What is an eBusiness?An ebusiness is one that uses technology and the online environment as its primary place of business, rendering its website an e-commerce site. In simpler terms, an ebusiness is what allows you to sell products online. This means that you may need a website with a shopping cart in it, or may simply use a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram in order to sell your wares online.
Is running an ebusiness different from running a physical business?Many of the requirements and aspects to consider when setting up an ebusiness are the same as for any other business. The only major difference between the two is that an ebusiness may require the planning, development, and maintenance of a proper e-commerce module, unless the sales take place on a different platform.
What do I need to do to figure out what type of ebusiness to start?As with any entrepreneurial venture, take the time to brainstorm and identify what you would like to do with your ebusiness. Consider your interests and do some research in the marketplace. Is there sufficient demand for your good or services? You should be able answer one simple question: “To what problem is my business idea providing a solution?”
What are the initial steps I should take once I have a business idea?It is important to set some SMART goals. Also, will your ebusiness be your full-time or part-time employment, and therefore how much money will you need to make to run the business and pay yourself? How will you fund your start-up costs as well as your initial working capital? Exploring the answers to these and other questions will allow you to decide whether starting an ebusiness is right for you.
Do I need a business plan for my ebusiness?Every successful business starts with a good, solid and viable business plan. Your business plan should include a description of your business and the products or services you will be offering for sale. Additionally, it should present a market and competitive analysis, key personnel, a projected cashflow statement, etc. For additional information on business plans, please contact the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (www.bedc.bm).
Are the business forms (i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.) the same for ebusinesses?Yes, and it is important to consider the type of legal vehicle you wish to use for your business. There are four main types of business structures in Bermuda:
- Sole Proprietorship – You operate as yourself: there is no legal separation between you and your business, even though you’re well-advised to keep the business bank accounts separate from your personal ones. This will mean that your creditors (if any) may be able to sue you personally and look at any assets that you own (if the debt is too big to be serviced by your business). For a low-risk business with little income, this may be acceptable.
- Partnership – You are setting up a business with one or more partner(s) and you wish to operate as private individuals but to share the business profits and risks. You should have a legal partnership agreement just so you both know what your rights and responsibilities are.
- Company – Companies reduce personal risk as they are the legal entity that contracts on behalf of the business and assumes the risk for liabilities. All contracts will be with the company: it is a legal person that is separate from you. The risks of operating over the Internet and the potential for large losses due to credit card fraud and other financial risks make this the prudent choice although there are additional operating costs. Another potential benefit is that it is often easier to raise money using a company as your business vehicle because you can issue shares to investors.
- Limited Liability Company - A limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid legal structure allowing the contractual and operational flexibility of a partnership to be housed within a corporate entity. Like a Bermuda exempted company, an LLC has separate legal personality and the liability of its members is limited. Whilst members of a Bermuda company receive shares, members of a Bermuda LLC will each have an interest in a capital account in a similar way to partners in a partnership.
For additional information on legal structures, please contact the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).
Do I have to keep balance sheets and income statements for an ebusiness?Your ebusiness, like any other commercial venture, requires that you keep your financials in check. Your financial statements will let you know how your business is doing and can help you report its viability and profitability, even raise funds when approaching banks or investors. You can hire an accountant or handle your own accounts using any one of the numerous accounting software packages that are available on- and offline. For additional information on financial management, please contact the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) at www.bedc.bm.
Do I have to pay payroll tax, social insurance, etc. if I run an ebusiness?There are four obligations with which you must comply to run a business legitimately in Bermuda. Payroll Tax, Social Insurance, health insurance and private pension are payable regularly but if your ebusiness is a part-time endeavor and you work full-time elsewhere at the same time, Payroll Tax would be the only obligation payable. For more information on the four compulsory benefits, please contact the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) at www.bedc.bm.
How do I get a domain name?A domain name is an important part of an online business. A domain name is an address that you lease for a period of time. You can get additional information about registering a ‘.bm’ from BermudaNIC at http://www.bermudanic.bm/
How do I build a proper website for my business?There are many options to create your website. You may have access to templates contained in software packages or design the website on your own. Many ebusiness owners hire web developers to help them bring their vision to fruition.
For the e-commerce module, you may integrate an existing shopping cart into your site or have one custom-built. No matter your direction, you should plan for flexibility, the ability to handle traffic and scalability.
Are there any additional legal requirements for a Bermuda-based eBusiness?Terms and Conditions - All e-commerce websites should show language stating what the terms and conditions of use are. You can see such terms and conditions on any e-commerce website. Use them as a reference as appropriate but don’t copy them exactly to avoid any copyright infringement risks.
