Get Your House in Order Before You Build
by Phil Hanson
Stop! If you plan to skimp on planning, or to cut corners, or
to skip a few steps so you can get to the end more quickly,
forget it. There are no shortcuts. Just shoot yourself in the
foot, right now, and get it over with. Save yourself the expense
of building a Web site.
up a Web site to conduct business on-line involves numerous
steps. You can't by-pass any of them. Consider each, in its
turn, before you proceed to the next one. Your plans are the
glue that holds your Web site, and your on-line business, together.
The thoroughness of your plans determines the strength of the
previous article (Vision: Seeing beyond
the obvious!) presents a broad overview of important
topics that you must now address in greater detail. Because
planning is the most crucial phase of building an on-line business
and establishing an Internet presence, it deserves your utmost
attention. Your Web site will suffer from lack of a comprehensive
you have an existing business, your task is somewhat different
than if you're going on-line to create a business. An existing
business is a ready-built foundation on which to build your
Web site. If you're going on-line to start a business, the Web
site becomes the foundation for your business. Either way, you
need the foundation.
some preliminary thinking about your project. Definite ideas
about what products or services to sell make a good starting
point. Define your ideal customer. Start gathering Web site
resources, and then make rough sketches of page layouts. Capture
your ideas on paper, before you forget them.
notes on every aspect of your proposed business. Exclude
nothing. Failure to deal with even the least significant factors
now doesn't mean you escape dealing with them; it only means
you deal with them at a less convenient time.
Know which legal hoops you have to jump throughlocal,
state and federal regulations, your business name registration
and taxes. You have certain rights and responsibilities. Know
what they are. Legal loopholes either spare you or ensnare you.
Learn the loopholes, now, to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
your market, your suppliers and your competition. Research
available domain namesnow is the appropriate time to acquire
one. Check out domain hosting services; compare prices and levels
of service, but don't sign on just yet. No need to incur the
expense too soon. A week before you publish your site to the
Web is soon enough.
affiliate programs, on-line billing methods, multiple income
streams and the latest promotional schemes. Look for quality
sites to link to.
you need specialized knowledge or professional help in order
to complete your project, look for links to numerous writing
resources on the Perfect Text Web site, and find links to many
other essential resources at Home-Entepreneurs.com.
Some of the resources are free, some of them you must pay for,
but all of them are useful.
your plan! By now, your mind and your notepad contain sufficient
information to enable you to commit the details of your plan
to paper. Start at the beginning and work through to the end.
Be neat, be orderly and, above all, be thorough. A well-written
plan speeds progress by keeping you focused and on track.
your resources! When you were in the research phase, you
made lists (didn't you?) of the various things you need to build
a Web site and operate an on-line business. You should have
separate lists for hardware, software, professional services,
domain hosts, affiliate programs and billing solutions. Now
is the time to cull the lists. Make comparisons, choose the
products and services you want to use, discard the rest.
everything that will appear on your site ready to go. Any
art, photos, charts, graphs, maps or written material you intend
to use must be available when needed. Be sure you have a legal
right to use the material that appears on your Web pages. If
you don't own the copyright, nor have permission from the person
who does, you face copyright infringement charges, a federal
offense. To avoid delays, get everything together before you
begin actual construction of your Web site.
your plan! Once again, start at the beginning of your written
plan and work your way through it to the end, taking each step
in its logical order. Schedule and coordinate hired services
in advance to avoid unnecessary delays. Before long, you'll
have a functioning Web site and your business will have a Web
your plan! Situations change, often without warning. Economic
conditions and legal requirements are particularly susceptible
to change and, therefore, they merit constant scrutiny. Allow
for some flexibility in your business plan so you can quickly
adjust or adapt to emerging conditions. Make changes to your
business program when changes are warranted. By staying on top
of things, you won't get buried.
© 2003 2005 by Phil Hanson
All rights reserved.