Starting an online business has become a very popular venture in recent years as more and more people become acclimated to using the Internet in their everyday lives. As little as twenty years ago, the Internet was new to the average consumer and not much more than a novelty; today, it’s rare to encounter a home in the Western world that’s not stocked with at least one computer. Most middle class houses in America have multiple computers at this point.
What this means is that starting an online business can be profitable if done correctly, given the predominance of the Internet in the average household. People who are naturally entrepreneurial or those who have already started a non-internet based business will definitely have a leg up on the rest of the game, but for the right person who’s willing to take appropriate steps to ensure success, starting an online business can be easy, fun, and even profitable.
In general, the differences between online business and traditional businesses are slight but distinct. Here are a few things that potential online business owners should take into consideration before jumping on the Information Superhighway:
Lower start up costs/high effort. One of the greatest things about online businesses is that they typically don’t cost much to get started. There’s no need to rent out a space or pay utilities, and there are lots of free avenues to advertise with over the digital waves. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that “less money invested means less work,” because nothing could be further from the truth. Online business owners often feel like their computers are grafted onto their hands!
Be a jack of all trades. It’s not good enough just to have a stellar idea or a fantastic service. In order to be successful, you need to be able to do graphic design, understand web server technology, programming, and knowledge of the Internet as a marketing medium. For those that can’t do all of this single handedly, outsourcing is an option, but this raises overall cost.
Think globally. This isn’t opening up a small Mom and Pop store in your neighborhood. The business will be able to reach all corners of the globe, thanks to the Internet. The good part is that this potentially means more business – the bad part is that owners will have to make provisions for costs such as international shipping, and maybe even pay for translated versions of their websites.
Marketers make the market. There are thousands of ways to market on the Internet, including pay-per-click, viral, drip, social networking, AdWords, and many others. Don’t know what these things mean? Owners of successful online businesses take the time to learn!
Some of these attributes make working online easier, some may prove to be more of a challenge – but they all make online businesses unique!