skype or GoToMeeting can be a big help in letting you have face to face meetings — even if you’re in different towns, different states, different countries or halfway around the world.
Email Marketing and CRM System
No matter what type of business you run, you’ll need a way to stay in touch with your best customers via email. CRM systems like Infusionsoft or email marketing platforms like Vertical Response let you send emails to your list and even create personalized sequences for different types of customers.
Business Name and Domain
Even if you’re running a business from home, you need an official name and a website. Choose a domain name that’s available and fits with your business name and purchase it from a provider like Namecheapor GoDaddy. You might even consider registering your business name officially so that others can’t use it.
Once you have a domain name secured, you also need a hosting provider for your website. Of course, companies like Namecheap and GoDaddy, mentioned above, also provide hosting, as do other options like Bluehost. These companies can help you get your website up and running and even provide storage for all the different files you might need.
Social Media Accounts
When you’re working to get the word out about your business, social media can be an incredibly useful tool. Set up accounts on sites like Facebook and Instagram if you’re hoping to reach consumers. Or if you’re looking to get more into the B2B market, try LinkedIn.
Yea, you’ll also need one of these? Didn’t expect to see this listed among must-haves for an internet home business. Well, you’ll also need an actual plan for your business. How are you going to earn revenue and keep your business profitable? Will you sell products? Services? Who will you sell these things to? Even if you’re running a business from your home, you need an official plan in order to be as successful as possible. Setting up a home internet business may be cheaper than other entrepreneurial options. But that does’t mean abandoning the basics.
Home Business Photo via Shutterstock