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.

11 minutesEstimated read time


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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.

Welcome to your first step toward starting an online business! 😁

In this article, we’re going to discuss some basic topics that will help lay the groundwork on which you can build an online business.

But even though the items listed below are simple, they’re still very important to go over!

These basic tools and concepts will help you stay organized, keep all of your data secure, and help you breeze through the process of setting up and launching your online business.

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!

This is Step 1 of 8 steps in the complete checklist for beginners for How to Start an Online Business.

The Basics

First things first, we’re going to cover some easy stuff like passwords and file storage.

Then, we’ll go over various tools you can use for your documents, calendar, communication, and media editing.

Finally, we’ll finish it off by reviewing various tools and services you can use to learn all about the things you’ll encounter as you set up your business.

Alright, let’s get started. 😊


🤷‍♂️ You might be wondering why we’re kicking off a series about how to start an online business with a topic about passwords.

Well, as you’ll quickly find, you’re going to be signing up for a lot of services and tools. Each of those sites will likely require you to create a username and password.

The Problem With Passwords

In case you’re new to the Internet 🤯, I should let you know that using the same password for every login is an absolutely horrible idea! In fact:

Don’t use common words in your passwords. That’s right, bunny is not going to cut it anymore!
Don’t use your loved one’s name, birthdate, or birthplace.
Don’t use the name of your favorite pet, sports team, band, actor, or any other popular name.
Don’t think you’re clever by appending a few numbers to any of the above! I’m looking at you bunny123 users.
Don’t use common keyboard patterns. If your go-to is 123456, 1q2w3e4r, qwerty, 1234asdf or anything similar, you’re much more likely to get hacked! 😱
Don’t simply add another number to a previous or old password whenever you need a new password. password1, password2, and password3 are no good!

PRO TIP: What you should be doing is creating long, random, complex passwords for EVERY SINGLE website account!

That way, in the unfortunate event that one of your accounts gets compromised, all of your other accounts will stay secure.

Use passwords that include special characters, such as !@#$%^&*;, etc.
Create long passwords, say 12-16 characters long each.
Use a different password for each account.
Surprising Password Stats

On top of all of this, it’s also helpful to keep track of other things about the website related to your credentials, such as:

The URL to use for logging into the site.
The email address you used for your profile.
Notes, pin numbers, business addresses, business phone numbers, etc.

🙋‍♀️ Um… excuse me, Mr. BizEnv… do you expect me to write all of these passwords and related information down on pieces of paper and put them in my desk drawer, or paste them to my computer monitor?

Answer: NO! You should be using a password manager! 😉

The Solution: Password Managers

I highly encourage you to move beyond writing down your passwords on paper, or in an Excel spreadsheet, or worse yet… trying to remember them!

If you’re going to take your business seriously, you need a serious password management system.

Why? Well, password management systems will take care of all of these things for you:

Easily create and manage your passwords and related information.
Automatically generate long, complex, and secure passwords with just a click of a button.
Privately and securely access your passwords when you need them from any device, any browser, and any location!
Autofill your passwords in forms when you need to login in.
Safely and securely store and back up your passwords so you don’t have to worry about hardware failures, your laptop getting stolen, or your office burning down.

Sure, you might be able to get away with using your browser’s built-in password manager to some extent… but you might want to consider these points before doing so:

Anyone who can access your browser might have access to all of your stored passwords, or at least log in as you.
You won’t be able to access your passwords outside of that browser system.
You likely won’t be able to store lots of related data along with the password.

With full-featured password managers, you will be able to securely store other sensitive data, such as credit cards, health information, your home safe combination, etc.

So, do yourself a favor and sign up for a professional password manager like one of these:

Password Managers

Used by millions of people and over 100,000 businesses. Free 14-day trial. The business plan also includes free family accounts for every team member! 😎
Can autosave your passwords and credit card details and allows you to use biometrics (your fingerprint or FaceID) to unlock the password manager. Free plan available. They also offer a file management solution called pCloud (see the next section below).
Free trial available without needing a credit card. They also offer a file management solution called NordLocker (see the next section below).
Used by over 33,000,000 people and over 100,000 businesses. For business plans, each employee also gets access to their LastPass Families plan, which allows all family members to use LastPass for personal use as well.
Includes 2-factor authentication (2FA), online backups, and separate storage for business and personal items. Free trial with no credit card required.
Part of a very large suite of business tools. Free 15-day trial available. See the all-in-one section below to learn about their entire suite of tools through their Zoho One plan.

File Management

When you’re building your new online business, you’re likely going to be creating, downloading, and interacting with a large number of files of all types.

