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10 Steps To Starting A Successful Internet Business

start an internet businessA common misconception about Internet marketing and ecommerce is that you simply need to buy an Internet marketing course, put up a website and you will be a millionaire. While these two steps are important, they are not the full story.

To get started online, you first need to decide what type of business you will be. Will you be an Internet marketer selling information products? Will you be an affiliate marketer? A CPA marketer? Software business? Stock and sell your own merchandise? This is the most important step because it will determine the correct path to follow when setting up your Internet business.

Many Internet marketing courses have good information on the techniques they teach, but don’t tell you how to start your business. The rest of this article will be dedicated to giving you a basic roadmap of the steps to take when creating your Internet business.

The required disclaimer: Remember, the content of this page is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as official business, financial or legal advice. Always consult a licensed professional. What you do with this information is your responsibility and by reading this page, you agree that your results are your own and we accept no liability for how you use this information or any gains or losses that may result.

1. Name Your Internet Business & Get Your Domain

Choosing a name for your business is a crucial step of the process. (You can read our detailed article on naming your Internet business here.) Once you have decided on what your business will do, you must select an appropriate name. That name can be specific to your product, product line or niche, or it can be relevant to your overall industry. If you are starting a business that will be involved in multiple niches or industries, you want a name that will reflect your overall purpose.

Once you select a name for your business, buying the domain name is the next step. We recommend doing your name brainstorming and domain availability search at the same time; many of the good domain names are taken and you don’t want to commit to a business name if someone else already owns that domain and/or is already building a brand around that name. Our free DomainView™ tool is a great way to quickly and easily check domain name availability in real-time while you type. Once you find your domain, visit NameCheap, to register it. They have the best prices (lower than GoDaddy) and offer WhoisGuard as a free service to protect your personal information.

2. Business Address & Phone Number

In order to do business, you need a business address so you can receive your checks 🙂
For a new online business, it’s not practical to go out and rent an office. That would also defeat the purpose of working from home! So, you have two options. You can either use your home address or get a P.O. Box from your local post office or mailing store (The UPS Store, etc.). Renting a P.O. Box is fairly inexpensive, but it is still an expense. Using your home address is free, but could raise privacy concerns. This one is completely up to your personal preference.

Business Cell PhoneYour Internet business should have it’s own telephone number. I don’t recommend using your home phone or personal cell phone. It is best to keep your business separate. Your business phone should have a professional sounding voicemail message – no background noise or ringback tones. An example of a good voicemail message would be:

“Hello and thank you for calling [company name]. Please leave a detailed message along with your contact information and we will return your call as soon as possible.”

There are inexpensive ways to secure a new phone number for your business. The two that I recommend are either using a prepaid cell phone or adding a phone to your personal cell phone plan (moving to a family share plan). Using the latter method, you can usually get a phone for free after rebates from any of the major providers and the price for adding a line can be as low as 10 dollars per month.

If you want a really sharp image, you can get a toll free number. If you host your website with Hostgator, they provide a free toll free number through VOIPo. They give you 100 minutes free per month on a 1-866 or 1-877 number that you point toward your local business phone number.

3. Web Hosting

Once you have a domain name picked out and registered, you need hosting for your website. The host you choose should have the features necessary to support your business for the year ahead. Our article on how to choose a web host can guide you through the selection process. If you join our free newsletter using the form on the right, you will get a free eBook that introduces you to web hosting and web host selection. We also have a 101-point side-by-side comparison chart of the top web hosts in business today and thorough web hosting reviews for each of them. If you are in a hurry or the technical end of Internet business is new for you, you can try our free
HostSelector™ tool. You simply fill out a fast and easy multiple choice questionnaire and HostSelector™ shows you the best host to meet your needs based on your answers.

4. Email Address & Instant Messaging Handle

emailEven if you don’t have your business website set up yet, you still need an email address at which vendors, affiliate networks and other businesses can contact you. It is OK to use the free mail services like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! or even an email address from your home Internet service provider.

Make sure the address is professional, like, or If you already have email through your Internet business website, is good. That will be your contact email for your accounts, vendors and other businesses. For your customers, an address like, or is perfectly acceptable.

Your instant messaging handle (your login name) should be professional as well. You can use your name for this or your business name. Either one is fine. If you already have an account (MSN, AOL and Yahoo all have free instant messaging services), your email username will be the same as your IM handle. If your name and/or business name is taken on the instant messaging service, you can either switch services, or you can add characters to your name.

For example, If you want John Smith as your handle, but it’s taken, you can try JohnSmith, JohnSmith1, John_Smith, John-Smith, etc. Just don’t get too far from the original name. You also want it to be easy to remember and associate with you. Avoid putting too many letters or digits at the beginning or end of your handle (e.g. JohnSmith1234343). Also, don’t replace letters with similar looking digits (e.g. J0hnSm1th). Both are difficult to remember and look unprofessional. The same applies if you want to use your business name but it’s taken.

