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How To Start And Run An Online Business

Article: 09. Let's Get Started, Create The Business Legally


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What is Your Business?

You need to clearly understand what your business is, what you expect of it and how you want to portray it to your customers. It makes a lot of sense to put down on paper your business plan. This will clarify a lot of issues that you may not have considered before, and is also a good place to start when you are starting your own online business. You need to first decide on the kind of business that you are starting. Are you going to sell a product or service? Will you be manufacturing that product or will you only be marketing it? Will you start an online business with affiliate programs? Is your online business only in the virtual world or does it exists in the real world?

Financing Your Business

Statistics show that the success of a small business is not as dependent on any other factor as much as it is on the financing that it has. It is important that you have adequate finances to get your business started and cover costs for at least the first few months. There are numerous banks and financial institutions that offer business loans to small business owners. It is important that you have a good business plan if you decide to approach a bank or institution for financing.

A Business Bank Account

You will need to open a business bank account so that you can clearly identify the credit and debts to your business. Even if yours is a sole proprietorship having a business bank account will make it easier to differentiate between your personal money from that of the business. A business bank account also helps establish the identity of your business.

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Brand Identity

It is vital that you think about how you wish your customers to view your company as a brand. Brand identity is not restricted to large companies, it is crucial for any new business to create a brand identity that it is closely associated with. Your brand identity should be clear and specific, and not ambiguous. Your customers should not be left wondering what your business is really about. Once you have honed in on what it is that you want your customers to associate with, you need to build a brand around it. Your brand identity should increase the perceived value of the goods and services you offer.

Why do I need a brand identity?

There are thousands of online businesses and you need to create a business identity that separates you from the rest. In order to create a long list of loyal customers you need to have an edge over your rivals, and a h2 class="h2small" brand identity gives you this much needed edge.

Brand Identity Makes Marketing Easier

When yours is an easily recognizable name and brand in the market, marketing your products and services becomes easier. In fact half the task is accomplished when you don’t need to explain what your business deals in and what you do. A h2 class="h2small" brand identity is a business’ h2 class="h2small"est marketing strategy. Whenever the brand image comes to the consumer’s mind he will think only of you, and that is the most effective form of marketing.

Creating and promoting a brand image also becomes part of marketing and kills two birds with one stone. This also reduces your expenditure on marketing and ensures that your customers will remember your brand identity for a long time to come. Most marketing strategies are effective for a certain amount of time, while a brand identity endures and gives your business the image that it wants to create in the eyes of the customers.

Another advantage of creating a brand identity is that customers associate your business with certain values that they hold close to their heart. Thus your brand identity creates a long lasting impression on the minds of your customers.

How Do I Create A Brand Identity?

To create a brand identity for your business you need to be clear about what your business does, the type of customers you want to interest, what you wish to tell them about your brand. Your brand identity must be relevant and credible to your business. Brand identity spells out what is unique about your business and whenever customers think about that they will think of you.

Selecting A Name

When you are selecting a name for your business you need to take in marketing as well as legal details. Before you begin you need to register and license your business. This will also ensure that the name is not already being used by another business. Buy a domain name that states the obvious. Registering your own domain and having it hosted gives your business a more professional touch and also increases your credibility. For instance if your business sells bows and hair accessories for babies then you may want to buy the domain name babybow.com. You could also buy the domain baby-bow.com that will help search engines clearly distinguish between the words.

If your business already has a presence in the real world you may wish to secure two domain names, one for the company name and another for the product or service that you are offering. This will ensure that whether your customers are looking for your company or for the goods or service you offer, they will easily find you. Selecting a reliable and reputed web hosting company will ensure that your website is well cared for and in optimum condition.

Get Legal

Once you have a clear idea of what you business is about you are ready to start with the basics. It is important for all businesses to be registered and licensed. You need to understand the legal aspects of the starting a business before you actually begin. The laws regarding registration and licensing of businesses differ from state to state and it is vital that you check the zoning laws in your local area. Getting an attorney to handle this process for you will make it less tedious and would ensure that all the legalities are taken care of.

Choosing a Form of Business

It is important that you select the form of your business after careful consideration and with the consultation of your attorney and accountant, as this decision will have an impact on your business in myriad ways. The form of business that you choose will directly relate to the liability you face, funds you generate and taxes you will pay. Most experts suggest that you start small with a sole proprietorship and then with time and as your business expands you can consider to incorporate.

There are several forms of business, these include:

Sole Proprietorship

In this form of business you solely own the business and make the decisions. It is both, easy to set up and dissolve. The primary advantage of this form of business is that you make all the decisions and receive all the income from the business. There is no difference between you and the business. The profits from the business go into your personal income tax return. The disadvantages include unlimited liability and difficulty in raising funds. Also a sole proprietorship may not appeal to many prospective employees.

Partnerships

The business is owned by two or more people who make joint decisions and are equally responsible for the business. The profits from the business are included in the partners’ personal income tax return. One of the advantages of this form of business is that it is easier to raise funds for the business. The disadvantages include the fact that the partners have unlimited liability and a partnership is dissolved if one or more partners decide to withdraw from the business.

Corporations

The corporation has many share holders who are not held accountable for the corporation’s decisions. The cost of benefits for both the employers and employees are tax deductible. The disadvantages include that forming a corporation requires money, time and resources and the corporate tax laws are more complex.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This form of business is permissible in most states and combines features of an Inc. and a partnership. The LLC has limited liability of a corporation and the flexibility and tax benefits of a partnership. The term of the LLC is usually drawn for a limited period of time which can be extended further if the members decide to do so. The LLC must not have more than two corporate features.

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