70+ Entrepreneurs Share Resources To Start an Online Business
In 2020 alone, over 4.35 million business applications were submitted in the United States which is a 74% increase from 2010 and a 24% increase from 2019.
Entrepreneurship is on an unparalleled rise and the Internet is its best companion. The Internet of Things (IoT) is now more mainstream than ever.
From gaming to daily processes, to business functions – everything we do can be automated. This is why starting an online business is lucrative now more than ever!
In an online business, not only is the cost of investment lesser, as compared to a traditional business, the audience you expose your business to is potentially global.
But where do you start? How do you start? What are the steps involved? These are just some of the questions you might be asking yourself as you contemplate beginning your online business journey.
Let the experts answer them for you!
In this article, we’ve gathered experiences and opinions of online entrepreneurs around the world that will give you a great starting point for your online business.
If you’re looking for a more systematic approach to learning how to start an online business, .Online Business Academy is the place for you. With three FREE power-packed courses, carefully curated by industry leaders, starting your online business will soon feel like a cakewalk.
.Online Academy’s FREE Power-Packed Courses
1. Come Up With A Business Idea That Doesn’t Suck by Ryan Foland
2. How to Write an Online Business Plan That You Will Actually Use by Kim Garst
3. Setup And Launch Your Business Website That Attracts Customers by Jason Falls
Now that you’re here, let’s find out what the online entrepreneurs have to say!
1. Tony Grenier, Musician & CEO, Instrumental Global
Before starting Instrumental Global, I read Traction: A Startup Guide To Getting Customers by Weinberg and Mares. This book made me realize that getting customers is as important as product development. So, when starting an online business, it is best to spend time networking and finding customers.
This book will help anyone looking to introduce their product to their consumers, effectively.
2. Alina Clark, Co-Founder & Marketing Director, CocoDoc
From the onset, three years back, our decision was to run CocoDoc entirely online. It worked out in the long run, but it took a lot of reading and learning.
The most important resource when starting a new online business is knowledge. Knowledge is hard to come by, but not if you dig into the internet.
Blogs and informative websites are arguably the best resources when you want to start an online business. I gained a lot of information on Search Engine Optimization and current digital marketing trends by reading Neil Patel’s blog, for instance.
Aside from this, a new business owner can also look at YouTube tutorials for knowledge and inspiration. Business tutorials provided an almost custom-made approach to CocoDoc. I would watch vlogs and tutorials on things that I needed to learn. For instance, YouTube tutorials helped me hack accounting in a few weeks.
3. Matt Spiegel, Founder & CEO, Lawmatics
I am a lawyer by profession, and so I had to study software development to make my idea a reality. Before consulting with IT and tech experts for Lawmatics, I took it upon myself to take online courses that could widen my knowledge of the field.
I went to Coursera and enrolled in beginner-friendly crash courses on software development and coding. Investing in those courses eventually paid off as I could clearly communicate my idea with the IT experts I was working with.
4. Mark Verwoert, Founder, Mark’d Agency
I stumbled upon online marketing at a guest lecture at my university. That’s when I knew that I wanted to create a blog and share my knowledge about marketing. I could help thousands of other entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams. There was only one problem- I didn’t know a thing about online entrepreneurship!
Although these channels were great, I missed a deeper understanding of online marketing. That’s why I looked for courses from experts and soon I stumbled upon Internet Marketing Unie. They are the Dutch authority on online marketing and besides their platform, they also run a digital agency. I bought the course and my knowledge increased by miles.
Once I started acting on the knowledge, I kept adding to it by taking free courses from SEMrush, Thrive Themes, Sendinblue, and more!
5. John Bedford, Founder, Viva Flavor
Although I had a very strong experience in planning and executing site launches in my previous career, I wanted a clear framework to follow for my own private venture.
Having followed their podcast series, I decided to invest in Authority Hacker’s site building course. It covers SEO, fundamental site design, content research, and content optimization. While a lot of it was familiar ground, having a comprehensive blueprint for a website’s development has been invaluable.
The biggest asset for any new business owner is their time. It was better by far to invest in someone else’s knowledge and experience, and it has allowed me to focus my attention entirely on the growth of the business.
6. David Adler, Founder & CEO, The Travel Secret
While establishing my online business, I researched various methods, both online and through my contacts in the hotel and travel industry. The contacts I made enabled me to learn about the rate parity rule, a rule defining a minimum hotel rate that public travel sites are allowed to offer on their websites. After that, we launched our own private portal with the lowest prices.
In the beginning, I helped friends and family members get low rates on their reservations. In the end, I learned a lot from them, as I received feedback and recommendations. It is sometimes an excellent resource for learning and establishing a business, to begin with family and friends. You will receive honest recommendations that can take your company to the next level.
7. Susana Orosz, Owner, Suzana Marketing
I learned a lot from blog articles and YouTube videos. You can also gain invaluable information on becoming an entrepreneur from a great course by Start Up Loans. Mastering social media is crucial and Rachel Pederson’s content can set you on the right track.
