Starting an Online Business


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Starting an Online Business

  1. 1. The Online Business Guidebook Fall 2009 START HEREThe essential guideto starting youronline business
  2. 2. Third-Party InformationThis guide contains links to third-party websites that are not under the control of TheOnline Business Guidebook, and The Online Business Guidebook is not responsiblefor the content on any linked site. If you access a third-party website mentioned inthis guide, then you do so at your own risk. The Online Business Guidebook providesthese links only as a convenience, and the inclusion of the link does not imply thatThe Online Business Guidebook endorses or accepts any responsibility for the contenton those third-party sites. Further, readers should be aware that web sites listed in thiswork may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and whenit is read. Use of third-party logos in the listings in this guidebook is for educationalpurposes only and does necessarily imply endorsement of or by these third-parties, nordoes it necessarily imply affiliation with the third-party.Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of WarrantyThe publisher, authors, and contributors make no representations or warranties withrespect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specificallydisclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for aparticular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotionalmaterials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for everysituation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher, authors, andcontributors, are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionalservices. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professionalshould be sought. Neither the publisher, nor the authors or contributors, shall be liableto any party for direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages arisingout of the use of this work, or any derivatives thereof, even if the authors have beenadvised of the possibility of such damage.Copyright © 2009 by The Online Business Guidebook. All Rights Reserved.No part of this publication may be reprinted or distributed without prior writtenpermission by the author. All trademarks printed herein are property of theirrespective owners.First Edition: Fall 2009The Online Business Guidebook125 N. Main St. #233Blacksburg, VA
  3. 3. Table of Contents1 Establish Your Business 7 Registering Your Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Registering Your Website . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Register a 1-800 Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Create Your Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Competitor Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Develop Your Product 19 Graphic Design & Web Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Web Content Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Outsourcing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243 Sell Your Product 27 Sales Force Automation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Buyers & Suppliers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Shopping Carts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Call Center & IVR Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Payment Processing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Outsourced Fulfillment: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 384 Promote Your Business 41 Purchasing Prospects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Email Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Direct Mail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Pay-Per-Click Advertising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Affiliate Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Blogvertising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Distributing Articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Internet Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Table of Contents | 1
  4. 4. 5 Track Your Performance 59 Internal Issue Tracking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Online Feedback/Survey Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Public Product Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Web Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Automatic Website Monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 6 Complete Your Administration 71 Accounting, Taxes, & Payroll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 722 | The Online Business Guidebook
  5. 5. Acknowledgments Mike Levisay CEO Chris VanEvery Executive Director Alan Abrahams Faculty Advisor Publishing Team Tirna Singh Megan Wright Jason Finnell James Milholen Kyle O’Neal Joe Bonfiglio Philip Kempton Kara Nicole Batt Andrea Lovett Sales Team Lauren Taylor Drew Kahle David Starler Sara DiMantova Mike Knoth Damon Silva Caryn English Kristin English Carrick Hines Finance Team Anthony Wu Chris Perry Richard Hardy Corey Whisker David Hudzinski Kenneth Black Roger Akins Andrew Barnes Website Development Team William Lindner Sean Elble Bharat Khanna John Flores Greg Seador Cheerag Patel Marketing Team Jeff Barry Shannon Jones Drew Ernest Wesley Jackson Friedrich Vogel Jr. Jeremy Liu Sarah Smith Contributors A.J. DiLorenzo Graham Hudgins Nathan Moon J.J. Gregoric Chris Dixon Constatine Papanas- Alan Ma R.J. Stanley tasiouThe Online Business Guidebook thanks the following corporate sponsors for their generous support of this edition Progress Printing Deloitte Special Thanks to: Mark White, Jon Taillon, Jeanie Darlington Advisory Committee James Dubinsky Student Engagement Eva Brumberger Print Writing Carlos Evia Web Writing Truman Capone Visual Design Gary Kinder Careers and Recruiting Lynn Nystrom Engineering Kari Adkins Advisory Philip Martin Financial Advice Jigar Doshi Advisory Bruce Philips Legal Services Special Thanks Phill Stevens Layout Design Pat McCarthy Corporate Relations Sookhan Ho Publicity Tracy McCoy Administration Ellen Krupar Information Steven D. Smith Advisory Bernard Taylor Sponsorship
  6. 6. Preparing students for global business challengesInnovatIon The Pamplin College of Business ■ Our undergraduate program is ranked among the nation’s 50 best business schools. ■ Pamplin students manage more than $8 million of Virginia Tech’s endowment through investments in stocks and fixed-income securities. ■ The college sponsors several study-abroad programs to Africa, Asia, and Europe each year. For more information about the Pamplin College of Business, call 540/231-6601 or visit
  7. 7. Tell Us Your StoryHow has the Online Business Guidebook helped you supercharge your onlinebusiness? Tell us your success story for a chance to be featured in an upcomingissue, on our website, or in our publicity!Register online at: Great DealsGet future updates, discounts and deals by registering your copy of The OnlineBusiness Guidebook at the code: OBGFall09Advertise With UsPromote your business by advertising in The OnlineBusiness Guidebook. For more information,, email or call 888.695.9551.Distributors & ResellersCorporations or associations interested in purchasingcustom-wrapped prints of the guidebook, orresellers interested in obtaining copies for retailsale (minimum order 1,000 copies), should or Table of Contents | 5
  8. 8. HOW DO YOU FOLLOW-UP WITH A NEW CONTACT?DO YOU SEND A PLAIN OLD EMAIL? ITING OR AN EXC ETING! EMAIL GRE TM NSE THAT G ETS A RESPO FOLLOW-UP t’s inbox. in your contac Don’t get lost ded Email nd them bran Stand out! Se ness. gned for busi Greetings desi t today at a free accoun It’s easy! Get No credit www.gladh to get started. card required E BG BOOK, ROMO COD M, ENTER P HANDLE.CO WWW.GLAD GS FOR FRE E! SIGN UP AT IL GREETIN AND GET 10 EMA
