2 Starting an Online Business FOR DUMmIES 4TH EDITION by Greg Holden
3 Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. 111 River Street Hoboken, NJ Copyright 2005 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana Published simultaneously in Canada No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) , fax (978) Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing, Inc., Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) , fax (317) , Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way, Dummies.com, and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book. LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: THE PUBLISHER AND THE AUTHOR MAKE NO REP- RESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS WORK AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NO WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS. THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY SITUATION. THIS WORK IS SOLD WITH THE UNDER- STANDING THAT THE PUBLISHER IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. IF PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COM- PETENT PROFESSIONAL PERSON SHOULD BE SOUGHT. NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR THE AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES ARISING HEREFROM. THE FACT THAT AN ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE IS REFERRED TO IN THIS WORK AS A CITATION AND/OR A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE AUTHOR OR THE PUBLISHER ENDORSES THE INFORMA- TION THE ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE MAY PROVIDE OR RECOMMENDATIONS IT MAY MAKE. FURTHER, READERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT INTERNET WEBSITES LISTED IN THIS WORK MAY HAVE CHANGED OR DISAPPEARED BETWEEN WHEN THIS WORK WAS WRITTEN AND WHEN IT IS READ. For general information on our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at , outside the U.S. at , or fax For technical support, please visit Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. Library of Congress Control Number: ISBN: Manufactured in the United States of America B/RW/QS/QV/IN
4 About the Author Greg Holden started a small business called Stylus Media, which is a group of editorial, design, and computer professionals who produce both print and electronic publications. The company gets its name from a recording stylus that reads the traces left on a disk by voices or instruments and translates those signals into electronic data that can be amplified and enjoyed by many. He has been self-employed for the past ten years. He is an avid user of ebay, both as a buyer and seller, and he recently started his own blog. One of the ways Greg enjoys communicating is through explaining technical subjects in nontechnical language. The first edition of Starting an Online Business For Dummies was the ninth of his more than thirty computer books. He also authored ebay PowerUser s Bible for Wiley Publishing. Over the years, Greg has been a contributing editor of Computer Currents magazine, where he writes a monthly column. He also contributes to PC World and the University of Illinois at Chicago alumni magazine. Other projects have included preparing documentation for an electronics catalog company in Chicago and creating online courses on Windows 2000 and Microsoft Word Greg balances his technical expertise and his entrepreneurial experience with his love of literature. He received an M.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and also writes general interest books, short stories, and poetry. Among his editing assignments is the monthly newsletter for his daughters grade school. After graduating from college, Greg became a reporter for his hometown newspaper. Working at the publications office at the University of Chicago was his next job, and it was there that he started to use computers. He discovered, as the technology became available, that he loved desktop publishing (with the Macintosh and LaserWriter) and, later on, the World Wide Web. Greg loves to travel, but since his two daughters were born, he hasn t been able to get around much. He was able to translate his experiences into a book called Karma Kids: Answering Everyday Parenting Questions with Buddhist Wisdom. However, through the Web, he enjoys traveling vicariously and meeting people online. He lives with his family in an old house in Chicago that he has been rehabbing for well, for many years now. He is a collector of objects such as pens, cameras, radios, and hats. He is always looking for things to take apart so that he can see how they work and fix them up. Many of the same skills prove useful in creating and maintaining Web pages. He is an active member of Jewel Heart, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation and study group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
5 Dedication To my best friend Ann Lindner, who makes everything possible.
6 Author s Acknowledgments One of the things I like best about this book is that it s a teaching tool that gives me a chance to share my knowledge small business owner to small business owner about computers, the Internet, and communicating your message to others in an interactive way. As any businessperson knows, most large-scale projects are a team effort. While the online business landscape has changed since this book was first published, some basic principles remain the same. One is the fact that the most successful entrepreneurs also tend to be the ones who are the most generous with their time and experience. They taught me that the more helpful you are, the more successful you ll be in return. I want to thank all those who were profiled as case studies, particularly John Moen of Graphic Maps, who pops up all through the book. Special recognition also goes to attorney David Adler (www.ecommerceattorney.com) for his assistance with Chapter 16. Thanks also go to Jeremy G. Alicandri of Simply Cheap.com; Ed Bryson of Yahoo! Small Business; Lucky Boyd of MyTexasMusic. com; Mike Holden of lp2cdsolutions; Kristin Lindner of Elephant of Joy; John Counsel of The Profit Clinic; Caroline Dauteuille, Jeffrey E. Edelheit, and Mike Gearhart of CMStat Corporation; Lars Hundley of Clean Air Gardening; Kimberly King; Mark Lauer of General Tool and Repair; Doug Laughter of The Silver Connection; Brennan Mulligan of Timbuk2 Designs; John Raddatz of SoftBear Shareware; Sarah-Lou Reekie of Alfresco; Michael Rosenberg of Health Decisions; Judy Vorfeld of Office Support Services; and Marques Vickers. I would also like to acknowledge some of my own colleagues who helped prepare and review the text and graphics of this book and who have supported and encouraged me in other lessons of life. Thanks to Ann Lindner, whose teaching experience proved invaluable in suggesting ways to make the text more clear, and to my assistant Ben Huizenga. For editing and technical assignments, I was lucky to be in the capable hands of the folks at Wiley Publishing: my project editor Nicole Sholly, my copy editor Jean Rogers, and technical editor Jim Kelly. Thanks also to Neil Salkind and David and Sherry Rogelberg of Studio B, and to Terri Varveris of Wiley Publishing for helping me to add this book to the list of those I ve authored and, in the process, to broaden my expertise as a writer. Last but certainly not least, the future is in the hands of the generation of my two daughters, Zosia and Lucy, who allow me to learn from the curiosity and joy with which they approach life.
