As a web consultant I`d have to give a word of warning about places that are really cheap and say they are `business` oriented. Many of the hosting companies out there are designed to just host webpages and perhaps some basic php forums and that`s it. If you ever want to get e-mail marketing or grow a small business into a large business you`d have to do some searching for a hosting provider that will work for you. Netfirms is a prime example of the hosting companies to stay away from if you want to get a business up and runing.
The godaddy`s and other Hosting companies of the world that advertise heavily in the main stream media may not always have what you need and may not work with you to make your business successful. Examples again would be e-mail marketing (not spam), load balancing, numerous data bases (over 15) and e-mail accounts.
These types of hosting companies are off the beaten path and aren`t always too easy to find.
Two examples of hosting companies like this would be IX Web Hosting and Dreamhost.
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i`ve been following this thread and think you guys are doing an awesome job providing information.
I have a question though... I am also thinking of starting a site of my own. Before i spend any money on putting a site together, do I need to incorporate first? Should the money spent building the site come from me personally, or from the business I intend on starting?
Thanks for your input.
thanks for being part of our exciting GROWING community. regarding your question about the order in which to do things, we`ve tried to set up a holistic, step-by-step approach to starting up. our 10 Steps to Open for Business would argue that you definitely put your business structure together before going live with your website. even if you want to stay as a sole proprietor, just make sure you`ve covered your bases and really thought this through. there are all sorts of tax and liability-related matters as well as future financing- and personnel-related matters that come into play.
Thanks for the advice Rich. It`s amazing that I`ve been listening to your show for so long and now you are replying to my question!!! FYI... I just bought the StatupNation book and I`m hoping to learn lots from you guys.
I just started my first one also. After playing around with Front Page and a couple of other web programs I did the smart thing and hired someone to help me out. After doing some research I chose KTwebdesign and I think it was a good decision. Janet walked me through the process and explained everything to me without any condecension. She will help you with the server and all the other million things you will need to keep in mind. I had her make me a fairly basic site for just under $500 and it was well worth the price! Unless you are a graphic designer and really know the web building program I strongly advise you to find a pro, it will be worth it in the long (and not so long) run.
Her address is:firstname.lastname@example.org. Just tell her the guy from Dynamic Learning Systems sent you!
Ps: Since she built my site I have had the time to learn the basics of Front Page and can now tweak or even redesign my site myself and she is always there to help me out. Great company.
To preface my response, i want to say that i do not work for any of the companies listed below, nor do i have any ties with them. My reply is purely as a consumer and entrepreneur.
I`ve used many web hosting sites and many DNS hosting servers. In my humble opinion they all offer very much the same services. I`ve been happy with only two of them, network solutions and Godaddy. I`ve hired several website consultants and have been generally happy, but the website I use currently is one that i built using a program called WEbeasy. It cost $50, i bought it at compusa. the site is www.id-hp.com if you want to take a look at it. It`s not perfect, but it only took me two days to build. I`m continually improving it, and may hire someone new to provide more functionality and graphics.
Right now, Godaddy is hosting my site and i pay $5 per month. They`re very responsive and any questions I`ve had they`ve answered in under 10 minutes.
If you`re starting out, go with the cheapest provider you can (unless money is not an option). Most hosting companies are interchangeable and you can swap your sites from one host to another with very little work, usually just a phone call. If you do it over the weekend you will have very little, if any at all, downtime.
Later, as your bandwidth and traffic increases think about switching to a more permanent provider.
There are many online merchant solutions and none of them are completely safe. There`s always an element of risk when you do these kinds of transactions. I`ve come to like paypal, but there are many more out there.
Hope that helps, feel free to e-mail me with more questions.
KAren had a smart response in that I find it helps to know exaclty what you want on the site before you design it.
I thought i knew what i needed until i sat down and wrote it all out. Then i thought of a few extra things, and i`m now moving stuff around to fit everything i want.
If I`m not too badly mistaken, i believe the Small Business Administration has a great document on their site that can guide you through some of the things you should think about when designing your site from information to include to the beginnings of a marketing plan.
I heard Yahoo offers three different solutions for an online merchant. In your case I would recommend that you take a look at the Starter Solution. :)
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I hope Watergal doesn`t mind that I`m jumping in on her discussion, but she asked a question similar to mine (and why have multiple discussions about the same topic, I say!).
I, too, am looking to have a website created. I kind of am in need of a full graphics package, though - website, logo, and brochures. I`d love it if someone/ various individuals could email me with help! :) To facilitate this process, I will answer all the questions that dear watergirl answered below:
Web Hosting Provider?
No, I have some recommendations, but I`d like a little more professional input on this. The recommendations I`ve received so far are: www.ipowerweb.com, www.webhost4life.com, www.godaddy.com, www.powweb.com
Yes - I have registered www.winsomeevents.com through ipowerweb for $2.95 with privacy protection! Woo hoo, eh?
Method of Payment I would accept?
For the moment, checks and possibly credit cards...maybe through paypal? I don`t really need e-commerce for a wedding and event consulting business...unless I decide to offer invitations or favors to the general public over the web, but I`m not sure I am interested in that headache.
I`m in the San Francisco Bay Area for now...I may be moving in late 2007 to Colorado.
What type of business do I have now?
I currently am employed, but hope to move full-time to wedding and event consulting by July 2006. I will offer full-service, partial, and cutomized wedding planning and coordination packages and hourly consultations for weddings and events (such as birthday parties, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.).
What type of financial resources do I have to start my business?
I have been saving like mad and probably have around $5K (total) for everything I need to get up and running. I have a nice little nest egg for us to live on as well (also due to the saving like mad thing) and can possibly tap into additional student loans for living expenses (my husband is in doctoral school), but I`d like to continue down the road of minimizing student loan debt.
Are you considering designing this site yourself?
No. I want something that is done right and looks professional. I have enough HTML knowledge to be dangerous, but I don`t believe that I can design the site that I`m dreaming of. I do think I should be able to handle most site maintenance once it is up and running.
How long have I considered this venture?
I have dreamt about it for a couple of years, but I didn`t seriously decide it was for me until Oct. 2006. I have been taking courses to ensure that I can provide my clients with superior service. I am a domestic diva of sorts as well as a CPA/MBA so I have all the skills and know-how to make things fly.
Do I have a mentor?
I recently became a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants and they have an apprenticeship program which I am planning to look into. I also have contacts currently in the wedding planning business. And, then, there`s always Martha Stewart - whether you love her or hate her, you have to admit she knows how to plan an event and make a business work!
Do I have a team?
My husband and a friend are excited for my venture and are already doing what they can to help me succeed. I plan to meet with various vendors and create a "team" of preferred vendors who will refer clients to me....
As for my vision of what my website will do for me, I am looking for something charming, romantic, sophisticated and fun to attract potential clients and then get them to contact me so that I can convert them into paying clients. In general, my site will be more along the informative side of things, giving detail regarding my service offerings, the vendors I work with, who I am, etc. I`d also like to have an outlet to have a little newsletter or something. I`ve set up a blogger blog where I`m sort of feeling this idea out...
If you have any more questions for me, please feel free to email me. I look forward to hearing from you.
And, watergirl, thanks so much for letting me intrude on your post! :)
I second tomasz....if you don`t feel completely comfortable with a company and what they`re telling you, they haven`t earned your business. Your customers will use the same criteria with you!
And, I appreciated knowing there was somebody in a similar position as me, too. I guess that`s the benefit of this new community! :)
For a new online business like yours I would recommend that you take a look at Yahoo Merchant Solutions. Yahoo offers three different soultions for an online merchant.
Welcome to the world of the startup business !
Its very exciting to be your own boss and start your business.
I would suggest the following: Do your homework and research the market or product you are interested in, get to know your competition. I found having a Web Developer to help is important, especially if you are not an expert in HTML and JAVA code writing. They will know how to do the design, but you need to be the guide on what you want, like most things, you get about 70-80% of what you would like to start, unless you have an unlimited budget. Web Development can be very expensive, I found that I start with something I can work with, within my budget. It also seemed to take a while to get things going and this is a factor of how busy your designer team is, so its important to get a rough timeline, although they seem to be missed on a regular basis ( murphys law), so plan for some buffer time for your expected launch ( I found at least an extra month was a good buffer). You also need a good marketing plan ( Google and Yahoo can be fairly expensive, but necessary in startup mode), so you will want to plan for at least 25-30% marketing expense early on, maybe more. You can estimate how much you will make in your business as it launches, but plan to be flexible, I found I need to expect slightly less than I am wishing for and budget accordingly, also you might want to understand your expected "break even" point... it takes time to become profitable in a startup, usually at least 6 months, maybe a year depending on your business. It can be eye opening, and everything is expensive... boxes, shipping, inventory, office space... all are important considerations. Best of luck, I am sure you will get much more in the way of feedback... Have fun, being your own boss is a great thing, planning is a big factor in making things a success and driving customers to your site.
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