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Your Own On-line Business

No doubt you have given this process some thought. With hard-goods, it is a return to the old methods, in many instances snail mail. With the advent of emails, postal services throughout the world took a financial hit and floundered for a while. Then came on-line shopping and they were back in business, big time. Some countries seem to be coping better than others, so you will have to bear this in mind if your intention is to sell to the International market, allowing for any likely delays in customers receiving your products, and in some cases non-delivery (you might like to consider some type of insurance to cover this and the possibility of goods damaged in transit). Needless to say, the cost of packing must be added to your prices, plus postal and freight charges. There may also be an additional complication, that being the levying and collection of sales tax. As owner/operator/supplier, you are responsible for complying with the rules of any country in which you do business, including applying to the respective government agencies for registration. My advice here is very plain - don't delay, and do it right first time. Governments have long memories and the arms to match!

Website security has always been an issue, and it always will be. Once you launch your website, it is your responsibility, not only to yourself for ensuring both your site and your computer don't get compromised by hackers, but also to your visitors and prospective customers so that you don't pass on something undesirable and destructive to them. It may take a long time to establish your name as a worthwhile click, but it takes far less to be outlawed by respectable surfers. Never doubt that they talk to each other. Bad news spreads far quicker than the good kind, and if your website becomes a frequent agent for contamination... Well, if you were an affected visitor, what would you do? Security Managers like Norton, McAfee and AVG will not only protect your site from unauthorised infiltration, but on request will also assess your security rating and, if it passes their test, will give you their positive endorsement. So, when anyone Googles your name, it will come up with your security manager's "tick" of approval after it, rather than a "?" which indicates it to be a questionable site.

As I've already said, you aren't the only one out there and each business is waving its own flag, most of which are bigger, flashier and better known than yours. They can afford expensive promotions to get known and stay in the foreground, whereas you can't. There is, however, a way to use their high profile to your advantage - it's called affiliation. This is when you negotiate a reciprocal agreement with another entity to include a direct link on your website to theirs. In many cases, the arrangement comes with a financial bonus, a small commission on sales resulting from the visitor's click, always assuming they buy something. It sounds good, and it can be - if you choose your affiliates carefully. Stick with similar associations to your own line of business. Or if you decide to diversify to cast a wider net, check out the web pages of your intended affiliates to see that they don't display something which may be detrimental to you and your reputation. Imagine a mother browsing your selection of toddler's clothes who sees a link with “babies” in the web address, clicks on it and finds herself confronted by a gallery of scantily-dressed models in suggestive poses! If you think affiliations might be the way to go, just bear in mind that your policy and image both need protection.

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