Along with these, Natalia Kalinska’s video on Canva designing is something that every entrepreneur can easily learn from! You can get great design resources from Digital Content Store, which can help you up your visual game.
8. Becky Ronalds, Owner, Ranking Mom
I read The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, by Noam Wasserman. Studying the experiences of previous entrepreneurs taught me a lot.
Noam Wasserman, who is a clinical entrepreneurship professor at the University of Southern California, examines how innovators succeed and fail on a broad scale. He brilliantly illustrates why certain approaches to entrepreneurship are better than others by using real-world examples.
Throughout the book, he concentrates his guidance on determining when to maintain control and when to seek outside help, which I found to be useful when starting Ranking Mom.
9. William Colon, Co-Founder, Open Pixel Studios
In the beginning, we reached out and applied to as many free programs and ingested as much knowledge as we possibly could. These included the SCORE Programs in Boston, Valley Venture Mentors’ Mentorship program, Inner City Capital Connections (ICIC), MSBDC (Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network), and the RiseUp Springfield Program from Interise. We also attended a vast number of events and training programs from WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council).
Many of these programs cast a very broad net of knowledge about all kinds of businesses. We needed to piece together the information we specifically needed for our specific success goals. There are so many local and national programs out there and we advise any new entrepreneurs to experience more than one to gain a variety of perspectives and approaches.
10. Bradley Bonnen, Founder & CEO, iFlooded
I surrounded myself with advisors and mentors. Nobody can have all of the knowledge, expertise, or even perspective to deal with every business scenario. So I use the abilities and experiences of others to my advantage.
There are numerous free workshops, webinars, and templates available to assist entrepreneurs in starting and growing an internet business. I met mentors through LinkedIn, a local small business event, and by simply asking around. You might be surprised at someone you know who can provide helpful advice based on their own experiences.
11. Jemma Broadstock, Founder, Virtually Done
When I started my business I was clueless. I didn’t know that there were so many books, podcasts, courses, and coaches out there; I was overwhelmed by the choice! So I built my business purely out of trial and error in the first year with a Google search here and there.
After running two successful businesses, I now help others through that same journey. I help people start and grow online-based businesses through my courses, programs, and 1:1 mentoring so that they don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
12. Adam Hempenstall, Founder & CEO, Better Proposals
To be completely honest, I winged most of it. I launched a business after working as a freelancer and then in a corporate environment. I knew how to handle clients and win deals because I was great at it.
Setting up a business, making my first hires, deciding whom to hire and when – I mostly learned it on my own besides asking friends and business partners about their advice. Everyone has a different story, so you really have to learn from experience!
13. Amelia Morgan, Owner, Traveling Sam
The first step I’ve applied to all of my online businesses is market research. If you are on a tight budget, the easiest thing to do is go on marketplaces to see what categories of products or services are already available.
For example, if you have a skill like a video editing or copywriting, go to Fiverr.com and look up the categories. You’ll find that a popular niche is book trailer videos. If you didn’t do that research, you might never consider that as a service offering.
No matter what you are selling, keyword research can be a powerful tool to niching yourself. You can learn what people are searching for and whether you provide the solution in a new product or service.
14. Beth Sheridan, Owner, Beth Sheridan Photography
I faced losing my new fine art photography business when the pandemic hit. Taking my entire business model online radically altered the way I connect with collectors. Within 3 months of bringing my art online through social selling, I expanded to a global audience with interest as far away as Nepal. I used several resources to help my business:
SCORE has the largest network of free volunteer small business mentors in the nation who can guide you, irrespective of the stage your business is at.
Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) has brought women entrepreneurs together from around the world to help them connect with each other, scale their businesses, and ultimately succeed.
Finally, Alignable is a wonderful resource that connects small business owners from North America.
15. Juliette Nelson, Founder & Chief Vision Officer, Nurilens
My experience of having worked for a corporate filing company gave me a significant amount of knowledge that helped me establish Nurilens within the state I’m conducting business in and have the preliminary legal documents needed.
I also tapped into my network of entrepreneurs with online stores; they shared their best practices on what was needed for an e-commerce setup.
16. Roberto Torres, Author & Owner, The Local Marketer
Your local Chamber of Commerce can help promote your business to other member businesses and stakeholders through social media, interviews, and collaboration. Members also benefit from events that reach local shoppers and businesses.
My second go-to resource is the volunteers at SCORE. SCORE is the largest network of volunteer business mentors in the United States. Its volunteers are made of entrepreneurs, C-level executives, and business experts who are there to help you succeed. They can assist in building a business plan if you’re looking to get financing and guide you on what to expect as a business owner in your niche. They’ll also get you connected with other business owners who can help you along the way.
SCORE is completely free, and your local Chamber has member dues, but they’re more than willing to offer help for free.
17. Rohan Kadam, Blogger & Owner, Biking Know-How
It is very easy to start and develop an online blogging business, which can be executed either by a single person or with a small team. People, on average, can make anywhere between $500 and $10,000 a month, working online.
