Whether you’re thinking of adding a company website and building an online presence to complement your “bricks-and-mortar” business in the physical world, or you’re seriously considering taking the plunge and finally starting up your own small business entirely online, the internet offers SMEs both huge advantages and some perilous drawbacks.
While operating online is obviously the done thing for modern businesses these days for many good reasons, it’s not necessarily the solution that everyone is looking for. It’s understandable that to some more ‘traditional’ companies (typically those with a physical location who sell or operate either in person, by phone, or mail), setting up online might seem too complicated, too risky or just not worth the hassle. Meanwhile, those who think that setting up an all new online business could be their ticket to an instant fortune may need to reconsider too. When asking ‘is online business for me’? Here are some pros and cons to think on.
First lets look at those with an existing business thinking of adding an online presence…
Pro – Having a company website will make a huge improvement to your company image, add credibility to you and your services and make you easier to find. Without a blog, social media presence and website to act as a hub for these separate elements, prospective clients will wonder how serious you are.
Con – If you’re planning on building an effective website yourself, gaining the knowledge and learning the skills required to build an attractive, standards-compliant, properly optimized site can take a significant amount of time. Many SMEs might feel that time would be better spent focusing attention on making money through their physical business instead?
Pro – A key benefit to a company website, especially one with an e-commerce capability is that you are always open for business 24/7, 365. Clients, customers and prospects can find you, read about your products or services and place orders at anytime that suits them. It also provides the opportunity for customers to reach out to you and for you to offer support quickly and directly.
Con – While doing operating via the Internet can open up markets all over the world, for more traditional business people it can lack the personal touch and present problems when building lasting relationships with suppliers, customers and partners.
So what about if you don’t have any premises or even really a business yet and you’re looking to set up online and go from there? Starting your own internet business today is a very broad field. There is a world of opportunity and as many different ways to do business online as there are people making the lifestyle work for them. It has been said that the ‘how’ of Internet business isn’t important – there are enough different online business models out there to suit any particular combination of strengths and weaknesses. What really matters is the ‘why’.
So before pursuing online business in the first place, how about those pros and cons…
Pro – It’s no surprise, but the opportunity to readdress one’s work life balance and gain autonomy is one of the main reasons why people choose to set up their own business and work remotely. One of the greatest advantages of running your own Internet business is the flexibility this arrangement provides in terms of when and where you work, as well as when and how much you’re paid.
Con – A big one. Security. As an independent, self employed business person, finding work opportunities and generating the revenue is all on you! There’s likely to be long hours and little income to start with and the adjustment to a demanding work life yet no regular salary or benefits can be tough. Not to mention the maze of laws, licenses and tax legislation you may need to negotiate.
Pro – Running your own small company can afford you the opportunity to increase your earning potential. For those employed in a regular day job, earning power is usually limited by your field and your experience. Managing all facets of your own business removes these limitations. Meanwhile, working from home offers additional ways to save on costs such as transport or childcare.
Con – Being your own boss requires a certain amount of self discipline, motivation and a willingness to establish and stick to a productive routine. It’s easy to let the line between work time and leisure time blur when you are alone at home. You’ll need to be able to manage your time effectively if you’re planning on a regular bit of daytime TV and a power-nap after lunch.
All things considered, it’s clear anyone choosing to set up their own online business needs to possess more than a basic knowledge of the Internet to succeed. The modern SME must have the necessary skills to set up a website and know how to market a company online. Luckily this is no longer an obstacle with the likes of SoleTrader.com who will build you a website equipped with all the layouts, imagery and written content required. Included with this is the necessary online marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and customer support so you really do have everything you need. Regardless of your business sector, whether you’re a new company or an established trader, for anyone looking for a simple solution to getting their SME online, a DIFM (Do It For Me) website builder like SoleTrader.com is a fantastic solution.
By David Marrone
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