Tee Off Online

I would like to start an e-commerce T-shirt and accessories business and I am not sure how to begin. Also, is it imperative for me to have a business plan or can I start my business without one?
— P. Candi, Brooklyn, NY

Starting an e-commerce business is not so different from any other sort of startup venture; the same principles apply. Before you start your online store, you need to have a business plan that outlines the essential steps.

Even before registering your online business and building an e-commerce Website, you should lay out the specifics. Determine your target market up front. Settling on how you intend to accept payment is important too.

Will you have unique selling points? How will you leverage available technology? For example, once you get your online store up and running, you can get a big shipment of T-shirts in the morning; send an e-mail to your online customers in the afternoon informing them about your blow-out T-shirt sale; and start receiving orders before 4:00 p.m.

The E-Com Resource Center is a comprehensive Internet guide for doing business online. Visit their Website to learn about creating a storefront online (www.ecomresourcecenter.com/ build/createstorefront.html). Free samples of business plans are available for editing and use on BPlans.com. Access a sample plan that focuses on Web-based business and use it as a template.