As the world grows increasingly digital, more entrepreneurs have turned to creating, operating, and growing online businesses.
There are advantages and disadvantages of online business, but the e-commerce movement continues to boom.
Even traditional businesses with physical establishments are looking to have a solid online presence.
And why wouldn’t they?
Doing business online opens them up to:
- a broader consumer base.
- allows consumers to access products or services 24/7.
- it has great overhead cost savings.
With several of these factors in mind, many new entrepreneurs are excited to learn that their dreams can come through with the click of a few buttons.
As an online solopreneur myself, the freedom of working from anywhere, at any time is what I drew me to the lifestyle.
However, the freedom of an entrepreneurial life comes with many — often unexpected — highs and lows that can deter people from continuing to pursue their dreams and make true growth in their business.
In fact, 90% of all startups on the Internet close within the first 4 months of operations.
Besides the glittering jewels of freedom and flexibility that attract most to entrepreneurship, it can be difficult to gauge the realities of running an online business.
With this in mind, I find most people wonder what the actual responsibilities of an online entrepreneur are.
Whether you are simply curious or looking to establish an e-commerce brand yourself, it is crucial to consider the numerous challenges and opportunities associated with online entrepreneurship.
Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of online business help you make the best possible choice for your lifestyle.
The Disadvantages of Online Business
Running any business, especially one that is online, requires major amounts of self-discipline. With no one looking over your shoulder, you may find it difficult to remain self-directed and self-motivated.
This happens when new business owners come into their new lifestyles with an employee mindset rather than an entrepreneur mindset.
The entrepreneurial mindset involves doing things to grow your business, even when you don’t want to, especially if it makes you uncomfortable.
Understand the importance of organization, dedication, motivation, consistency and integrity when it comes to handling your long and short term goals.
Most entrepreneurs know that they’ve picked a difficult path, one less traveled, one they have to pioneer themselves and that’s incredibly rewarding.
Having the discipline to put in the work to make your dreams flourish as a profitable business takes a lot of energy.
In the early stages of building your business, you will be doing all the work:
- sending emails.
- making promotional material.
- plus managing plus everyday operations.
This can be incredibly overwhelming and isolating for a new solopreneur.
When it comes to handling isolation, different entrepreneurs seek varying solutions.
Some find it comforting to work around others in places like a coffee shop or coworking space.
In some instances, joining a mastermind or other community of likeminded individuals is very helpful.
No matter the method of socializing and networking you may choose to grow your online business, it is important to build a community of support around you.
Unlike working for a company with a team of coworkers, the full responsibility of your online business rests on your shoulders.
Now, it can be possible to get some help through outsourcing labor to family and friends or through a freelancer.
By hiring a writer to help develop your blog posts, graphic designer to illustrate your logo, a social media manager to help promote your work, and a bookkeeper to manage your finances, you will breathe a little easier.
Have a virtual assistant to rely upon when things become overwhelming can help make entrepreneurship a bit lighter on you.
However, it is still up to you to remain involved in every process to ensure your brand grows according to your vision.
As an entrepreneur, you must understand that no one will have the power to make any decisions regarding your business but you.
Owning and operating a business requires entrepreneurs to put in long hours.
You will either wake up super early, go to bed late, or a mix of both.
Think of every person it takes to run a business efficiently. Now think of the collective amount of hours it takes for them to manage a day’s operations.
Mind blown yet?
All of those man hours now rest on you as you work to build your business brick by brick.
Unlike most think, it is nearly impossible to grow a business overnight.
Progress is slow; large-scale, lucrative opportunities are few and far between when you first start.
However, it’s important to remember that slow progress is not no progress. As long as you keep working, your business will grow one step at a time.
No Employee Benefits
Working for a company or corporation brings numerous automatically given benefits such as:
- sick days
- vacation time
- health insurance
- retirement security (such as through a 401K)
When it comes to being a solotrepreneur, this is all up to you.
You can take a sick day without anyone worrying about your absence, but you also won’t get paid.
Company health insurance is no longer a given but there are plans you can purchase to fit your business’s needs.
It is up you to identify and understand your needs and ensure that you get the kind of coverage you need through an insurance company that offers self-employed insurances.
Difficult to Keep the Human Touch
Online business can create distance between the entrepreneur and its audience or clients.
Without the connection of face to face interaction that a more traditional business environment brings, some customers can find it difficult to relate to brands.
This especially extends to the customer service situations.
When it comes to dealing with the issues or mishaps that can occur in any business, online establishments don’t provide customers with a person to talk face to face with.
Tools like online chat, emails, phone services, and bots work but they don’t have the uniquely human touch that brings comfort to consumers.
That’s why it is important to make sure your personality shines through in every way possible when it comes to your online presence.
When visiting your online platforms, customers want to interact with an extension of your human self.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
Running any business comes with the need to have work-life balance.
With the ability to set your own hours, it can be easy to work round the clock. I know, I have this problem 🙋♀️ .
Instead of griping about how my laptop is now a work trap, I use it to plan a few time slots in my day to center myself through workouts, baking, doing yoga, or meditating. My life works in alignment with work rather than competing with it.
The Advantages of Online Business
Perhaps the biggest draw to creating an online business is the freedom to work whenever you want, wherever you want.
That includes using your intuition as a guide to know which opportunities to accept or when to say no.
Entrepreneurs set their own schedules around when they work best and are most productive.
When it comes to working over the Internet, business hours become even more flexible as they work in alignment with the solopreneur’s life.
Low Overhead Costs
Starting a business online comes with very low startup costs.
Traditional businesses incur numerous overhead costs from renting expensive storefronts or buildings to paying utility costs, buying insurance, contracting artists to design and make signages, purchasing office furniture, and paying salaries.
On the other hand, as an online entrepreneur, you get to save on these costs and have the opportunity to offer lower prices on goods and services to your customers.
Better Measurement and Tracking of Marketing Campaigns
It is way easier to collect and analyze information about an online consumer.
Tools such as Google Analytics, Instagram’s Insights, and Facebook Metrics allow you, as an online business owner, to create profiles of your customer’s likes, dislikes, and shopping habits.
This information helps you develop your website, improve marketing campaigns, and spruce up landing pages. This way, you can further understand how to craft your products or services to better serve your ideal audience.
Greater Growth Opportunities
A rewarding part of operating an online business is the opportunity to scale without worrying about outgrowing a physical office space, inventory room, or warehouse building.
With online businesses, the prospect of gaining new fans, followers, or consumers can be just a click away.
The accessibility of the Internet also makes it easy for businesses to share information through emails, fliers, infographics, and videos to name a few.
This in turn, increases brand awareness for a relatively low cost.
Internet marketing is often said to be more effective and cheaper than the traditional advertising campaigns we know.
An incredible superpower of online business is the ability to adapt and rebrand without too much friction.
The online marketplace is frequented by those who understand that brands evolve as humans do.
With this in mind, conducting business online makes it much easier to keep content about your business accurate.
Access to the Global Marketplace
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of online business is that it opens you up to the global marketplace. A physical business may be frequented by those who live within a town’s limits and if its stellar, people may make pilgrimages to visit.
With the Internet as the marketplace, even the tiniest T-shirt company operated out of a garage can handle international sales, no problem.
Online businesses greatly benefit from having literally the world’s entire population as their audience.
There are many advantages and disadvantage of online business and you have to think carefully before making the jump.
For the right person, having an online business can be the best rewarding and enjoyable job ever. But, like any jobs, it has its good days and bad days.