# Opening and operating payment channels
Given that the Lightning Network is a relatively new technology under active development, getting your freshly deployed node ready to send and receive payments, still, requires a couple of steps.
- The lightning node is deployed, enabled and its on-chain wallet is funded
- A peer is identified and the first payment channel is opened
- Inbound and outbound liquidity is acquired. The node is now able to send and receive
- Liquidity management, an ongoing process to maintain the capacity to send and receive
- Choosing the channel partner. Consider opening the first channel to a well connected peer with robust uptime. This will increase the chances for your payments to be routed and settled.
- Inbound vs outbound capacity. Outbound capacity allows nodes to send payments whereas inbound capacity allows nodes to receive payments. As a merchant using lightning, having inbound capacity is essential for customers to be able to pay you.
- Inbound capacity. A node adds inbound capacity by either spending sats from its local balance or having other nodes in the network open channels to it.
- Liquidity management: maintaining the ability to send and receive is a continous process where a balance between inbound vs outbound capacity has to be maintained across payment channels. This capacity distribution must be adjusted depending upon the use case of the node operator.
- Lightning Service Providers: LSPs offer paid third-party services that improve the ease of operating a lightning network node. Such services can be used to acquire inbound capacity or to automate the rebalancing process.
Below a set of good resources for a deeper dive into topics such as: