I've done enough research and thinking about building an online business that I feel pretty competent in laying out how to get started. I'm going to making some assumptions about my audience, as well as doing business online, that I want to state up front, explicitly.
Let me tell you who I am assuming you are.
You're a "small" entrepreneur. You want to start an online business, probably (although not necessarily) selling tangible goods. You're passionate about your product and your idea, but you're completely in the dark when it comes to how business "works" online. You want to start the equivalent of a small shop or boutique, but without a storefront. This is a brilliant idea. Small specialty shops can work on the web in ways that they never could in real life. More on that later.
You have a basic level of computer ability and knowledge. You understand that the internet doesn't mean "Yahoo" or "Google". When I mention the address bar, you know I mean that space up top with the www.njl.us in it. You're willing to learn more.
You want to learn how to fish, not to have fish handed to you. There will be a couple of times where I give you a checklist of steps to take, but for the most part, I'm going to try to empower you, to understand how your business works online. You need to know how it works, because nobody is going to be more passionate about making sure your business works than you are.
Finally, you are willing to give some radical ideas a try. You're not going to waste effort on a business plan, or raising massive amounts of capital. You're going to do tests online that validate the existence of your market and prove that you're selling something people want. You're going to do it cheap, for a couple of hundred bucks plus cost of goods. Business plans win business competitions -- you're going to build an actual business, validated by real data and by contact with the real market. The buzz words here are "minimum viable product", "lean startup methodology", and "customer discovery". We'll get into that in more detail in a later post.
Interested in following along? Go ahead and subscribe to my blog in your feed reader, or follow my twitter feed, @nedjl. This is going to be fun.