When you think about the idea of starting your own business, one where you’re working from home, what is the first thing you think about?
Do you think about having the freedom to manage your own time? Waking up and working whenever—and wherever—you want? Are you driven by the idea of being your own boss?
Or perhaps it’s the complete opposite—the fear of becoming unproductive, lazy, and perhaps having moments when you lack motivation?
Indeed, owning an online business can provide you with plenty of benefits. At the same time, there are some drawbacks to consider as well.
I’ve experienced first hand the highs and lows of running an online business. No doubt, the freedom and flexibility is priceless. For the most part, you can set your own hours and do things based on your own terms.
The other day Connie and I were deciding where our next travel destination will be. I like the fact that with this type of business, I can open up Google Maps, pick a country or city, and go without restriction or apprehension.
It’s an undeniably great feeling—but like all business endeavours, there are also some downsides.
The misconception is that just because you own a business, you are set…but it’s not the case.
In this post, I’d like to layout a few of the most common advantages and disadvantages of running your own online business.
Advantages of an Online Business
This benefit goes at the top of my list. With your own business, you have the freedom of working when and how you want. With an online business, you get the added benefit of being able to work wherever you want as long as you have wifi connection.
It is you who takes charge of the direction your company is headed. You call the shots and have the power to shape the business into whichever form you want it to take.
That’s the business freedom side of things. There’s also the freedom to choose in your everyday life.
Connie and I prefer to go out and about to cafes, stores and restaurants on weekdays as opposed to weekends when it’s usually busier.
We’re also flexible in terms of booking flights and accommodation. We usually book on cheaper days when there’s less occupancy. Hotels tend to be more open to offer further discounts during weekdays as opposed to weekends.
A Feeling of Achievement
With 100% responsibility comes the opportunity to learn about and experiment with new tactics and strategies. In fact, your success depends on it.
It gets you out of your comfort zone to learn and to think creatively, rather than just working day-by-day not consciously thinking about your actions and emotions.
I was going through a stage where things got quite chaotic — emails, requests, deadlines, projects and more. It was all on my hands. It had to be dealt with somehow so I hired a virtual assistant. The biggest hurdle was training him. It took weeks to create the procedures and then guiding him until he was able to manage the tasks himself.
The end result was that I was able to let go of a lot of the tasks that were holding me back from moving the business forward. It was hard at the start, but totally rewarding in the end.
Best of all, the work you put into your business grows your business, not somebody else’s.
You Can Start On a Small Budget
Unlike a traditional brick and mortar businesses, an online business doesn’t require huge overheads, building up inventory, or the hefty expense of paying for a rental space.
Take blogging for instance—you can launch a blog with zero upfront costs by taking advantage of free sites like Blogger or WordPress.
Outsourcing At Your Fingertips
We are lucky to live in a connected world, one in which you can now, more than ever, take advantage of all that global communication and the Internet have to offer.
Virtually any type of work can be outsourced to overseas talent on sites like Upwork.com, allowing you to fill your needs at a fraction of the fee you’d have to put out in your own country.
In my eBook business, there are eight of us who all collaborate and do our bit. For instance, I have a writer who writes the eBooks, a designer who designs the eBook covers, a voice over who records videos tutorials and a project manager who puts it all together.
Here’s an inside look of a current project we’re working on using a team collaboration tool called Basecamp:
Collaborating with team members from around the world.
Each member of the team are from entirely different locations. My writer’s from the U.S., designer from Indonesia, assistant from the Philippines and video guy from the U.K.
Tap into a Global Market
Depending on the type of online business you have or want to start, you can reach an audience far larger than one you’d have in a single location.
As my business is not restricted to locality, 70% of my customers are from the U.S., while just 10% are from Australia.
It’s also easy to accept payments as there’s plenty of payment processors such as PayPal, Stripe and Authorize.net.
Customers simply purchase my products via PayPal, the funds get deposited into my PayPal account instantly and they simply download the product after purchase.
The Strength of the US Dollar
The US dollar is the most commonly used currency for online transactions.
Being a strong contender against most other currencies, the US dollar allows you to get more out of every cent you make. For instance, at the moment $1 USD equals $1.41 Australian Dollars (my local currency)
The US dollar’s been strong against the Australian dollar lately
Disadvantages of an Online Business
For obvious reasons, working on your own can get lonely. Many others may not understand what you do and what you’re going through.
I remember times when I felt like giving up and thought that this whole business wasn’t going anywhere, that it was too good to be true. It felt like there was nobody I could talk to about the struggles I was going through.
You may be feeling the same.
But, if having a lot of alone time is not your thing, then there are always ways to make your work more interactive. You could rent a co-working space, or arrange weekly or monthly meet ups with like-minded people in your industry.
However, you can make virtual connections and meet like-minded people online. During my time as an online business owner, I built some close connections with others in the industry.
Here’s a picture taken recently in Singapore with some partners from around the world at a yearly brainstorming meetup…
Things can’t always be too serious!
You Are 100% Responsible—for Everything
Depending how you see it, this, of course, can be a good thing or bad thing. As an entrepreneur, it is you taking the risks, and you making the decisions. Yes, it’s all up to you—no one is going to do it for you.
Balancing Work and the Rest of your Life
As you take on more responsibility, you are naturally going to be working more hours, at least in the beginning stages of getting your business established. You’ll either stay up later, get up earlier—or perhaps both—to get more done. This is not a bad thing of course. But, as a result, you’ll probably have less time to socialize and spend with your partner, and that’s not for everyone.
Learning to manage your time takes a while to get used to, but once you do, it’s worth the challenge.
No Employee Benefits
Being self-employed usually means you won’t get paid holiday leave and sick leave. So if you take time out of your business, you can’t expect to get paid.
On the flipside, you can look at this as an advantage. When you don’t rely on benefits, you’re put into a position of responsibility to make sure you’re always working towards your goal.
Results Don’t Appear Overnight
Building and growing a business does not happen overnight. The people you’ve heard about who made it overnight don’t exist. Many years of learning and implementing came before that big breakthrough.
Like the pyramids, a successful business is built from the foundation up, brick by brick, layer by layer, until the structure is tall and strong enough to support itself.
It’s about progression—that’s what makes a business successful, and, more importantly, resilient.
In the end, for me and in my tenth year of online business, the pros always outweigh the cons because it’s the most rewarding feeling to be able to see the progression and result of your work which was once just an idea but now a reality.
What are your thoughts?
If you are a business owner, what do you like best about being your own boss?
Or, if you are still thinking about giving it a try, what kind of business do you want to start up, and what’s holding you back? Share your comments below.