The medical industry remains somewhat recession-proof—after all, people get sick and need care regardless of the state of the economy. Starting a medical supply business online provides a cost-efficient way to join the medical field and turn a profit without investing years of time or money in medical training. Specialize in a certain product line, or offer a general selection of medical supplies for homes or health-care facilities.
Conduct research to decide which products you will sell. Some online medical suppliers offer thousands of items for professional use, from vinyl exam gloves to feeding tubes and catheter access ports. Other companies sell home-care items such as beds, canes, vitamins and home diagnostic tests. Once you’ve determined which products to sell, choose an appropriate business name so your consumers can quickly identify it with medical supplies.
Secure funds to start your business. If you specialize in a particular home-care line, such as compression garments or diabetic supplies, you’ll need a minimum of start-up money—perhaps a few thousand dollars. Supplying hospitals and health-care facilities with large equipment requires much more funding, as well as an understanding of how the devices work.
Complete necessary paperwork to register your business. Check the local requirements in your city and state, and acquire a tax identification number (TIN) for the Internal Revenue Service. Consult the American Medical Association regarding specific licenses for certain product types. If you sell products that require a prescription, comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Rent a warehouse and office space. Since you’ll conduct transactions online (and occasionally over the phone), you’ll need warehouse space to house the supplies and a small office. Invest in a computer, printer, phone system and fax machine to keep track of orders and correspondence.
Purchase supplies to stock your business. You'll usually find it cheaper to buy directly from the manufacturer, but you may only purchase certain items from a distributor. Check Forbes.com and other business and medical websites for lists of reputable medical supply wholesalers and manufacturers.
Find qualified employees. You’ll need a sales rep with a good understanding of medical equipment, a customer service rep to answer emails and phone inquires from customers, an accountant and warehouse workers to pack and ship orders.
Set up a website. Hire a professional business Web designer, and include photographs and accurate descriptions of the products you offer. Study prices from other online medical suppliers, and set competitive prices. Advertise your site in medical publications and on medical websites.
Obtain a Medicare license if you plan to sell products to Medicare patients and bill Medicare or Medicaid.