Privacy - The privacy of personal information given to businesses is a big issue as customers are increasingly wary about the potential misuse of their personal information. Many companies have privacy statements on their website. Have a read of some and apply the principles of the better ones. Also, become familiar with the Personal Information Protection Act 2016 (PIPA), as it is the governing legislation in this regard.
Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (ETA) - The ETA has a Code of Conduct that provides that e-commerce service providers should follow certain minimum standards. These have the force of law and you should familiarize yourself with the details.
- These standards are fairly high-level and include:
- Observe business integrity
- Know your customer
- Know your own business
- Protect personal data
- Avoid abusive usage
- Advertise truthfully
- Deal fairly and openly with customers
- Settle complaints and disputes quickly and fairly
- Also, any Bermuda-based website that is accessible to the public must include:
- the trading name, name of incorporation and any other name reasonably necessary to identify the business;
- the address of the registered office and domicile;
- the e-mail and mailing address for contact; and
- a statement that they are obliged to comply with the Standard for Electronic Transactions.
Where can I host my ebusiness website?Shop around for appropriate hosting services and get input on whether hosting on-Island or overseas is best for your situation. Do not automatically go with the one recommended by your developer although keep an open mind…they may be the best option. Get references. Check their back-up and redundancy services. Check out their legal agreements and see the levels of service they are willing to provide.
What do I need to do to accept payments?If you intend to accept credit cards, you will need a merchant account. Contact your bank for information about their merchant services. Don’t forget to shop around as there are a few providers in Bermuda. Depending upon the credit cards that you will accept, you will usually be charged a fee based on a percentage rate. This is often not a “one size fits all” calculation so get information from multiple sources before making a decision. Also, please note that many US-based services are not options for Bermuda-based ebusinesses due to banking and credit card association rules.
What is a payment gateway?A payment gateway connects your ebusiness website to your merchant account, allowing you to process credit cards in real time. You will find that the payment gateway providers often charge a monthly rate based on the amount of transactions that go through the system. If transactions are below a certain level, a minimum monthly amount is charged. Again, contact the local banks and e-commerce payment providers for additional information.
How do I make sure that my ebusiness site is secure?A basic level of security for your site will be secure socket layer (SSL) certificates. These certificates increase the security of your site by encrypting information as it travels across the Internet and identifies the owner of the website. When dealing with customer personal data and credit card details, it is imperative that you keep information secure. For more information on SSL certificates, please visit www.quovadisglobal.bm
How do I get people to go to my site?There are many ways to drive traffic to your website. Once you have identified your market and have developed a plan (based on your business plan), use offline and online strategies to bring visitors to your site and convert them to customers. Consider online advertising, social networking, print ads, radio ads, press releases, blogging and other creative avenues.
Remember: spamming is not allowed under the Standard for Electronic Transactions (Code of Conduct) so sending unsolicited emails to your client list may only be done with your customers’ permission.
How do I keep customers coming back to my website?You are only as successful as your customers make you. Ensure that you keep in touch with them (although you should always permit them to opt out of your marketing communications) and encourage them to become frequent shoppers. In addition to providing excellent service through ease of shopping, availability of merchandise and rapid fulfillment, also ensure that you have a retention strategy in place. Newsletters, sales, coupons and awards are a few ways to keep customers loyal.
Can I pitch my existing business?Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend. An existing business will not qualify as a start-up under those conditions.
Do I have to pitch an idea to attend?No, but we encourage you to! You can pitch an idea you've been thinking about for years, or something last minute you think of during the event. It's a great experience and invaluable practice for public speaking.
What if my pitch is not selected?Consider StartUp Weekend to be a three-day intensive start-up course. If your idea is not selected, you will still immensely benefit from sticking around and joining the team of one of the ideas which were. With the team, you will develop the project, test the product, go through the whole process and see it till the end. That, together with the contacts you will make, will be invaluable wins.
Do I have to participate all three days?Apart from organizers, selected coaches, speakers, and press, everyone who attends the event is expected to participate all three days. This is important not only to preserve the ‘vibe’ of the weekend (“no talk, all action”) but also to minimize distractions/disruptions for working teams.
What should I bring?
- Power cord
- Business Cards
- Camera - take pictures and video!
- Optional: A second monitor, keyboard, etc..... set yourself up to be productive!
- Lots of creative energy
How do I prepare?
- Do some research. Market research and background information will give you a better understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve.
- Practice your pitch. You'll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
- Get familiar with our tools for the weekend, head over to startupweekend.org/resources
- Get some rest.
- Bring a friend! Events are better with good company.
Can I pay at the door?In most cases you cannot pay at the door of the event. Organizers need to order the food and supplies in advance to meet the needs of the weekend.
What is the refund policy?We do not refund tickets the week before the event, so that organizers can order and plan for food and supplies.