Starting up a company is no easy task: two-thirds of new businesses fail every year. It’s not necessarily down to a bad idea either; some of the best concepts are let down by poor business management. A business needs thorough planning, particularly of its finances. If this isn’t your forte, you should enlist the services of a specialist.
Despite the difficulties of the current economic climate, there are plenty of reasons to consider starting up a business. Provided that you have a good idea, the web can help you quickly make a splash. An online presence is a must, whether your company is a one-man band or employs dozens of staff.
In fact, an online face is even more important for the smaller players who don’t have the capital to invest in IT departments or the skill sets to create a great website. If your business can’t be found online, it may as well be nowhere.
If the very idea of HTML coding has you running for the hills, stop. You could spend a fortune outsourcing your website development and management, but you don’t need to. Services are available that put you in control of your online business and make the entire process as pain-free as possible.
Hosted services cater for independent startups that have little cash to spare but are keen to get their name out there.
Here, we’ll look at how to set up an online shop using 1&1 MyBusiness Site.
1&1 offers three different MyBusiness Site packages, with monthly subscriptions ranging between £9.99 for a standard template model and £29 for all the bells and whistles. It hosts your site and takes care of the all-important e-commerce elements.
In our example, we use a template-based service to create a smart-looking business website. We’ll outline what you need to know about domain names and business email addresses, as well as how to use your new website to show off your product catalogue to its best advantage.
Step 1. Head to 1and1.co.uk and create a MyBusiness Site account. The service will send out your username and password by email. Launch the admin facility at admin.1and1.com. This control screen can be accessed at any time, allowing you to tinker with your website, make edits and manage your data.
Step 2. After logging in, the Control Panel lets you control every aspect of your online business. As well as the design aspects of your site, you’ll be able to monitor web traffic analytics, embed marketing tools to boost traffic and create invoices. The Control Panel is also used for ordering your domain name.
Step 3. Click Domains under Domains & Webspace, then choose ‘Add new domain’. This will be the web address by which your site is accessed. We chose pcadvisorcookies.org. The software automatically checks to make sure your chosen domain name isn’t already registered, and suggests other choices if it is.
Step 4. You’ll need a webmail account that can be accessed online, allowing you to be contactable at any time. Find the Communications box in the main Control Panel and click Email, Create. Next, go to Control Panel, Website/Applications, Edit ?Website and make sure your domain is selected. Click Save.
Step 5. Still in the Website/Applications, Edit Website window, click on your company’s web address to launch the site. A Getting Started box will pop up onscreen, and a main menu toolset will appear on the righthand side of the page. From here, you can control every aspect of setting up your business website.
Step 6. Click on the main heading box at the top of the page and add the name of your business. Choose a font style and size you like. Ideally, you’ll already have an idea of how you want to present your business and will have chosen a suitable colour scheme. If you need it, context-sensitive help is available.
Step 7. You’ll need a good image for your business to draw the eyes of potential customers. MyBusiness Site offers a range of images, but we chose our own. Click on the section header and select ‘Own photo’, then browse to and add your image. You can change the image size and positioning in the Edit Image section.
Step 8. You can change the website’s layout to suit your needs. ?Click the Layout button at the top right of the page to see a list of predefined templates you can use. You can tweak every placeholder box as you see fit, or you can simply use the template boxes provided. Find one you like and click Save.
Step 9. Remember to preview your website regularly to see how things are shaping up. Click the Preview button to see how your current layout works online. Any changes that you’ve made ?can be rolled back if they didn’t turn out as you’d hoped. However, once you click ‘Apply changes’, there’s no going back.
Step 10. A host of extras, including Flash movies, local weather reports, RSS feeds, a visitor counter and a guest book, can be added to a box by selecting it and choosing ‘Add new element’. It’s also possible to password-protect any page on your website that you ?want to restrict access to.
Step 11. You want customers to be able to find you. If you’re a small business with remote premises, a map embedded into your website will be invaluable. In the ‘Add new element’ screen, go to More Content and select Google Maps. Add your postcode in the box that appears. You can also add YouTube links or widgets here.
Step 12. Next, we need a decent online shopping system to sell our wares. Still in the ‘Add new element’ box, click the ‘Products and Services’ tab. Here, we added a text description of our cookies and their price. We also added a ‘Display more’ link so customers can choose which cookies to buy.
Step 13. To set up a payment method, click ‘Product description’ and choose the Settings tab. From here you can select ‘Cash in advance’, ‘Cash on delivery’, Invoice or PayPal. You can also configure shipping methods and set it up to automatically send out emails to customers who’ve just bought something.
Step 14. We now have a fully operational business website that comes with its own domain, 200 email accounts and unlimited web space and data traffic. We can tweak the website’s settings and manage all our online business needs through the Control Panel admin facility. All we need now is some customers.