Is Starting an Online Business Right for You?

Posted by on January 18, 2011 in Business Start Up Advice [ 1 Comment ]

starting-an-online-businessStarting an online business is appealing to many people for different reasons. Online business projects allow a great flexibility in terms of working hours and location. Whatever the nature of your business, the Internet will immediately make it globally accessible. Yet, if you are hoping to rely on the Internet for your income, setting one up is no less of a challenge than starting any conventional business. How do you know if starting an online business is right for you, and what are some of the questions you should ask yourself if you are considering it?

Common online business ideas include online stores, blogs that generate revenue through advertising, and online services like consultancy, accounting, translating, or even astrology. It is entirely possible to run a profitable web business, but only if you do it right. Internet marketing is important for any online business, and make no mistake about it – search engine optimization is not optional if you want to make profits.

The activities required to enable people to actually find your website are a full-time job all in themselves, and you can’t wing it and hope for the best. If nobody can find your website because of poor Internet marketing, even the best business idea in the history of mankind will not earn you any money. Learning about search engine optimization is not easy, and hiring a professional search engine optimizer also comes with its challenges (how will you know that they are actually helping your site do better, and are not engaged in dubious practices that will do more harm than good?).

If your business is going to sell products or services, another thing you have to take into account is the competition. Even if you already own a brick and mortar store that is doing very well, don’t think you can easily recreate that success online. Internet selling is a whole other beast! Perhaps what you are selling is a rare commodity in your geographical area, or you have the right marketing strategy. Online, your competition will be all over the globe, and yet just a click away. Can you truly compete with businesses from upcoming economies (also known as “developing countries” to some), that are often offering the same products or services at much better prices?

Often the large number of competing business also makes it very difficult to stand out. As a parent of two young children, I have toyed with the idea of opening an online store selling cloth diapers or baby carriers, but soon concluded that that particular market is completely saturated and that what the world needs is not another online baby store. The same can easily be true for web designers, crafts, or anything else. At the risk of stating the obvious, I will say this – do your research. Online businesses require sound business plans too.

Here are some other things for you to think about:

  • Not paying for business space and running a business out of your home sounds attractive. But are you prepared to have boxes upon boxes of products taking over your living space if you own an online store?
  • What do you need to know about the legal aspects of an online business? From tax requirements to global returns policies, are you prepared?
  • How much would you require as a starting capital? When will you break even? Might this be more difficult to predict for online businesses, especially if you have no experience?

Tania Tod  is a writer for At Trying To Conceive, they are passionate about reproductive health, fertility, pregnancy, and babies. Their pregnancy signs page helps you navigate through your magical nine months, and our personalized ovulation calendar can help you determine when you are at your most fertile!

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