Feel the fear, but DO IT NOW

What Are You Waiting For? Start Your Business Now! You might have dreamed for years about starting an online business. Or perhaps you woke up just yesterday with a brilliant idea. What are you waiting for? The truth is that the most difficult part of beginning a new endeavor is making the decision to do it. You can easily get bogged down with excuses for why your business won’t happen. To keep you motivated and on track, here’s a list of the top reasons to start an online business now: You can gain financial freedom. One major incentive for owning any business is the potential for a better income. The Internet offers the opportunity to create your own wealth. You have unlimited customer reach. No geographical boundaries exist when you run a business over the Internet. You can choose to sell your products or services in your community, in your own country, or to the entire world. It’s affordable. You can now create a website inexpensively and sometimes for free. The cost to maintain your site, secure products, and cover related expenses is often relatively low. This low start-up cost is especially evident when you compare the start-up costs of an online business and a traditional bricks-and-mortar business (a physical building from which to sell retail merchandise). Your schedule is flexible. Part time, full time, year round, or seasonal: Your schedule is up to you when you operate your virtual business. You can work in the wee hours of the night or in the middle of the day. An online business affords you the luxury of creating a work schedule that works for you. Novices are welcome. As the Internet has grown, e-commerce (a type of business activity conducted over the Internet, such as sales or advertising) applications have become increasingly simple to use. Although you benefit by having experience with your products or services, the process of offering those items for sale online is easy to understand. You can set up shop with little or no experience under your belt! You can start quickly. From online auctions such as eBay to storefronts powered by Amazon.com, the tools that can help get you started are readily available, essentially overnight. Many of these sites (such as Amazon) handle all the details for you — they set up the website infrastructure, manage the payment and shopping cart system, and even provide easy access to merchandise. You can expand an existing business. If you already own a business, the Internet provides you with the most economical and most efficient way to expose your business to a huge new group of customers and increase sales. No age barriers exist. You might be retired and itching for extra income, or perhaps you’re a teenager who’s only beginning to consider career opportunities. Online businesses provide economic opportunities for entrepreneurs of all ages. A variety of ideas qualify. As proven time and again, the Internet supports a broad range of business concepts. Although some ideas are better suited to long-term success, almost all your ideas have potential. Niche products hold unlimited potential. Thanks to the reach of the Internet, unique or custom products have a potentially lucrative home in e-commerce. These products may not generate a large enough demand in a local market to sustain an offline business but can find a significant customer base through the broad reach of an online audience. Everyone else is doing it. Okay, maybe your parents wouldn’t approve of using this logic. It’s certainly true, though: People around the world are finding success and more financial freedom by starting businesses online. It’s one leap you should be proud to take! If you’re still hesitant, consider this bonus reason: The information you need to take your business online is right at your fingertips — literally. This book gives you most of what you need to get started. Whatever else you require, such as information about conducting business in your specific state or regulations for your specific industry, is on the Internet (put there by some other enterprising entrepreneur, no doubt). You have no more excuses! Choosing Just the Right Business After you decide to start your own online business, you should look at the different categories of online businesses from which you can choose. In this section, we conveniently provide those categories. Not all online businesses will explode like Amazon, eBay, or Facebook. But even if your business never grows into a megabrand, you need to plan for the long haul. You want your business to succeed and survive. Also, selecting the right type of online business is just as important. Losing interest or lacking an understanding of your chosen business area can hinder the growth of your new online business. Putting some thought into the type of online business you want to pursue pays off. Creating online businesses for today and tomorrow The secret to e-commerce success is to create a business that will stand the test of time. Sure, some people take advantage of relatively short-lived trends and make a mint (from Beanie Babies and Hacky Sacks to Napster and MySpace, for example). The odds that you could create the same magnitude of buying hysteria with a product or service, however, are small. Instead, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs are quietly and steadily making a respectable living by using the Internet, and their ideas will find a market for many years. They’re not making millions of dollars a month, but they're paying their bills and making a profit. The widely used term online business can be used in different ways. It sometimes refers to a company that operates only over the Internet and has no other physical location from which to sell goods or services. It can refer to a traditional bricks-and-mortar business that also sells over the Internet. And we sometimes use it to reference a segment of revenues generated from the web for traditional businesses or organizations. In this book, an online business is any entity (or person) using the Internet, in whole or part, as a source of income for itself, its business, or its organization (such as a club or a nonprofit agency). Finding a business that’s your type You can pursue a variety of businesses to earn money online. Almost all types of income-generating opportunities fall into one of two categories: Business to consumer (B2C): Customers are typically the individual consumers who make up the general public. They buy products or services designed for personal use. Business to business (B2B): Customers are most likely other businesses. They might buy steel by the ton, employee uniforms, or anything that would be used primarily by a company. Crossover