Running an Online Business – What They Don’t Tell You
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Thousands of people dream of running their own business from the comfort of their own home – more family time, disillusionment with the 9-5 life and the opportunity to work on something they’re passionate about are all key reasons to start working on a home-based company.
While there are plenty of positives to working for yourself, there are a lot of hidden downsides to running an online business on your own. There are numerous costs involved which you may not have anticipated. There’s usually a substantial reduction in social interaction when compared to a normal office job, and it requires a new set of skills to make sure you get enough work done every day.
If you’re still on the fence about starting your own business, don’t let the downsides dissuade you! It can be a fantastic way to make a living, particularly if you’re working in an industry you’re passionate about. Just take the factors below into consideration, as there’s often a lot more to it than most people realise.
The days of simply setting up a website and churning out content to make money online are pretty much over. Now there’s a whole range of things to take care of before launch and while the site is live.
You need to make sure your website is fast and converts well, your hosting is secure, you’re regularly adding content and updating social media and ensuring your website is search-engine friendly. All this comes as a cost, either through time spent working on it or paying an expert to do it for you.
If you’re selling products on your website there are always more costs involved than you think. Storage costs, shipping and handling and refunds tend to be the most common ones people overlook, but it often goes deeper than that.
A lot of online companies overlook the need for business insurance, which could prove costly if there’s an issue with the product you’re selling or you’ve accidentally given someone bad advice and they take you to court. These cases are rare, but they can prove fatal for small businesses if you’re not covered. There’s a number of different types of insurance and one policy doesn’t suit all, so it’s important to find out what your business needs to avoid paying for what you don’t require.
There’s also the additional costs to insure the office equipment you’ll need to run the company. This can usually be covered through expanded home contents insurance, but your premium may go up as a result.
Running an office from your home can also cause your utility bills to increase. You’ll be using your own heating and air conditioning through the day instead of sitting in a nice warm office building. You’ll probably need a faster and more reliable internet connection. Your electricity costs will likely rise as you run your computer all day. It’s not a lot individually, but it can snowball pretty quickly.
One of the main things people struggle with is the change in social interaction when they start working from home. There are always a few people in an office you could do without seeing, but for the most part it’s the interaction with others that people enjoy about their job.
When you start working on your online business it’s important to make a real effort to get out and meet people regularly, both professionally and personally. There are plenty of networking events for various industries, particularly for those running online businesses, so try to go to some and meet new people. You might even get some new clients or useful contacts from it.
There’s also a case to be made for the various cohabited office spaces available to rent in most major cities. You’ll usually be able to rent a desk and they’ll provide an internet connection, and you’ll share an office with other people working on their own businesses. It’s a great way to meet other small business owners and share advice and resources.
It’s safe to say that most of us have taken our foot off the gas now and then when working a normal office job. It’s not intentional – sometimes the drive and motivation just isn’t there some days, sometimes it’s the day after the office Christmas party and you’d rather be anywhere else than your desk. Unfortunately, you can rarely afford to have days like these when you’re working for yourself.
Self discipline is a crucial component of working at home successfully. You need to know what needs done every day and you need to make sure it gets done, otherwise you could be jeopardising the future of your business. Effective planning and a consistent routine will make sure you follow through.
The other people in your home also need to understand that you’re actually working and that you need the time to get things done. The novelty of having you around the house can often lead to partners asking you to help out with household chores and kids expecting you to play when you should be getting things done.
By all means take a little extra time with your family, but make sure there’s a clearly defined time when you’re working and should be left alone. It will take an adjustment at first, but over time everyone will adapt.
Is It Worth It?
While there are a few downsides, working on your own business every day is extremely satisfying and the rewards far outweigh the negatives. You often get used to the routine and forget the numerous advantages, so always try to remember why you started in the first place and reflect on the positives.
Every job comes with its ups and downs and to be honest, running your own business isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer the security of a steady pay check every month, and they may be better keeping their online business as a side gig rather than going full time. But if you take the plunge and go full-time, there’s plenty of upside to be found.
Photo courtesy of: moleshko