Starting a business can be a huge undertaking, but fortunately for the aspiring web worker, it doesn’t have to be. The really great thing about starting a web working business is that getting set up can be easy and low cost.
You don’t need a fancy set-up. You can get by with a few basic necessities (in most cases, a computer, an Internet connection, a web site and maybe some business cards).
You don’t need to quit your day job. You can keep working at your current job until your web work picks up enough to support you.
You can work around your current obligations. You can work at night, on weekends, in the mornings after you take the kids to school, or use any time you have available. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. Web working is a lot more flexible than most jobs, and you can get a lot done in just a couple of hours a day.
You don’t have to sell the farm. You can work where you are, without making any major lifestyle changes to compensate for the new venture. If you were starting a traditional “bricks and mortar” business, you might have to find a way to fund the business, which might include selling assets, moving to a smaller place, etc.
So, what are you waiting for? To start, you’ll need a few things:
Set up a legal entity for your business as soon as possible. This is good for tax and liability purposes, as well as maintaining personal privacy. Be sure to speak with your accountant or tax adviser about the most appropriate entity for your business and needs.
Set up a business account as soon as you get your first check (or sooner). If you set up a PayPal (s ebay) or Google Checkout (s goog) account that isn’t used for personal purchases, then it could serve as your “business account.” Of course, you should always consult an accountant for assistance and advice surrounding your business finances.
A web site. Even if you just have a small site to start with, you need a face for your business online. You also need a place to post regular and frequent updates (a blog, a newsletter, or a podcast are a few examples). This will help you to start establishing your site with search engines and with building traffic. The earlier you start posting regular (and relevant) content to your site, the better off you will be. You need a way to build a list of followers who want to stay updated about you and your products and services. Aside from these few basic “must haves,” you can forgo the fancy design until you can afford it.
Create (and maintain) a consistent lead generation plan. This might consist of a lot of writing and posting online, or a cold-calling or advertising campaign.
Build a portfolio and testimonials. Do free work for family, friends, former business colleagues and nonprofit organizations. Do whatever you can do to create a respectable portfolio and authentic testimonials regarding the quality of your work.
Here are a couple of things you don’t need just yet.
A logo or “identity.” Your name or business name will do, along with a specific description of the services/products you provide and the ideal target customer you serve.
A fancy web site. While you do need a web site, you don’t have to drop the big bucks on it to start with.
The key is to start small, think sustainable, and focus on lead generation and building a following. If you have a product or service that people are ready and willing to buy, you can worry about the more complicated tasks involved in starting a business a little later on. For now, just jump!
Do you have a business success story that resulted after taking a leap of faith? Tell us about it, and share the steps you took to get it off the ground.
Image by flickr user seanj