Many successful business people will tell you that they would never go back to working for someone else. But for the first-time entrepreneur, starting your own online business requires a leap of faith, the strength and resolution to put your dreams and passions to the test.
Not all business startups will succeed. An online business is not a bed of roses. Neither is it a road to quick riches. And while an online business may have lower startup costs than a traditional bricks-and-mortar business, it still requires a considerable investment of time, energy and effort.
I am convinced that most people who dream of it can benefit from building an online business. But while abilities are not an issue - if you really want to build an online business you can learn all the skills you need - not every person has the temperament to be successful online.
So in this first article in the Tips for Starting a Business series we will look at the the sort of person you need to be to be successful in an online business. Read the questions and look honestly at yourself. Do you have what it takes to build a succssful online business? (I'm predominantly looking at online business here, but most of the questions also apply if you are planning to start and run a traditional business.)
Are you prepared for the personal demands of starting an online business?
Many people think that an online business is a road to quick riches, that they only need to put up a website and watch the money roll in. Well, they couldn't be more wrong. An online business is not so different from a traditional one. To be successful takes time and effort.
Can you handle uncertainty?
When you're employed, you can be fairly sure when your next salary is due. You know your duties and you know what your employer expects of you. When you run your own business, things are more fluid. There may be times when only little money is coming in, or when you have to do several other people's jobs. If not knowing what will happen next frustrates you, then maybe you need to look again at your plans for starting a business.
Do you have a positive attitude?
If it's your business, nothing happens unless you make it happen. Having a positive attitude is top on my list of tips for starting a business. With a positive attitude, anything is possible. Without it, you can quickly run a previously successful business into the ground.
Are you prepared to take chances and gamble on your ideas?
Here, we question your self-belief. Another character trait high on my list of tips for starting a business. Do you wait until others tell you it's safe to proceed, or are you prepared to go for it when you spot an opportunity?
Are you determined to succeed?
An online business is just that - a business. And there will be times when the going gets tough, times when you may have to make tricky decisions, times when nothing happens for weeks and weeks, times when it feels easier to throw in the towel. One of the top tips for starting a business: don't even think about it unless you REALLY want to succeed.
Can you bounce back from setbacks?
Life is not about success and failure. More often, it's about how well you can learn from your failures. How quickly you get up and try again. Are you a person who is discouraged when things go wrong or do you get up, dust yourself down and have another go?
Are you able to delegate?
When you first start your own online business, you'll most likely run it by yourself, doing all the jobs that need doing. As your business grows you may have to bring in outside help or hire staff. But some people just cannot delegate. They're only ever happy when they're doing the thing themselves. Are you one of those? Or can you follow our top tips for starting a business and learn how to delegate?
Do you have core business skills?
Do you understand how business on the internet works? Do you know how to talk to your accountant? Do you have an understanding of marketing, sales and customer service? If you follow a proven process while building your online business, you'll pick up all necessary skills along the way. Alternatively, do you know where to go to find out what you need to know?
Are you prepared to spend time carrying out in-depth market research?
Many (unsuccessful) online businesses are planned on the back of a beermat and put in place with minimum research. These businesses often languish in the forgotten corners of the internet, an embarrassment to their owners. With a global marketplace such as the internet, it really pays to spend time on researching your market. Do you have the patience and committment to do so?
Do you have sufficient funds to set up a business?
This can often be a sticking point for traditional businesses. Setup costs for an online business are - thankfully - much lower. But consider your situation carefully, especially if you plan to quit paid employment. Do you have enough funds to live on until your online business starts to generate income?
Are you willing to draw on expert help if you need it?
One of the best tips for starting a business is to talk to an expert if you need one. It matters little if the expert is an accountant, an attorney or a car mechanic. If specialist skills are required to build and grow your business, you should consult them. Are you a person who is able to trust to somebody else's judgement?
The first article in our tips for starting a business series looked at the character traits you need to start and run a business successfully. If you have answered YES to eight or more of the above questions, you are the sort of person who has a chance of building a successful online business. You can listen to advice, you are prepared to work hard and you don't expect results overnight. You are determined to succeed and you won't let a setback spoil your fun. All good stuff! You're now ready to move on ...