LESSON #8: Things needed to start an online business

By | June 27, 2008

We’ve talked about whether you’re the right kind of person for an online business, and whether it’s the right kind of business for you. So today let’s talk about what resources you need to have if you want to start an internet business.

Is it as simple as having an internet connection and a desire to succeed?

(Watch this video…)

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Main points:

(Note: for your convenience, there are links within the list below for things I recommend, some of which are my affiliate links)

What you need…

1) A computer

-Doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest
-Can’t be a total dinosaur
-Recommend Windows XP or newer
-Consider a laptop
-spend $200-$1000 for a desktop, $400-$1500 for a laptop

A few places to shop for a computer:
HP Shopping (where I bought my computer and my laptop)
Buy.com (I’ve bought a lot of stuff there including backup hard drives)
Amazon (A good place to compare prices and look for specials)

2) Internet connection (Broadband recommended). I used Qwest DSL (Now CenturyLink) for many years, and they were been good. I then used Comcast broadband for a few years, and loved it, as the speeds were much faster. Now I live out in the foothills, with no DSL or cable available, so I use Skybeam, which is a wireless Internet service. The speeds are not blazing, but it’s good enough for my business, and fast enough to stream Netflix too. If you live in an area not serviced by a major provider, you might want to look into something like Skybeam, or satellite broadband.

3) Antivirus program. I use AVG; their website is www.avg.co.uk.

UPDATE: I believe AVG is still good, however I think there are some better ones. On my main PC, I’ve switched over to Avast, which is also free:

And on my laptop I’ve switched to Microsoft’s free progam:

4) Email (free options available). For example: http://mail.google.com/mail/signup

5) Zip program (free options available). This is a good freeware: www.7-zip.org

6) Productivity software (free option available). Here’s a good free option: www.openoffice.org

7) Startup capital (highly recommended). I recommend having at least $200 available.

8] Credit card (highly recommended). If you’re afraid you’ll abuse it, you might want to consider a prepaid visa card.

9) Paypal account (highly recommended). You can get a free account at PayPal. If you live in a country that PayPal doesn’t allow, read this article for inspiration.

10) Business checking account (highly recommended).

11) Business registration (requirements vary – might be optional).

12) Business Entity such as an LLC (Optional). In general, you can probably start as a sole proprietor, and decide later if you want to form an LLC.

An LLC may help save you from paying self employment taxes. It also can protect your personal assets. Consult with an attorney or tax accountant.

If you want to avoid paying an attorney to help with the paperwork, you can often do it the cheapest directly through your state department. I’ve also found LegalZoom to be a helpful shortcut. I’ve used them to form three LLC’s, one non-profit, and two wills.

13) Accountant (Optional).

14) Lawyer (Optional).

15) Telephone (Optional). If you have broadband, you might want to consider Skype for your phone service.

16) Insurance (Optional).

17) Backup drive (Highly recommended). I added this one after making the video. A decent external hard drive can be purchased for $100 – $400. It’s not so important what kind of drive you get; what’s important is that you use it to backup all the files on your computer on a regular basis. I’ve bought several hard drives (including Maxtor, Lacie, and Western Digital) from Buy.com with good results.

There are a few other things that you’ll need which will be specifically covered in upcoming lessons, so don’t worry about them for now.

Action steps:

1) Go through the list, and make sure you have everything that is required. For the highly recommended ones, do as best you can to get them. For the optional ones, do some research and decide whether it’s something you need.

As I mentioned back in lesson 3, you don’t need to be a computer expert, but there are some things you’ll need to know. I’ll go through those basic computer skills in the next lesson.

As always, you are welcome to post your questions and comments below.

Have a great day!

388 thoughts on “LESSON #8: Things needed to start an online business

  1. Bill Jones

    All makes very good sence although requirements for business registration are different in the U K
    I tried to down load http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download but the mssage was that my anti viur wouldnt allow .

    I have “Bullguard” and a vesion of ” Malwarebite ”
    Suggestions please

    1. Micah

      Hello Bill,

      How ironic that your existing anti-virus software produced a false positive for viruses on another anti-virus software. Over-zealous anti-virus software programs incorrectly flag our downloads sometimes.

