The Entrepreneur’s Guide to
Doing Business Online
by Rieva Lesonsky, Entrepreneur magazine
53 percent of online shoppers planned to buy even more
on the Internet in the coming year.
Not so many years ago, when I’d meet with entrepreneurs and small
business owners, we’d discuss how to move customers faster through lines
– phone lines, checkout lines, fashion lines and product lines. These days,
the topic generally is how to move customers faster online.
Small-business owners who have extended their operations to the
Internet tell me it’s the smartest, most productive, competitive step
they’ve ever taken and want to know how to capitalize further on this
market. Those who aren’t yet online are tripping over themselves to
find out if and how they can manage the move to the web.
As with any business move or expansion, considering an online
presence can raise a sometimes dizzying list of questions for an entrepre-
neur. Exactly what must be put in place to make it happen? How does an
online presence change the market for the business? What are competi-
tors doing? How will people shop? What kind of security is required? How
will customers pay online? We put together this guide, a primer of sorts,
to help answer those questions.
Small businesses that have little or no e-commerce capabilities on their
web sites will learn about taking the next step in converting their market-
ing sites into selling locations that extend their customer bases, images
and sales in entirely new ways. Those entrepreneurs not yet online will
discover how the Internet is likely to transform their businesses and
introduce them to markets far beyond those which are currently in reach.
According to research firm IDC, the cost of setting up a web site has
decreased significantly from the height of the Internet boom, when small-
business owners could expect to shell out as much as $10,000 for the
design and set-up, plus hundreds more to update it. Today it can be done
In 2005, only about half of the n