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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Key considerations when thinking about selling online

Chris Barling, CEO of ecommerce and EPOS specialist SellerDeck, looks at what a potential start-up owner needs to consider when taking the plunge online

Fundamental to any business - online or offline - is the question of what value you are bringing to your customers. While it's very easy to convince yourself that your business idea is a good one, no one makes a profit without customers. And no one gets customers when there is no reason for them to part with their cash.

So you have to think about which customer needs you are meeting and how you will try to distinguish yourself from the competition. Is it by having a better range in a very specialist field or by providing a service or product that others don't offer? One company I know will deliver a bed the same day that it's ordered - this is its unique selling point.

Having decided on the proposition, when you develop your website you must both support and communicate this proposition, and provide everything possible that the customer needs to make a decision to buy. Put yourself in their shoes - what would you need to know?

Either way, it's good to specialise - particularly when you first start up. It's easier to become an expert, provide great service and compete with the big boys in a narrow niche.

What technology?

In general, you need to pay as little for technology as possible, so that you leave money for marketing. A site needs to look good, but it's possible to spend too much money on design. I've been amazed by how many ecommerce sites are very successful despite having average design. Having a site that is fast, always available and easy to use is probably more important.

Unless you are planning to do something no one has done before, don't let anyone talk you into a bespoke development for your ecommerce store. There are many great ecommerce packages around, and paying through the nose for something that will be less flexible and much, much more expensive long term doesn't make any sense.

Ecommerce systems can sit on the desktop and web server or entirely on a web server. There are pros and cons to each approach, with independence, control and resilience to web-based attacks being the principal benefits of the desktop approach, and easy access from anywhere being the principal advantage of a fully web-based system.

Let the world know

Once you have a site up and running, you need to let the world know. The surest way to do this is through search engine marketing, which enables you to tap into people when they are actually searching for the types of products you sell.

You can also promote your business via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook - although this will take time and dedication.

Priorities

The biggest priorities are a) having something to sell that people want to buy, and b) making sure you can do that profitably. Then you need to focus on marketing and measuring results. If no one visits your ecommerce store, you won't make any sales. These are the areas to focus on.

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