I have been asked often what is needed to run a business on the Internet and which platforms to use. There are quite a few options. All I can tell you is what I do and why. It’s actually quite elaborate. A business evolves over time. So does the IT side of it.
I have been selling on ebay for 17 years. So the idea of jumping to another platform like Etsy or Amazon is just not going to happen. Those platforms won’t work for me anyway. For selling in a safe tangible goods marketplace ebay is very good.
You should have a high-end smartphone like the iPhone 11 Pro or better. A high-end computer like an iMac is also useful. I do 3D printing in my business so it’s very important to have the latest technology end-to-end hardware and software.
A lot of people enter an Internet business plan with “I need a website server that does it all…” NO! You need a cloud of software services connected together that functions as one. The single server idea is as outdated as dinosaurs. Be prepared to be paying a lot of puzzle piece bits to make it work. Just remember it is ether software or humans doing the work – and humans are far more expensive. Buy ‘off the shelf’ software service components as much as possible. Each piece comes with a full IT crew working on it every day. Don’t be that guy buying a server and having to write the program!
So here is my list:
Sales Platform (Tangible goods): ebay. It is a marketing, sales, shipping, payments, sales tax manager, customer relations powerhouse of a platform. It does have a few rules and regs. It may make you start slow as they get to know you. It is a marketplace and community that is well guarded for trust.
Website: You don’t need one at first. After a few years of growth a way to glue the components and user experience together is needed. I tried SquareSpace for a few years and it’s good but WordPress.com with Auction Nudge plugin did what I want. The ability to display my ebay items directly on my site without taking the user to ebay until they want to buy. Don’t buy your own server! Use the hosted plan. WordPress can also connect your business to social media for you. You could sell items directly on a website too but I recommend using as few sales channels as possible. ebay also has a problem with you trying to hi-jack its customers to your local website to finish business. Best to take the customer to ebay for the final deal.
Accounting: QuickBooks Online. If you are selling more than a handful of items, you need good record keeping, reports bank records and sometimes business services like bill pay. You want to connect your ebay store directly to your accounting and I use OneSAAS software to connect ebay and QuickBooks. If you do non-bay sales then you need to keep track of sales records, sales tax in a way that your accountant can view and understand. (Oh yeah… use an accountant too.).
Bank: Use a large national bank that allows software connections to QuickBooks Online. I also use PayPal. Keep in mind that the sales platform will manage payments and deposits directly into your bank account and pay state sales tax for you.
Thats a basic business from the IT side. I am experimenting with other sales platforms like UpWork.com to sell services or the Apple App Store to sell software. Those can just plug in when ready. I am quite busy with what I have right now. Good luck!