How to run an online business

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There are fewer thrills greater than running your own business, whether it is a brick-and-mortar business or an online business. Still, the sad fact is that the majority of small businesses fail within two years of starting. While no one can guarantee your success in your online business, following these few important steps can put you on the fast track toward building a profitable and enjoyable online business:

1. Have a plan. Write a business plan, and follow it. Know your market, know your products, and know your resources. Investigate strategies that work and strategies that don’t. Learn from the experts in your field, and study business and marketing ideas from the greats. When it comes to running an online business, knowledge is power.

2. Be flexible. As important as it is to have a plan, it is just as important to be able to modify that plan if your circumstances change. You have to be able to roll with the punches, and to make changes when necessary. You also need a backup plan for when disaster strikes, such as when a supplier dries up or you lose your biggest client.

3. Be dedicated. You will never succeed at running an online business if you are not dedicated to the task. Running an online business can be even more involved and time-consuming than running a brick-and-mortar business. Any small business, online or not, will probably take more time and energy than a regular 40-hour job, at least initially. Running an online business is not for the lazy or the weak.

4. Organize your business. You might be the best basket-maker in the world, but if you can’t keep track of your business expenses, you’re going to fail. You have to know how much it costs, for example, to make each basket. You have to know how much it costs to ship them, and how much you’re spending on advertising. You have to be able to understand the basics of accounting, even if you outsource the actual accounting process. Finally, you need to be able to keep organized records for your business to protect yourself when it comes time for taxes, or for collecting on delinquent invoices.

5. Be prepared for success. You could prepare yourself for failure, but the fact is you are much more likely to succeed in running your online business if you set achievable goals that you measure through the process. You might be surprised to find exactly how successful your online business can be.

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