  9. 9. 1 Establish Your BusinessItching to start your new online business? First, you’ll need to register yourbusiness with the federal and state governments, and register your website. Tomake it easier for customers to reach you and enhance your business credibil-ity, you might want to purchase a 1-800 number. Finally, build your brand bygetting yourself a logo that makes your business more unique and noticeable. 1 Establish Your Business Register your business...............................8 Register your website................................10 Register your 1-800 number......................12 Create your logo.........................................14 7
  10. 10. Registering Your Business: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to register your business. Step 1 Determine which type of legal entity you wish to become - a Sole Proprietorship, a General Partnership, a Limited Partnership, a Limited Liability Corporation, a Corporation or an S Corporation. Use information provided from the vendors below to help determine which is best for your business. Step 2 Look to see if the desired name for your legal entity is available and is not already taken by another corporation. Step 3 Check quotes from the vendors listed below to determine the best price for incorporating in legal entity type of your choice in the state of your choosing. Step 4 Choose the appropriate vendor and then submit the necessary information about your business to the vendor. Step 5 Receive the completed documents and submit them to the appropriate offices. Many of the vendors listed alongside will save you the hassle by submitting the relevant documents to the appropriate authorities on your behalf.8 | The Online Business Guidebook
  11. 11. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Look at state incorporation laws when Search Google using the following search determining where to incorporate your phrases : business. Some states have more favor- able incorporation laws than others; however, if you do business in states outside of the state of your incorporation, 1. Register your business you may have to pay extra fees. 2. Form your LLC♦ Do you have a registered agent for your business? If you register as a corporation 3. Register business name or as a Limited Liability Corporation, all 4. Registering a business online states require your corporation to have a registered agent. Many of the vendors 5. Incorporating a business 1 which provide services to register as a business also provide registered agent 6. Registered agent services. Establish Your BusinessRegistering Your Business: VendorsGet started with registering your business with the following 9
  12. 12. Registering Your Website: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to register your website. Step 1 Conduct a WhoIs lookup to determine if the web domain address you wish to purchase is available. A WhoIs search can be conducted at the vendor websites below. Step 2 Register your domain name with one of the vendors listed below. Step 3 Pay the monthly fee to keep your domain name registered. Step 4 Pay additional fees if you would like for a vendor to provide additional services such as an e-mail domain name or web hosting services. Step 5 Place content on your website by either using tools from the vendor or by us- ing your own web development tools.10 | The Online Business Guidebook
  13. 13. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Ensure that the name of your business Search Google using the following search and the name of your web domain are phrases : consistent.♦ Many of the vendors which provide domain names additionally provide web 1. Web registration hosting services. See if you can get the two together as a package and potentially 2. Domain name comparison save money. 3. Domain Name Availability♦ Make sure you pick an appropriate extension for your web domain. 4. Domain Name Lookup 5. Domain Name Affiliates 6. Domain Name Check 1 Establish Your BusinessRegistering Your Website: VendorsGet started with registering your website with the following 11
  14. 14. Register a 1-800 Number: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to acquire your own 1-800-Number, for your business, online: Step 1 Visit one of the sites below, and view their many service options. Most companies offer a variety of different phone plans. Step 2 Pick the plan that seems to best fit your needs. Step 3 Sign up for a free trial if offered. These tend to be the best way to see if a plan is the right one for your business. Step 4 Pay whatever monthly or yearly fees apply. Make sure to double check ahead of time to know what your rates will be. Step 5 Monitor all your new incoming calls, and reply to them as soon as possible.12 | The Online Business Guidebook
  15. 15. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Shop around, and make sure to compare Search Google using the following search prices on rates. There are lots of options phrases : out there.♦ As with all phone plans, read carefully for hidden fees. 1. 1-800 Numbers♦ If you opt to acquire receptionist services, 2. 1-800 Dialers check to see where the receptionists are stationed. Many customers prefer local, 3. Online Phone Service U.S.-based tech support. 4. Business numbers♦ Always be careful, and monitor your minute usage, if you get a plan that lacks 5. Receptionists Services♦ unlimited minutes. Lastly, make sure to purchase these ser- vices with a business bank account, and 6. Online Business Phone Systems 1 not your personal one. Establish Your BusinessRegister a 1-800 Number: VendorsGet started with registering your 1-800 number with the following 13
  16. 16. Create Your Logo: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to create a customized logo for your company. Step 1 Choose among the many logo creation providers listed below. Step 2 Search for the package that looks right for you. This will be based on how many logo concepts, stationary logo designs, revisions, and other services requested such as brochures or business cards. Step 3 Sign-up at their website with your personal and company information. Step 4 Give input. You will be asked preferences or ideas about the logo concept you would like created for your company. Logo designers will incorporate your ideas in a customized solution. Step 5 Buy the logo! The logo creators will work with you to create your custom design, but you’ll have to give them the money to do it. Prices can often range from $100 to over $1,000.14 | The Online Business Guidebook
  17. 17. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Be sure you know exactly what you are Search Google using the following search getting for the money you are giving. phrases :♦ Create consistency throughout your com- pany to create a brand (your logo, web design, promotional material). 1. Logo Design♦ Colors have meaning - be sure you have 2. Custom Logos colors that instill the correct emotion or concept. 3. Logo Creation 4. Custom Logo Branding 5. Create Logo Designs 6. Design Your Logo 1 Establish Your BusinessCreate Your Logo: VendorsGet started with creating your logo with the following vendors: 15
  18. 18. Competitor Analysis: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to automatically track your competitors. Step 1 Try a demo of one of the products designed to automatically track informa- tion about your competitors, provided by the vendors listed alongside. Step 2 Choose the software that best fits the needs of your business from one of the vendors. Step 3 Purchase the software and the appropriate amount of licenses needed. Step 4 Install the software on a computer where information about competitors will be monitored, or use the software online. Step 5 Analyze the reports and digital dashboards created by the software to help de- termine how your brand is performing against the brands of your competitors.16 | The Online Business Guidebook
