How to Start an E-Commerce Businessby Quinn Marshall
An e-commerce business is a business that exists solely online, unlike brick and mortar businesses, which exist as a physical store. You can start your own e-commerce business with little upfront investment, and use it to sell products or offer a service, such as online consultations. Creating your own e-commerce business may be cheaper than hiring a service to do it for you, and offers you more control over the entire process, though it may be time consuming to get started.
Get funding for your e-commerce business if necessary. Consider taking a private loan from an individual you know in order to avoid high interest charges, or take out a bank loan. You can seek an angel investor, which is a rich individual who will provide you with funding. Alternatively, you can apply for grants from various businesses and the government to start your business.
Find an e-commerce website host, which is a company that will host your website on its servers. Most hosting companies offer several different hosting packages at different price rates, such as "Basic" and "Business." You should choose a hosting package specifically for e-commerce websites; it will be tailored to a company's needs and bandwidth requirements, and may include perks, such as e-commerce tools.
Create your website if you have Web design programming and knowledge, otherwise hire a Web programmer and designer to do the work for you. Create a detailed website plan that lays out what you need and expect, and areas where you're open to input. Pay the programmer and designer in stages, and have all the details, including deadlines and payment info, laid out in a contract, which both you and the designers and programmers must sign.
Set up business bank accounts at your local bank, which is necessary to keep your personal and business finances separate from each other. Consider registering your business as a Limited Liability Company to reduce your financial risk.
Hire employees if necessary. For example, if your e-commerce business involves shipping packages all day long, consider hiring someone to do the packaging and shipping so that you can concentrate on customer service.
Hire an accountant to take care of your finances. It is important to keep accurate books and a detailed list of expenses so that your taxes at the year's end are accurate. You may be required to pay estimated taxes every quarter. An accountant will be able to advise you on all aspects of your finances, help you find deductions and pay your taxes on time.
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