The Internet (technology in general) has lowered many barriers for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Your ability to reach, market, and sell to consumers across the world has forever been changed by the advent of technology.
Today, there are a variety of web-based services that enable the most technophobic entrepreneur to launch an online business with little to no knowledge of technology.
If you plan to start an online business, or improve your current e-commerce business, here’s a look at tech-savvy resources to help you get started:
1. Develop a business plan
Your business plan is the foundation of your business. It is the roadmap that clearly indicates where you want it to go and how you plan on getting there. Most entrepreneurs, have an idea of where they’d like their business to be in the next few years, but they’re unsure of how to put it on paper and where to sart.
Enloop, a free business plan writing app automatically writes your business plan for you and evaluates your odds of success. The app also provides forecasts, industry data, and comparisons based on your inputs. You can also look for a business loan and invite others to view and share their input on your business plan.
2. Establish your brand identity
Branding is essential to small business success. In fact, your brand defines your business; it affects how others view you in the marketplace, and how they respond to you (via sales). While branding encompasses many different aspects of your company, one of the first and most basic forms of branding is your logo. Your logo is important because it is everywhere — on your website, product, packaging, and all consumer facing touchpoints.
These days you don’t have to break the bank to develop a great looking logo. Instead, use web services that will design a logo for you such as Logo Maker Pro, a software program that allows you to make original logo designs and choose from starter templates.
However if you aren’t the most creative crayon in the bunch, opt for Logo Bee, an online design company dedicated to providing brands with original images to use on their websites, products and stationery. Their in-house design team takes your ideas and develops several different logo for you to choose from within 2-5 business days.
3. Build your website
Every small business needs a website. While buying a domain is a great investment, many domain services do not offer website development platforms that are user-friendly to entrepreneurs with little to no knowledge of web design and coding.
However, e-commerce services like Jimdo, Squarespace and Shopify make it easy to create a professional looking website. For example, Jimdo’s website creator enables entrepreneurs to create an e-commerce store with both free and paid plans. Their free subscription allows users to sell up to 5 different items and let customers make purchases through PayPal.
Shopify is another web-based e-commerce platform that allows anyone to easily set up their own online store. The site offers hundreds of stylish templates to choose from alongside a fully hosted online shopping cart that allows you to accept credit, debit and PayPal payments from around the world.
Lastly, like many hosted e-commerce solutions, Squarespace also offers an easy platform for virtually anyone to create an exceptional website. Pages, galleries, blogs, domains, hosting, analytics, 24/7 support are all included.
4. Keep accurate accounting records
One of the most dreadful DIY tasks you’ll take on when launching an online business is accounting. Handing money can be scary, and handling other people’s money can be even more frightful.
However, web-based accounting solutions can take the pain out of record keeping. For example, Intuit QuickBooks is an accounting software program designed with the small business owner in mind. QuickBooks covers all of your accounting needs, including payroll, inventory, sales, and more. Their products can also connect to your bank accounts, send unlimited invoices, provide merchant services and optional features, such as tax filing.
Another option for the accounting-challenged is GnuCash, a free personal and business finance software program. This program allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. As quick and intuitive to use as a checkbook register, it is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports. Best of all, GnuCash offers a detailed tutorial that walks users through the setup process, including definitions of key accounting terminology.
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