So you want to start a business online!
That’s all well and good, but if you want to be successful, you’re going to have to get a little more specific! I mentioned how important it is to have a plan in place, and today we’re going to talk about how to actually go about putting one together.
For starters, it’s important to recognize that the real world and internet businesses aren’t really that different from one another. Essentially, saying that you want to make money online is like saying you want to make money by getting a job in the real world.
What kind of job? A part-time gig at your local Starbucks? A senior management position at a Fortune 500 company?
Think about it – when you were in high school or college, you approached your future career with a plan, to which you had given some level of thoughtfulness. If you were planning to enter the trades, you may have attended a technical school or taken on an apprenticeship with a more experienced worker. If your goal was to be a doctor, you needed to complete medical school and an internship before practicing.
The truth is that there are tons of different ways to make money online, but before you dive head-first into internet business, you need to spend some time thinking about your own personal situation and your goals.
The following are four crucial things you should consider before doing anything else internet business-related:
1. How much money do you want to make online?
No – this isn’t a trick question (although you’re probably thinking, “Ummm… As much as possible, Debi!”). The internet business world has tradeoffs to be considered, just like the offline job market. In the example above, the trades worker might make less money than the doctor, but he’ll spend far less time training for the job and may experience much less on-the-job stress.
This translates to the world of making money online. Compare the founders of Facebook or Zappos to a single mom who earns a few hundred dollars each month selling handcrafted items on Etsy. The financial reward for being part of a successful start-up like Facebook is significantly higher, but it also comes with extra levels of stress and responsibility that not everyone is interested in dealing with.
2. How much time can you invest in your business?
That’s right – online businesses require an investment of time! I’m going to say this over and over again on this site, but there really aren’t any “get rich quick” strategies out there that actually work. If you want to make money online, you’re going to have to put in some time and effort.
That said, there’s a big difference – again – between the amount of time required to run a major e-retailer like Amazon or Overstock and the time necessary to list a few items on eBay or Etsy, for example. The amount of time and energy you’re willing to put into your business will play a big role in determining what type of online business is best for you.
3. How much money can you invest in your business?
Don’t let this question scare you off – you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank to start making money online (unless you’re planning to be the next Google…). However, you will encounter some start-up expenses depending on the type of internet business you choose.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to minimize these expenses, as well as online business models that require very limited start-up costs. For example, the fees to list homemade items on Etsy are very reasonable. Similarly, you can market affiliate products by writing articles and press releases, and your only expense might be a domain name (under $10) and a hosting account.
4. What are you good at and what interests you?
Your personal skill sets and interests should absolutely play a role in selecting the type of online enterprise that’s best for you. If you hate writing, then blogging probably isn’t the right fit (unless you plan to outsource the creation of all your content). Or, if the thought of writing sales copy for a product makes you uncomfortable, you’ll probably want to find an internet business that avoids direct selling.
Just be careful not to limit yourself too much. Even if you don’t know web design, you can learn enough to get by fairly quickly – but be realistic. If you hate sports, then putting together a website or blog on sports isn’t going to interest you enough in the long run to make it successful – no matter how lucrative the market.