While these figures are an approximation, the Niche Site Project can give you a better idea about creating an online blogging business.
To educate and polish my skills in digital marketing, I enrolled in many digital marketing and web development courses on platforms like Udemy and Udacity. The best part is that these courses, on average, cost no more than $15!
I would also voraciously read blogs and success stories of food bloggers. This helped with my creativity and gave me ideas to experiment with for my blog’s growth.
18. Leslie K. Danford, Founder, Vitaminis
My legal team (Galen Mason at Michael Best) has been Invaluable in terms of setting up my business entity, contracting with early partners, and thinking about how to most efficiently fund Vitaminis.
I was also introduced to a couple of current and former startup founders. We share ideas and questions on Slack, WhatsApp, and text messages. This has been a great resource!
Additionally, there are many organizations for collaboration and resource sharing between entrepreneurs in the same industry. Startup CPG was particularly useful for me.
Finally, LinkedIn Learning was helpful in understanding the basic foundations of and pointing me in the right direction for topics such as Shopify, Google Analytics, and paid Facebook ads.
19. Patrick Connelly, Co-Founder, Stellar Villa Pet Portraits
The first thing I did when starting Stellar Villa Pet Portraits was to seek the advice of someone with experience running a successful business. I discovered an organization called SCORE, part of the Small Business Administration. I filled out an interest form on their website, and a few weeks later I met with a mentor at our community library. I came prepared with lots of questions and my mentor had some great insights. They even gave me their phone number so they could continue to offer me guidance throughout my journey.
One of the best pieces of advice they gave was to sit down and write a thorough business plan. This is a good resource to learn how to create one: Small Business Administration. I attribute my early success with Stellar Villa largely in part to being prepared and having a business plan.
Another important step in learning how to set up a business was forming an exceptional team. This team consisted of a good lawyer and a good accountant. My lawyer helped me establish our business entity. My accountant has helped provide guidance on ways to save money and made sure I was set up to keep proper financial records. These two team members might be an upfront cost when starting a business, but it’s one that will pay off in the long run, because you will be doing things the right way.
20. Annabel Love, Co-Founder & COO, Nori
Be sure to keep up with your network on LinkedIn to make the most out of networking during the pandemic. This could be through liking and commenting on posts, to occasionally messaging your network asking how they are doing. Small interactions can make a huge difference.
Another tip is to be sure your profile is active by posting updates of your own, reposting articles about your industry, and interacting with the people who engage with your posts. Your network can give you valuable insights, especially when you start your own business.
21. Teo Vanyo, CEO, Stealth Agents
Some of the resources that I depended on to be able to start my online business are financial resources- in the form of funding. When creating a startup, you need to have capital or money. You also need human resources: an employee or someone who will operate your online transactions.
You also need to consider education resources that make you aware of your industry. Lastly, physical resources like the premises and equipment to be able to cater to your customers are also very important.
22. Jennifer Foster, Managing Editor & Career/Life/Relationship Coach, Authority Astrology
Prepare ahead of time by doing your homework. Before launching your website, you should complete all of the necessary background work. Everything from gathering income evidence to digging out traffic statistics falls within this category. The more data and knowledge you have, the lesser your stress when the sales process starts.
23. Nicole Graham, Lifestyle/ Relationship Coach, Womenio
To find customers, conduct market research. It’s critical to get a good understanding of your target market right away. Even if your company is still a glimmer in your eye, market research allows you to mitigate risks, eventually.
Start with collecting demographic data to better understand the opportunities and limitations for gaining. This includes demographic information such as age, wealth, household size, and interests, as well as anything else that is relevant to your business.
You’ll also want to stay current with small business trends. It’s critical to get a sense of the market share because it will have an impact on your profits.
24. Katherine Brown, Founder & Marketing Director, Spyic
The first thing I did was search online for how to start an online business. If you’re looking for the cheapest web hosting or need help with SEO, make sure to check out the article titled How To Know If Your Website Is Profitable.
My biggest tip is to be brutally honest with yourself and others about the business you’re starting. As a business owner, it can be hard to accept criticism from others, but it’s imperative to do so if you want to succeed. Just being honest with yourself and others is incredibly important.
When I started working on my business full-time and growing it, I had no idea how fast time flies. Now, it seems that half the day, I’m just running around doing other stuff and not spending enough time on my website.
I’m setting up systems and workarounds to try and streamline my time management. With enough planning, it’ll be a lot easier for me to get work done.
25. Billy Chan, Founder, Drone Last
When I started, I knew nothing about running a business except that I was sure I could not waste my tight budget. I never trusted free online resources, whether it was a YouTube video or an ‘ultimate’ text guide.
That’s why I decided to go to Linkedin Learning. It has tons of verified, high-quality business and marketing courses. Most importantly, it offers a one-month free trial that business beginners can take full advantage of. After a month of intensive self-learning, one should be able to acquire a wealth of knowledge.
The ‘learning paths’, each consisting of a dozen courses is as follows:
Since this will give you all the basic knowledge you need to start an online business, you can wisely choose a paid course.