  19. 19. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ The cost per license to use the software Search Google using the following search may decrease based on the amount of phrases : licenses you purchase.♦ Ensure that you have enough licenses of the software to legally cover all employ- 1. Consumer trends ees who will use the software. 2. Brand marketing solution 3. Media monitoring industry 4. Competitive Intelligence Software 5. Media monitoring and analysis 6. Real time business intelligence 1 Establish Your BusinessCompetitor Analysis: VendorsGet started with competitor analysis with the following 17
  20. 20. 18 | The Online Business Guidebook
  21. 21. 2 Develop Your ProductOne of the most important steps you must take in the beginning phase ofstarting your online business is to develop the product or service you wish tomarket and sell. A fair amount of research and planning should be done toensure you have a clear vision for your product and reason to believe you canmarket it successfully. Once you have decided on the ingredients or materialsneeded for your product, a well-made prototype will help you acquire theresources you will need to grow your business. After you have developed abasic prototype you can begin focusing on the visuals you feel will establish astrong online presence for your business and product. This chapter highlightsthe many different areas in which portraying a professional image will enhancethe likelihood that consumers will trust your brand. Every visual elementassociated with your business must be relevant to the message you wish to 2send out to others about your company. From customizing your product to Develop Your Productdesigning your website, remaining consistent amongst colors, fonts, styles, andother visual elements involved leaves an influential impression on potentialcustomers. As this chapter will discuss, there are various options availablefor generating the aesthetics involved with your business. While acquiringsoftware and learning new tools may be convenient for some, others maywish to outsource any or all pertinent design work to a professional company.Deciding exactly what your design needs will be and researching all optionsavailable will allow you to move forward in creating a professional image foryour company. Graphic Design and Web Development.....20 Web Content Management.......................22 Outsourcing..............................................24 19
  22. 22. Graphic Design & Web Development: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps for designing a website for your company. Step 1 Decide what your graphic design needs are, and will be for the near future. Match the graphic design needs you came up with and the capabilities of the product tools and packages offered by the companies below. In addition to outsourcing design work, various software applications can be used to aid in the design of artwork as needed for your website, printed materials, logo designs, packaging customization, etc. Step 2 Determine if your company would like to use original artwork or additional graphic resources for any part of your website or product design. Purchasing stock photos to display on your website or throughout product demos can improve the professionalism of your brand. Step 3 Understand the difference between royalty-free and rights-managed contracts when purchasing images. Step 4 Decide whether you would like create a website by your own means or through outsourcing the work to another company and select a vendor that offers customized website design or templates. Step 5 Describe the job you need done if you choose to have a customized website created. Through a series of calls and emails, both you and the vendor will be able to come to an agreement on what it is that needs to be done to help you kick start your company, or improve upon what you’ve already built. Step 6 Purchase the service, package, or images that fulfill your website and graphic design needs.20 | The Online Business Guidebook
  23. 23. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ When purchasing a graphic design tool, Search Google using the following search be sure to check usability. phrases :♦ When dealing with stock photos, licens- ing agreements may have specifications about when and how the item can be 1. Graphic Design Tools used, where you may display the image, and what projects you may use them for. 2. Stock Photos All of these factors will vary depending on whether your image is royalty free or 3. Royalty Free Images rights managed. 4. Rights Managed Images♦ Free web template providers typically offer limited or no support for their 5. Website Templates products. Be sure to read the terms of use 6. Web Design Services before using a template.Graphic Design & Web Development: VendorsGet started with your graphic design with the following vendors: 2 Develop Your ProductGraphic Design and Stock Photos: Custom Web 21
  24. 24. Web Content Management: Quicksteps Content management systems help you easily manage the content on your website, without requiring you to have any computer programming skills. Fol- low these easy steps to easily manage the content of your website. Step 1 Determine which type of web content management system you need: offline, online, or hybrid. Step 2 Decide whether you will use a free (open-source) content management sys- tem, or pay for a commercial one. Step 3 Register with your content management system provider. Step 4 Download the CMS from the vendor’s website, install it, and get started!22 | The Online Business Guidebook
  25. 25. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ As with anything in life, you get what Search Google using the following search you pay for. If you use a free CMS, you phrases : will not have as much support if you run into issues. However, the CMS open- source community is thriving, and many of the providers offer excellent support. 1. Web CMS♦ Be sure to carefully read the licensing 2. Content management system agreements for each CMS, as each varies from the rest. 3. CMS web tools 4. Open source web CMS 5. Web 2.0 CMS 6. Web hosting CMSWeb Content Management: VendorsGet started with your graphic design with the following vendors: 2 Develop Your Product 23
  26. 26. Outsourcing: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to outsource the work for your website. Step 1 Register one of the sites listed on the next page and then look for their Em- ployer Section. Step 2 Search the site for possible freelancers that meet your needs, or… Step 3 Post a project or job description. Many sites offer the option to list your spe- cific needs via their webpage for freelancers registered with their site. Step 4 Request a quote. It may take a little while for the individuals you request a price quote from to get back to you, but it shouldn’t take too long. Step 5 Pay the freelancer via whatever site you have contracted him or her through.24 | The Online Business Guidebook
  27. 27. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Make sure to read the terms of service Search Google using the following search carefully for unexplained fees. phrases :♦ There is never a 100% guarantee that the people you contact through a vendor will do the job you ask. Always check the 1. Outsourcing references or credentials freelancers post. 2. Freelancer♦ Each freelancer sets his own price as well as the comission of the host site, so 3. Contract worker double check rate information.. 4. Graphic Designer♦ Look for sites that offer free service for employers and Safe Pay options to 5. Programmer ensure that transactions are completed as securely as possible.Outsourcing: VendorsGet started with your outsourcing with the following vendors: 2 Develop Your 25
