With the state of the economy, more and more online businesses are showing up, especially among minority business owners, women and millennials. Many businesses have been skipping bricks and mortar entirely, for at least a decade. And why not? Web-based businesses have the distinct advantage of having a low overhead which is appealing to most people.
But, do you have what it takes to run such a business?
So many people talk to me in vague terms about their websites. They have a brilliant idea, but they want the shortest shortcut for building a website, and put almost no thought into how their website will actually function, and what the role of their website is in their sales and customer service processes. Or, they use their entire marketing budget on their website, and micromanage in anxiety with almost no hope of a return. This is just bad planning.
The days of just ‘build it and they will come’ are done on the Internet. They were quite done more than a decade ago, but small business owners very often haven’t found a way to catch up. To catch up, plan, plan, plan, plan properly like a business from the outset.
One thing that you need to ground your planning in if you are thinking about a website or web-based business is that it is still a business. While there are advantages for the entrepreneur with little start-up capital, you won’t stay in business long if the enterprise is treated like a hobby. If your website doesn’t become a user-focussed, user-centric hub for your target market, seriously, it’s better to go the bricks and mortar route. However, if you’re prepared to plan like you have a mall space to consider, online businesses are a great alternative to bricks and mortar. You might just find that your website business grows big enough to one day be housed in an actual building. The possibilities are endless.
To run a website business takes a certain kind of person. You are working it alone in most cases and there are a few things to consider.
- Be motivated. Unlike in an office, there is no one to look over your shoulder and tell you to get on your computer and get to work. That is up to you. Be aware that the monster of procrastination lurks behind every corner waiting to get you occupied with everything but work.
- Have a plan. A plan is necessary to map out a path to get started. You may not end up on that same path three years down the road but you will go nowhere fast without one. Decide what type of business you want to start and where you want it to go in the future.
- Be computer savvy. For some, the computer seems like a foreign object. Surfing the net is nothing like running a website business. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a website that you will be responsible for. You can learn as you go, but it is more cost-effective to have some computer knowledge before you start.
- Have a niche. Website businesses pop up every day. What will make your business different? Research the Internet and see what type of business is thriving. Starting out in a saturated niche can spell your doom.
- Be familiar with Internet marketing. In order for people to find you, they need to know that you exist. Internet marketing techniques are used to build a customer base and bring in sales.
There are also other alternatives to beginning your own business from scratch. If you have the money and the skills, you can buy out another entrepreneur looking to sell their website or web-based business. It is similar to buying a brick and mortar company. You assume the daily operations and manage the workers (if any) who will probably be freelancers.
A website business is an excellent idea. If you have a business plan but little starting money, you can use a website business to realize your dreams of working for yourself.
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