The bottom line is that you want your IM handle and email address to look professional. An instant message from fuzzybear22 does not make me think of a business (unless you sell fuzzy bears!). Likewise, you don’t want your email to be

5. Incorporating Your Internet Business

This is the part that separates the weekend warriors from the real businesses. It is also the part that scares many would-be Internet business entrepreneurs away. I’m here to tell you that there is nothing in this step to be afraid of. We like the Limited Liability Company, or LLC, for most Internet businesses because it allows:

  • Pass-through taxation (You declare income on your personal tax return instead of filing complicated corporate taxes.)
  • Separation of personal liability from business liability
  • Flexible organization structure (You are not required to have a board of directors, treasurer, etc.)
  • Easy start up requirements (Usually, depending on the state in which you incorporate, you only need to file a simple Certificate of Organization and pay a small fee. All of this can often be done online.)
  • Low paperwork filing requirement (You don’t have to file various corporate forms, meeting minutes and the like. Typically, depending on the state in which you incorporate, you only file an annual report. Often, your annual report is the same as your certificate of organization – the only changes you make are to reflect changes in your business.

But the most important reason to incorporate is… credibility. When potential customers, vendors and other businesses see that they will be dealing with a legitimate company instead of an individual, they become more confident in doing business with you – even if you are the only member of the company! You can read the full article on incorporating your Internet business here.

6. Tax ID Number

After you incorporate, you may need a tax ID number, called an EIN or Employer Identification Number. You get this free from the IRS and you can do it all online. An EIN is like the social security number for your business. You can read more about EINs in our EIN article or on the IRS website. You will need this number when filling out your W-9 forms (for any companies that send you affiliate checks) and filing your tax return (to keep your business and personal expenses separate). If you don’t have a company, you would use your social security number (SSN) for these forms along with your name.

7. Business Bank Account

If you are doing business under the business name, you need at least a checking account where you can cash checks made out to your business. Sometimes you can get a DBA (Doing Business As) and attach your business name to your personal account. But, I am a fan of keeping business and personal finances separate. It really helps you stay organized and is a big help when doing your books. A basic business checking account is fairly inexpensive.

8. Business Credit Card

Business Credit CardMost of the transactions for your online business will require a credit card. That includes your domain registration, hosting account, advertising and any training courses you decide to try. While keeping business and personal finances separate is a good idea to stay organized, getting a business credit card at the beginning may not be necessary. Your purchases at the beginning should fairly low. That’s the beauty of an online business – low overhead and low start-up costs!

Acquiring and managing credit is a different experience for everyone. Having additional credit can affect your credit rating. You need to decide if that decision is right for you. When I started out, I used one of my personal credit cards (the same one every time) for all of my transactions. When I received my monthly statements, I highlighted all of the expenses related to the business so I could keep track of them. Once the business got going, I got a credit card in the business’s name.

9. Stay Organized

Organized FilesStaying organized is important, especially when it involves business financial information, files on your hard drive (the lifeblood of your business) and your inventory if you stock physical products. In the beginning, you don’t have to go out and buy QuickBooks or another fancy accounting program; a spreadsheet will do. Your finances will be pretty simple at the beginning. Once you get going and have more money coming in from different sources and more businesses to deal with, you may want to invest in an accounting program.

Throughout the process of starting and growing your online business, stay organized! Develop a method of organizing the files on your computer, the emails you send and receive, your products and all of your paper statements and receipts. It’s a good idea to take a trip to your local office store and get a cheap 2-drawer file cabinet for your home office. You also may want to pick up a note pad or sticky notes to jot down ideas, some graph paper to sketch out website designs (if you are going to do it yourself), a ruler, stapler, paper clips, envelopes, scissors, some pens and some pencils. You don’t need any fancy office stuff. Aside from my computer and printer, the sticky notes and my bic® pen get the most use out of all the “stuff” on my desk.

10. Get Trained

Internet Marketing Training CourseTo start a successful online business, you have to know what you are doing, just like any other business. Don’t let that discourage you though; learning about how to make money online is easy. There are a number of really good courses out there on product creation, affiliate marketing, Adsense and Adwords, blogging for profit, CPA marketing and many other facets of the Internet marketing diamond.

However, there are also a lot of courses out there by people who just want to get rich selling courses. Many have rehashed or outdated information that won’t do you any good. When looking for Internet marketing training, read the sales page critically (don’t allow yourself to get excited) and try to lock in on the specifics of what the marketer will actually be teaching you. Every marketer hypes their product as the next big secret breakthrough in online marketing, but many just flat out aren’t very good. If you can’t find specifics about what the course will teach you, and all you see is sales copy about how the product can can make you rich, how rich it has made the marketer selling it, or how great/innovative/underground/secret/etc. it is, run away. You can expect a training course to cost between $37 and $97. All should have a 60-day (or 8-week) no-questions-asked money back guarantee. If there is no guarantee, steer clear.

When you do find a course in your area of interest that gives you specifics of what you will learn and has a hassle-free guarantee, get it! Read it or watch the videos. Take in every little bit of information the teacher has to offer. Don’t stop halfway through – finish it. And always remember, if you think the course stinks, discover the subject is just not your thing, or just can’t get through it, ask for that refund. Any good Internet marketing training course will be zero risk for you.

If you need help deciding which training is the right one for you, visit our blog. We post reviews and comments on Internet marketing courses so you can get the straight story and make a fact-based decision.

The Most Important Step Of All…

… is to have a plan and DO IT! Plan out your business, website, marketing and income target. Then, be laser focused on executing that plan. Take Action! And don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done.

Congratulations on starting your Internet business!



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