7 Publisher s Acknowledgments We re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following: Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development Project Editor: Nicole Sholly Acquisitions Editor: Terri Varveris Copy Editor: Jean Rogers Technical Editor: Jim Kelly Editorial Manager: Kevin Kirschner Permissions Editor: Laura Moss Media Development Specialist: Angela Denny Media Development Manager: Laura VanWinkle Media Development Supervisor: Richard Graves Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth Cartoons: Rich Tennant, Composition Services Project Coordinator: Nancee Reeves Layout and Graphics: Barry Offringa, Jacque Roth, Heather Ryan Proofreaders: Leeann Harney, Jessica Kramer, TECHBOOKS Composition Services Indexer: TECHBOOKS Composition Services Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director Publishing for Consumer Dummies Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director Composition Services Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services
8 Table of Contents Introduction...1 You Can Do It!...1 The Water s Still Fine...2 Where This Book Is Coming From...3 How to Use This Book...4 What This Book Assumes...4 What s Where in This Book...5 Part I: Strategies and Tools for Your Online Business...5 Part II: Establishing Your Online Presence...5 Part III: Successful Online Business Models...6 Part IV: Running and Promoting Your Online Business...6 Part V: The Necessary Evils: Law and Accounting...6 Part VI: The Part of Tens...6 An Online Feature: The Starting an Online Business For Dummies Internet Directory...7 Conventions Used in This Book...7 Icons Used in This Book...8 We re in It Together...8 Part I: Strategies and Tools for Your Online Business...9 Chapter 1: Opening Your Own Online Business in Ten Easy Steps Step 1: Identify a Need...11 Getting to know the marketplace...13 Cee-ing what s out there...13 Figuring out how to do it better...16 Step 2: Determine What You Have to Offer...16 Step 3: Come Up with a Cyberbusiness Plan...17 Drawing up a business plan...17 Step 4: Assemble Your Equipment and Set Up Shop...18 Finding a host for your Web site...18 Assembling the equipment you need...19 Choosing business software...20
9 viii Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition Step 5: Find People to Help You...21 Hiring technical experts...21 Gathering your team members...22 Step 6: Construct a Web Site...23 Make your site content-rich...23 Establishing a graphic identity...25 Step 7: Set Up a System for Processing Sales...26 Providing a means for secure transactions...26 Becoming a credit card merchant...26 Keeping your books straight...28 Step 8: Provide Personal Service...28 Sharing your expertise...28 Making your site a go-to resource...29 Becoming a super er...31 Step 9: Alert the Media and Everyone Else...31 Listing your site with Internet search services...32 Reaching the entire Internet...32 Step 10: Review, Revise, and Improve...33 Taking stock...33 Updating your data...34 Chapter 2: Choosing and Equipping Your New E-Business Mapping Out Your Online Business...36 Looking around...37 Making your mark...37 Evaluating commercial Web sites...38 Flavors of Online Businesses You Can Taste Test...39 Selling consumer products...39 Hanging out your professional services...40 Selling your expertise...41 Opportunities with technology or computer resources...42 Being a starving artist without the starving...42 Marketing One-to-One to Your Customers...44 Focus on a customer segment...45 Boost your credibility...47 Customer to customer contact: Everyone wins...48 Be a player in online communities...49 Add ways to sell and multiply your profits...52 Easyware (Not Hardware) for Your Business...53 The right computer for your online business...54 Processor speed...55 Hard drive storage...56 CD-RW/DVD±RW drive...56 Monitor...57 Fax equipment...58 Image capture devices...58
10 Table of Contents ix Getting Online: Connection Options...60 A second phone line...61 Beyond dialup...61 Software Solutions for Online Business...62 Web browser...63 Web page editor...63 Taking a step higher...64 Discussion group software...64 FTP software...65 Image editors...65 Instant messaging...66 Backup software...66 Chapter 3: Selecting the Right Web Host and Design Tools Getting the Most from Your Web Host...68 Finding a Web Server to Call Home...70 Installing software to build a Web site...72 You ve got business: Creating an AOL store...76 Investigating electronic storefront software...79 Moving into an online mall...81 Turning to your ISP for Web hosting...84 Going for the works with a Web hosting service...87 Fun with Tools: Choosing a Web Page Editor...91 For the novice: Use your existing programs...91 For intermediate needs: User-friendly Web editors...92 For advanced commerce sites: Programs that do it all...94 Chapter 4: Exploiting New Ways to Build Business Advantages of Doing Business Online...98 Operating 24/ Communicating with new tools...99 Taking advantage of micropayments rebirth Auctioning off your professional services Exploring New Products and Services You Can Sell Providing music files and other creative work Groceries and other household services Exploring m-commerce Online Content and Commentary Blogging to build your brand Finding your niche Building Community Partnerships Market research...113