  28. 28. Click on our website to access other services we offer:Business Sales Growth Seminars and Entrepreneur Express WorkshopsOne-on-One Technical AssistanceThe Virginia Business Information CenterVirginia Jobs Investment ProgramVirginia Small Business Financing Authority: 26 | The Online Business Guidebook
  29. 29. 3 Sell Your ProductThe following section contains valuable information to help your business sellyour product. An appealing website and a safe and secure online paymentprocessing system have come to be standard requirements for today’s onlineconsumer. In this chapter, a variety of methods to help you sell your productare discussed in detail, from adding a shopping cart component to yourwebsite, to outsourcing your entire businesses order fulfillment needs. Manyof the methods discussed are very simple to implement for any small business,and will surely enhance the online shopping experience of your potentialbuyers. In addition, the easier and more cost efficient it is to sell your product,the more resources you can use to invest in other areas and aspects of yourbusiness. Continue reading to discover what your business can do to makeselling your product that much easier, and effective. Sales Force Automation............................28 3 Sell Your Product Finding Buyers and Resellers....................30 Shopping Carts.........................................32 Call Center and IVR Service.......................34 Payment Processing.................................36 Outsourced Fulfillment............................38 27
  30. 30. Sales Force Automation: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to integrate a sales force automation system into your business. Step 1 Decide if your company is in need of software that will automatically record every stage of your online sale process. Implementing an SFA system into your business can aid in tasks such as inventory control, sales processing, order tracking, and customer management. Step 2 Research the type of SFA system you wish to purchase. Various companies of- fer pre-made packages while others offer customizable solutions that allow you to select specific tools you would like to include in your software. Step 3 Select an SFA software vendor from the list alongside. Step 4 Integrate your SFA system with any existing Customer Relationship Man- agement system you may have and provide an online method for consumers to place orders with you. Step 5 Use the data recorded from all sales made to forecast future sales, create reports, and analyze the productivity of any sales representatives that may be a part of the ordering process. Step 6 React to the information you have gathered. According to the data you ana- lyze, this may include developing or eliminating new products, adjusting parts of the sales process, and many other possible measures for improvement.28 | The Online Business Guidebook
  31. 31. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ When choosing a sales force automation Search Google using the following search solution, take into account the training phrases : that will be needed for your sales staff to operate the software. Some vendors may offer training programs in addition to their solutions. 1. Sales Force Automation♦ Be sure that the sales automation soft- 2. Marketing Automation ware you purchase for your business will be compatible with your company’s exist- 3. CRM Automation ing software and operating system. 4. SFA Software 5. SOA 6. SaaSSales Force Automation: VendorsGet started with sales force automation with the following vendors: Sell Your 29
  32. 32. Buyers & Suppliers: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to find buyers and ingredient suppliers for your com- pany. Step 1 Register with one of the Wholesaler Listing networks displayed below. If you are a supplier, listing your company and product information is a great way to promote your product or service to potential buyers. If you are a buyer, browsing these networks for suppliers of a particular product can ensure your business finds the right supplier at the right price. Step 2 Pay the monthly, yearly, or one-time fee required by the organization to open up an account for your business. An account will grant you access to impor- tant supplier information, such as product availability and pricing, in addition to various terms and conditions for each supplier listed. Step 3 Browse through the hundreds of suppliers listed on the network to find the specific ingredients your business needs. Be sure to be thorough in your re- search as there can be many suppliers selling the same products or services. Step 4 Contact potential suppliers through the Wholesaler Listing network to setup and negotiate a new business relationship.30 | The Online Business Guidebook
  33. 33. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Look for wholesaler networks with the Search Google using the following search right subscription plan for your business. phrases : Most offer a monthly, yearly, or a one- time fee.♦ Be sure to thoroughly research what 1. Wholesale listings types of products the wholesaler network has listed. Know what types of suppliers 2. Finding suppliers are available before subscribing and pay- ing the fees. 3. Manufacturing supplies♦ While the wholesaler network will 4. Global trade provide information about the companies listed, a direct phone call to the company 5. Supply wholesalers can be very helpful to learn more about each supplier before beginning negotia- tions.Buyers & Suppliers: VendorsGet started with finding buyers and ingredient suppliers with the followingvendors: Sell Your 31
  34. 34. Shopping Carts: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to include a shopping cart on your website. Step 1 Sign up for one of the commercial shopping carts listed on the following page. Step 2 Pay for any initial set up fees and be aware of any additional monthly fees. Step 3 Follow the online shopping cart’s directions and install their software on your website server. The shopping cart system will allow you to easily add products to your online product catalogue, by uploading product pictures, and filling in product details and pricing. Step 4 Accept online payments from your customer. Be aware that some shopping carts may charge you a percentage of the total sale. Step 5 Monitor your sales using the shopping cart software, to see which products are your best sellers, which customers are your most valuable, and which pro- motions are your most successful.32 | The Online Business Guidebook
  35. 35. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Commercial shopping carts often include Search Google using the following search technical support. Be sure to pick one phrases : that has free technical support.♦ Choose a shopping cart that will fit your needs and is secure. Sometimes the 1. Commercial Shopping Carts cheapest one isn’t always the best one! 2. Best Online Shopping Carts♦ Be wary of hidden fees; some shopping carts have low monthly fees, but charge a 3. Online Shopping Carts higher percentage on each sale. 4. Online Shopping Cart Software 5. Internet Shopping Carts 6. Web Shopping CartsShopping Carts: VendorsGet started with shopping carts with the following vendors: 3 Sell Your 33
