I ate some green vegetables today so I'm ready to do an update on the "Starting and Managing Your Small Business" workshop which I attended on Thursday http://www.eastbayscore.org/workshop_basics.php. While the workshop was primarily geared toward bricks-and-mortar businesses, the trainers there were able to offer some advice on owning an online business.
Here's what I got from the workshop. (My subtle disclaimer--Just to mention, this is info which is important to me. In other words, you may need/prefer different advice for starting a business.)
1. For marketing research, visit your library. A business librarian should be there to assist you with your research.
2. Some key people to have on your business journey - a mentor, a certified public accountant, a lawyer and an insurance agent. Some of these people you may not need from Day 1 but as your business progresses, it's wise to be familiar with them.
3. Don't sign something that you don't understand. This is pretty basic advice, but important, nonetheless. Ask a mentor, lawyer or someone whose legal advice you trust to before you sign a document that you're unclear about. Again, you may want to check with your library to see if it has a Lawyers in the Library program, http://oaklandlibrary.org/services/lawyers.html.
4. If you're starting a business in California and you haven't made a dime yet, then it's probably best to start off as a sole proprietorship unless, of course, you have a partnership. Here's a link on the types of business entities, http://www.enter.net/~mbwcpa/select.html.
5. For health insurance, you can check to see if there's group insurance provided by an association related to your industry.
From what I've learned recently, I'd add that having a positive mindset is also excruiatingly important for starting a business and that it's wise to have "multiple streams of income" so that you're generating money in various ways.
The lead trainer did a great job of orchestrating the workshop. All students were provided with an info packet and a CD-ROM with additional business advice.
If you're interested, upcoming training dates for the "Starting and Managing Your Small Business" workshop in Oakland are 10/14, 11/18. There is a fee for the workshop. For more info, you can call 510-273-6611 or click on http://www.eastbayscore.org/workshop_basics.php. You can also check this site for training in your area http://www.score.org/index.html.