      The best solution, is simply to temporarily disable the software before downloading.

  2. shravan

    Great Tips! Want to add purchasing a cheaper phone line option – with your own phone no. – netTalk or MagicJack and create your account $60 initial charges which includes 1 year unlimited US/Canada calls and $29 per year extension of the service. ALSO, though its NOt things, one needs to be well versed on using ‘Google Drive’, Box.net, DropBox service and I personally like Microsoft outlook/skydrive/live site services.

  3. Paul Grodkowski

    These lessons area a great way to get familiar with what is required to be a succesful internet marketer !

  4. Bill

    How would I go about trying to find a good lawyer or C.P.A. and what type of questions would I need to ask them?What states are some of the better states too set up an L.L.C.?

  5. Roberto Camara

    I really like your easy going and to do style.Nothing complicating just truly authentic info

    Many thanks


  6. Severo Dia, Jr.

    Re lesson #8, I can’t have a credit card yet. Here in the Philippines, you must have real estate property, at least a car and high monthly income to be able to qualify for being issued a credit card. But what I have now is a PayPal account, and a visa cash card (similar to a debit card). Would these two be sufficient for online business start-up?

  7. Stinky McFarten

    I do agree with getting a checking acct dedicated to business expenses and for linking to paypal. But I don’t recommend telling the bank its a business checking acct. Just tell them you want a free checking acct and they also come with a debit card you can use as say a business credit card, sorta.

  8. Evie

    Thanks Eric,
    I will try do my best to get all these requirements. Looking forward to your next lesson
    Many Thanks


  9. Dana

    Also, how important is the business name? or are you going to cover that later? is this something we should come up with now? thx!

    1. Dana

      did you get the questions i asked before this one? i don’t see it, not sure if i need to repost. thx

      1. Dana

        I’ll go ahead and reask so you can hit both at once, i was asking about the credit cards, should they be in business name (is that what you’re saying)? Also, the Pay Pal should be linked to the business checking account – correct? so we do need a name….hmmmm…thx

  10. Alex Waters

    If you have access to a Credit Union, they might offer business checking accounts at a low cost – TD Bank in the North East US, offer low maintenance accounts or minimal balances.

  11. Ralph Woodruff

    In the past I have established several offline, independent, businesses for sales, installation and field support for laboratory instrumentation used in academic, life sciences, medical and industrial research. For each I generated a business plan for my own and the company’s benefit and for raising outside capital.

    In past and current searches and research regarding online businesses, I have never seen online business plans (guides or templates). I have never come across any information regarding this type of business plan. Generating this type of business
    plan results in detail thinking and the realities of business start-up. Such a plan provides a guide (roadmap) for the business through various phases of a company’s start-up and growth, it allows for contingencies, changes and accountability.

    Is there a source(s) for this type of business plan for an online business?

    Thank you.

    1. Micah

      Hello Ralph,

      I’ve not come across such an intricate business plan to date, for online business. Many online businesses prove to be very straightforward, when you know what you are getting into.

      Are there any things you learned from your own plan creation, that would apply to very diverse businesses?

  12. nav

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for These Golden Nuggets.
    Can I use a Visa Debit card instead of Credit card.Ready to go all the way.
    Pls don’t look at my comments at Lesson 11.
    Love & Joy.

    1. Micah

      Hello Nav,

      Yes, debit cards are valid methods of payment, wherever credit cards are accepted online.

  13. Linda

    Should the PayPal account be a personal account for making purchases/paying for things, or a business account for receiving payments from customers?

    1. Eric Post author

      It’s covered in some other lessons, as well as my ongoing email updates.

  14. Mihaela

    Hi, just wondering how outdated these tips are? Are they still relevant?

  15. Joshua Mushauri

    Very good and helpful checklist. Any alternative suggestions for payment processing if you are from a country that is not eligible for Merchant PayPal Account?

  16. Fred W Lachenman

    A lot of great information here I have most of these, but will wait until my business is up and running until I get the optional things.


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