Online business checklist

Whether you’re exploring turning your craft hobby into a side business or quitting your full-time job to be an ecommerce entrepreneur, you need this starting an online business checklist to ensure you think through everything.

Starting an online business can be much easier, faster, and cheaper than starting a traditional brick-and-mortar business. You can start an online business for a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands it costs to start a traditional business. Even though it’s less expensive and easier, there are still things you need to start a small business online. We’ve put together this online business startup checklist to outline everything you need to think about, do, or buy to turn your ideas into a successful business.

Sell your products online, worry-free

Officially recommended by WooCommerce, our hosting is made for online businesses like yours

View WooCommerce hosting plans

What To Think About

You need an online store business plan before you start a business. Creating a business plan helps you think through the details about what you need to start and run your company.

A business plan checklist for starting an online business includes:

  • Product or Service. What product or services will you provide? How will you make the products, or where will you buy them?
  • Target Market. What customers will you serve? Who is your ideal customer? What do you know about their spending, shopping, and internet habits?
  • Research. How can you learn more about competitors and the current market? Based on the product and market, what does your research tell you about how to price your offerings?
  • Budget. How much will you spend to operate your business on an ongoing basis? How much do you need to start? What income do you expect to come in at first?
  • Funding. How will you finance your startup expenses?
  • Marketing. What’s your plan for launching your business and getting your product in front of potential customers?

What To Do

After you make a plan, it’s time to leap into action. Use this checklist to include all the essential details on your to-do list.

Things you need to do to start a small business online include:

  • Decide on a Business Structure. Entrepreneurs can choose from various legal structures for their business, each with its own tax implications. You’ll need to decide on your business structure before registering your business with your state government.
  • Register Your Business. File your business incorporation paperwork with the appropriate state entity, the secretary of state, in most cases. You’ll need to officially register your business to open a bank account or apply for any permits you need. 
  • Open a Bank Account. Open a business banking account to separate your business finances from your personal bank account.
  • Apply for Licenses and Permits. Depending on where you live and what type of business you start, you could need any number of state or local permits. See our post on how to get a business license for ecommerce for a step-by-step guide.
  • Set Up Your Website. You’ll need to set up your website with content, products, and a way to take payments.
  • Hire Staff. Planning on being a solopreneur? You can skip this step. But if you’re going to hire help, you’ll want to start the process early. It takes a few weeks between when you post a job and when someone can start.

What To Buy

Once you’ve made your business official and opened a bank account, you can start to buy the things you need to launch. This list is not exhaustive but does include the necessities for starting a small ecommerce business.

Things you need to buy to start an online business include:

  • Inventory. If you’re selling goods online, you’ll need to purchase inventory. To save money and space, you could consider using a drop shipping service instead of purchasing and storing your own inventory. With dropshipping, you select what products to list on your website and pass the order information to the dropshipping service that picks and ships the order. You only pay for what you sell instead of buying inventory upfront.
  • Supplies. You’ll also need basic supplies for shipping and other office needs. If you’re making products to sell online, you’ll need to purchase the raw materials.
  • URL. You can’t have an online business without a website. That starts with buying a domain name.
  • Hosting. You’ll need a hosting service to run your website if you're using an open source ecommerce system. If you’re using a proprietary ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, the platforms include hosting.
  • Advertising. You’ll also want to consider purchasing digital advertising to promote your new business. Unfortunately, “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to ecommerce stores or small businesses. You have to advertise and give people a reason to visit your store.

How Nexcess Can Help

The key to crossing off everything on your starting an online business checklist is finding cost-effective and innovative platforms.

WooCommerce is the ideal choice for small business owners. It's based on WordPress, so it's easy to use and quick to get started with. In fact, WooCommerce is the most popular and powerful open source ecommerce platform online.

Get started with your online business today with WooCommerce — and put your site in good hands with fully managed hosting from Nexcess.

Check out our managed WooCommerce plans to get started today.

Lindsey Miller
Lindsey Miller

Lindsey Miller is a WordPress and WooCommerce expert and Chief Executive Officer of Content Journey, a content marketing agency that focuses on increasing organic website traffic for their clients through SEO and blogging. She knows WordPress inside and out and has been working with WordPress since 2010 when she started her first WordPress blog. Since then she has attended WordCamps all over the world and had the honor of speaking at many WordCamps and other WordPress events such as WooSesh and WordFest. Lindsey has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in human relations, clinical mental health from the University of Oklahoma.

We use cookies to understand how you interact with our site, to personalize and streamline your experience, and to tailor advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies and accept our Privacy Policy.