  36. 36. Call Center & IVR Support: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to manage effective communication with customers. Step 1 Sign up with one of the Live Chat vendors listed alongside. Providing this communication service allows you to interact with customers through your website to aid them in any questions or concerns they may have while brows- ing your site. Step 2 Pay any applicable usage fees which may vary based on service type and scope. Some features you may wish to include in the package you purchase are the ability to keep transcripts of previous chats, visitor tracking solutions, and tools to better manage and react to this data. Step 3 Implement the Live Chat component into your website and create the option for site visitors to contact an agent. Step 4 Provide an efficient method of communicating with customers by phone. Using Interactive Voice Response technology handles large call volumes and allows callers to interact with an automated system over the phone. Common uses of an IVR include electronic voice mail systems and an automated at- tendant that may direct the caller to their desired destination through a series of menu options. Step 5 Decide if you would like to outsource all or some of your customer service interactions to an external company specializing in call center solutions. Step 6 Sign up with one of the call centers listed alongside based on which vendor offers services that best support your companies’ objectives. Provide the vendor with everything they must know to assist customers appropriately and give your company a good reputation. Step 7 Integrate your IVR system as the front-end to the call center. Processing and clerical times will be greatly reduced as information can be taken over the phone and calls can be directed appropriately from the beginning.34 | The Online Business Guidebook
  37. 37. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Many live chat services may be imple- Search Google using the following search mented via applets or Java programs that phrases : may require your customers to download plug-ins. If you feel this may upset or discourage your customers, look for a strictly HTML based chat platform. 1. Online customer service software♦ When outsourcing call solutions, sign 2. Chat support software a confidentiality agreement, as this will help keep your business competitive and 3. Hosted Interactive Voice Response prevent the call center from using tech- 4. Online tech support chat niques learned from your business and applying it to your competitors. 5. Interactive voice response software 6. Call center solutionsCall Center & IVR Support: VendorsGet started with communicating with customers using the following vendors:Live Chat and Call Center: Interactive Voice Response: Sell Your 35
  38. 38. Payment Processing: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to accept credit card payments online. Step 1 Sign up with one of the credit card payment processing vendors listed along- side. Step 2 Pay the monthly fee, if applicable, charged by the payment processing vendor (typically around $20 per month). Step 3 Insert the program code provided by the payment processing vendor into your company’s order acceptance web-page. This code will typically be emailed to you, along with instructions, but you may require assistance from a program- mer if the integration with your website is complex. Step 4 Accept online purchases from your customers. The vendor will typically charge you a small per transaction fee, and forward the remaining cash to your ac- count.36 | The Online Business Guidebook
  39. 39. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Look for a vendor with no monthly, Search Google using the following search setup, or gateway fees. phrases :♦ Pay attention to the various online payment methods companies may offer. Some may only accept credit cards, while 1. Payment processing others may allow for electronic check payments and recurring billing as well. 2. Credit card processing♦ You are responsible for charge-backs: 3. Authorize credit cards these occur when one of your customers fails to pay their credit card bill after you 4. Credit card authorization have shipped the order to the customer. Some payment processing vendors pro- 5. Accept payments vide additional software, typically at extra 6. Online payments cost, to help you detect problem custom- ers before expensive charge-backs occur.Payment Processing: VendorsGet started with payment processing with the following vendors: 3 Sell Your 37
  40. 40. Outsourced Fulfillment: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to outsource your company’s order fulfillment services. Step 1 Search for one of the vendors providing order fulfillment services listed along- side. Step 2 Decide what product or solution best fits your company’s needs. Outsourced fulfillment vendors provide a variety of services such as various order fulfill- ment tasks, packaging and shipping, as well as real-time inventory updates. Step 3 Contact the company by filling out an online contact or request form or by calling their telephone number to request a quote for the product or service desired. Step 4 Wait to be contacted by the company. The fulfillment vendor will notify you of pricing as well as a detailed description of the type of services that can be provided for your business.38 | The Online Business Guidebook
  41. 41. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Make sure the company provides services Search Google using the following search in your area. phrases :♦ Some of these companies also provide software solutions to help with your order fulfillment needs, in addition to 1. Warehouse Management Services offering these services themselves. 2. Warehouse Management Services♦ While these services can prove to be somewhat costly, outsourcing your 3. Value Added services company’s fulfillment services can free up valuable time for your business and 4. Transportation services employees. 5. Outsource Order Fulfillment 6. Warehouse Value Added ServicesOutsourced Fulfillment: VendorsGet started with outsourced fulfillment with the following vendors: Sell Your Product 39
  42. 42. Less job. More print. The fastest, easiest way to print beautiful catalogs and publications! CALL TODAY | 800-572-7804 www.progressprinting.net40 | The Online Business Guidebook
  43. 43. 4 Promote Your BusinessSo you have a great product or service, but no one is lining up to purchasethem. Your problem may not be your product, but rather your lack ofpromotion. People need to be aware of your products and services before theycan purchase them. This chapter is dedicated to helping you promote yourbusiness to draw in your targeted market. Purchasing Prospects................................42 E-mail Marketing......................................44 Direct Mail................................................46 Pay-Per-Click Advertising..........................48 Affiliate Marketing....................................50 4 Promote Your Business Blogvertising............................................52 Distributing Articles..................................54 Internet Marketing Companies.................56 41
  44. 44. Purchasing Prospects: Quicksteps Prospects (also known as “sales leads”) are people or customers that are likely to purchase from you. You can easily create or purchase a list of good pros- pects. Follow these easy steps to find clients specific to your target market. Step 1 Choose a specific genre of people that you want to target and include your own potential client lists. Step 2 Filter the client list by specifying attributes of the target market. (Examples: age, geography, income, etc.) Step 3 Purchase the list online from one of the vendors listed alongside once you have customized it. Step 4 Receive the generated list of clients based on the attributes you specified.42 | The Online Business Guidebook
