How to Start an Online Business: Complete Checklist for Beginners

How to Start an Online Business: Complete Checklist for Beginners

A must-have beginner's guide for starting and launching your online business! Easily track your progress and make sure you don't miss anything!

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DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which may provide compensation to us from the service providers at no cost to you if you decide to use their services.

Below you’ll find an in-depth guide to help you start and launch your online business. Even if you’re a beginner, you can follow this thorough step-by-step checklist to turn your online business idea into a reality. 😍

Use this checklist to keep track of your progress and to help make sure you don’t miss any important steps along your journey.

PRO TIP: As you go through this list you’ll likely discover lots of cool new stuff that you’ll want to play around with. But be careful! It’s quite easy to follow one of these links and get lost down a rabbit hole while exploring these new tools and services.

To make matters worse, many of these business tools and services offer additional features that overlap with topics from later steps. This might tempt you to skip ahead. For example, you might sign up for a tool in Step 1 that also offers marketing features that we’ll talk about in Step 7. Stay on track and don’t get distracted!

So, make sure to bookmark this page 🔖 so you can come back at any time and pick up where you left off!

✅ STEP 1: The Basics

Before you dive into all of the business-specific tasks, make sure to set up the basics. You need to get all your ducks in a row! 🦆🦆🦆

Although these very basic tasks may seem ultra simple, they will help keep you organized and your files secure, and help streamline the entire process. You don’t want to skip this step!

In this first article about starting an online business, you’ll learn about basic things, such as:

Setting up a password manager.
File storage with backups and version history.
Online workspace tools for things like documents, to-do lists, and spreadsheets.
Calendar and communication tools.
Tools for editing media, such as photos, images, videos, and audio.
Platforms for learning new tools and concepts you’ll encounter along the way.
The Basics: How to Start an Online Business
The Basics: How To Start an Online Business
In this first step of the series, we’ll cover the very basics for starting and launching an online business.

✅ STEP 2: Define Your Business

Defining your business is probably the most important step of them all.

Many businesses fail to launch (or quickly go out of business after launching) because they skipped parts of this process when they were starting out. 😱

In this vital section about defining your business, you’ll learn how to:

Define your business goals.
Find a profitable niche.
Perform market analysis and competitor analysis.
Define your business model.
Create a memorable brand.
Develop a business plan, financial plan, and marketing plan.
Define Your Business: How to Start an Online Business
Define Your Business: How To Start an Online Business
Learn how to set business goals, find a profitable niche, define your business model, create a brand, and plan your business!

✅ STEP 3: Set Up Your Infrastructure

Back in step 1, you organized yourself. In step 2, you organized your business plan. Now, in this step, you’re going to set up your business infrastructure.

PRO TIP: At this point in the process of starting your new online business, things are really ramping up and getting real! You’re at a point where you are going to create actual business accounts, sign legal documents, and do things that could have considerable tax ramifications. So, it’s super important to get this step right!

In this section about setting up your business infrastructure, we’ll cover important topics, such as:

Finding legal counsel to help you jump through all of the legal and governmental hoops.
Forming a legal entity, including things like getting tax IDs and setting up your business address and bank account.
Obtaining necessary state and federal licenses and permits.
Reviewing copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
Protecting yourself with business insurance.
Setting up your accounting software.
Securing capital, funding, and/or loans.
Set Up Your Infrastructure: How to Start an Online Business
Set Up Your Infrastructure: How To Start an Online Business
Learn how to form a legal entity, acquire licenses, set up your insurance, choose your accounting software, and fund your business! Set up your infrastructure!

✅ STEP 4: Set Up Your Products

Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far, you got all of that required business nitty gritty stuff out of the way!

Now it’s time to actually start working on the part that likely inspired you to start a new online business in the first place! 😍

That’s right, this section is all about setting up your products! We’ll go over:

Exploring goods and services.
Going the DIY route and creating your own products.
Using wholesalers.
Working with manufacturers.
Dropshipping services.
On-demand printing and merchandise.
Set Up Your Products: How to Start an Online Business
Set Up Your Products: How To Start an Online Business
Learn about do-it-yourself options, suppliers, wholesalers, dropshipping, print-on-demand, and white-label resellers for your products and services.

✅ STEP 5: Set Up Your Backend

Now that you know exactly what it is you’re going to be selling, and your product pipeline is set up, you’re ready to work on the backbone of your online business.

Your business backend is usually hidden from your customers, but it provides the technical foundation on which your business frontend is built. We’ll cover the frontend in detail in step 6.

For now, in this step, everything is about setting up your backend tools and technical infrastructure, such as:

Choosing and setting up your web hosting service.
Using website builders to create your online site.
Setting up a content management system (CMS).
Implementing an e-commerce system, including integrating your products on your website and setting up user payment methods.
Selecting your development tools and tracking changes with version control.
Set Up Your Backend: How to Start an Online Business
Set Up Your Backend: How To Start an Online Business
Learn how to set up your business backend by choosing a web host, website builder, CMS, e-commerce system, and development tools.

✅ STEP 6: Set Up Your Frontend

With your backend now in place, you’re ready to make a splash!

That’s right, you finally got to the point where you can set up your business frontend that your customers will see and interact with.

In this step about setting up your business frontend, you’ll learn all about:

Selecting or creating a website theme, which determines the look and feel of your site.
Finding, creating, storing, and delivering your media files, such as images, photos, videos, and audio.
Designing your website to work on mobile devices.
Content creation, including web pages, product detail pages, and blog posts.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems, including customer support tools.
Set Up Your Frontend: How to Start an Online Business
Set Up Your Frontend: How To Start an Online Business
Learn how to set up your business frontend, choose a website theme, create content, choose a CRM, and support your customers.

✅ STEP 7: Marketing

You’ve made it! With steps 1 through 6 behind you, you’re now ready to market and promote your online business. 😊

Marketing is a huge topic, but don’t worry! We’ll break it all down and cover important topics and powerful tools, such as:

Tracking, reporting, and analyzing data to make strategic decisions.
Search engine optimization (SEO) tools and techniques.
Lead generation to collect emails of potential customers.
Email marketing to monetize new leads and existing customers.
Setting up and managing social media.
Paid advertising.
Sending out press releases.
Incentivizing others to market your products and services by creating an affiliate program.
Creating companion apps to help spread the word and attract more customers.
Marketing: How to Start an Online Business
Marketing: How To Start an Online Business
Learn all about marketing your online business: reporting, analytics, SEO, lead generation, email marketing, social media, paid advertising, press releases, affiliate programs, and more!

✅ STEP 8: Money Matters

Finally, in this last step, we’ll cover lots of important topics about money, such as ways to make more of it, paying your workers, and paying business taxes!

In this topic about money matters, you’ll learn how to:

Earn supplemental income through ads, sponsors, affiliate links, memberships, subscriptions, and merchandise.
Pay employees using a payroll system and pay contractors.
Track your taxes and look for tax write-offs.
Report your taxes and send 1099s to contractors.
Money Matters: How to Start an Online Business
Money Matters: How To Start an Online Business
Learn ways to earn extra money from your business and how to navigate the financial side of hiring employees, using freelancers, and business tax reporting.

Final Thoughts

If you made it here to the end of the checklist, you deserve a big congratulations! 👏🎉

Successfully starting and launching a new online business is no easy feat… so, good job! We wish you all the best with your new business!

If this article helped you on your journey to start and launch your online business, please share it with others… thanks! 😊