If you have been waiting for your career to take off, there has never been a better time for innovation or ambitious business ventures. No matter what your background is, you can be an online entrepreneur and the process is no longer as riddled with challenges as it was in the past. From flexible Fintech funding to affordable online business programs and e-commerce tools, there are so many things that can make your journey smoother.
According to Wealth-X data, 62% of US billionaires are self-made. No inheritance, no obscenely rich family to back them up. Just hard work, determination, research and a bit of luck. We don’t know for sure that your online business idea will turn you into a billionaire, but one thing is for sure: in 2019, there are fewer impediments than ever.
You just have to know your market, maximize every opportunity that comes your way, and avoid the mistakes that a beginner would be tempted to make.
Choose the right jurisdiction for your online business
Just like a brick-and-mortar store, an online business remains a legal entity and, before you think of anything else, you need to decide where to incorporate it. Although they have a lot of freedom here, many online entrepreneurs settle on onshore incorporation, which may sound simple, but it does pose a few financial challenges for beginner entrepreneurs. Countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada have very high tax requirements, and when you’re starting out with nothing more than an idea and 500 dollars in your pocket, these tax regimes can become crippling. Offshore registration, on the other hand, in countries such as Cyprus, Estonia, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar, can help you save more money and start off your entrepreneurship journey without the looming prospect of high taxes. Just make you have someone experienced on your side when registering your company because you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.
Focus on a lucrative field
You don’t need to have a college degree to be a successful entrepreneur. In fact, one study shows that only 26% of self-made entrepreneurs are college graduates. However, what you will need is to carefully analyze the market and see if there is a real demand for the service you want to offer. These days, you’ll hear a lot of people talking about how they made money from blogging or freelance writing, but keep in mind that if you’re getting into this field now, thousands of other people already have a huge head start and you’ll need to work hard to make a breakthrough. Ideally, you should choose a field that you like, but that doesn’t have intimidating levels of competition. For example, you can consider up-and-coming online business models such as chatbot businesses, box subscriptions, and ad management, which are growing in popularity, but haven’t fully exploded yet. Follow your passion, but make sure you can monetize it too.
Don’t quit your day job just yet
The feeling you get after closing your first sale as an online entrepreneur is intoxicating. As you see your efforts finally pay off and get a glimpse of what that financial independence looks like, you may be tempted to quit your day job and focus solely on your online business. However, that’s not always a great idea. As satisfying as handing in your resignation might be, it’s wiser to control your excitement and wait to see if your business can offer you a steady flow of income yet.
Because if it doesn’t, quitting your job will not only put you in a tough financial situation, but also force you to take bad decisions that could ruin your online business. As long as you can do both things at the same time without harming your health or neglecting your family, do both. Then, as your online business starts to take off and mature, you will be able to quit without remorse.
Not having enough funds to open your online business is not the deal-breaker it once was. If you need money for a bigger investment that could propel your business, such as a better computer, or maybe even the money needed to manufacture a unique product, then there are ways of accessing funding without conducting long rounds of negotiations with your local bank.
For example, crowdfunding is one of the best things to ever happen to small entrepreneurs. As long as you have a great product and the right mindset, people from all over the world will back your project on platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or Patreon, no matter how crazy it may seem to traditional lenders. Did you know that Oculus (yes, that Oculus!) started as a Kickstarter campaign? And that, in 2018, tabletop game campaigns on Kickstarter reached an all-time high of $165 million?
This goes to show that if you have a great idea and you know where to ask for help, people won’t hesitate to invest.
Flexibility is a good trait to have as an entrepreneur in general, so keep your options open and consider the fact that, at one point, you may have to pivot. Even if you have a brilliant idea, some factors that are out of your control may force you to follow a different approach:
- Bad timing
- A sudden shift in the market
- Huge competition
- Great idea, but poor implementation
Acknowledging these factors isn’t always easy and emotions can get in the way. After all, your business idea is your brainchild and you’ll be tempted to hang on to it. Talking to an investor or an expert in business development can help you see things from a different perspective and take advantage of business opportunities you may not have noticed otherwise.
For example, before Yelp was the massive local review website it is today, it was a small automated system designed to ask friends for recommendations. And Shopify didn’t start as an e-commerce service provider either.
It was a small online store for snowboarding equipment that never really took off, but the e-commerce platform that its founders built for it did, so they changed the focus and decided to monetize the platform rather than snowboarding equipment. Considering how much Shopify is worth today, being flexible seems to really have paid off.
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