The one I chose is the course by Authority Hacker Although the price tag looks intimidating, it is definitely worth it. You can learn a lot from their official website and YouTube channel. They are, without a doubt, the most reputable affiliate marketing trainer on the market.
26. Nancy Belcher, CEO, Winona
In order to have a successful business, you need to have a good marketing team, which can handle things such as email marketing. You can customize your emails so that they do not look like spam and accurately incentivize your audiences.
Sometimes, this means sending out different mails to different market segments. For example, one audience may care more about discounts, while others may care more about giveaways for exclusive products.
This can be done through services like Mailchimp, which can help you sort through emails and send out hundreds at once.
27. Denise Bitler, Founder & Owner, Resume-Interview Success
When I decided to start my small online business, I knew nothing. I started by doing research and found the best sources for actionable and detailed information came from
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s guide on setting up a business.
My state’s small business group, which one can locate on the SBA website.
The IRS website’s checklist for small businesses.
The USA.gov’s actionable guide on starting a business.
The Department of Labour’s tools and resources for new and small businesses.
Resources by LegalZoom
You can also find and join organizations or groups on LinkedIn and Facebook for the type of business you will be starting. These groups can be a source of fantastic information.
This is the checklist I created from all my research:
- Identify your target customer.
- Research competitors in your market.
- Write your business plan.
- Determine your business’s funding.
- Decide on a company name.
- Choose your business structure (LLC, Partnership, etc.) and file the necessary paperwork to form your business, and obtain federal and state tax IDs.
- Register your business.
- Open a business bank account.
- Determine the state, county, and local licenses and/or permits you must obtain and any business taxes you need to pay.
- Purchase business insurance.
- Determine if you are required to collect sales tax.
- Decide on your business website platform.
- Determine how you will bill/charge customers and make payments
- Determine your pricing.
- Reach out to your local SBA and set up a one on one conversation.
28. Christen Costa, CEO, Gadget Review
I used a variety of commercially available books, as well as sites like Business Insider and LegalZoom to learn about setting up a business. These free resources are available to everyone. Was I doing it now, I’d probably sign up for a reputable course on Udemy, as well.
I also had a mentor in the beginning. They didn’t hold my hand. However, they were there to answer my questions and give me advice.
29. Devon Fata, CEO, Pixoul
I didn’t have a good handle on the legal and financial aspects of setting up a company. For that, I reached out to several people who had already made the leap, and also relied heavily on The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur’s Handbook to expand my knowledge base.
I also strongly recommend retaining a lawyer who specializes in corporate structures and researching laws and regulations in your city or state before getting started.
30. Heloise Blause, Owner, Home Kitchen Land & Melissanda Restaurant
I learned how to set up a business from the guide by Shopify. Starting a restaurant business is not easy. Deciding on the menu alone is a time-consuming process. What I can advise budding entrepreneurs is to find their passion. However, to succeed, you must also have adequate experience in the niche you’re entering.
I also used these resources to learn about setting up a business:
Ten Steps To Start Your Business by the Small Business Administration
Business News Daily’s How to Start a Business: on starting a business. A Step-by-Step Guide
Additionally, I used these resources to learn about starting a restaurant:
How to Start a Successful Restaurant by Bplans
WebtaurantStore’s How to Open a Restaurant
How to Start a Restaurant by Square
Many businesses fail because they are merely replicas of existing companies. I am happy that I read many resources before venturing on my own. Research and experience taught me how to plan my restaurant business and have a successful launch.
31. Sam Shepler, Founder & CEO, Testimonial Hero
There is no better resource to turn to when you want to start your business than successful people who have been through that very same journey. So, I reached out to acquaintances for advice. I also joined forums and groups with accomplished entrepreneurs who were willing to help the new generation.
Additionally, I studied their habits and decisions, as well as their successes and mistakes. But, of course, I focused more on entrepreneurs from the same niche as mine. I learned the most from them as they offered me valuable advice, tools, and contacts.
32. Kevin Miller, CEO, GR0
My go-to resources were mainly the mentors I had during academia and work. I called upon them for any and all advice. I also perused the New York Times, primarily the Business and Entrepreneur sections, for insight and motivation.
Lastly, the Small Business Association (SBA) was a godsend and really helped me understand the ins and outs of starting a business.
33. Herman Koppel, Owner, Unreasonably Expensive & Apteegikaubad.ee
I gained confidence from University, but my knowledge really came from the internet. Specifically, I learned to create a WordPress website from a video guide by Tyler Moore. If I have any specific questions, I use WordPress and Stack Overflow forums.
I use Neil Patel’s blog for online marketing and SEO-related queries and doubts. Google is still extremely useful when it comes To knowledge about advanced website construction and modification.
34. Tim Mitchum, Founder, WINPRO Pet
Starting an online business can be difficult, especially if you aren’t aware of available resources. One of the most valuable tools I’ve found is MIT OpenCourseWare. You can learn about business and finance for free and it allows you to pick and choose the coursework that most benefits your small business!
