Alright. So you want to be the new AOL or MSN. Well, maybe not. But you would like to cash in on the internet boom that is taking the world by storm. First, not to discourage anyone, but the risks of trying to enter this business might outweigh the possible profits. With all of these big name ISP‘s pumping millions into their own complex infrastructures and advertising, you are guaranteed not to succeed by competing at that level. However, there are possibilities for competing at a more local level. This I discuss later.
- Introduction to VISPs: Needless to say, if you are looking to start a Virtual Internet Service Provider (VISP), you are aware that being an ISP in the literal sense of the word is impossible. The only exception is if you have access to hundreds of million of dollars. In contrast, starting a VISP is extremely simple and won’t necessarily break the bank. As with any other business it is advised that you draft a business plan as your first step. Do it after you have completed this tutorial.
- Getting Started: First you will need to identify a wholesale internet service you would like to do business with. Some considerations that should be made include
- Cost: How much does it cost per person? What set-up fees apply (ie: website, webmail, billing processing, 24-hour call center)?
- Speed: Dial-Up or Satellite? Or both? (Satellite is substantially more expensive and usually requires an extra fee for the system.)
- Availability: Are there many access codes for the areas where you intend to market your services? One or two is not enough!
- Reliability: Has the company been around for a long time? Have complaints been lodged against them (do a google search, check business bureau online etc.)?
You could even use the infamous “bait-and-hook” technique and offer your services for a price that is little more than your costs. This, of course, would only be for a short period of time (two-three months) to attract customers. Then you’d revert to a more profit-yielding price. Just remember to be honest about what you’re doing–this is a technique even the big ISPs use.
Adjust these guidelines when reselling high-speed connections (i.e. satellite). You will want to increase the price to compensate for your increased costs, while still keeping your service attractively priced from a consumer’s standpoint. Look to your larger competitors of the same speed and price your services more attractively than they do. Before long, if all goes well, you’ll make a profit that will allow your business to pay for itself.