The 3 Absolute Musts for Starting Your Online Business

Starting in business early. Selling vegetables...
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If you've already made an early New Year's resolution to make money online to

Starting in business early. Selling vegetables...

Starting in business early. Selling vegetables in the market. Boston, Mass. - NARA - 523224 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

supplement or replace your job, you're in good company.

A Forbes article titled "How to Make Money Without a Job" garnered more than 247,000 views -- about  5 times as many views as an article about anti-Obamacare politicking and more than 10 times as many views as an article about holiday gifts.

Clearly the public is more interested in ways to make money than in Papa John's protests about impending health care policy or ideas about what to get Mum and Dad for Christmas. So, if you're about to launch an online business, be prepared to face some competition.

Don't be discouraged by this.  Competition is healthy -- and really healthy when you come out on top.  But here are 3 tips to help sure that your money-making ideas turn into a sustainable business:

1.  Manage Cash Flow

Allan  Walker, an entrepreneur from the UK put it this way when commenting about the Forbes article: “Cash is king, cash management is queen, and cash flow is the prince of darkness.”

What does this mean to you?

Very few successful businesses enjoy immediate success.  So that means money goes out before it comes in.  If you have a day job, consider keeping it until your new business starts generating steady income.

Deborah Jacobs, author of the "How to Make Money Without a Job" article recommends setting aside six months to a year's worth of income before starting a business.

This isn't always practical, particularly if you're out of a job.  But keep this number in mind.  Even if you are lucky enough to earn income during your first month as an online business, don't be quick to spend it.  Plan for the months when income falters -- when anticipated projects fall through or when clients pay slowly or not at all.

If you don't have a job,  start a business that requires minimal cash outlay.  Information delivered via an ebook or webinar or services such as writing and public relations that require no more than a computer and telephone to get started help you manage cash flow better than product-oriented businesses such as selling shoes or computers.

2.  Do What You Know

This advice from Jacobs makes sense for several reasons.  First, you can get your business up and running more quickly if you rely on skills you've already required -- whether managing a business, sewing clothes or working in IT -- than if you have to take the time to learn something new.  Also, you are better prepared to handle unexpected contingencies when you're working in your comfort zone.

If, for example, you've been a florist, you understand the intricacies of maintaining sufficient stock without overburdening yourself with perishable merchandise.  But if you're a lawyer who thinks that making money online as a florist or candy maker seems like a nice change of pace, you may find yourself overwhelmed with details your legal training never taught you how to handle.

3.  Just do it.

The line is from Nike, but the advice is my own.  Don't make excuses for not following through on your ideas or your business start-up.

I had a client who had his business fully ready to go, including a business plan, financing and support from his wife.  His reason for not actually starting the business?  He couldn't think of a name!

I was dumbfounded, but the man's so-called stumbling block gave me an idea.  I had a guy develop a software program that would take any 2 or 3 words and give you 40 or more potential business names.  I not only used this software to help future clients name their companies, but I also sold the rights to the software for a very healthy profit!

If you're ready to start making money online, get started.  Carve out your niche and capture your share of the market before someone else does.

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