The thought of starting an online business bubbled away in my head for a number of years before I did anything about it. At times it was exciting, whilst at other times it was terrifying! Hence the reason why it was so difficult for me to take that first step.
I loved the idea of not being at the beck and call of others – as an introvert that appealed to me so much. Office politics and gossip really doesn’t appeal to me and drained me of so much energy so I looked forward to the time when I could leave that behind me. Focusing on what I wanted from my working life needed a courageous step.
The possibility of being able to work from any location that has internet connectivity, (so that I could use a laptop, tablet or my smartphone), held a lot of attraction. Being able to choose my own hours (I’ve discovered my most productive time of day is between 11.00am – 6.00pm) means the deadlines I impose on myself are realistic and achievable.
Starting An Online Business…
Research, research and research some more. Do you really love what you think you might go ahead with? Do others? Can you think of enough topics to write lots about and produce it in different formats?
It’s not enough to think you just want to do it for the money – you need to be able to build up audience trust, solve their problems for them, choose a niche that you can monetise and that you won’t be smothered by competition.
I decided that I wanted to:
- work for myself
- have time with my family (can’t put a price on making memories with my first grandchild)
- not work 5 full days
I could do this because:
- I wouldn’t have office rent to pay and the associated bills. In fact, you get tax allowances for working from home
- I could use Skype for any face-to-face meetings, Facebook Live, Messenger, emails, WhatsApp and Private Groups to talk to people and to get my message across.
- I have strong time management skills (though can be prone to procrastination at times) so if I plan and schedule efficiently I can work 3 or 4 days a week (my first goal) and then 2 days a week (my ultimate goal). As I’m new I’m actually working 6 days a week but that’s by choice – you can set your own agenda.
- I’m my own boss. There’s no one controlling my schedule, my time, and telling me what to do
- I’m not tied to a location as my business is not dependent on that – it’s global.
- A global business sells 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. It’s digital, can be automated and even outsourced reasonably cheaply.
You might need to set up your business on an evening alongside your day job in the early months. This is a huge commitment for you so don’t underestimate the amount of time you need to get set up and to develop. The best, most robust and resilient businesses will grow organically – very few become overnight sensations.
Creating a physical product means you will need to cover the initial material supply costs. (Digital product expenses are a lot lower but there are still costs).
You’ll need to set up a website with domain name costs, hosting charges and an autoresponder as a bare minimum.
Online working in the digital sector means you don’t need to employ an admin and technical team to get going.
I do, and I don’t, regret the amount of time I spent learning ‘stuff’. I don’t when I consider how far I’ve come. But I do in that I made a lot of mistakes in what I thought I needed to know. I could have outsourced to experts for quite a reasonable amount. But, I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
Graphics and ‘techy’ stuff can be very time-consuming (believe me I know!) so they might be the first things you might want to outsource when you can afford to. Having to do these myself has actually given me more confidence in saying what I want and understanding the complexities.
Many home business owners tell me that they find procrastination sometimes takes over their day when they work at home. There’s a temptation to just do ‘this’ job or quickly do some domestic task. Often they reward themselves with a scroll through social media and waste time this way. This is an easy trap to fall into.
On a basic admin level, you need to sort out your own admin systems and taxes. If you’re not confident about taxes and bookkeeping you will need to pay a professional. They will pay for themselves in the time, knowledge and money that they save you. I use Tax Doctor – an online service – and they have been great! https://www.taxdoctor.co.uk
Some pluses and minuses
Blogging about what you do is a great way into starting an online business and just relies on you finding time to research and write. You can monetise a blog in a variety of ways.
PayPal (amongst others) allows you to set up a business account so that you can get paid quickly (most will, of course, take a cut for their admin charges).
You have full control. However, there comes a point when you will never scale your business if you try and do it all yourself and it might be earlier than you think. You will start to build an outsourced team and you need to trust them to handle what you want them to do. Communication is vital here. They will only do what you’ve asked them to do – they are not mind-readers. Consider them and their work as investments in your business.
But there are drawbacks too:
I don’t want to sugar-coat anything for you as you need to go into this business with your eyes wide open!
Ask any online entrepreneur how things are going & I’ll bet they would all say “fine” or “busy”. The laptop lifestyle that’s put forward isn’t easily achieved. In fact, the majority don’t achieve it but might still make a comfortable living. Make no mistake, working for yourself is hard, and any profits you make won’t be down to luck but sheer hard work.
Starting an online business means you will have to work long hours, you will have failures, you will be rejected. Always carry out thorough research from a wide variety of sources and NEVER think you know better than someone else.
Stress can be ‘different’ when you’re working on your own and I’ve found money (or lack of) to be a source of anxiety. You seem as if all you are doing is shelling out cash, and worrying over your bills and where the next client or customer is coming from. This is not a good place to be in.
You will mess up, you will have times where you doubt yourself and your capabilities and when you wonder why you are doing this to yourself and your family. After all, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. In your job you got paid, in your business, you may not.
Family and friends may criticise your choice of working for yourself and not understand what you are doing and trying to achieve.
Shiny Object Syndrome
I think many of us develop this. In my case, I think it was a diversion tactic so that I actually didn’t start anything.
- If I didn’t start, I couldn’t tell if I knew enough – would people think I was a fraud? And if I didn’t start, then I couldn’t fail.
- If I bought a new product it would help me create something better for my audience.
- I have bought so much ‘stuff’ that has NEVER been used that you wouldn’t believe! Crazy!
But you know what? You don’t need most of it. Starting an online business isn’t actually about perfection. It’s about getting something/anything out there. I’ve made a pledge that I won’t buy anything else until I’ve used a whole heap of stuff that is sitting in folders on my desktop. And since October last year, I’ve just about kept to that – the few products I’ve bought are to do reviews when I haven’t been gifted a review copy.
Always have a plan for your business, know where you’re going with it, know your goals and know YOUR ‘why’. Be flexible to change and be willing to let things go that don’t serve you well.
Model yourself on those who you admire, copy their ideas (unless they are copyrighted). Never copy their content, hang out where they do and follow their thought processes – but always look for your own unique angle.
Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, accept challenges, continue to learn and grow and never lose your desire to succeed.
Don’t let your business take over your life. Remember you need to develop a healthy work-life balance. Make self-care part of your working week. Nurture all your relationships and don’t let them suffer – plan time if this is the only way you can do it.
Once you have things set up and you’re looking to grow you can’t let things slide. Be aware when you need to change things, as boring (to some people) as it may seem you need to check analytics so you can quickly react to what’s working and what isn’t. Be innovative and creative so that you don’t stagnate – your audience will thank you.
Starting a business online isn’t for everyone. It can be challenging, frustrating and you can become obsessive. But I love it! I hope you will too.
I’ll cover lots of the topics raised in this blog post in separate blogs as there is so much to delve into! Watch out for some ‘basics’ training videos coming soon.
If you want to have a look at products I’ve been reviewing then take a look at Karen Recommends
I offer my honest opinion on products that I review and may receive an affiliate commission from the vendor when you purchase by clicking on a link of mine. It’s always my aim to make sure that you reach a decision that is right for you and for your business.
Although I share my views, it is your responsibility to verify any claims made by the vendor before you buy.
Remember you can Earn While You Learn – here’s to your business success!