How to Start an Online Business in Michigan

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You can start an online business in Michigan after reflecting on what your business will be and what you will call it. After you have determined that there is a demand for your business and you have decided on a name, you can start the process for creating your online business.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Internet Access
  • Business idea or plan
  • Research your business name. You will need to set your business up as a website and as a legal entity in Michigan. Therefore, you will need to make sure the name you want is available in Michigan (www.michigan.gov/corporations) and as a domain name online (www.whois.net).

  • Register your business name with the state. You will need to file business forms with either your local or state government to establish your business. Each type of business entity requires different forms. For example, if you are a sole proprietor, you will need to fill out and submit a "Doing Business As" form to the County Clerk's office where you live. For advice on which business entity is right for your business, consult an attorney.

  • Register your business for a State and Federal Tax identification number. This can be done online and will take a few weeks to accomplish. To apply for your Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), go to the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov); for Michigan information, go to michigan.gov/taxes. These numbers are required if you hire employees or want to open a business bank account.

  • Determine how you will set up your website. If you are on a limited budget, you can set up a free website that has e-commerce capabilities through various companies such as Weebly (www.weebly.com). You can purchase your desired domain name through Weebly (if it is available) and use the design tools on the Weebly site. If your budget is more flexible, you can register your own domain name at one of many domain-name registrants and hire a web designer and host company. This can be very expensive for a new business owner.

  • Set up a payment receiving plan. If you create your own website or use a free service such as Weebly, you can use PayPal to process your payments. If you do not have an account with PayPal, go to paypal.com and set up an account. You will need a merchant account, which does not require a monthly payment unless your business transactions total a certain amount of money. Paypal takes a small percentage of each transaction, but it is less expensive than setting up a credit card service on your own. If you created your website on your own (not using a service such as Weebly), you can set it up to process credit cards by purchasing a service for that function.

  • Promote your business. Join social networking outlets to promote your business and establish a client base. Place keywords on your website so that it is relevant and will be picked up by major search engines. To do this, include common search terms in your website that potential buyers may enter into search engines.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult an attorney and accountant for all legal and financial decisions.
  • Print business cards with your website address on them so you can hand them out at business and personal functions.
  • If you are selling goods to Michigan residents, you may need to charge sales tax.

References

  • Photo Credit young woman making an online purchase image by Paul Hill from Fotolia.com
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