Starting an online business may seem like an easy accomplishment. You probably have most of the tools you will need, such as a laptop and decent broadband connection

In some ways it is easier than opening a local-based, bricks-and-mortar business. There’s no store to fit out, less preparations to put in place for opening day and quite often, depending on the nature of the business, can involve a more simplistic start up process.

As a result, in most instances, it’s a considerably lower initial financial outlay.

But starting an online business isn’t as simple as publishing a website or Facebook page

There’s so much more involved. This is why many people start their venture as a side-business, working evenings and/or weekends alongside their full-time (or part-time) job.

This is a solid strategy that allows you to test out your skills and the viability of your business idea without waving goodbye to your steady, regular income and leaping into the unknown. It also has additional benefits in the form of improving you time-management and productivity skills.

More importantly, it provides an important insight into your proposed new business venture.

  • Are you disciplined enough to work from home?
  • Do you have the desire, time, and determination to market your new business and obtain customers?
  • Do you have confidence in your skills, and ability to get the job done satisfactorily?

If you can’t answer yes to all these questions, in an assured manner, it may be worthwhile following the side-business approach whilst you test the waters.

Here’s 3 questions to ask yourself before starting an online business…

#1 – Do You Have Skills That People Want?

It’s not enough to just WANT to start a business; you actually have to have skills that other people want AND are willing to pay for. Regardless of whether these skills are related to a degree you worked hard to earn or you’re self-taught, having confidence in these skills will set you apart from the competition.

Under this same umbrella, ask yourself if there are enough people who want to pay for your skillset. For example, wedding photographers will always be in need but are there enough brides who can afford a high-end price tag? The same is true for website developers, graphic designers, and ghost-writers; the need will always be there, but can you find enough customers who can afford you?

A business cannot survive without paying customers

#2 – Have You Done Enough Research?

Research is essential if you want to create a successful and profitable business, especially when starting an online business with a good deal of professional competition. However, don’t get stuck in a cycle of infinite research. Determine what you need to research before you start and ask yourself some important questions, such as:

  • Are your skills marketable? Are there competitors offering the same skills?
  • Have you researched how much your market is willing and able to pay for those skills?
  • Have you calculated how much money you need to earn to live and pay bills each month?

Don’t make any serious life changes without doing this all-important research and including your significant other in the conversation.

Research provides valuable insights

#3 – Are You Comfortable With Marketing?

Marketing is the process of getting the attention of your customers and providing them with the products/services that they need. Therefore, you NEED to be comfortable with marketing your business. Don’t be tempted to just wait for customers to come to you. Quite honestly, that’s just wishful thinking, not running a business.

Put yourself and your family first; you have bills to pay so you have to be comfortable getting into the spotlight and telling the world about your new business venture. Otherwise, how can they buy from you?

Hope is not an effective marketing strategy

With research and some fine tuning, almost any side business can grow into a full-time profitable business. But you have to be willing to do the research and committed to making it work.

If you need help researching and creating your new business success plan, check out my new Success Planner

‘Create Your Start-Up Success Plan (in a Weekend)’ walks you through multiple exercises, from start to finish, to determine what you should choose for a side hustle and if that idea is sustainable for many years. You’ll need to dig deep to answer some of the questions inside, but self-exploration is the only way to know for sure if this is the right answer for you. The best part is it doesn’t take a lot of time to complete. Find out more here

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