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Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website,

Starting an Online Business

Categories: Biz Nuts & Bolts, Tech & Net


What does it take to start a business online? I’m talking about a solely online business, not the online component of your “bricks and mortar” business but a bonafide e-biz.

Starting a business online - an e-store, for example - does not mean instant success. Some things to consider before starting an online business are the same things you need to think about before starting a regular business.

Let’s say you have an example for an online catalog. Some things to think about include:

1. What kind of products will you offer? Have you already researched the market for these products? Who else is selling these products?

2. Who is your target market? Who will buy these products, how much do you think they will spend and how often will they come back to buy more?

3. Where will you obtain the products you will sell? Will you produce them yourself? Are you relying on a manufacturer?

4. What is your price point? That means how much will you charge for the products? Are they high-end or cheap for a fast sale?

5. What is your break even point? How many items will you have to sell before you begin to turn a profit?

6. How will you build an online store? Will you use something like Yahoo! Stores or a software package? Will you turn to a Web developer?

7. How much will it cost for you to get your online store up and running? A solution like Yahoo Stores may have a low cost of entry but you end up paying a percentage of every transaction for your store. Paying a developer may be more of an expense than you need when starting out.

8. How will you handle fulfillment? Are you really planning on mailing each product to every customer? Or will you turn to a third party fulfillment house? Or go for the drop-shipping solution straight from the manufacturer?

These are only a few of the things you need to ask yourself before opening up your e-store.

Starting small and growing as demand grows is a smart strategy. Using Yahoo! Stores or eBay or another established Web store or selling site can let you give online selling a try before you spend too much money only to find that your product doesn’t sell.

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3 comments so far...

  • [...] to open a store exclusively online? I discussed the first things you need to consider in my post Starting an Online Business, but here are some more specific thoughts on the elements of ecommerce. When you are setting up an [...]

    Work It, Mom! | A Community for Professional Moms  |  November 15th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

  • I recently opened an online store and spent money on an independent site instead of opening an ebay or yahoo store. Looking back, I completely agree that ebay or yahoo stores are a good place to start. Even though I love my site and have gotten a good response, having a built-in network of potential customers would’ve been so helpful from the beginning. Any advice on how to drive business to independent websites? I’ve done some research but the honest truth is, online stores are a lot of work despite what some may say. Thanks for the good info!

    Lora Froescher  |  December 3rd, 2007 at 6:40 pm

  • You have listed so many important things to starting an online business. I just recently started an online clothing business with my sister and the hardest part is driving people to the site. It’s so tricky. I would love any tips on that ~ we have the manufacturing, the fulfillment, and the design all covered but it’s the getting people to the site that is something we are struggling with.

    bridget  |  June 23rd, 2008 at 12:41 am