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The Complete Guide to Start a Web Service Based Business in Iowa

This news story was published on November 30, 2020.
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There are a thousand reasons why Iowa residents might want to start working at home for themselves. Running a home-based business is the ultimate form of independence, and one of the only means of controlling your career fully. By specifically offering web-based services, you can go even further and run a company completely digitally. Projects can be submitted via an online portal, invoices sent via email, enabling your company to operate within the realm of the internet. Here’s what you should know before you launch your new web service-based business.  

Deciding on a Service to Offer 

You may think that operating a business on the web means that you have to have a background in technology. Of course, you have to be skilled at completing basic computer-related tasks, such as installing software, setting up email accounts, and searching the internet. Otherwise, the services that you offer can be related to nearly any industry. Professional voice actors offer e-book narration, YouTube voiceovers, and many other services that can be conducted over the web. Determine what you are good at, then create a few service packages that can be sold on the internet.

Choosing the Perfect Business Structure

Early on, you have to legally establish and structure your business in Iowa for several reasons. First, operating a properly setup company enables you to get a business bank account, merchant account, and get an EIN from the IRS. This is important for business operations and tax purposes. Expect to spend a couple of hundred dollars on your business registration and business license. In addition, it may cost extra if you want to choose a business structure such as an S-corp. Think about what you expect your gross yearly sales to be, as well as if you are offering a service that could make you liable for damages. 

Assembling the Tools of the Trade 

No matter what web-based services you are going to offer, there’s equipment and tools that you need to have on hand. Someone who decides to sell handmade blankets and sweaters might need to purchase a sewing machine to keep up with their orders on Etsy. Digital artists may need tablets and styluses, while a CPA may only need a notepad, pen, and calculator. Gather your tools, practice your skill, and see if you can create a few examples for your portfolio. Potential clients enjoy perusing the portfolios and examples of past work of online service providers.

Amassing a Suite of Software 

In addition to having all the tools of the trade handy, you are going to need to set up your computer for business. In fact, you may need several computing devices in order to conduct business efficiently. On the service side, your computer will need lots of software for completing projects. You might need Excel and perhaps PowerPoint to send out spreadsheets and create presentations. However, service providers that specialize in graphic design will need Adobe Photoshop to create logos and other software related to graphics and editing. On the business side of things, tools for completing digital marketing, advertising, analytics, and invoicing are needed. All in all, a massive suite of software will likely be necessary for operating your company over the internet.

Investigating Business Service Platforms 

Digital service providers in Iowa are smart to utilize all web platforms that help connect them to customers and facilitate payment processing. For your first few projects, you may have to go out and find as well as qualify clients. Web service platforms make both of these processes easier. You can search for projects in your areas of expertise, then make contact with each client to see if you can fulfill their needs. When it comes time for payment, these platforms act as the go-between, ensuring that you get paid while the customer also receives a suitable finished product. 

Launching Your Business Website

Whether you live in Iowa or Texas, internet-based service providers get more exposure when they have professional business websites. Consider the fact that the majority of your clients may not be local to you. There will be differences in time zones and even forms of currency. Your business website is like a blinking billboard that stays lit 24/7. A contact form or email address serves as a form of communication that stays available to interested potential clients all the time, and you can respond whether you are at your work computer or running errands. 

Marketing Your Web-Based Services  

Although a business website is critical to finding clients, you should also be working on a marketing plan or advertising campaign of some sort. The fact of the matter is that successful business owners of all varieties actively engage in marketing. You could find the most populous cities in Iowa and post fliers or find community message groups and advertise your services there. 

Digital marketing is critical, and you’ll need to learn how to analyze the data you get from website and social media traffic. Emerson College has a useful blog post listing the tools that a digital marketing analyst needs, so click here to find out more. 

Where you will advertise your business and how you choose to market your services depends on what you are offering. 

Developing Your Portfolio and Collection of Client Reviews 

Service providers want to see what it is they will be purchasing before sealing the deal. A portfolio of work and client reviews can help you to show what you are capable of. Of course, this can be a challenge if you haven’t gotten any work yet. Take a couple of hours a day and you can develop a portfolio in approximately a week. There may be other businesses that are willing to work out a barter arrangement with you, leaving feedback or a review in addition. 

Keeping Up with New Industry Developments 

In every industry, there are prominent figures, industry developments, changes, and news to be aware of. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, it is imperative that you always know what is going on within the industry you’re operating in. Find good sources for your industry via social media and make as many friends as you can in the market. Your knowledge of industry-specific topics will keep you sharp, and it can help you to impress clients, too.

Expanding Your Service Menu

All web service-based businesses in Iowa and beyond should start simply enough. If you offer photography services, you may eventually add on videography as an option. As you begin to feel more comfortable with meeting client expectations and juggling a steady calendar of work, you can add in more services that will help your bottom line. Don’t feel like you have to offer a million and one things, just the type of services that offer a real benefit to your clients.

Hiring Additional Staff and Seeking Support 

Eventually, outside help may become necessary, especially as your company becomes more popular and sought after. You might just need a virtual assistant to help you stay organized, but you could also need the assistance of other service providers as well. An IT professional might be hired to handle everything related to your company website. A writer could be helpful when it comes to creating blog posts, web content, press releases, and other materials. You should think about what kind of business arrangement you want to have with support workers, and whether they should be contractors or hired on as full staff members.

Maintaining Your Budget and Balancing Finances

To start with, you may not have very much money at all to invest in your business. Tons of web service-based businesses start with little more than a computer and access to the internet. As you grow, your expenses will increase, and staying on top of your finances will become more complicated. Don’t avoid creating monthly expense reports, keeping track of your invoices and receipts, or calculating taxes due. Spend a little time each week balancing the budget, so you won’t be forced to stop servicing clients when you try to catch up later.

Taking Care of Tax Obligations 

State taxes, federal taxes, Social Security taxes – all business owners in the state of Iowa are going to end up reporting, and more than likely, owing. It is recommended that you make quarterly tax payments, then settle up when federal taxes come due in the spring. This will prevent your company from having to pay the IRS penalties or interest.

Continuing with Your Training and Earning Certifications

There will constantly be new chances for you to learn something new related to the services you offer over the web or as a small business owner. You never know where you stand to improve. Attending a class on mastering Microsoft Word could help you to learn shortcuts and tips for creating business proposals faster. A lecture on online marketing might give you new ideas on how to advertise your company over the web. See what’s out there and earn more credentials that are closely linked to your industry.

Networking and Expansion 

Networking has a lot of benefits in the business world, particularly for small business owners in more rural areas of Iowa. You may need to travel for a conference or even drive a distance to local networking meet-ups. Know that making these types of efforts will benefit your web service-based business. Actively networking can help you to become aware of opportunities for growth, expansion, and further development. 

You have to know what you can offer as a service provider on the web to do well. Maybe you have a hobby that you are good at, like tarot card reading or making psychic predictions. Being creative is a draw, as you want to offer services that are unlike any other. Think about what makes you different and how it can make your web-based services shine.


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