35. Myles O’Bery, Writer, Step By Step Business
These days, all it takes is Googling “How to set up a ______ business?” and you’ll be flooded with answers in seconds.
If you’re looking for inspiration you can check out sites like Entrepreneur and Foundr. They post tons of good articles about starting online businesses, marketing, and advice from prominent business leaders.
For more specific guides- such as how to set up a website or eCommerce store, you can’t go past a vendor’s website. These days providers post content to help people make better use of their platforms.
Finally, for legal requirements such as registering your business, the best resource, for me, is the SBA. They cover many of the ‘uncool’ details of starting a business, such as registering for tax and licenses and permit requirements. They also provide local assistance to business owners.
36. Brian Donovan, CEO, TimeShatter
Creating a business plan is key, and the U.S. Small Business Administration has a lot of helpful resources and information on this.
Owning a business also means a lot of legal paperwork. Docracy provides free templates to all kinds of legal agreements – from room rental agreements to designer & hiring contracts, and more.
You will also need employees, and the best way to get the word out is through Indeed. You can find highly qualified professionals on the website.
37. Yeelen Knegtering, CEO & Co-Founder, Klippa
I used Entrepreneur when I was first getting started. There are insights from a variety of business owners and professionals.
Articles like this one, that carry advice for young and aspiring entrepreneurs were a huge source of information for me. I still reference the site for research.
Every piece of advice might not be the best insight since it’s content submitted by other entrepreneurs, but that’s what I love about the site. It is advice from other entrepreneurs who have been in the same situation I am in and it provides actionable tips for you to consider.
Entrepreneur.com has everything you need to learn and adapt to the situations you find yourself in as a new business owner.
38. Eymel Daniel, Co-Founder, For Chics
If you are setting up an online business, you will want to measure your website’s performance. The best way to gather this kind of data is through Google Analytics. It is free and offers detailed data for your website.
You can see where people are coming from to visit your website, how long they stay for, how many pages they click through before they leave, and much more. You have the ability to set filters, sales goals to track funnels, etc. The possibilities are endless and you’re missing out if you aren’t using the service.
39. Benjamin Smith, Founder, Disco
As a new business owner, you might find yourself wearing a lot of hats that you may not have experience with. For those tasks, try taking online courses to gain extra knowledge.
Sites like Lynda (Editor’s note: now LinkedIn Learning), SkillShare, and Coursera all allow you to learn from industry experts. You’ll be able to increase your breadth of knowledge and ultimately become a better business owner.
40. Alexandra Collard, Founder, PUP-A-LOT
The key is to gather as much information as you can before you decide to hire someone. Research is vital to determining how successful your business will be.
Forbes has many articles with clear and concise advice from those who have come before you and can easily highlight how to navigate certain areas you need help on.
Inc.com is similar to Forbes. It has helpful articles that focus on detailed business issues- anything from your thought process, to starting-up.
Hubspot offers various tidbits of information about managing social media effectively with options of free and paid services.
Common Thread Collective is a full-service e-commerce agency, which can guide you through the entire journey of implementing your business idea. They also have great free content on their website.
I love SimilarWeb because it lets you observe your competition to see where they get their customers from, and how many they have each month. You can gain a lot of data for free and can access more information by signing up for their monthly service.
Platforms that support your store (like Shopify or BigCommerce) have a never-ending supply of information to help you succeed. They also have agents that you can hire by the hour to help you build your store.
41. Laura Fuentes, Operator, Infinity Dish
One of my favorite resources that I used when my business was in its infancy is Forbes’s 30 Under 30. Even though the column didn’t offer sound business advice, it gave me the motivation to get off my butt and take professional leaps.
When we first hit the ground running, there were times when we didn’t know what the future entailed, or if we had enough money coming in to survive the year. Learning about others who were making their businesses successful was incredibly motivating and helped me see what my career could look like in five or ten years.
42. Courtney Buhler, CEO & Founder, SugarLash
One of the best resources to use when starting a business is G-Suite. You can easily have your email come through your company’s website into Gmail, create and organize documents in Google Drive, and stay on top of your schedule with Google Calendar. There are so many tools available through Google that make it easier to run your business and stay organized.
43. Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio
One of my favorite resources is the Shopify blog. It’s a free blog that publishes advice and case studies related to running an online business. Their How to Start an Online Store article is a great resource for new eCommerce business owners. One thing I like about the Shopify blog is that it stays on top of current eCommerce trends. Additionally, they also run a lot of articles about marketing analytics, social media management, and financial planning.
Another resource I’ve discovered lately is Mixergy. It has an eCommerce podcast that features interviews with business owners from all walks of life.
44. Amy Campbell, Founder & CEO, Metta
When setting up my online business, I started by searching for blog posts about tools checklists. I found this great one at Growth Supply. While thorough, I was going down rabbit holes and wasn’t sure which were the best tools for the job.
I came across Clickfunnels via a Facebook Ad and started consuming a lot of content from Russell Brunson. I still refer to his Facebook group sometimes. I used their tool for a while, but it was quite expensive.
