The ability for entrepreneurs to run a business online has opened up vast new opportunities for creative people all over the world. Here are 4 tips to avoid wasting time and money so that you make the very best of this opportunity.

Follow your expertise

Working online means you're going to be talking about your business a lot. You'll need to create content almost every single day.

Let's say, for example, that you plan to sell antique furniture online. You take the time to develop an e-store and a website. At this point, you have a vehicle for selling antique furniture, but you also have to drive traffic to your site.

In order to drive traffic to your site you'll likely have to start creating a lot of content. You'll need a blog or some articles on your website. They're there for SEO purposes (keywords) but also to build trust with your customers by giving away something of value (your information) for free.

You'll then have to create social media content to drive even more traffic. You'll probably need an e-mail list where you send out information about antique furniture. You might then need to create antique furniture You Tube videos to provide even more back links to your primary site. You might have to find antique furniture blogs which will allow you to make guest posts.

Now imagine doing all of these things, day in and day out, if you hate antique furniture and don't know the same thing about it. You may have chosen antique furniture thinking that antiques make lots of money--but your passion is cross-country bicycle tours. If cross-country bicycle tours is your area of passion and expertise you're better off finding a way to turn cross-country bicycle tours into your business.

Create a plan

You need a business plan for your online business just as you need a business plan for your offline business. You need to choose how you will make money, because you're going to want to pursue that focus with single-minded dedication. For example, you don't want to open up an e-bay store AND do some affiliate marketing on the side. Each of those is two different businesses, and while you may want to own two different businesses it's important for you to treat each business as a separate entity . You still need to do a basic cost-benefit analysis. You still need to understand your target market and figure out how to reach it. Starting a business online is no shortcut for sound business practices.

Get the help you need

So you're awesome at writing about ski equipment, but your eyes glaze over when you start reading about meta-tags and root directories. You might just have to hire professionals to make your dreams of running a successful e-business come true. Otherwise you might be stuck with an unprofessional website, a buggy delivery system, and snarled customer service that all stem from the fact that you have trouble with the technical end of running a website. It's better to hire that expert and pay the short-term up-front investment than it is to ultimately lose customers because you weren't capable of delivering a pleasant, comfortable experience on your website.

Market every single day

A major task of every single work day for an online business is working on getting the word out about the business. This means writing content, posting content, developing back links, sharing on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and basically doing everything you can to get your name out there. It does not mean spending $100 on PPC advertising and hoping for the best. When you have an online business, marketing is your job. Learn how to market effectively to help take your business to the next level.