It shouldn’t come as a surprise that having an online business presence is essential in the 21st century. However, this doesn’t always look the same for every business. Regardless if you are just starting your business, or expanding it, getting your business online is something you should prioritize. Below we have outlined several steps and strategies to consider when getting your business setup on the web. This information can also be found on our brand new Get Your Business Online guide!
Choose Your Business Model
Making an extension of your business online, or by starting there at day one, you have multiple options to consider when coming up with a profitable business model. Some ways to make money on your website include affiliate marketing, provide freelance work, coach and/or consult paying customers, sell eBooks and other downloadables, license out your in-house software (Software as a Service or SAAS), or by selling your products in your very own store.
Build Your Website
Building your website doesn’t always mean having to learn how to code yourself. There are many platforms out there that offer drag and drop interfaces, website builders focused on eCommerce (or selling products online), freelance websites that can help you find a website developer that fits your needs and your budget, and social media and tech websites that allow you to create entire storefronts using their platform for a small fee.
Create Your Online Store
So you’ve built your website, and now you want to add an online store. What do you do? What kind of things should you talk about? Are there ways to increase customer conversions and engagement? The short answer… is yes! Check out this step of our Get My Business Online Guide discussing things like what photos to use, are incentives really worth it, product reviews, and more!
Purchase Your Domain Name
Having a domain name is absolutely essential when it comes to branding your business online. If you have your own website, directing a domain name you have purchased should be one of the first steps you take when setting everything up. Find information about the do’s and don’ts for obtaining the best domain name for your new website now!
Register Your Business
If you begin selling your products and services into other states, you may be subject to forming a foreign entity inside of those states. Learn more about registering your online business in other states and where you would go to do so.
Collect Sales Tax
If you sell goods or services, regardless if it is online or in person, you more than likely will need to collect sales tax from your customers, and remit it to your state’s tax authority. However, not every state has a statewide sales tax mandate. Check out this step from our Get Your Business Online Guide about collecting sales tax online and outside of the state of Iowa.
Obtain Additional Licensing
Additional licensing isn’t required of all businesses in Iowa, but when you sell products and services online and outside of Iowa, you may need to obtain extra licensing to do so. Learn more about this topic in this brief overview.
Selling products online allows you to collect payments in many different ways. Included in your options, but not limited to, are cash exchange apps, and platform credit card processing apps. Discover more about this topic before you begin offering things for sale online!
With all of the shipping services currently available, shipping your products has never been easier. Some website builders offer apps that help you manage and print labels. Others take care of the whole thing for you. Regardless of what you decide, you should read this step to understand all of your options!
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is vital to every successful website. This step covers what SEO is, how it works, and what you can do to get your website optimized for search engines.
Create an Email Newsletter
Yes, newsletter communication is still alive and well in 2022! Read about strategies to collect contact information, things to include in your newsletter, and the best newsletter management tools currently available on the web.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about setting up your online store? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state who provide free to low-cost assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Q: How important is it to have an online business?
A: In today’s day in age, having an online presence is very important. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sell your products or services online. You should make it a priority to at least connect your contact information to your own website or social media pages so customers can contact you easier.
Q: Should I hire someone to help me run my website?
A: This is completely up to you and your skill set. There are a lot of website builders out there that are very user friendly and require no coding skills to build or maintain. Other website builders require a lot of customization and coding that may warrant the hiring (or contacting out) of a developer and/or webmaster.
Q: Do I need to collect sales tax online?
A: If you make taxable sales within the state of Iowa, regardless if it is offline or online, you are required to collect and remit sales tax to the state if the product or service is taxable. Other states may have a different tax code, so you should consult with each state you are selling to, or with a tax professional, for specific guidance.