So, through sheer necessity, I found the cheapest tools possible to keep my business going. I realized that the all-in-one tools were never quite the best at each function. Individual tools, like SendinBlue for emails and Webflow for websites, were better, overall.
I also learned a lot of strategies through reading books and finding one ‘guru’ to follow until I had something built. Following left me feeling pulled in all directions. So I chose one person to follow and a set of affordable tools to get up and running.
45. Ashley Sutton, Founder, Hustle & Hope
When I launched, I had an idea, but no access to capital. So, I bootstrapped everything and invested in learning how to run all aspects of the business.
As an example, I knew I was going to need product lifestyle photos for the web and social. I surfed the internet, reached out to freelancers, and unfortunately couldn’t afford a photographer, so I went to the Dollar Tree, bought craft materials/props, and shot my own product photos.
Additionally, these are some tools I swear by:
1. Smartmockups for product mockup images!
2. Canva for social media, blog, advertisement, and postcard designs among other things.
3. Tailwind to monitor your social media audience.
46. Yaron Been, CRO Consultant & Founder, EcomXFactor
When starting out, you have to investigate the mistakes others have made and avoid making them yourself. Books are a great tool for learning since you can reference them as you’re putting together your own business.
These are some books I recommend for starting a business:
From Zero to One by Peter Thiel
#AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk
Dotcom Secret by Russell Brunson
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Influence by Robert Cialdini
The downside is that books also only teach you what has worked in the past and may not be suitable for businesses of tomorrow. So, it’s important to look at other sources, as well.
47. Andriy Bogdanov, CEO & Co-Founder, Online Divorce
Starting an online business on your own is possible as there are numerous online resources to help you out like Design Rush’s list of logo makers for better branding.
Register your business as an LLC using incfile’s guide to create a legal personality for your company.
Creating a business plan (guide from Bplans) was one of the best decisions I made when starting. This business plan served as a map and a management tool that steered my company’s 20-year market history and helped attain over 500,000 satisfied users, to date.
48. Teresha Aird, Co-Founder & CMO, Offices.net
Learn Search Engine Optimization with Learning SEO. It provides a roadmap of free guides and tools for learning SEO. These guides cover both on-page and off-page SEO, allowing for specialization depending on your niche and business goals.
Additionally, this website provides links to a number of free SEO tools you can use to audit your website and identify improvements, forecast upcoming opportunities, etc…
Get a Google Adwords/ Analytics Certification. These certifications both teach you everything you need to know about creating and monitoring Google advertising campaigns, as well as how to reckon with complex analytics reports.
Finally, online learning platforms, such as Skillshare, provide useful courses on content creation, digital marketing, web design, and more. Skillshare is my personal favorite due to the low price and free trial.
49. Gail Nott, Owner, Nott Ltd. Solutions
I knew I wanted to start a membership community for other coaches and after some searching found The Membership Guys. I started reading their blogs and listening to their podcasts.
I ended up signing for Stu McLaren’s Tribe course. I went with his course because not only is he the founder of Wishlist, but he also helped Michael Hyatt with his membership community.
50. Josh Wright, CEO, CellPhoneDeal
My two main ways of learning how to start and grow an online business were speaking to other entrepreneurs, and analyzing online businesses.
When it comes to other entrepreneurs, you’ll be surprised just how willing some of them can be to help you out. If you approach them respectfully and get to the point, many will have valuable advice to offer you.
As for analyzing other businesses, I looked at the way they operate online and what makes them successful. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of running a business in a digital space to learn what worked and what didn’t before diving head-first into my own business.
51. Clare Eaton, Owner, Feel Good Health And Fitness
I was not technically minded and I had no business experience and I had TeamUp guide me through every step from setting up my business, to setting up my booking system, waivers, and health questionnaires.
TeamUp taught me how to manage the online system that would bring my clients directly to me to work out through Zoom.
Zoom has enabled a group of us from across the country to feel as though we work out in the same room- it’s incredible. TeamUp also guided me through setting up my online payment system with GoCardless.
I used Weebly to create my website and with TeamUp’s support, I built my content, added testimonials, reviews, transformations, interviews, and more!
52. Andrew Taylor, Founder & Director, Net Lawman
As a business owner, you need to learn how to delegate effectively to avoid producing content or a service that is amateurish, at best.
I also learned that I didn’t need to know everything, or have the answers to everything, or be the best at everything, to start my business. I started with what I had, produced a rudimentary website and built from this.
So often we think we need to learn just one more thing before embarking on the business journey. However, this is just our fear holding us back.
53. Satya Parija, Co-Founder & Marketing Head, Doctor Spring
The best resource I had was the advice and guidance of my superiors. I am lucky to have plenty of people around me who were more than happy to lend me their guidance when I was starting out.
I knew all the mistakes I could have made, and I was able to avoid them. As long as you have guidance from someone who has already gone through what you’re doing, there will be a lot of progress to be made.