To help keep your files and data on your computer organized, accessible, and safe, here are some features you should look for in a file management solution:

Automatic cloud storage and backup of your files, folders, and computer operating system files.
File sync services.
File version control and file recovery.
Data protection with multiple security layers and malware detection.
Ability to securely share files with your friends and coworkers.
Access your files from any device: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, or browser.
Remote wipe your data, in case your device is stolen.

To get you started, here are a few cloud-based file management systems that offer many of the features above:

File Management Systems

They also offer a password manager solution called NordPass.
Additionally, they offer a password manager solution called pCloud Pass.
Google Drive, part of Google Workspace
Integrates with all of the other Google Workspace tools.
Integrates with all of the other Microsoft Business tools.
Just one app that is included in the Zoho Workplace plan and in the even-larger Zoho One plan… see the all-in-one section below for more info.

Document Tools

Next, if you don’t already have one, you’ll want to get your hands on a document editing system that will help you easily create and manage your business documents.

These multi-platform document tools will allow you to create text documents, spreadsheets, slides, diagrams, forms, to-do lists, PDFs, etc.

I highly recommend that you choose a cloud-based solution, so that you get the following features:

Auto-saving in the cloud with version history and backup.
Collaboration tools to work on documents with your coworkers, partners, clients, and friends.
Secure access from any device.

Check out these document tools to get started:

Document Tools

Includes docs, sheets, slides, PDF, and forms; see the all-in-one section below for more details about ONLYOFFICE Workspace.
Google Docs, part of Google Workspace
Includes Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms; see the section about all-in-one tools below for more details about Google Workspace.
Online and installed desktop software; see the all-in-one office tools section below.
Zoho Office Suite, part of Zoho Workplace
A huge suite of tools, including document editors; see the all-in-one section below for more details about Zoho Workplace and Zoho One.

Teams & Communication Tools

Although we’re going to talk about email in detail in a later step after you create a domain for your business, it’s good to be aware of other types of team collaboration and communication tools available.

For your video conferencing and chat needs, you can communicate with your team, coworkers, business partners, and clients using services like:

Collaboration Tools

Video conferencing platform, but they have many other related products.
Part of Microsoft’s Business tools, but can be used on its own as well.
Meeting is for online video conferencing, while Cliq is for team chats more similar to Slack. Can get every Zoho product through a Zoho One plan.

All-In-One Office Workspace Tools

In addition to the individual tools listed above, some companies offer all-in-one office workspace solutions that bundle together a lot of software-as-a-service (SaaS) web apps.

For example, some all-in-one workspace solutions combine these services: email, video conferencing, cloud file storage/backup, chat, calendars, scheduling, contacts, docs, CRM, etc.

PRO TIP: If for some reason you don’t want to run these tools in the cloud, some companies allow you to run their tools on your own servers so that you can offer your own private business workspace for your office. If that feature is desirable to you, look for plans that offer “on-premises” solutions.

If you’re interested in using these types of workspace solutions, you might want to check out:

Workspace Tools

Includes Documents, Mails, CRM, Projects, and Calendar.
Includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Meet, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Chat.
Includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Teams, Bookings, Forms, Lists, Planner, Exchange, SharePoint, Publisher, Access, and Intune.
Includes Email, File Management, Chat, Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Presentation, Social Intranet, and Online Meeting. They also offer Zoho One, which includes tons of other apps that can help you in many other aspects of your business, such as sales, marketing, finance, HR, support, etc.

Media Editing Tools

Not all online businesses will require you to edit or manipulate media files, but many will. By media files, I’m referring to things like photos, images, videos, illustrations, fonts, and audio.

In my opinion, it’s hard to beat the collection of tools that Adobe offers in its Creative Cloud plan. I’ve personally used their software for many years for countless projects.

Media Editing Tools

Includes popular products like Photoshop, Adobe Express, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Audition, etc.

Learning New Tools and Concepts

The last basic topic we’re going to cover is all about your mind!

During this process of creating a new online business, you’re going to be exposed to new ideas, tools, and concepts that you’ll want to master.

Many general online courses, eLearning, and micro-learning services exist that can help you along the way. These types of educational tools are perfect for those who want to quickly learn about a specific topic, learn a new skill, or take a crash course.

You’ll want to look for a learning tool that offers a marketplace where you can pick and choose what it is you want to learn about.

Keep the following tools in mind as you’re working on setting up your business:

Learning Tools

A wide variety of professional on-demand courses.
Over 34,000 classes covering many topics, and used by over 800,000 people.
Geared towards those wanting to learn technical and professional skills, covering many topics such as programming, business, cloud computing, AI, product management, data science, cyber security, etc.
A diverse set of lessons to choose from.
Online classes taught by famous individuals, who are leaders in their respective industries.

Keep Going

Congratulations on taking your first step toward turning your online business idea into a reality! 😊

Now keep up the momentum by moving on to the next step in the process… probably the most important step of them all… which is to define your business.

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!