  45. 45. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Verify that a vendor’s online credit card Search Google using the following search system is secure in order to make sure phrases : that they don’t share your personal infor- mation with someone else.♦ Verify the legitimacy of the vendor’s 1. Targeted mailing lists privacy statements to ensure that your client’s personal information will not be 2. Telemarketing lists reviewed, shared, distributed or refer- enced unless there is an agreement with 3. Direct Mail List that specific vendor. 4. Email Marketing List♦ Abide by laws (such as the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud Prevention Act and 5. Database marketing Mailing lists the CAN-SPAM act) regarding contact- 6. Email Mailing Lists ing consumers and businesses via phone and e-mail.Purchasing Prospects: VendorsGet started with purchasing prospects with the following vendors: Promote Your 43
  46. 46. Email Marketing: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to build, target, send and track email marketing news- letters, online surveys and direct mail postcards. Step 1 Construct a promotion to send out to potential and current clients. Step 2 Compile a list of emails for potential and current clients that you wish to target with your promotion. Step 3 Send out the promotion to the list of emails gathered. Step 4 Track the results of the promotion being sent. Step 5 Analyze the results of the promotion and make decisions to improve the suc- cess for the next promotion. Step 6 Manage and update your list of potential and current clients for future promo- tions.44 | The Online Business Guidebook
  47. 47. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Check the validity of the vendor’s Search Google using the following search security policies in order to store your phrases : client’s personal information in a secure environment.♦ Check the validity of the vendor’s 1. Email marketing privacy statements to ensure your client’s personal information is not illegally 2. Email advertising distributed. 3. Opt-in marketing♦ Check the validity of your client’s infor- mation to guarantee your promotions will 4. Permission marketing reach the maximum amount of potential clients possible. 5. Email campaignEmail Marketing: VendorsGet started with email marketing with the following 4 Promote Your 45
  48. 48. Direct Mail: Quicksteps A direct mailing piece is a printed promotional item that you send via postal mail to a list of prospective clients. Follow these easy steps to create and dis- tribute your direct mailing piece to your target market. Step 1 Choose a direct mailing piece that you want to send out in order to advertise your company and products etc. (Examples: Brochure, Business Cards, Calen- dars, and Flyers etc.) Step 2 Design your direct mailing piece by EITHER choosing a customized design from on the site OR uploading a file from your own computer. Step 3 Review your design to make sure everything is correct. Step 4 Create your mailing list by EITHER uploading your own contact list or pur- chasing a targeted mailing list. Step 5 Purchase the targeted mailing list online if you choose that option. Step 6 Choose which of the 3 mailing options you want the company to complete for you: Print, Address and Mail Print and Address Print only Step 7 Pay for your direct mailing piece and mailing option chosen. Step 8 Mail the direct mailing piece out to customers.46 | The Online Business Guidebook
  49. 49. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Look for a vendor with personalized Search Google using the following search login accounts so you have a unique, phrases : tailored account for your product.♦ Look for vendors with a full refund guarantee and reprinting if your order is 1. Direct mail not to your specifications. 2. List marketing♦ Test your direct mail campaign by mail- ing a small sample to yourself and a few 3. Direct marketing clients before running a large, expensive campaign. 4. Database marketing 5. Postcard marketing 6. Printing services 7. Mailing servicesDirect Mail: VendorsGet started with direct mail with the following 4 Promote Your 47
  50. 50. Pay Per Click Advertising: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to implement pay-per-click marketing. Step 1 Research Pay-Per-Click companies and choose one that suits your business. Step 2 Decide how much you are willing to pay per click. Step 3 Choose which key words you want your ad’s associated with, if the company you chose allows this. Step 4 Pay the company you choose with the payment amount and type they require. Step 5 Track your conversation rate for each ad and how successful each keyword is.48 | The Online Business Guidebook
  51. 51. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Obvious keywords are not always the Search Google using the following search best keywords to use. phrases :♦ Start slow, move forward once you are able to confirm which ads and keywords are the best. 1. Pay per click advertising♦ Always check the company’s statistics to 2. Pay per click management see how many people you will reach and if applicable what types of people you 3. Pay per click tools can reach. 4. Pay per click tracking 5. Pay per click rates 6. Pay per click setupPay Per Click Advertising: VendorsGet started with pay per click advertising with the following 4 Promote Your Business 49
  52. 52. Affiliate Marketing: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to increase traffic to your site through affiliate marketing. Step 1 Select an appropriate affiliate marketing vendor. Step 2 Display information about your affiliate program on your site. Step 3 Provide affiliates with a special link to your site that they can display on their websites. Step 4 Observe the increase in traffic to your site after the affiliate displays your link on their site. Step 5 Reward affiliates with compensation. This can either be per sale, per click, or per lead.50 | The Online Business Guidebook
  53. 53. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Be aware that commissions can be costly. Search Google using the following search Try to offer an attractive, yet reasonable phrases : program to your affiliates.♦ Know who your affiliates are! Sometimes affiliates may present false advertising 1. Performance Marketing about your site in order to gain commis- sion. This could result in an increase in 2. Pay-per-action Advertising complaints to your business, as well as a loss in revenue from potential customers. 3. Affiliate Networks♦ Be sure your program clearly states that 4. Affiliate Management Companies the use of spam is prohibited. Many customers complain that affiliates abuse 5. Affiliate Shop spamming to try to generate traffic to 6. Pay-per-click Programs your site. This practice usually results in very negative reviews.Affiliate Marketing: VendorsGet started with affiliate marketing with the following 4 Promote Your 51
  54. 54. Blogvertising: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to advertise through online blogs. Step 1 Create an account on a Blogging site mentioned on the preceding page. Step 2 Write articles about your product. Step 3 Upload articles to the blogging site and promote your articles. Step 4 Search the site to find articles of competitors.52 | The Online Business Guidebook
