Doing OnLine Business

Recently I had to setup an online business for someone, and I was blown away with how much can be done for free and with minimal technical expertise. The days when an online business setup required USD 30,000 or so are over. Today's the age of USD $20 businesses!

An online business is like any other form of business. There is a service or good thats sold, and customers that line up to consume them. For the brick and mortar business, the sayings goes "location, location and location" on the ability for it to be successful. Thats because most goods that are even half good can be sold if there are enough customers in the shop.

Similarly for web based business, the second step (I havent mentioned the first step yet, so dont worry) is community building. Entrepreneurs do this through a number of ways, which include:
1. Advertising their website over standard marketting mediums ie Print, TV, Billboards etc
2. SEO - search engine optimization. Trying to get google to list your website on the first page when a relevant search is done
3. Gureilla Marketting - Hiring a bunch of interns to spam the net with subtle messages that get users on other, but related sites, to come over to your site
4. Site kickstarting - hiring editors to post messages and make the site look active so as not to scare your first few customers from an empty looking shop!
5. Advertising using google adwords, facebook ads etc

Walking backwards, the first step is about getting a web presence. This is whats gotten me excited today:

1. Purchase a domain thats easy to remember and spell. GoDaddy sells domain for only $9.95
2. Second step, go to google apps and signup
3. Create your email address for the purchased domain using google apps. Gives a professional look to have a domain based email used across the site rather than one from gmail or hotmail.
4. Create a free webpage using google apps sites. The page is very basic, but sufficient to get a decent landing page for sending out feelers on whats about to come. Be careful not to reveal your "secret plans" to avoid someone from taking the wind out of your sails until you get the actual site up
5. Read the tutorial for drupal and make a decent looking site using plugins and themes. There are a number of hosting sites that do the hosting for USD 10 to USD 15. You should plan on a week to two for this.

I'll keep you posted on what else I learn as I help along on this business setup.

Comments

Shahzad Khan said…
Ali,
You're absolutely right. Everything is available from web site software, emails, trouble ticketing, sophisticated ecommerce sites etc. Most solutions are also available using open source offerings.

It's more about quick integration, good branding and customer service nowadays than coding.

Best of luck with your customers. Please do keep us posted on progress.

- Shahzad