1. Register the domain name. If you can register a domain name,
chances are you can also get the trademark on the words. The domain name
is the flagship of your brand, so choose a good one--there're plenty of
great ones left--I just registered renaissancemountain.com, and
incorporated it as a Delaware LLC a few minutes later at Bizfilings.com.
2. Don't reinvent the wheel. Whatever you're trying to do on the
web, chances are somebody has done it, and even better yet, chances are
download the software for free, or for a small fee, from sourceforge.net, hotscripts.com, or scriptsearch.com.
It's worth spending a couple hours researching these sites, as it'll save
you years on down the road.
3. Learn a bit of html, and learn to code. I don't mean you
should learn object-oriented
programming in C, but learn some PHP and some mysql--just enough to take
somebody else's code and make it look like your site--enough to plug in a
LAMP (Linux, Apache, MYSQL, PHP) project. There're are
thousands of online tutorials, many which can be found at the same sites
where you download the software, or at places like php.net or
phpbuilder.com. Even if you barely ever code, by spending a couple weeks
at the nuts and bolts level, you'll be in a better position to hire
somebody to code for you, or to purchase software. Before I settle on any
particular software, I usually examine the listed features of up to ten
packages, and install three of them.
Then I settle on the best, based on the following criteria:
A. Is the project supported by an active group? Does it have a track
B. Do the features rock? Do they have a list of future features?
C. Is it modular in design--is it template driven and easy to customize?
D. Is it aimed at the latest in LAMP (Linux, Apache, MYSQL, PHP)?
4. Start with shared hosting. Get a shared-hosting account.
Dedicated and colocated servers can wait until you're having 5,000 people
buying your product every three minutes. In choosing a shared-hosting
account, get one which gives you access to LAMP, as well as one that
allows you ssh (secure telnet) shell access in addition to ftp.
If you're spending more than $19.95/month when you sign up, you're paying
5. Get listed. Get listed everywhere. Use meta tags with
appropriate kyewords and descriptions. Open your site up to the world.
Flat html files are the most easily spidered, so stay away from cgi and
php scripts which place too much garbage in the urls--you know, the suff
that looks like file.php?dsahjsadh=kfskf&hgfsjfh=21312. Trade links with
friends, join webrings, and share your site with others. Do not spam.
Provide useful information to appropriate audiences, and they shall be
grateful. They'll tell their friends, and people believe their friends
far more than they believe popup advertisements and spam.
5. Technology is labor immortalized, so get some sleep.
Software is labor immortalized. It will
work 24 hours a day, providing information, customer service, and taking
orders. Everything that you set up should be done with the idea of taking
yourself out of the equation. It's not a business which can be sold until
it doesn't need you. Once upon a time this meant hiring great employees.
Today it means uploading, writing, and configuring great code.
6. Incorporate, Trademark, Copyright, Patent, but don't talk to
lawyers. Now that you have a site up and running, and you're making
some money, you already have a legal business. And provided that nobody
else is selling a similar service under the same name, you have a legal
claim to the trademark too. By this point a lot of things have been
solidified--you've probably settled upon a brand and a product, so now
it's time to hop on over to Bizfilings.com and set your company up as a
Delaware LLC. An LLC will afford you personal legal protection, as
your assets will be separated from the business's, and it will
allow you to pay taxes as a sole proprietor, or as a partner. If you're
looking for investors, an incorporation might be better, but you can
always change, should you meet a billionaire who believes in your vision.
I've been running a business for seven years, and I've never paid a
lawyer. The vast majority of law is common sense--the second law moves
beyond common sense, it is probably because it is becoming corrupted. On
the Frieze of the United States Supreme Court, it says, "Equal Justice
Under the Law."
Visit uspto.gov and fill out the
forms and pay the fees that shall secure you the patents, trademarks, and
copyrights that are legally yours. And then hop on over to
bizfilings.com, and set yourself up an LLC, or an S-corporation, or a
corporation. If you're making millions at this point, go ahead and hire a
lawyer, but if not, the money would be better spent in perhaps buying a
second site or developing a second revenue stream.
7. Keep Adding Revenue Streams Never stop. Become an
amazon.com affiliate and let them pay your cell phone bill. Become a Dell
affiliate and let them pay your electric bill. Visit
commissionjunction.com and befree.com, and become affiliates with
appropriate vendors. Download phpmyads from sourceforge.net, and serve
banners from loacl companies, as well as from burstmedia.com,
doubleclick.com, advertising.com, and tribalfusion.com. Start offering
subscriptions to your publication, utilizing paypal to collect fees--add a
classified ads system, an auction, and a dating service for your memebers.
Offer to manage businesses email needs and webservers. The opportunities
are endless--pick and choose the ones you are passionate about.
8. Buy your server. By this time you're pushing
so much bandwidth that your ISP has threatened to shut you
down. Your big cost is going to be bandwidth. Finding a
local place is great, but sometimes local ISP's can cost a
bit much. Check out 1colohost.com for some price
comparisons--you can always get two servers, one at your
local ISP to handle backups, and one at a remote location to
push out high-bandwidth entities, such as pictures or
9. Accept Credit Cards Cardservices International
10. Give back to the community. Bost some
hacks to sourcefoge.net, or publish some tips on a
bulletin board somewhere. Share your
knowledge, give some old computers to a local startup or a
school. Network an elementary school, or just hang out with
fellow local techsters--you'll find tons of people to mentor
and to be mentored by in this wondrous world of open source.
ASSESSING INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS
Suppose you need to set up a website to sell 1-1,000 items. How much will
Software is labor
immortalized: manage software, not people.
Small Ecommerce Solutions
Suppose your company expands to carry over 1,000,000 items and you grow to include
chats, reviews, and articles. You are now serving over 1,000,000 pageviews a day
to over 100,000 unique visitors, and processing thousands of orders. What's it going to take?The Exchange Project
Big Ecommerce Solutions
OPEN SOURCE VS. PROPRIETARY
Linux is good for business, but not always a good business.
VS. LINUX VS. REDHAT VS. QQQQ
The Jollyroger.com Curve
CHOOSING A HOST
It's nice to see your server now and then, or at least talk to somebody who does.
CHOOSING A SERVER
Your server is your most important employee--hire a good one.
Batten down the hatches and replace the old ones.
Port Sentry Report
Don't talk to lawyers until you need one (or marry one).
The only Constitutional "right."
The Public Domain
DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION
Networksolutions.com doesn't have a monopoly anymore.
SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS
PROGRAMMING & COOL SCRIPTS
Don't reinvent the wheel.
Let your users build the content.
It's OK for a dot-com to turn a profit.