Recent events have impacted employment for millions around the globe. As a result, many people are searching for new sources of income. With so many of us relying on the internet now for delivery of food, medicine and other services, starting your own online business from home may be the right solution to help generate income.

Starting an online business from home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, it can be quite simple. However, protecting it from cyberattacks isn’t always as easy. Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) are the targets in 43% of all cybersecurity incidents. That’s because hackers know that SMBs often lack the budget or resources to implement enterprise-quality protection. Phishing, ransomware, site defacement and SEO spam are just some of the most common threats SMBs face online.

With the right plan and support, your online business can avoid these malicious attacks and the potential damage they cause. Here’s our checklist for starting a home business, including our tips to ensure your site is secure. Using this list as guide, you can focus on growing your home business instead of fighting off security threats.

Choose your niche

When starting an online business from home, a good place to start is choosing your company’s niche. Leveraging your skills with your personal passions is typically a recipe for success – such as tutoring, graphic design, or selling products you make or buy wholesale. However, in order to be successful, you’ll want to ensure that there is a market need for your online business. To help evaluate the market opportunity, you can research competitors to help understand the landscape of your industry, as well as come up with a strategy for how to differentiate yourself and identify effective marketing practices.    

Make a simple plan

Creating an online business plan helps outline your goals and how you can achieve them. For many businesses, this step is paramount in their overall success. In fact, research shows that those who write a business plan are nearly twice as likely to successfully grow their business than those who didn’t write a plan.

To be effective, your plan doesn’t need to be overly complex either. A very simple business plan can help you stay on track and help determine what you will sell, how much to charge, how you will receive payments, how to attract customers, technology you may need, and more. To determine the right steps for your online business, there are numerous resources that offer business plan templates to help you get started.

Name your business

The right brand name can be a business’s most valuable asset. Choosing a unique and memorable name can help catch the eye of prospective customers and differentiate your brand. While naming your online business is a lot about branding, there are also some key aspects to consider while building this foundational piece of your business. 

The ideal name is easy to remember and tells what your business does, like “Sam’s Trigonometry Tutoring.” Additionally, a good business name has an available domain name. After you choose your business name, register the domain name you want. Then you can set up a business email address, develop high-level messaging for your business like a tag line, and design a logo or hire someone to do it for you.

Do your digital paperwork

When forming a business entity, even when starting an online business from home, you’ll need a business permit if your city, county or state requires one. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll also need an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS online.

With your paperwork, you can open a business bank account. It’s not required to have an account specifically for your online business but bookkeeping and tax time are much easier if you keep business and personal funds separate. Then look into whether your business needs insurance, especially if you offer a professional service like writing or design.

Set up your website

With your domain name and necessary paperwork complete, you’re ready to set up your new business site.

To build a fully functional website, you’ll need:

  • A web hosting service that hosts your website, enabling it to be viewable on the internet.  
  • A website, which you can build with a site builder like Wix or a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS and is used by 30 percent of websites on the internet.
  • An ecommerce platform or plugin if you will need the ability to conduct transactions online directly from your site. 

As a best practice, all three elements should be compatible for ease of use and security. To ensure the security of your site and your customers’ information, make sure you include:

  • Website security tools for malware removal, PCI compliance, vulnerability patching.
  • An SSL certificate to encrypt customer-entered data.
  • A web application firewall (WAF) to keep hackers out.
  • Tools to automatically update your platform, themes and plugins to patch vulnerabilities.
  • A solution that runs regular site backups and can restore website files and the database in case of a site crash.

Now, you can set up your online storefront. First, choose a theme, then customize the site to include your business information and keywords. Finally, add your products or services and a checkout connected to your payment services (like PayPal, Square or Visa Checkout).

Market your online home business

To find prospective customers, you can set up accounts on the social media platforms where your target clients spend time and start promoting your store. Additionally, you can create content on your website targeting specific SEO keywords to bring in website traffic from search engines like Google. When visitors arrive at your site, invite them to subscribe to your email newsletter for news and deals. Start a store blog with how-to videos, interviews, gift guides and other content to attract customers.

Keep learning

The U.S. Small Business Administration is a great resource, with an online library of free courses for new business owners. For cybersecurity, SiteLock’s e-commerce security guide offers in-depth information about protecting your online business. You can also learn what your online business needs to be safe with a free website security analysis from SiteLock.

By following these steps, your online business will be setup for success right from the start. Along with completing the necessary steps of starting a home business, it’s crucial to be proactive about security when launching your business online. Once your online home business is up and running, be sure to get a free 30-minute consultation with a SiteLock website security expert, who will evaluate your site against 500 factors to determine your site’s risk of an attack and identify areas for security improvement. 

Call us today at (855) 237-2906 to get your site security analysis.