  55. 55. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Be careful of responses you receive Search Google using the following search from articles posted on these websites. phrases : This information is open to anyone and everyone. 1. A-listers 2. Blog consultants 3. Blog marketing 4. Moblogging 5. Faux blogs 6. Retailer blogsBlogvertising: VendorsGet started with blogvertising with the following vendors: 4 Promote Your 53
  56. 56. Distributing Articles: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to draw publicity and bring traffic to your site by post- ing articles about your product or service on electronic article databases for free. Step 1 Register with one of the electronic article databases with just your contact information, or log-in if already a member. Step 2 Click ‘Submit Article’ which will bring you to a page asking certain informa- tion about your article such as category, summary, keywords, etc. Step 3 Post your article by clicking submit or upload. Step 4 Check back to ensure your article successfully passed staff inspection and is a posted article under the correct category.54 | The Online Business Guidebook
  57. 57. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Be sure to follow Guideline – they usu- Search Google using the following search ally only allow submission of articles with phrases : content, not just straight advertisements.♦ Don’t post the first half on your website – Google downgrades sites with duplicate 1. Article Submission content. 2. Free Articles 3. Article DatabaseDistributing Articles: VendorsGet started with distributing articles with the following vendors: Promote Your Business 55
  58. 58. Internet Marketing: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to promote your company with online marketing: Step 1 Contact an online marketing agency to see what services they provide. Step 2 Choose the type of internet marketing service you wish to use. Step 3 Pay the company you choose with the payment amount and type they require. Step 4 Implement the service into your companies marketing section or track the advertisements you are provided with to see how well the marketing does.56 | The Online Business Guidebook
  59. 59. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Make sure the company you choose can Search Google using the following search be trusted and is not a phrases : small startup company by unknown people.♦ Try to find a company with statistics 1. Online Marketing backing up how many people you will reach with their marketing. 2. Search Engine Optimization♦ Ask for a prototype of the ads that will 3. Social be used to promote your company. 4. Emarketing 5. Paid Search 6. Media MarketingInternet Marketing: VendorsGet started with internet marketing with the following 4 Promote Your 57
  60. 60. For aspiring entrepreneurs, emerging companies, or established firms, the Virginia Small Business Development Centers is where business comes to talk business. There are local centers throughout Virginia to help businesses in their own communities. Counseling, training, and information resources are the hallmarks of the SBDC program. Most services are free and all SBDC services are confidential. Business owners can get assistance in a variety of areas including: • accounting • business planning • cash flow management • financing sources • government procurement • licensing and regulation information • marketing • SBA programs • start-up procedures Business owners and managers can count on professional guidance, experienced insight, and practical solutions from Virginia SBDC business counselors. The Virginia SBDC Network is a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University—Mason Enterprise Center at the school of Public Policy, and local premier institutions. The Virginia SBDC is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBA’s funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. SBA funded programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.58 | The Online Business Guidebook
  61. 61. 5 Track Your PerformanceOnce you have your online business up and running it may seem like you’reon top of the virtual world. But, it’s important not to feel settled now that thehard part is over. The issue of tracking your online performance is a key issuethat can either help or hurt your business in the long term. The internet is aconstantly evolving entity and flows according to consumer direction. This iswhy it is crucial to consistently monitor not only the traffic for your websitebut the financial data as well. Those businesses that track important consumerdata and how their own processes run are in the best position to spot anyweaknesses or irregularities that need addressing-information is key. Thegood news is that there is a myriad of tools available to help you manage yourburgeoning online business. Internal Issue Tracking................................60 Online Feedback and Survey Tools..............62 Public Product Reviews..............................64 Web Analytics............................................66 5 Track Your Performance Automatic Website Monitoring..................68 59
  62. 62. Internal Issue Tracking: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to track issues with software. Step 1 Identify the problem(s) you are trying to track. Step 2 Research available options for tracking problems. Step 3 Compare vendors prices, solutions, and support. Step 4 Contact the vendors to discuss the terms of purchase and service. Step 5 Purchase product if it meets your criteria.60 | The Online Business Guidebook
  63. 63. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Be cautious of hidden fees. Search Google using the following search♦ Compare prices of competitors. phrases :♦ Open source solutions may be free but usually lack software support. 1. Process Tracking 2. Bug Tracking 3. Issue Tracking 4. Problem Tracking Software 5. Software Bug Tracking 6. Open-Source Issue Tracking Soft- wareInternal Issue Tracking: VendorsGet started with internal issue tracking with the following 5 Track Your 61
  64. 64. Online Feedback/Survey Tools: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to create professional online surveys quickly and easily. Step 1 Create your survey using your chosen vendor. Step 2 Select from many different types of questions, such as multiple choice, rating scales, drop-down menus, and more. Step 3 Customize your survey by changing the color, size, and style of any element in your survey. Step 4 Collect your responses. You will have the option to stop collection automati- cally when you reach a date or response count that you specify. Step 5 View your results as they are collected in real-time. Use filtering options to display the responses you’re most interested in.62 | The Online Business Guidebook
  65. 65. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ For each question in your survey, make Search Google using the following search sure it addresses the content you are phrases : looking for and avoid “loaded” questions, or questions that are obviously biased.♦ Be sure that the respondent will have 1. Survey design tools enough information to answer each question, and that the question is specific 2. Online survey software enough. 3. Survey form software♦ Think about whether the respondent will have any difficulty answering the ques- 4. Online research solutions tion truthfully. If there is some reason why they may not, rephrase the question. 5. Survey creation tools 6. Online survey wizardOnline Feedback/Survey Tools: VendorsGet started with online feedback with the following Track Your Performance 63
