Entrepreneurship is defined as the ability and zeal to start up, organise, and manage a new business venture along with all of its associated risks to make a profit. It should be noted at this juncture that it is not easy to be a successful entrepreneur. As the quotation mentioned above by Steve Jobs notes, the most successful entrepreneurs can persevere and not give up when times are tough, and businesses fail.
I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” - Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple.
Furthermore, as Tim Schmidt (successful internet entrepreneur) notes, innovation and risk-taking are fundamental characteristics of the entrepreneurial spirit. These character traits are essential for the entrepreneur to navigate the ever-changing and increasingly competitive global marketplace successfully. These facts are not meant to chase people away from entrepreneurship. In fact, most global economies are reliant on business people who start up the own small businesses to help reduce the unemployment figures. However, it is important to know and understand the unique challenges an entrepreneur faces.
What is an internet entrepreneur ?
Wikipedia defines an Internet entrepreneur as an "entrepreneur, an owner, founder or manager of an Internet based business undertaking who makes money through risk and/or initiative." Therefore, the biggest difference between the two types of entrepreneurs is that the web entrepreneur leverages the Internet to generate income, while the other type of entrepreneur's core focus is not web driven. This does not mean that a non-internet based business avoids the use of the internet at all costs. It just means that its value proposition is not derived from the Internet.
The advantages of starting an Internet-based business
There are distinct advantages to running an Internet-based business. Pawel Reszka in her article titled "7 Reasons Why You Should Start Your Own Internet Business" notes that “too many people view Internet business through an extremely narrow lens...The reality… is that there are as many different ways to do business online as there are people making this lifestyle work for them."
Therefore, here is a list of six of these benefits:
A wide range of internet-based business opportunities
The fact of the matter is that you can do anything online. You aren’t limited to selling your second-hand possessions online, nor do you have to be the next “Google” or “Facebook” owner. The reality is that the income generation possibilities are endless. All you need to do is identify a niche, develop a business plan and work hard at succeeding.
Follow your dreams and passions
Because of the nature of doing business online, you can work with what you are passionate about. When you are an employee, you are helping increase someone else's bottom line. When you are self-employed or an entrepreneur, you are earning your income by doing something you love.
Expand your earning potential
One of the disadvantages of being a salaried worker is that your income will always be capped. On the other hand, if you are self-employed, you can earn as much (or as little) as you want to. It effectively depends on your business model and how hard you work.
Choose the hours you work
The Internet is open for business 24/7, 365 days per year. Therefore, in theory, you can choose your working hours. However, it is important to note that in real terms your working hours will largely be determined by your clients and the business you run.
For example, if you live in the USA and run a global digital media marketing company and you have customers in the Asia-Pacific region, you will need to be online during your clients' working hours. This translates into being available when most people are sleeping.
Improved customer service
The online space allows you to provide an unparalleled service to your clients. Because you are online, you have the flexibility to communicate with your customers via a variety of channels such as social media, email, VOIP (Voice Over IP) calls, and chats, as well as messaging apps.
Decreased cost of doing business
An online-driven business will save on the traditional costs of running a business. For example, you do not have to drive anywhere to visit your clients. You do not need to print out paper invoices. And, if your business model allows it, you do not even need to hire office space. All your employees can work remotely.
Tips to help you succeed as an online entrepreneur
Now that we have looked at a number of the benefits of doing business online, let’s look a few tips to help you succeed in your online venture:
Even though it is easy to get discouraged and throw in the towel, it’s important to persevere and to keep on working towards your goal. Again, the quotation mentioned above by Steve Jobs speaks of the importance of persevering. Additionally, as Jobs rightly states, the most important character trait of a successful entrepreneur is perseverance.
Build a business model
A business model is akin to a pre-planned route that an aeroplane takes to reach a destination. Not only does the pre-defined route include the direction that the plane needs to travel in, and the way points it needs to cross along the way, it helps the pilot and support engineers calculate how much fuel is required for the plane to reach its destination. If there is no predefined route, the chances are that the plane will not reach its destination.
This concept applies to starting up an online business. If you have not conceptualised your core business function and business model, and you have not defined your mission statement, you will not be able to achieve your pre-defined goals.
Allow your business to evolve
Personal experience has shown that it is important to be flexible and allow your business model to evolve with the ever-changing online environment. Customer needs change; therefore, you need to allow your business model to change for your brand to stay relevant. In other words, it is vital to place the needs of your target audience first and adapt and change your business to meet these requirements.