Trying to start an online business from home? Chances are that you can get by with a computer, at least some business knowledge, and a spare room reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

”Having a purely online business can be cheaper in terms of infrastructure in some cases but not in all cases,” says the director of digitalbusinesscoach.com, Mike Sharkey. ”Product-based businesses still need to consider things like warehousing, dispatch, shipping and hi-tech software. However, service-based businesses, once built, can be run fairly cheaply because the overheads tend to be fixed.”

Sharkey says if you have a small-scale e-commerce site selling something home-made, it can be quite cheap initially but you need to choose appropriate software.

”You could spend $10,000 on a website or try to set something up yourself,” he says. ”A lot of new businesses do try to create their own store online but often run into problems and it’s always best to talk to … an expert in what you want to try and achieve. Otherwise you stand to lose a lot of money.”

One of the biggest costs to any online business, once the basics are established in terms of software and website construction, is promotion and marketing.

”There is no silver bullet in terms of getting your brand and your business out there, just like in the real world,” Sharkey says. ”Small businesses are now being told social media is the way to go and are opening Facebook and Twitter pages but most people on those sites are not interested in being sold things all the time. Google AdWords is perhaps the most successful advertising tool for any online business.”

Photo by Keith Williamson