Worries About Starting an Online Business

I’ve been involved with retail since I started my working life at age 17.  I have specialized in e-commerce for 6 years, and have helped thousands of online businesses succeed.  I’ve helped determine what features people need to have a successful business, and gave thousands of people advice.

But it’s different when I want to start my own business.  There are lots of holes in what I know.  I could tell you everything you want to know about usability, what features matter for an online store, and how payment gateways work, but I don’t have a clue about the legal side of starting an online business.  I’ve gone back and forth on starting a business for myself.  I think it has a ton of positives for the future.  I don’t want to be a developer my entire life.  I think owning a business that brings in enough money to support my family would be a great way to live.

But where do I start?  Do I just open up a new online store and go to town?  Or am I supposed to talk to a CPA to get the financials in place first?  Or do I need to register my business before I take any additional steps?  This is where I’m stuck.  I have wanted to start an online business for years.  I’ve even gone so far as to narrow down what I want to do: sell home theater accessories.  I think they’re the perfect product for me: I have a lot of knowledge about home theater, already have one good source to get cheap, reliable products, and the products are small so they won’t cost so much to ship.

I know I won’t make any money selling things online for probably the first year or two, and it will take up a lot of my time initially.  I’m worried that I won’t find enough time to get the site up and running.  I’m worried about any kind of financial losses that could occur throughout the process.  I have a lot of worries.

But I think it’s time to finally jump right in.  I know I’ll hit some stumbling blocks along the way, but I’ll never get any of it done if I don’t ever start, right?  So I’m going to get started on it.  I’ll keep everyone informed as things progress.  If anyone has any advice for me, feel free to let me know.  I’ll take any help I can get. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Worries About Starting an Online Business

  1. Hey JD

    When I worked for Collinsville, we always told people that came in with questions like that to register with the state (if necessary-should be), then with the city (however I don’t think Maryville will require you too, but if you move you will need to check with the municipality). As far as opening up a buisness account at a bank they usually require some sort of business license number from the state or from the city before you can open it in the business name. Maybe I am already telling you something you already know, but if not I hope this helps. I know the state of IL website is very helpful and has tons of FAQs and step by step help.

  2. Thanks, Erin. I’m sure Maryville will require something. I’ve decided that I’m going to talk to an accountant to find out all the legal stuff (I wrote this post over the weekend, and have done some more research since then, plus talked to some people). I know I’ll have to register with the state, and have bookmarked the IL site for starting a business (http://www.business.gov/states/illinois/start.html, for those that are interested). Their instructions seem kind of vague to me though, which is why I feel I need to talk to an individual. I’ll keep everybody posted as this whole “going in business for myself” thing (hopefully) works out.

  3. You’ll definitely want to apply for a Federal EIN number so that you can buy products from wholesalers. You should be able to apply for that online at the IL state site. If you aren’t planning on having any employees then you can start out as a sole proprietor and wait to decide on what other legal structure (if any) you decide to go with. I had an LLC in Missouri and had several different businesses underneath that one using DBA’s (doing business as). You will definitely need that EIN to open up a business checking account as well. Good luck!!!

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