11 x Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition Part II: Establishing Your Online Presence Chapter 5: Giving Your Business Site Structure and Style Feng Shui Your Web Site Nip and Tuck: Establishing a Visual Identity Choosing wallpaper that won t make you a wallflower Using Web typefaces like a pro Clip art is free and fun A picture is worth a thousand words Creating a logo Extreme Web Pages: Advanced Layouts Setting the tables for your customers Framing your subject Breaking the grid with layers Hiring a Professional Web Designer Chapter 6: Attracting and Keeping Customers Features that Attract Customers Don t be shy about what you have to say Making your content scannable Freebies: Everyone s favorite Make your site searchable Writing Unforgettable Text Striking the right tone Getting a little help from your friends Sharing your expertise Inviting Comments from Customers Getting positive feedback Web page forms that aren t off-putting Providing a guestbook Chit-chat that counts Chapter 7: Building in Security Up Front Practicing Safe Business When you sleep where you work Preparing for the worst Installing Firewalls and Other Safeguards Keeping out Trojan horses and other unwanted visitors Cleaning out spyware Positioning the firewall Keeping your firewall up to date Public Keys That Provide Security The keys to public-key/private-key encryption Getting a certificate without going to school...172
12 Table of Contents xi Keeping Other Noses Out of Your Business Encryption software for the rest of us Encrypting messages Picking passwords that are hard to guess A mouthful of protection with authentication Chapter 8: Monitoring and Improving Your Business Strengthening Your Infrastructure Improving your domain name Finding a new Web server Performing Basic Web Housekeeping Making sure your site is organized Adding navigational links Making sure your site is searchable Taking your site for a test run Managing Goods and Services Sourcing goods Handling returns Adding shipping rates Maintaining inventory Part III: Successful Online Business Models Chapter 9: Setting Up Amazon.com, Yahoo!, and Other Storefronts Becoming an Amazon.com Seller Become an Amazon.com Associate Join the marketplace Pro Merchant subscription Opening a zshop Amazon.com auctions The tip jar Creating a Yahoo! Small Business Creating Other Storefronts Letting CafePress sell your creative work Launching a PayPal shop Opening a Microsoft Small Business Chapter 10: Running a Business on ebay Understanding ebay Auctions Building a Good Reputation Feedback, feedback, feedback! Developing a schedule Creating an About Me page...215
13 xii Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition Preparing Sales Descriptions That Sell Details, details Include clear images Be flexible with payment options Providing Good Customer Service Setting terms of sale Packing and shipping safely Moving from Auctioneer to ebay Businessperson Opening an ebay Store Striving for PowerSeller status Part IV: Running and Promoting Your Online Business Chapter 11: Easing the Shopping Experience Attracting and Keeping Online Customers Seeing your merchandise is the first step Tell me that the price is right, right now Show me that I can trust you! Give me the essentials; show me the products Looking for a Good Web Host: The Domain name registration Marketing utilities Catalog creators Database connectivity Payment plans Boosting Business through Efficient Communication Making Sure Your Web Site Is Up to Snuff Using software to monitor performance Dealing with service outages Outsourcing Your Business Needs How ASPs can help your company Before you sign on the dotted line Chapter 12: Accepting Payments Sealing the Deal: The Options Enabling Credit Card Purchases Setting up a merchant account Finding a secure server Verifying credit card data Processing the orders Online Payment Systems Shopping cart software VeriSign payment services...256
14 Table of Contents xiii PayPal Micropayments Other payment options Fulfilling Your Online Orders Provide links to shipping services Present shipping options clearly Chapter 13: Service with a Virtual Smile The Best Customer Is an Informed Customer Why FAQs are frequently used Writing an online newsletter Mixing bricks and clicks Helping Customers Reach You Going upscale with your Creating forms that aren t formidable Making Customers Feel That They Belong Putting the person into personal service Not letting an ocean be a business barrier Having a discussion area can enhance your site Starting an alt discussion group Starting a Yahoo! Group Creating a Web discussion area with FrontPage Chapter 14: Search Engine Placement Understanding How Search Engines Find You Keywords are key Links help searchers connect to you Don t forget the human touch Taking the initiative: Paying for ads Knowing who supplies the search results Going Gaga over Google Googling yourself Playing Google s game to reach # Leaving a Trail of Crumbs Adding keywords to your HTML Registering your site with Google Getting listed in the Yahoo! index Getting listed with other search services Adding keywords to key pages Don t make your pages hard to index Maximizing links Monitoring Traffic: The Science of Webanalytics Software options Do-it-yourself options...304
