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The Basics Of Business

Today’s economy isn’t great, and if you’re facing redundancy you might be facing a long layoff whilst you searching for another job. The great thing about putting it together online is that you don’t need to spend thousands before you open your doors. Here are the basics of business online.

Your Business Bank Account

The basics of business whether online or offline starts with a bank account. You can open a second bank account but if you’re a sole trader, and have a registered business name, you can use your personal bank account. This means you don’t have to worry about multiple accounts. Your bank may even print your registered name on personal cheques, making them suitable for business use.

If you really need a second account, you can ask your current bank if it has any special deals for small businesses. Beware a sole traders business isn’t a separate legal entity and your bank could raid your business account to clear your personal overdraft. Many banks offer freebies for new business, for example, free business banking if you maintain a certain minimum balance.

Find a Web Host

One of the main basics of business online is the website for your new business. This has to reside somewhere, most hosting plans for small businesses offer similar features:

  • Basically unlimited storage space.
  • Support for common databases and publishing systems.
  • Anywhere from a few gigabytes to 2 terabytes of data transfer per month.

Expect to pay around £10 a month for the service, with a one- or two-year up-front contract. With such a large choice look for reviews from recent users, with a particular focus on how quickly the host resolves problems and how often the service goes down.

Create Logos and Web Design

There are a huge number of Web sites, such as FreeLogoService and FlamingText, which will design you a free logo based on the answers you give via their Web interface. By using a Web search for “free logo” you can find dozens of alternatives, the quality will vary between the different sites but generally you can get your logo for free for online use.

For a higher quality option, use an independent designer to create your logo. If you don’t need anything too complicated then you can probably find someone to do the job from £25 to £500. The advantage is that of this approach is that you get to work with a real person who can create something unique for you.

If you can’t afford a real designer from the start, begin with a simple layout and customise it as you go.

Build an Affordable E-Commerce Site

If you’re planning to sell a lot of goods, you will need a website that can handle e-commerce transactions, process credit cards, and provide security for both.  You could set this up on your own server but it is an expensive, time-consuming, and has security risks. It’s better to outsource the functions to a hosted service targeted at merchants. Such services can be surprisingly affordable and start at only £10 a month. If you want a free service you could use PayPal to process the credit card payments, however this currently costs 3.4% plus 24p per transaction.

Find a Sales Merchant

Thousands of people use Amazon to promote their goods, the downside is that they give Amazon a cut of the items they sell.


  • You don’t need to create a website, you can also sell just about anything that Amazon stocks by registering as a merchant.
  • Find the product page for the item you’re selling.
  • Click Sell and your almost there.

Merchants must pay £25 a month, plus a sliding scale of selling fees. Individual sellers can sign up to sell with no monthly fees but must pay 75p per item plus selling fees.


Don’t underestimate the value of optimising your Web site for organic searching on search engines such as Google. SEO is one of the basics of business online but you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds to optimize your site. You can get expert advice from SEOmoz and other search engine optimisation writers to learn the basics of SEO. It is important to integrate your site with good SEO habits from day one. It takes time for the engines to get to know your site, so be patient. (ensure you submit your website URL to all of them!)

Using Google AdSense For Extra Income

Unless you’re selling physical goods, try adding Google AdSense ads to your site. You might only earn a few pounds a month while your site is small, but that’s better than nothing and will open the door for bigger advert opportunities in the future.

Promote, Promote, Promote Your Business

How do one-person businesses get big? They are always promoting themselves. This is one of the basics of business that people underestimate.

  • Start by adding your URL to your e-mail signature. Create a Facebook group for your business and write an interesting blog about your product or service.
  • Comment on online stories in your field of expertise and portray yourself as an expert.
  • You can give away products to charity events in exchange for an advert, hold contests for free giveaways and make people work for the prizes.

Do this consistently and don’t let anyone forget about your new business.

Set Up An Answering Service

Even if you are working on the net one of the basics of business will still be a phone. If you’re expecting a lot of incoming phone calls then one of the basics of business might be an answering service. This might be worth the investment as you will present a more professional image to customers. You also don’t need to be awoken from bed early in the morning by callers who don’t understand where you live.

You can have a 24/7 pay-as-you-go answering service for around 80p a call. if you have minimal incoming calls. Another option is to do it virtually: For about £9.99 a month, you can get an 800-number-based system such as RingCentral that answers calls with an automated greeting, routing calls to you (or other employees or contractors) or to voice mail depending on button presses.

If incoming phone calls aren’t a big deal, consider a second landline or a dedicated cell phone that you can use for business: Adding a line to either is easy, and with a cell phone you can even share minutes under a family plan.

Use a Virtual Office

The last basics of business is that the world doesn’t need to know you’re working in your back room. Many business owners decide to use a P.O. box for their registered address of the company. However a simple P.O. box doesn’t seem very professional, and you can’t receive packages there.

Another option is a virtual mailbox service, such as that of Regus. With a virtual mailbox, you get a real mailing address and someone who will sign for packages from other carriers. You can pick up the mail once a week, or the service can forward it to you at cost. A basic mail plan costs only £18 per month.

Upgrade to a more serious arrangement, a virtual office setup will get you more than a mail service, you receive a live receptionist who answers the phone as your business, you receive access to a physical space with offices, conference rooms, and even videoconferencing facilities for between £30 and £125 a month.