54. Marilyn Gaskell, Founder, TruePeopleSearch
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, it was difficult to find investors and mentors who would take me seriously. Fortunately, I found some resources that saved my life every time I had a problem I didn’t know how to handle — particularly Reddit and BigCommerce.
It sounds insane that I built my business off Reddit but every time I Googled a pressing question, Reddit had the best answers. It makes sense because the advice was always given by seasoned business experts!
BigCommerce taught me the basics of setting up an online business. Coming into entrepreneurship with a degree in marketing, this was something I desperately needed so this website was incredibly valuable.
55. Eric Jones, CEO, Couture Candy
These are some of our favorite tools:
Google Analytics: To track website traffic, see where your visitors are coming from, how they were referred to your portal, how much time they spend on it, etc.
Google Search Console: To see the performance, coverage issues, and other website health-related data, etc.
Hotjar: For Conversion Rate Optimization, HotJar’s heatmaps inform us about how visitors interact with your website, their scrolling behavior, and where they click.
Semrush: For backlink analysis, keyword position tracking, keyword mapping, competitor tracking, content topic research, and more.
Moz: To research backlinks, find link-building opportunities, and measure your domain rank, which is a Search Engine Optimization metric.
56. Miranda Yan, Founder, VinPit
There are numerous ways to learn how to start an online business, nowadays. Here are a few of my favorite go-to resources:
BigCommerce has a checklist for starting an internet business that you can use as a guide throughout the process. This includes finding the correct products, expanding your business, and more.
The Start Yours podcast by Oberlo is ideal for anyone interested in starting a dropshipping business. They also cover practically every aspect of an online business. You can gain first-hand knowledge from internet business owners and the techniques they employed, putting you one step ahead of your competitors.
57. Wei Linchao (William) Founder & CEO, Bestfulfill
When we started, my four university classmates were my only colleagues. We still work together towards a common goal and have overcome many difficulties together. We also have more than 70 employees now, and wouldn’t be as successful as we are without them.
Additionally, we use various software to help us improve efficiency. We use Mabang’s ERP system to automatically process customer orders. We also use the Zoho CRM suite to manage our customers’ information. We use Facebook and Skype for customer communication.
I couldn’t be what I am without our very first customer, Robert Nava. We worked for him for around one year with a small team. I eventually met other customers like Robert, who introduced even more customers to us.
58. Christian Velitchkov, Co-Founder, Twiz LLC
Funding: Even the most basic online business includes startup costs like registering a name, buying a domain, printing business cards, etc. Funds can be collected from various sources like personal accounts, getting loans from banks, private investors, etc.
Emotional Resources: Starting a business is a stressful journey where you need constant support and motivation to move further. So, it is important to have a group that can provide inspiration and guidance when needed.
59. Rob Swystun, CEO, KenzoKyle Software
As a business writer, I have been fortunate enough to work with some great entrepreneurs from who I’ve learned a lot through observation and by peppering them with questions about setting up a business.
When it came time to set up my own software e-commerce business, a friend suggested I go through the One Funnel Away Challenge with Russell Brunson. It is a helpful month-long boot camp that thrusts you into the process of setting up and marketing a sales funnel.
60. Hilda Wong, Founder, Content Dog
Educational Resources: No matter how much an entrepreneur knows about the business, it is always less. So they should always be keen to learn. If they have in-depth knowledge about their business, it’ll become easy for them to target their audience and make smart decisions.
Physical Resources: Even if it is just an online business, there should be enough space to keep the raw materials and products. Physical resources include a proper working space, marketing materials, and informative systems. This can be a bit expensive, which is why entrepreneurs should give priority to their needs before making any purchases.
61. Brooke Riley, CEO & Founder, Re-Fabbed
When starting my blog, I had no clue what I was doing, so I did it all myself with Google and YouTube as guides. I was also in social media groups that offered information about certain topics of interest to my brand.
Now, I mostly use Facebook and Instagram to follow key brands and businesses within my niche. However, you can’t discount the recommendations and advice from those who have walked the road before you. Those are invaluable!
62. Nathan Liao, Founder, CMA Exam Academy
One resource that helped me learn how to set up a business is the Kwik courses, which provide entrepreneurs with the ability to simultaneously learn well and fast.
Another resource I highly recommend is the Social Media Marketing podcast with Michael Stelzner. This is a fantastic source to learn more about what’s working in online marketing. I’ve gotten many of our marketing strategies from this.
On top of this, I learned a lot from Atomic Habits, a fantastic book written by James Clear. My productivity has increased tenfold thanks to this book. Building habits that last is not only rewarding personally, but professionally as well.
63. Stacy Henderson, CEO, ForZilch
A resource that helped me learn how to set up a company is Home Business Magazine’s Home-Based Business Start-Up Guide. I learned all about which business entity I should choose, protections I might need, how to effectively manage my company, marketing tactics, and so much more.
Another helpful resource is the Home Business podcast because it interviews top experts in the home-based business industry. I’ve learned so much about marketing, operations, SEO, etc… from listening to this podcast.
