There's no doubt about it, the world we live in is becoming more virtual by the minute. That even includes the way we do business. Gone are the days where you have to inveset in large amounts of physica capital, office space and staff to get a profitable venture off the ground. Nowadays, all you need is a small investment and a little bit of time to go into business online.
Even though the World Wide Web has effectively leveled the playing field for businesses all over the globe, it’s important to assess if starting an online business is the best route for you. If you are unsure if a virtual business is the right move for you, your personality type and preferred lifestyle, take a look at the pros and cons of this business model to help you decide:
An online business can take little to no money to start. Once upon a time in the early days of the internet, your first investment for your online empire would have to be a website (which is still pretty inexpensive to launch,) but even that is changing. There are many online entrepreneurs that conduct business through landing pages and established market places requiring little more than an appealing profile and a product or service offering. For this reason, online businesses could be ideal for cash-strapped entrepreneurs.
Your online business doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. You don’t have to quit your day job to get started on the path to entrepreneurship with this option. Online businesses don’t have to keep traditional office hours which means you can work on them when you have free time. Virtual businesses are great for people who need a gradual transition into entrepreneurship due to the flexibility in operating hours.
Virtual businesses can be run from any place there’s internet access. This also opens up opportunities for lower overhead both commercially and personally. An online business allows you to go where the cost of living and doing business could be significantly lower. I mean, if the Barbados has great deals on office space, wouldn’t you want to set up shop there? If you’ve ever been tied down to a location because of your job, then an online business could definitely change that.
Though your start-up costs could be minimal, marketing costs can skyrocket for a virtual venture very easily. As mentioned, the world of online business is getting crowded, making it difficult to cut through the noise and reach a business’s target market. An online business could end up spending a large portion of their budget on marketing, PR, SEO and advertising to get traction and turn a profit.
Many people opt for an online business because it costs less to start than a traditional brick and mortar operation. Because of this, many people “in-source” tasks they can’t pay for. In other words, they are wearing every hat imaginable to make their web presence profitable. What they lack in capital, they are likely making up with “sweat-equity” which could amount to many 60, 70 and 80 hour work weeks.
Cloud technology enables more remotely-based teams than ever. It’s not uncommon to find entire businesses, some with hundreds of employees, that are run 100% virtually. You could be part of a large company or run one and not have face-to-face contact with a single soul in a typical day. For some, this work arrangement is ideal yet others find the social isolation unnerving. In this case, you may find the lack of social interaction a downside to your virtual business pursuits.
There are pros and cons to online business, so make sure you carefully evaluate every aspect of this business model before getting started. At the end of the day, make sure you are comfortable with your business choice and well-suited to make it successful.