- Small business owners nowadays have a website, social media accounts and maybe even a weekly newsletter.
- Business has transitioned online, and if you're thinking about opening an e-commerce store or adding a new channel to your brick and mortar shop, you need to ensure you tick off the most important boxes.
- We've put together 7 of the most important things you need to weigh up before you start your new online business venture.
A few years ago, you would still ask a business owner if they had a website. Now, you will be surprised if a business doesn’t have 5 social media accounts and an email newsletter.
Business has transitioned online. No matter if you're thinking about starting an online business or adding to your existing one, read this article to find out the most important things you need to weigh up before starting an online business.
First of all, let’s define online business.
What is an online business?
Online business is simply any business activity (sales of goods or services) that happens over the Internet. No matter if only part of your business transactions are carried out online or only one department is concerned, you need to adhere to online business regulations.
Online business is just the same as any traditional business – it requires a business registration, business name, tax number and falls under the same regulations as your brick-and-mortar store.
What things do I need to consider to start an online business?
There are 7 key issues you need to consider when you start an online business::
- Your online platform
- The pros and cons of different platforms
- Consult and IT specialist
- Consult a lawyer
- Domain, email and payment processing software
- How you are going to deliver goods or services and set accounts with delivery companies
- Get an electronic signature
1. Your online platform
Your online business will sell something, and just like traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it needs a storefront – a website, blog, social media account, online marketplace.
2. The pros and cons of different platforms
For a fresh bakery, a traditional shop might be more suitable because the smell and look of freshly baked goods will attract customers. But for a translator, a website can be great as many of their clients will be situated internationally and have 24/7 access to the service.
3. Consult an IT specialist
Running an online business requires quite a lot of IT (Information Technology) expertise. You will save yourself many hours on the learning curve if you just hire someone to help you with that.
A quick tip: If you are a startup or a small business owner, you can actually look for freelance help online or hire someone just part-time.
4. Consult a lawyer
Running an online business requires you to have knowledge of electronic contracts and tax regulations for services and goods online. A lawyer can also help you set your terms and conditions and create a friendly but safe shopping environment for your clients.
5. Domain, email and payment processing software
If you are going into business online you need to set up a payment and contract system. Make sure you have all the media channels, invoicing and your website ready before opening for business. And don’t forget to make sure everything works with a few tests.
6. How you are going to deliver goods or services and set accounts with delivery companies
If you are trading physical goods, then your shipping company will become your most trusted and important partner. Set up accounts with a reliable shipping company. Make sure that you sign a business contract with them which will give you discounted rates and privileges over regular deliveries. Having a delivery contract that works to your advantage is key to being successful online.
7. Get an electronic signature
As you will be conducting more business online, it will be very useful to register an electronic signature for your business. In this way, you will be able to sign contracts and approve of transactions online. Contact your lawyer for more information on registering an electronic signature.
Starting an online business or taking your business onto the Internet is nothing to be worried about. The best decision you can make for your business is to keep it up to the latest industry developments with a great website storefront and active social media accounts.
If you don’t know where to start, consult your IT specialist and lawyer to make sure you are doing everything right.
Editor's Update 07/07/20:
Thanks for reading our article by Katherine Hawes at Digital Age Lawyers. We hope it has helped you gain a clearer understanding of what you need to consider when starting an online business in Australia. Members at SavvySME have additional questions on this subject, so we've responded to some of these FAQs below.