Also, a great course I recommend is Coursera’s Entrepreneurship Specialization online course, because it can help you develop, launch, fund, and grow your business.
64. Ray Blakney, CEO & Co-Founder, The Live Lingua
I regularly re-read The Lean Startup, a book by Eric Ries. It teaches readers to launch a minimum viable product as soon as possible, and then improve based on user feedback.
Many business owners, including myself, always get caught up in striving to create the ‘perfect’ product offering before releasing it and then discover that nobody uses most of what we built.
65. Tomek Młodzki, CEO, PhotoAiD
In the beginning, there were many hours of brainstorming, many sleepless nights trying to solve IT problems, and many headaches. To solve them, we made use of some online resources. Sam Altman guided us on creating a start-up with his free online course.
Knowing how the internet works means knowing the relationship between clients and servers. We used a free resource provided by Google called The Bits and Bytes of Computer Networking to learn that.
Business strategy is essential when opening any business. We used a suitable course from the University of Virginia- Business Strategy in Practice (Project-centered Course), which made learning it enjoyable.
We also read The Lean Startup. No one should miss it if they want to get started in the fast-paced world of startups.
66. Dr. Austin Dowse, CEO, Aimvein
One can find all the resources they need on YouTube without having to pay a hefty amount! Although I didn’t take up any specific courses on setting up online businesses, I searched for videos and lectures from various self-made entrepreneurs. Somewhere between generic how-to videos and interview videos of well-known businessmen, I learned to set up my own online business.
I also took significant help from Starting an Online Business for DUMMIES, a book that guides you through each and every step of starting your online business. It houses pretty great tips for rookies.
67. Scott McKirahan, Owner, Web-X Online Stores
I learned how to set up my first dropshipping website through a course called Niche Blueprint, by the Hermansen brothers in partnership with a few others. It is no longer available. That website made a few hundred dollars a month – bill-paying money – but hardly quit your job levels of income.
Soon thereafter, the Hermansens broke away and started their own course – StoreCoach.com. That’s where I learned the bulk of everything I know about setting up an online business. Within 6 months, I had replaced my previous job’s income. In a year, I was making twice as much as I had made from any job I ever had.
68. Nikki Webster, Owner, Brit On The Move
You need to learn SEO long before you even dip your toe into affiliate marketing. Mike Pearson’s course is a big investment, but it’s a game-changer. Until you take this, you will struggle to figure out how to rank on Google and get organic traffic.
Editor’s Note: Another resource that Nikki mentioned is Tracie Forbes’s website.
69. Lindsey Allard, CEO & Co-Founder, PlaybookUX
I was lucky enough to have a mentor to help me after I graduated. They took me under their wing and provided me with extremely helpful experience and expertise.
Aside from that, I was constantly listening to insightful podcasts and audiobooks to teach me about every aspect of the business world. I listened to very popular podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, Tony Robbins’s podcast, and The GaryVee Audio Experience.
They were very helpful and easy to digest, which led to maximum learning in a short amount of time!
70. Laura Rike, Owner, LauraRike.com
Investing in personal and professional development, and a coach was a game-changer. It can be really tempting to devote all of your time and money to things that earn money immediately in the short term. However, I didn’t experience true growth until I invested in myself, which helped so much more long-term.
It is also important to create a time-blocked schedule and stick to it. Avoid the temptation to think you’re free if you don’t have a schedule. You actually end up with less freedom because you waste so much more time!
Finally, I recommend outsourcing when you can, and hiring a Virtual Assistant to help do tasks that don’t have to be done by you.
Outsource website creation, unless it is something you’re good at or interested in. A downside could be keeping the website current and updated, but hopefully you’re able to learn that part of maintenance!
71. Nicholas R. Fernandes, Founder & CEO, CreditSage
People joke and say ‘Google it’, but that’s exactly what I did. I got my Employer Identification Number (EIN) in 10 minutes for free from the government website. Almost all states have free business resources with a guide on registering and licenses you’ll need for your business.
If you want to pay an online business to take care of the paperwork, I highly recommend Incfile. They ask you a few questions and even help you with the necessary documents.
If you want to set up a quick website and get an email with your domain then you can use Squarespace or Wix. Both these platforms are easy to use and have pre-existing temples. I used Squarespace before I moved to WordPress.
72. Jordan Smyth, CEO & Founder, Gleamin
Starting an online business can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. The Small Business Administration website has a wealth of information for business owners. I’ve also worked with Shopify to create interactive online shopping for customers looking for unique and worthwhile products.
There’s No ‘Right’ Resource
If this list proves anything, it is that there isn’t that one magic formula or resource that will make your startup a success. The various entrepreneurs, here, used what was available and known to them.
A big portion of their success, however, came from their unrelenting hard work and discipline. Not only did they discover the resources that worked for them, but they also followed through and applied learnings to their own companies.
So, pick one (or more) of these resources and begin your journey! There is no better time than now to create your own business.
You can also start with .Online Business Academy’s FREE courses now!