Internet access isn't an option for a home-based business; it's a necessity. Although dial-up services that use your phone line are cheap, they're also slow. You should be aiming at a minimum service speed of 56K to make viewing Web sites and downloading information as painless as possible. In many areas, high-speed Internet access is available through both phone lines (an option that doesn't tie up your line with a busy signal) or through your cable television system.
I live in a rural area without high-speed Internet access — is there a solution?
Yes — you may be able to obtain high-speed access through satellite television providers — it's more expensive, of course, and can be affected by atmospheric conditions, but if your business relies on connecting with customers through the Internet, it might be worth the cost.
Once you know how you're going to connect with the Internet, you'll need an Internet service provider (ISP). This could be your local phone or cable television company or an independent company. Look for one that's reliable and has plenty of technical help available. Services that don't provide twenty-four-hour technical help (with a real person on the line) may be okay if you're technically savvy, but if you're not, you'll appreciate having a friendly voice on the other end of the phone.
Most ISPs provide the proprietary hardware and software needed to connect you with the Internet (you'll pay at least for the hardware) and will either give you detailed instructions on installing it or will send someone out to install it for you. Then it's just a matter of connecting!