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With more than 206 million forecast customers spending money online this year, there has never been a better time to start an ecommerce business. If you are thinking of starting an ecommerce site and selling your product online, use this checklist to do it the right way.



1. Start with your business name

The first thing to do (after deciding what you want to sell, of course) is to choose a phenomenal, memorable business name that no one else uses. You can do a corporate name search to make sure it’s not already used. After selecting a name, register it. (If you set up an LLC or corporation, this will automatically happen in the country where you submit the paperwork.)

2. Secure your domains and website

Ideally, you will get your business name as your domain name, but if it is not available, choose a URL that is easy to pronounce and write and applies to your business. If your company is Karen Craft Creations and KarensCraftCreations.com is not available, try something similar to CraftsbyKaren.com.

Designing your ecommerce website can be the biggest business expense you have. But you want to make sure that it is not only visually appealing but also functional. For starters, there are open e-commerce solutions, such as Shopify, but you may need something more custom if your needs are more than basic.

3. Select the best business structure and register your business

You have several options when it comes to your business structure:

  • The sole owner
  • Partnership (if you have a business partner)
  • LLC
  • Corporation

If you do not choose a business structure such as a corporation or LLC, the IRS will automatically consider you a sole proprietor (or partnership). However, if you act as a sole proprietor, your personal property is at risk. If your business is ever sued, a court may confiscate your personal property if your business does not have enough to cover its debts. Both the corporation and the LLC separate you and your assets from the business and provide other tax benefits.

You can self-register by filling out the proper business structure paperwork from the IRS yourself, or you can hire a filing company to do it for you. Another option is an attorney, but this is often overkill for the needs of the average small business owner.

4. Get your employer ID

You will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank account and file business taxes next April. Your EIN is a bit like your company’s social security number: it’s a unique number that identifies your business and helps you file important paperwork. Every company needs to know whether you have employees or not.

5. Apply for business licenses and permits

Engaging in an e-commerce business does not exclude you from needing certain business licenses and permits. Check with your city, county and state to see what types of sales tax or home business licenses you need and get them before you get started.

6. Find the right sellers

You will have a lot of competition in selling your products online, so it is in your best interest to find the best quality and best prices for the products you sell or the materials you use to make your products. Shop around until you find the supplier you want to do business with for the long term.

7. Start marketing early

Even if you don’t work, it’s a good idea to post profiles on social networks and write content for your blog now so you don’t start over on Day 1. You can set up your website from the “coming soon” page where interested parties can sign up for updates using tools like LaunchRock.

8. Be more productive with the right software

Technology can make it easy for you, so before you start an ecommerce business, play around with customer relationship management, accounting, project management and email marketing software that you can integrate into what you do after launch.

9. Stock up on supplies

Whether you stock a lot of products somewhere or your inventory lives in your garage, make sure you have plenty of time to launch. It can be ticklish, not knowing how much you will need, but in general, it is better to have too much stock than not enough. Keep an eye on how your sales are increasing so you can be smart in future orders.

10. Make sure your business stay is aligned

Once you start an ecommerce business, things will move at the speed of light. Do not neglect to file an annual report if you have established or filed an LLC, or those annual business license fees. If necessary, put these deadlines on your calendar to stay above them.

Can you check all 10 items on the list? Great! It’s time to start Once you’ve done all the prep work, your e-commerce business will grow rapidly.

Photo from eCommerce via Shutterstock




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