15 xiv Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition Chapter 15: Advertising and Publicity Coming Up with a Marketing Strategy A brand that speaks for you Being selective about your audience Publicity Strategies That Are Free Keywords are the key A newsletter for next to nothing Participating in mailing lists and newsgroups The power of an address book Linking for fun and profit Partners make the profits go around A contest where everyone s a winner Waving a banner ad Guerrilla Marketing and Advertising Strategies Popup (and under, and over) ads Adding life to your ads Paid search and keyword analysis Minding Your Ps and Qs (Puns and Quips) Speaking their language Using the right salutations Making your site multilingual Using the right terms Joining the International Trade Brigade Keeping up with international trade issues Researching specific trade laws Exploring free trade zones Shipping Overseas Goods Getting Paid in International Trade Part V: The Necessary Evils: Law and Accounting Chapter 16: Making It All Legal Trade Names and Trademarks Determining whether a trademark is up for grabs Protecting your trade name Making sure your domain name stays yours Practicing Safe Copyright Copyright you can count on Making copyright work for you Restrictions Such as Licensing Local regulations you should heed Restrictions that may restrict your trade Your Business in the Eyes of the Law Sole proprietorship Partnership Advantages of a statutory business entity...350
16 Table of Contents xv Keeping Out of Legal Trouble Get it in writing! Is multilevel marketing worth it? Adult content is risky business What you don t know about acceptable use policies can hurt you The tax man cometh Chapter 17: Online Business Accounting Tools ABCs: Accounting Basics for Commerce Choosing an accounting method Knowing what records to keep Understanding the Ps and Qs of P&Ls Accounting Software for Your Business The Tax Man Cometh: Concerns for Small Business Should you charge sales tax? Federal and state taxes Deducing your business deductions Part VI: The Part of Tens Chapter 18: Ten Must-Have Features for Your Web Site Secure some easy-to-remember URLs Provide a convenient payment method Promote security, privacy, and trust Choose goods and services that buyers want Have a regular influx of new products Be current with upkeep and improvements Personally interact with your customers Post advertisements in the right places Blow your own horn Create a well-organized Web site Chapter 19: Ten Hot New Ways to Be an Ontrepreneur Starting a blog Turning your hobby into a business Getting other people to contribute Inspiring others with your thoughts Offering your services on elance Opening the PayPal tip jar Giving out not-so-free advice Turning to your pets for help Becoming a storehouse of information Need income? Just ask! Expanding your existing business to the Web Index...383
17 xvi Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition
18 Introduction You ve been thinking about starting your own business, but until now, it s been just a dream. After all, you re a busy person. You have a full-time job, whether it s running your home or working outside your home. Or perhaps you ve been through some life-changing event and are ready to take off in a new direction. Then the economy took a turn for the worse, and you were understandably reluctant to make a big career change. Well, I have news for you: Now is the perfect time to turn your dream into reality by starting your own online business. Individuals just like you are making money and enriching their lives by operating businesses online. The clock and your location are no longer limiting factors. Small business owners can now work any time of the night or day in their spare bedrooms, local libraries, or neighborhood coffee shops. And there are new ways of making money online, such as starting a blog or starting a full-time business on ebay, which are becoming more viable all the time. If you like the idea of being in business for yourself, but you don t have a particular product or service in mind at the moment, relax and keep yourself open for inspiration. Many different kinds of commercial enterprises can hit it big on the Internet. Among the entrepreneurs I interviewed for this book are a woman who sells her own insect repellent, a mapmaker, a woman who provides office services for the medical community, a housewife who sells sweetener and coffee on ebay, a sculptor and painter, a young man who started selling electronics online at age 16, and several folks who create Web pages for other businesses. With the help of this book, you can start a new endeavor and be in charge of your own cyberbusiness, too. You Can Do It! What s that? You say you wouldn t know a merchant account, profit-and-loss statement, or clickthrough advertising rate if it came up to you on the street and introduced itself? Don t worry: The Internet (and this book) level the playing field, so a novice has just as good a chance at succeeding as MBAs who love to throw around business terms at cocktail parties. The Internet is pretty much an accepted part of the business landscape these days. Whether you ve been in business for 20 years or 20 minutes, the keys to success are the same:
19 2 Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition Having a good idea: If you have something to sell that people have an appetite for, and if your competition is slim, your chances of success are hefty. Working hard: When you are your own boss, you can make yourself work harder than any of your former bosses ever could. But if you put in the effort and persist through the inevitable ups and downs, you will be a winner. Preparing for success: One of the most surprising and useful things I discovered from the online businesspeople that I interviewed was that if you believe that you will succeed, you probably will. Believe in yourself and proceed as though you re going to be successful. Together with your good ideas and hard work, your confidence will pay off. If you re the cautious type who wants to test the waters before you launch your new business on the Internet, let this book lead you gently up the learning curve. After you re online, you can master techniques to improve your presence. This book includes helpful hints for doing market research and reworking your Web site until you get the success you want. Even if you aren t among the lucky small business owners who make a fortune by connecting to the Net, the odds are very good that you will make new friends, build your confidence, and have fun, too. The Water s Still Fine When I first started revising this new edition in the fall of 2004, I was excited to find that new business opportunities were springing up again after some lean years. ebay is booming. Other well-known Web-based service providers like Yahoo!, PayPal, and Amazon.com are enabling entrepreneurs to start up new businesses. Bloggers are taking the Internet by storm, and some are making a regular source of income from their online diaries. Google and Overture are making it easier than ever to gain advertising revenue. As the Web becomes more of a way of life and broadband Internet connections become widespread, doing business online becomes more of a real possibility. Still, you may have reasonable concerns about the future of e-commerce for the very entrepreneurs this book seeks to help individuals who are starting their first businesses on the Web. Your fears will quickly evaporate when you read this book s case studies of my friends and colleagues who do business online. They re either thriving or at least treading water, and they enthusiastically encourage others to jump right in the water s fine. This is still a great time to start an online business. People who are getting into e-commerce today have advantages over those who started out three or four years ago. Simply put, both consumers and businesses are smarter. There are more experts in the field so that it is easier to make things happen, says Sarah-Lou Reekie, an online entrepreneur I profile in Chapter 13. The world
20 Introduction 3 is far more au fait and switched on to the Web. The percentage of people able to competently order is far higher. People aren t as nervous as they were to put through credit cards. After an amazingly short time, the Web has changed from an unknown and somewhat scary medium to something as easy as ABC for most users. I feel the best time to start an online business is when you are positioned to begin. I do not feel that there is an advantage/disadvantage to waiting for a better time to start, says Mark Cramer, whose own online business and Web site are profiled in Bonus Chapter 1 on this book s Web site (located at Where This Book Is Coming From Online business isn t just for large corporations, or even just for small businesses that already have a storefront in the real world and simply want to supplement their marketability with a Web site. The Internet is a perfect venue for individuals who want to start their own business, who like using computers, and who believe that cyberspace is the place to do it. You don t need much money to get started, after all. If you already have a computer and an Internet connection and can create your own Web pages (which this book will help you with), making the move to your own business Web site may cost only $100 or less. After you re online, the overhead is pretty reasonable, too: You may pay only $10 to $75 per month to a Web hosting service to keep your site online. With each month that goes by, the number of Internet users increases exponentially. To be precise, in early 2004 Neilsen//NetRatings released data indicating that more than 74 percent of the U.S. population had access to the Internet at home. The Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 39 percent of adults who surf the Internet do so with a broadband connection. We have now reached that critical mass where most people are using the Internet regularly for everyday shopping and other financial activities. The Internet is already becoming a powerhouse for small businesses. So why wait to fall behind your competition? The goal of this book is to help you open your fledgling business on the Internet now. Let this book guide you through the following steps: Preparing a business plan, defining your target market, and setting goals Purchasing the hardware and software you need to run your business Making your Web pages content rich and interactive Reaching your customers through multiple marketplaces such as ebay, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, and your own Web site