There is no need to book high traffic hosting before you actually have high traffic, as long as you map out a clear upgrade route. There are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of bargain web hosts, but only a very small number that provide high reliability and high traffic at affordable rates. Check those out and compare, and decide on one.
Then map out a route that will lead you there without having to change operating systems. There is not much point getting the tools and learning the tricks for one operating system, and then switching to a different one just when things get busy.
Most of the top High Traffic Webhosts use big SUN servers and run on Standard UNIX Operating Systems. Here is a picture of what we use
Souped up PCs with BSD are second best, Home style Pentiums with Linux are the bare minimum. NT ? Forget it. Even Microsoft uses SUN boxes with Standard UNIX for their Hotmail and other high reliability projects.
After you have decided on the Operating System, check and compare CONNECTIVITY. Because we provide services for over 30 000 individual posty sites, we need and we have the best possible connectivity. We use not just big optical carriers directly into the MAE-East BellAtlantic hub, where the transatlantic cables meet the North American net, but in addition to that over a dozen DS3 and T3 direct connections to the systems from where most of the visitors come from.
You don't have to start your web business with hosting at a High Traffic Web Host like Webby, but it would be a wise move to plan a straight upgrade path in that direction.
There is nothing that drives traffic like postys. For postys there 2 basic styles of software, script and compiled. Java Script and PERL programs need to call a run time interpreter and use up a lot of server resources. That will probably get you kicked off your server before you reach profitable levels of traffic. Fully compiled posty software programs like the ones at http://mypostcards.com are easy on the servers, and are also a lot easier to use. All you need to know for those is HTML.
While "a bit of everything" may help you get traffic initially, remember that you pay for traffic once your traffic is over 2 GigaBytes per month. If you are selling ocean cruises, then exciting mountain climbing pictures will not attract the audience that you need. Concentrate on topics that appeal to YOUR target audience and start collecting pictures with that topic.
Be careful about the copyrights. Most people copy pictures while they are learning how to write pages, and that is generally accepted. However, once you start using your pages for commercial purposes, you need to have either the copyright or permissions from the copyright holder.
Secure Certificate: Forget trying to run a web business without a Secure Certificate. If your business is legit, you won't have any problem getting a Secure Certificate. We coach our clients through the process and do the paperwork for them. A few other webhosts can also do that.
Nowadays you are just wasting your time and money if you try to hitch-hike along on somebody else's Mall certificate. Would YOU buy from a site that does not have a Secure Certificate ? Neither will your prospective clients.
Shopping Cart: Nowadays the "e-commerce solution" telemarketers seem to be as much of a nuisance as the ones that used to peddle encyclopedias or search engine submissions. Double your money by folding it over and sticking it deeper into your own wallet. Resist those package deals, because you will wind up either adapting your business to their software, or paying a lot of money for customization.
Other things to look for, are:
Credit Card Processing: The dream rates, that the telemarketers and spammers promise, would be nice, but are unfortunately not the same as what you will wind up paying. If at all possible, get a merchant account with your local bank, and get their rates in writing. Ask other businesses in your area for recommendations. Some banks are still scared of the net and freak out at the idea of selling across the country or to a different continent, other banks treat it as routine.
Order Fulfillment: Draw a flow chart of how order fulfillment will have to be handled when your sales volume is hundred or thousand times bigger than now. Then adopt those methods as early as possible. By the time the high traffic brings a high volume of sales, you should be comfortable with those methods and not have to experiment and learn at that time.
Have Fun and the people will come !