How Creating an Online Business Works

Tools of the (e)Trade

There's no one definitive list of tools you'll need to create a successful online business. Everything depends on the product or service you're selling and how your website fits into the picture. So first ask yourself the following questions.

Are you going to design your site yourself? If so, you'll need:

  • Experience and/or training in Web design, unless you use the template or wizard-based tools that many all-inclusive services offer (WordPress, for instance offers several free ecommerce designs).
  • A good computer with plenty of RAM and hard drive space
  • Web-design software -- either WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) or a text editor (if you know HTML)
  • A digital camera or smartphone to create product or service photos
  • Image-editing software
  • Illustration software to create graphics
  • FTP software for uploading files to your website

Are you going to sell products from your site? If so, you'll need:

  • A merchant account, or some way to accept payments
  • Shopping cart software, or another means for shoppers to enter and monitor their orders
  • Secure servers if you're accepting credit/debit card payments or collecting other personal payment information online
  • Software to keep track of inventory and orders

Do you have a large number of products or services that need listing on your website? If so, you'll need:

  • A database of product names, descriptions, pricing and photos
  • A system for establishing product numbers
  • A system for inventory management
  • Technical know-how for incorporating the database into your website

Would your website benefit from sound, video or animation? If so, you may wish to hire a specialist to incorporate these features. If you want to add them yourself, you'll need:

  • Equipment to capture audio/video
  • Software for editing your audio/video clips
  • Software to create animations