  66. 66. Public Product Reviews: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to obtain feedback on your business and analyze com- petitors. Step 1 Direct your browser to one of the product reviewing websites listed alongside. These websites allow consumers to compare similar items for sale across differ- ent vendors while voicing their own opinion. Depending on the chosen web- site offering user reviews, public ratings can be given and viewed for specific products, companies, services, locations, and much more. Step 2 Browse user reviews for a general understanding of consumer opinions on different businesses or brands. Take note of aggregate ratings of all relevant competitors offering similar products. Step 3 Determine which vendor offers the most compatible review solutions for your company and product before making a purchase. Merchants offering this service may charge one initial integration fee as well as month-to-month subscription fees. Step 4 Specify the criteria with which you would like users to evaluate products featured on your website and design the rating features to match the look and feel of your website. Step 5 Obtain further consumer opinions by hosting a costumer forum on your website. Step 6 Download a customer forum software package from the vendors provided and pay any license fees applicable. Step 7 Install the software provided, and follow the instructions given by the com- pany to customize settings, security, and appearance. Continue to encourage customers to sign-up and create new threads and discussions.64 | The Online Business Guidebook
  67. 67. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Forums are a great way for customers to Search Google using the following search communicate, but they are also a prime phrases : target for web-crawlers and spammers. To prevent spamming, IT administrators need to configure the security features of the forums including membership sign- 1. Product Reviews and Reports up, and posting. 2. Satisfaction Ratings♦ When allowing users to post on your website, you may wish to restrict features 3. Compare Store Prices to members who have a record of 4. Rating Websites purchasing the product in question from your website. Installing a verification 5. Product Ratings system along with your review features ensures that accurate and reliable feed- 6. Internet Forums back is coming to you.Public Product Reviews: VendorsGet started with product reviews with the following vendors:Viewing Product Reviews: Hosting Product Reviews and Cus- tomer 5 Track Your 65
  68. 68. Web Analytics: Quicksteps Web analytics software helps you determine who is coming to your site, where they came from, and what they visit on your site. Follow these easy steps to successfully deploy analytics software. Step 1 Determine your budget for implementing analytics software. Many companies offer free services at the expense of less statistical information and customiza- tion. Step 2 Review samples and demo’s of the analytics software. Review the type of information that will be reported to ensure you will be getting the necessary graphs and statistical information to improve traffic to your website. Be certain that the services you are paying for contain the reports and models you are expecting. Step 3 Insert the necessary code to your website that will enable the analytics soft- ware to begin processing traffic and trends. Step 4 Analyze the information provided by the web analytics software. Review what each statistical feature reports and how it reports to accurately interpret the information.66 | The Online Business Guidebook
  69. 69. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Be certain that the code inserted into Search Google using the following search your website is accurately analyzing phrases : information from all your web pages.♦ Understand and research what the analy- sis means. Ask or read the documenta- 1. Web analytics tion provided by the website. Inaccurately interpreting the information provided by 2. Website analysis the software can lead to false decisions that could negatively affect your business. 3. Web statistics 4. Website trackingWeb Analytics: VendorsGet started with web analytics with the following 5 Track Your 67
  70. 70. Automatic Website Monitoring: Quicksteps Automatic website monitoring helps you determine when your site is down or slow and act quickly to avoid losing customers to competitors. Follow these easy steps to get started with automatic website monitoring. Step 1 Understand what services you will require on your website. Step 2 Research potential vendors. Many vendors offer free limited services. Step 3 Pick the solution that is right for you.68 | The Online Business Guidebook
  71. 71. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Don’t buy extra features that you don’t Search Google using the following search require. phrases :♦ Find the solution that meets your budget.♦ A malfunctioning website can turn off 1. Web Monitoring potential customers from your products and services. 2. Web Service Monitoring 3. Web page statistics 4. Web server stats 5. DNS server monitoring 6. Uptime monitoringAutomatic Website Monitoring: VendorsGet started with automatic website monitoring with the following 5 Track Your 69
  72. 72. 70 | The Online Business Guidebook
  73. 73. 6 Complete Your AdministrationOnce you have finished the previous steps, the final stage in developing youronline business is to complete your administration. This includes finding easyto use accounting software to keep track of all your money. Furthermore,you must take care of your taxes. If you have any employees, you must alsofigure out a payroll system that is best for your company. Once these steps areaccomplished, you are ready to launch your new, successful online business! Accounting, Taxes, and Payroll...................72 6 Complete Your Administration 71
  74. 74. Accounting, Taxes, & Payroll: Quicksteps Follow these easy steps to complete the administrative functions of your com- pany. Step 1 Choose accounting software the suits the needs of your company, and install the software on your computer(s). Many accounting software packages help you track sales and expenses, and collect data on customers, vendors, and em- ployees in an organized fashion. Step 2 Apply for your Employee Identification Number (EIN). The IRS requires employers to have an EIN so the government can identify the business and track its federal payroll taxes. Step 3 Choose a payroll method. The two most common methods are using software to do payroll yourself or outsourcing payroll to a third-party service. Step 4 File a W-4 form and an I-9 form for each employee. The W-4 form will tell you how many allowances the employee is claiming and is necessary in estab- lishing how much federal income tax to withhold from that employee. The I-9 form will verify your employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Step 5 Calculate your Federal and State taxes.72 | The Online Business Guidebook
  75. 75. CAUTION! Want to learn more?♦ Beware of hackers! Make sure your Search Google using the following search vendor makes security one of their most phrases : important priorities.♦ For each employee, the employer must also pay a percentage to Social Security, 1. Payroll tax forms Medicare, workers’ compensation insur- ance, and other payroll taxes. 2. Payroll reports♦ In most cases, you won’t have to send 3. Tax Programs W-4 and I-9 forms to the IRS unless it is specifically requested that you do so. 4. Accounting Software However, you must have a W-4 on file for each employee until 4 years after the 5. Bookkeeping Software employee has left the business. You must 6. Filing taxes also keep the I-9 form on file for 3 years after the employee’s hire date.Accounting, Taxes, & Payroll: VendorsGet started with accounting, taxes, and payroll with the following vendors: 6 Complete Your Administration 73