Starting an online counseling business online typically involves conducting market research to determine the viability of your business, writing a business plan and advertising your services. As a accredited and licensed counselor, set up your business using resources provided by the Small Business Administration and Business.gov websites. By creating a website that offers offer encrypted services for chat, email and web conferencing, you can provide support for a client experiencing a personal crisis.
Assess your readiness to start an online counseling business using the Small Business Administration Assessment Tool. Ensure that you have the right level of education, certification and licenses for your area.
Write a business plan that describes how you plan to structure your services, compete with other services and provide counseling to clients using Internet tools and techniques. Download a template from the SCORE website or develop your own format based on sample plans for businesses in the personal services industry.
Create a website to advertise your services. Choose a web hosting to service or maintain your own hardware and software infrastructure. Establish or pay for a telecommunications infrastructure to contact your clients. Establish a mechanism for receiving payment for your counseling services, such as credit cards or PayPal. For example, using a listing service, you can create a website, obtain a toll-free number and extension, bid for premium advertising space on the website, send personalized email messages and add "Call" button to other websites to link to your listing on the website.
Register a name for your online counseling business and set up a structure. Use the resources provided by the Business.gov and Small Business Administration websites to guide you in adhering to federal, state and local regulations. Obtain the necessary liability insurance to operate an online counseling business in your location.
Ensure that you and any staff you hire adhere to the America Counseling Association code of ethics as you answer questions about relationships, addictions, anxiety, depression, dysfunction, stress and other personal problems or issues.
Establish a mechanism to schedule appointments. For example, use a service that allows you to schedule individual sessions and group events. Ideally, this service provides multiple calendars, reporting features and links with other systems your business uses to conduct online counseling.
Develop supplementary services using social media technology, such as wikis, blogs and forums to connect clients seeking community support. Provide lists of online resources, such as articles, journals and research as a self-help resource. Provide a mechanism that allows your clients to sign up for newsletters, news feeds and additional information.