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 ( is a network that helps small businesses. It also provides comprehensive e-commerce counseling services. And SCORE (, another organization helping entrepreneurs, teamed with Verizon to offer free online business training workshops (

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.