Virtual Vision

I’m looking to start an online business. I already have a business plan, but I have no clue how online businesses work. Are there any Websites that will guide me step-by-step? Should I hire professionals, or just do it myself?
—D. Awiti, Bayonne, NJ

Glad to hear you’d like to make the leap into entrepreneurship, but I’m a bit skeptical at your efforts thus far. A thorough business plan cannot be written if you don’t know the business. In wanting to participate in e-commerce, you will have to spend ample time researching and educating yourself so that you can identify your market, choose the right payment options and build a competitive Website, among other key responsibilities.

Start by reading tutorial books such as Starting an Online Business For Dummies (For Dummies; $24.99) by Greg Holden. Also, see if there are any colleges or organizations in your area offering training courses. The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (www.njsbdc.com) is a network that helps small businesses. It also provides comprehensive e-commerce counseling services. And SCORE (www.score.org), another organization helping entrepreneurs, teamed with Verizon to offer free online business training workshops (www.score.org/online_courses.html).

In learning how online businesses work, you’ll become familiar with what you’ll need to function properly, the types of professionals you should seek, and how best to carve out a space on the Internet.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Sartu

    I made the mistake of anismsug this book was for the would-be programmers who wanted to make a million dollars creating an app in the office in their spare time. (Who uses a garage anymore?) Man, was I was way off the mark. Those types may be better served by picking up the upcoming updated edition of iPhone Application Development All-In-One For Dummies. Meanwhile, this book is geared more toward the Business Management grads (and of course the high school dropouts with natural business acumen) with entrepreneurial spirit who want to start a business from scratch. Some subjects will seem familiar to the business student (the business plan, sizing up the competition, budgeting, etc.), however each subject is tailored toward the specific purpose of creating an iphone app business. For instance, instead of budgeting being a generic term in a textbook, the authors break the subject into specifics: Searching for hourly rates for developers, where to research available jobs, getting quotes from development firms, searching for graphic designers, and so on. The book also delves into the area of personnel management by explaining how to assemble the development team including subjects increasingly specific to app development such as outsourcing, terms of engagements, certifications, and so on and also gives advice on how to manage the development process once your team is put together. Of course having a great team means nothing without something to put together so considerable space is devoted to the iPhone itself, the history of app development, working with Apple, and how to come up with a winning idea. And of course, many pages are devoted to methods, both free and paid, that you can use to advertise and reach people who may be interested in your product.The book is summed up with a short list of the traits that seem to be common in the businesses that produce successful, well designed apps. It’s a comprehensive book and people interested in the business of software development tailored specifically to the increasingly popular iPhone applications will enjoy it.