Article written to educate Entrepreneurs, Owners of Small & Medium Sized Businesses, Home-Based Business Owners, Business Managers, Opportunity Seekers, and the millions of people who are starting to awaken to the awesome potential of Internet Communications & Commerce.
Problem: Working for a corporation or small company no longer provides the security and promise of long term advancement that it once did. How can hard-pressed working people break the pattern of dependency on a weekly paycheck, and launch themselves to new prosperity and independence, without investing a fortune in money they don't have, quitting their current job 'cold turkey', or spending every bit of whatever remains of their ever-diminishing free time?
Solution: Launch a new business on the Web!
Minimal expenditures (web site hosting, development of web site, classified advertising, ISP account).
Can be done outside of normal working hours, allowing a person to continue their present job, and can be done in a relatively manageable small amount of spare time.
Can be same as area of expertise - or something totally different, if the person is looking for a change of pace.
Permits a person to experiment with a Virtual Business without taking the plunge of quitting their current job and foregoing current income.
Expansion of business operations can be matched very efficiently with increasing sales.
On the Web, even small companies can appear large.
Customers often segment themselves for you in ways that allow you to perform low cost or no cost market research to find out what products or services are needed, what prices are viable, and even suggestions for improving existing products.
Avoided Costs: Employees, building or office rental, insurance for both, office furniture and supplies, taxes, equipment, licensing fees, permits, reduced marketing costs, test marketing capabilities before product production, source of ideas for potential products and services.
Independence: your own business can give you the freedom to run things as you see fit, to expand or stay small, depending on your personal goals, to work from any location you choose, to work whatever hours you choose. In short, the Independence of a Virtual Business is the total freedom to make of your business what you will, tailoring it to fit your desires, schedule, and level of commitment.
Flexibility (in working hours, location, amount of time and money spent, business products and services offered): Joining hand in hand with Independence is Flexibility. Often, they are synonymous with each other. Consider that your Virtual Business is open to a global customer base 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but that you can come in and 'tend to the shop' during whatever periods are convenient to you (and of course are sufficient to serve the needs of your customers). A Virtual Storefront consists of a Website, and your website can be as simple or complex as you wish, depending on the amount of time and financial commitment you wish to make. The important thing to realize is that even small companies can establish a huge presence on the Internet, with a comparative cost to opening a physical location that is hugely advantageous. Finally, consider that a Virtual Business offers you the flexibility to experiment with different products and services that you might not otherwise have the ability to test market. You can operate showcases on your site for 'Future Products' or 'Creative Marketplace Products' that permit you to solicit and receive feedback from your potential customers on what products and services THEY find desirable. Then you can react quickly to meet their wants by developing only those products that generate the level of interest that you feel will generate ample profits. This flexibility in meeting customer needs is one of the great benefits of the Cyber Storefront Business Model.
Profits: The purpose of every business is profits; truly that is the bottom line. Operating an Internet business provides several methods of securing profits. First and foremost, the sale of your products or services should generate the bulk of your profits. But there are also opportunities to sell advertising space on your website (once it establishes a traffic pattern), participate in joint selling ventures with other companies (for example, become a product distributor for other non-competing web-based businesses, earning a commission on sales of their products), and consulting fees that you can charge people who come to your website looking for answers or assistance in your specialized field of endeavor.
Reduced overhead: Consider the incredible overhead savings that you receive when you operate a Virtual Business as opposed to one with a physical address. To begin with, eliminate expensive rent, office furniture, equipment rental, and insurance. Depending on the needs of your Virtual Business, you will most likely have no employees, or at least a reduced number of employees (many of whom can be hired on an 'as-needed' consulting basis), which means smaller payroll to meet, and huge savings in insurance, payroll taxes, and benefit package expenses. Marketing costs are typically far less on the Web, in some cases approaching no cost (for instance, you can post classified ads in many places on the Net dedicated to your business classification for little or no charge, beyond your monthly Internet access fees, which you pay regardless of your marketing activity). Remember, too, that product and service test marketing on your website and in discussion forums can reduce or eliminate the development of poor performers in your sales lineup. By reducing the number of 'market misses' that you incur, you will drastically cut your costs of doing business.
Work from home (or from beach, with a laptop and the proper connection equipment): To many people in today's hectic world, true success means escaping the 9-5 rat race, and spending more time at home with family, especially their children. But how to accomplish that and still make a decent income has been the source of many income opportunity inspirations. The Web provides the best possible answer, in terms of a means of implementing whatever business type you are interested in. If your company is a product oriented company, then you can truly operate from anywhere in the world, even mobile locations, and your client base will never be the wiser. If your business is service oriented, then a Virtual Storefront is still better than a physical location, in that you can market and conference with customers from anywhere, and still sell your services to people in either a restricted geographic location (if you wish to stick close to home), or a much larger national or international marketplace if you are not averse to travel and your fees can recoup or include the costs of the travel.
Do what you LOVE to do, instead of what you HAVE to do to survive: Large corporations must appeal to a large segment of the population, in order to generate a large enough volume of business to support the monolithic organism that is the corporation. As an independent small business owner, you are not tied to that necessity. You can find a niche market and meet a basic set of needs (in fact, you can often define the needs and wants of people in an area of interest you share, because you are by definition one of the demographic group members!) While the niche market won't support a large corporation, it most certainly can meet the needs of a small business owner, in terms of profitability. In this way, you can design your business to permit you to study, participate in, and serve the demographic group dedicated to a subject, activity, hobby, or special interest in which you are already very involved. In fact, if you don't identify this market niche and develop your own business from it, then you will likely become a customer of some other entrepreneur who identifies the niche and develops a set of products or services to meet your wants and needs!
Build the business large enough to afford quitting the '9-5' job: Another wonderful thing about a Web Business is that it can be operated on the side, in your spare time, until such time as it grows profitable enough to permit you to quit your 'day' job and dedicate yourself to it exclusively (notice I didn't say 'full-time' because maybe the whole point of this is that you don't want to work full-time!) Commerce on the Internet is EXPLODING. A few years ago, it was measured in millions of dollars, just in the US. Today, it is measured in billions in the US, and millions elsewhere in the world. Tomorrow, it will be measured in the trillions globally. The likelihood of your business growing large enough to support you and your family outside of a traditional corporate job is far greater on the Internet in the next ten years than any other sector of the economy. Don't miss out!
Work with family and friends: Never discount the benefits of operating a Home-Based business that allows you to work with your family and friends. Instead of going to work each day with people whose agendas, lifestyles, and wants are annoyingly dissimilar, you can build rapport with your family, enjoy the company of your friends, and generally experience a 'work' environment that is unlike anything you have ever known, if you have spent your life in the service of a corporation.
Do business globally: If you think of the awesome possibilities for doing business in this country, and then you multiply it (in some cases exponentially) by the possibilities of serving global customer needs, you can begin to understand the potential for business growth that the Internet has. As an added benefit, while many markets have stiff competition in the United States, consider that many markets in second and third world countries are either very young, or just beginning to mature, and that if you can position yourself to serve the growing class of newly educated workers in many of these rapidly developing nations, you will do so without facing anywhere near the level.
Network with people of similar interests and business types (for both personal enrichment as well as cross sales between customer bases).