between the two categories can occur. Sometimes, either type of customer can use the products or services you offer, as is the case with office supplies. And with more businesses now shopping online, this crossover occurs frequently. Knowing whether your primary customers are individuals or businesses helps you to create more effective marketing campaigns. Typically, these two groups buy from you for very different reasons. By marketing to each individual group, you can better target your advertising messages for increased sales. You may find that your primary customers require (or respond better to) one type of marketing and that your secondary customers require another type. Within the two primary categories, you find the different types of businesses you can operate. Here are a few examples of the ways in which you can generate revenue online: Online retail: When you have a bricks-and-mortar store and offer your retail products for sale online as well, you enter the world of online retailing. You’re responsible for hiring the resources and purchasing the tools needed to sell your wares over the Internet. One example of an online retailer is the Barnes & Noble bookstore — you can buy your books online or visit the bricks-and-mortar store. As mentioned, most traditional businesses now have some component of revenue that comes from online sales. E-commerce storefront: E-commerce is a broad term used to describe the transaction of business via the Internet. E-commerce can also refer to any website where you sell merchandise but lack a physical location for customers to visit in person (bricks-and-mortar store). The term commonly used for this type of online business is an e-commerce storefront. (Offline, the retail industry uses this term to describe the outside of a building, which includes its signage, front door, and overall image.) In this book, a storefront is a one-stop shop for setting up an online presence to sell products. Etsy.com and CafePress.com are examples of storefronts. Both storefront sites provide you with a custom page that displays all your wares. Etsy.com allows you to customize the page from which you sell your handcrafted or vintage wares. Your page on CafePress.com has a structure that matches the overall CafePress.com site. Think of it as a flea market or one of those small kiosks you see in the mall — you get your very own little shopping area that you can customize, and visitors to your page see your merchandise and can learn a little about you if you choose to include personal information about yourself or your business. We discuss storefronts in more detail in Book VIII, “Storefront Selling.” For now, you need to know that good storefront providers offer the following: Templates for your website: You don't need to build a site from scratch. Many storefront providers provide you with wizards or HTML files that you can customize for your storefront. Hosting options: Many storefront providers have a variety of opoptions for you, some free and some for a fee. These options might include shopping cart systems, phone support for your storefront, and discounts on fees if you pay rent by the year rather than monthly. A shopping cart solution: The method that customers use to purchase products from you. Payment options (possibly): The capability to accept online payment (credit card or debit card) is an absolute must. But other options allow payment to be deferred or even allow financing of purchases. Products (in some cases): Your preferred storefront solution may offer you everything but the kitchen sink, as the saying goes. Increasingly, you have the option to use a provider that also supplies the product. Your contribution is providing unique artwork or content (as with CafePress), or simply providing traffic, or customers (as with an Amazon storefront). An auction: The way your customers buy products is somewhat different when you auction items. Your customers can bid on the final purchase price, as opposed to buying at a price you set. (eBay, the daddy of all online auction sites, has become so popular, however, that it has blurred the lines among auction, storefront, and online retail. We discuss eBay in Book VIII, Chapter 4.) Service business: You don’t have to sell products to have an online business. From doing taxes to writing brochures, most professional services can be sold online, just like physical products. Web-based services or applications, also called software as a service (SaaS), is another type of service business and is often sold business to business (B2B). Content site: Charging a fee for all types of content and information products has become an accepted business model, especially in the last few years. And as a content site becomes more popular with visitors, options such as paid advertisements on the site can also generate income. The growing use of electronic readers (such as the Kindle and Nook) as well as Apple’s iPad are helping create more acceptance and demand for paid content in the form of e-books (electronic formats of books or manuals). Similarly, the popularity of YouTube and other social media sites is driving interest in video. When you consider types of content to offer for sale, include video as an option for your paid content offerings. Social commerce: A growing online moneymaking opportunity is found in a category labeled social commerce. People are discovering ways to earn revenue from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social sites (online venues that connect and engage consumers). Whether it’s selling games and apps through social media sites or boosting online sales through engagement in social networks, one thing is certain: Social commerce is a real opportunity for a viable online business. E-commerce applications: If anything lends itself for sale over the Internet, it’s technology. E-commerce (or electronic commerce) applications continue to provide lucrative growth for innovators. Think of e-commerce as any type of technology product that makes doing business online (and offline) easier. Inventory programs, shopping cart solutions, and payroll management software are all examples of innovations that fit nicely in this category. In Book IV, we explain how to create a revenue model for your business; you can apply this model to any of the types of businesses in the preceding list. As you can see, you have no shortage of opportunities to satisfy your urge to start a business. After you officially decide to take the plunge, you can narrow the field and get started.

Source: Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies.
Available on Amazon Kindle.

KhD Business

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