10 Easy Steps To Start An Online Business

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Want to start an online business but don’t know where to start? No worries! I created a resource for you to help you see the biggest steps + parts to starting your own business. I created a 10-step checklist just for online based businesses, coaches, and online creatives. Whether you just started or you’re already up and running a successful online business, I think this checklist will help.

When I first left law firm life in 2016, my business idea was to start my own health coaching business online. I really loved being a health coach. I got so much out of it! Hopefully my clients did, too ; )  But you know what happened after my business was up and running?

So many of you reached out and said, “Hey! You’re an attorney and a health coach. So how do I get this thing started?! I don’t want to get sued!”

I totally got why people were confused. In fact, I was so nervous about what I saw online, even in successful businesses. I saw coaches and creatives make illegal claims and offer a product or service they’re not legally allowed to offer. Plus, their websites didn’t have any of the protections I think they need (that’s why I created the Total Website Solution!). No wonder people were so confused!

10 Easy Steps To Start An Online Business

I’m super passionate about helping women start online businesses that are legally protected. I want you to get the same freedom and fulfillment I have now that I left the law. And I want you and your potential customers to be protected as your business grows!

Some of you want to change careers, start something of your own (like an online store, work on a product idea or have online courses), kickstart a new healthy lifestyle, or anything in between. I just love being your cheerleader and offering help wherever I can.

I’ve created legal templates and trainings for you to help you start & build your business, like:

  • DIY (fill-in-the-blank)legal templates, like contracts and website policies, for you to run your business the right way.
  • The Ultimate Bundle® program: gives you 13 DIY legal templates and 35+ video trainings to learn how to get paid, work with clients online, and protect your content from copycats.
10 Steps To Start An Online Business

1. How to Create a Business Plan & Define Your Audience

Yes, even before picking a name or anything like that, I suggest trying your hand at a business plan. Determine if you’ll be strictly online or want to open and operate a brick and mortar business. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but even the act of going through drafting a business plan and conducting some market research will help you focus your energy, services, and time. In doing so, you’ll get to comb through your search results and get to know your “target market”a little better (although this is really something that happens more with time!), AND work on a marketing plan that works for your unique biz.

How to name your business

2. How to Name Your Business

Now that you’ve narrowed down who you are, what you do, and who you want to work with, we need to get your business a name, girlfriend! There are 2 main things to consider when naming your business:

  1. whether the name is available in the state where you’re going to register your business; and
  2. whether the name is already being used by another business somewhere else. You don’t want to be accused of infringement!

It’s really important to take your time with this step. You want to do a thorough search. And no, just doing a Google search isn’t going to cut it. You should also check…

  • US Trademark databases like the one here;
  • Your state’s business registration website (Google “[your state] business name search”)
  • Domain name availability via GoDaddy or similar;
  • Etsy or Amazon shops, if you sell products;
  • Social media handles, etc.

3. Get an EIN (if needed), Buy The Domain, Snag the Social Handles

If you need an EIN (depending on what type of business you’re starting and what you’re doing), you should go ahead and register online for an EIN with the IRS. It’s free and so easy to do!

I purchased my domain name through SiteGround and signed up for their hosting services (~$4/month).

Snag your social media handles on (at the very least):

  • Instagram
  • Facebook (business page AND possibly a group, too)
  • YouTube
  • Twitter, if you use it (I’m not a fan, but you do you!)
  • TikTok
  • Anything else I don’t know about.

If possible, post content before you launch. Start engaging in conversation, finding your ideal client online, and teasing that you’re opening soon. At the very least, secure your handles on the social media accounts you’re going to use ASAP.

4. Form Your Business

I can’t tell you what type of entity to register for since it’s so case-by-case and state dependent. But, I can tell you there are so many resources available to help you choose! Once you do, you need to go through the appropriate steps in both your state and county/locality to register your business.

Some people confuse this step with domain registration or insurance. This step is completely separate and is VERY, very important. You may want to speak with a local attorney to assist you in registering properly.

I wrote more about registering LLCs (limited liability company) here and talked about whether sole proprietorships are a waste of time here.

5. Business Bank Account

Get a business bank account, PayPal/Stripe business account, and a credit or debit card registered to the business name (and only for business expenses!). Keep your business account (and any money you put in or make) completely separate from your personal bank accounts and funds.

6. Why Business Insurance Is Important

Even as small business owners, having business insurance is necessary. It is what financially protects your business. If you get sued or threatened to be sued for anything covered by your business insurance policy, your business insurance will do 2 things:

  • provide you with a defense attorney (an attorney who defends you in a lawsuit) and pay the attorneys’ fees. That’s huge!
  • If a judgement is found against you/your business (aka. you lose and owe money) or you settle the case, your business insurance carrier will pay the judgment/settlement amount, minus your deductible. Of course this is only for something that’s covered by your policy itself (just like any other insurance).

Insurance is especially important if you offer services, courses or programs. Contact an insurance agent to let them know what type of business you have, what you do, and where you operate. They’ll let you know what type of insurance would work best for your business.

7. Setup Your Website

Since you’ve already secured the domain name and decided on your website builder and host, you’ll want to get your beautiful website up and running. Thankfully, you don’t need a degree in web design to create a site as you can keep it basic for now, (because once you DO build your website, you’ll realize it’s ALWAYS a work in progress) but I’d at least have:

8. Social Media

You should already have your social media handles waiting for you. Now, start planning and implementing content marketing. I love to use Later or CoSchedule (affiliate links) because before I started using it, I spent WAY too much time online. This way, I can plan out all my posts ahead of time and see it right in front of me.

You also want to think about your social media strategy, any theme-days you want, and what kind of branding you want to focus on.

9. Email Marketing + Freebie

Although social media is so helpful for spreading the word as, we don’t want to put all our eggs in the social media basket (even if it is one of the best free marketing strategies). Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are always switching up the algorithm (out of nowhere) and making it really hard for us to reach people who don’t know about our businesses. The best way to combat this? Put yourself in the driver’s seat by building an email list from the beginning.

I use ConvertKit (affiliate link) for my email service because it allows me to:

  • Collect email addresses, tag people, and send targeted messages
  • Create awesome forms + pop-ups
  • Design landing pages (targeted sales pages) without hiring any professional designers

You want to make sure your email marketing is legally legit — that means making sure you’re compliant with the CAN Spam Act of 2003 and international laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

You can get 1-month free of ConvertKit with my link! (affiliate link)

10. Legal Templates

Get your legal protection ducks in a row by, at the very least, getting a:

  • 1:1 Client Contractfor 1-on-1 services to send to each new client before you start working together
  • Privacy policyto let visitors know what info you collect from them, when, & why (for the footer of your website). You’re likely required to have a privacy policy on your website. Here’s why.
  • Website Disclaimerto use on your site, blog posts, and marketing materials. Important for all of you – but especially you health/wellness coaches, fitness coaches, and bloggers!
  • Terms + Conditionsespecially if you sell services or products, terms & conditions let everyone know what the terms of purchase or use of your site are.

Learn more + get all 4 of these legal templates in my Ultimate Bundle® program in your shopping cart today!

But please remember…

Use of this information or any other products on samvanderwielen.com do not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and Sam. The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Always work with a local attorney licensed in your state where you live and do business to be sure you are in compliance with your state and local laws. Sam is a licensed attorney in the State of New Jersey & Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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