Do you imagine working from home or setting up your own business for an hour or two a day and earning twice as much as working in an office? Well, it doesn’t look like this, at least not always.
Some people have a well-developed, well-automated business, do not have excessive ambitions, and actually, work about 2 hours a day. However, the beginnings require more effort and self-motivation. If you are ambitious and have a strong will and determination, working from home can significantly reduce your working time or increase your results.
This type of work has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I will discuss them and show you the risks and opportunities. If you are thinking about starting an online business or if you already run one, be sure to read this article!
What is an online business?
For this article, by online business, I also mean total remote work without time restrictions. An online business is a set of activities thanks to which you earn money on the Internet by selling services or products. The best situation is when you can scale these earnings regardless of the time you spend on the business.
Some online businesses are more scalable than others. If your work is unique to each client (that is, you cannot do the work once and then sell it to different clients), the scalability of your business is limited. It requires your involvement. The exception is when you can train additional employees who will also perform the same work under your brand, using instructions and materials created by you.
If you conduct any consultation, the business depends on how much time you devote to this service. Let’s compare three different business models based on consulting
Consultations in person
You offer consultations in person at the client’s premises. Let’s say you can conduct 4-hour consultations a day, which you still have to travel to, so you spend 6 hours, not counting the time spent on preparation. You only get paid for this one meeting and you are limited to your area.
With the help of professional equipment (camera, software, sound system) you can conduct online consultations. Then there is no time for commuting, and it is possible to carry out even two consultations daily or reduce working hours.
The consultation time will also be shorter because the meeting is governed by its courtesy rules (greeting time, small talk, coffee, etc.), which are usually severely limited or even omitted during online consultations. In addition, you are not limited to a specific region anymore. You can provide your services not only throughout the country but even around the world.
You can close all your knowledge and consulting know-how in documents: instructions, procedures, and diagrams. Then, you can hire and train your staff to consult on your behalf and under your supervision and direction. You can employ five employees who will be consulting clients simultaneously. Even if they provide services in person, it will be an online job for you, at least in part.
You must prepare these people for consultations and be available to solve unusual problems that require your specialized knowledge and experience. In this way, the scalability of the business depends on the number of employees you will be able to manage; if they operate in different parts of the country, you may extend your company’s reach to a larger area.
A webinar or video course
You can also create a persona based on your experience – an imaginary person or company that would characterize your average (representative) customer. Then, record such consultations as a video (in the form of two hours-long webinars) and place it in your online store.
You worked (took the time to create it) once and can sell it multiple times. One day four people may buy it, and another ten. Digital products are evergreen products – you may sell them for a long time, even several years, and construct passive income (you earn money without taking any further action).
Scaling your online business
Creating a scalable business gives considerable opportunities. There are many ideas for products and services; you do not have to make a webinar or consultations. It can be an e-book, an online course, or a white-label product. Digital products have a high potential for scaling, but there is also scalability in industries that would seem unscalable: e.g., graphic design or software development.
It is enough for a specialist to create an offer of semi-dedicated products. That is a product template (application, graphics, website), which they can adapt to the customer’s needs faster than creating a new product. They may enter the client’s logotype and data and change colors or other elements. The price would be slightly lower than a dedicated product, and the working time reduced by more than half.
What takes time in online business and remote work?
Below you will find some of the main things that consume the most time in online business.
Legal and accounting issues
If you want to run an online business, you must have a website and a store where you will sell products. You need to manage a website, and WordPress plugins, choose the right hosting, know the basics of SEO and internet marketing, and constantly update your knowledge.
It is the most critical part of eCommerce. In online business, next to commercial products, it is worth creating free materials, such as a lead magnet for subscribing to a newsletter or articles on the blog that will position your website in search engines and create your expert brand. But text materials are not the only option. You can create graphics, video, or audio materials, too.
In addition to the substantive contribution of the content, you must also submit it. An e-book requires graphic processing and creating a PDF or epub/Mobi format if you plan to make it available for e-readers. When creating a video, you need to invest money (if you outsource) or time (if you do it yourself) in editing the material and preparing graphic materials and descriptions.
White-label products also need appealing cover and marketing materials. You just have to take the time to make the product look good, above all commercial materials.
It usually takes up the most time in an online business. Ensuring that customers reach you and use your products is critical. It is how you get customers, so you must invest your time, money, and energy in effective marketing.
When a customer buys your product, you have to deliver it. If you sell physical products, you need to store them somewhere, but logistics apply to digital products, too. You can do it yourself or delegate it but keep control of the process. The first impression is crucial, so double-check that the customer attractively receives the ordered product.
Developing online business
When you start an online business, it often takes the form of a hybrid with your other activity. You work full-time and create an eCommerce business after hours, devoting 1-2 hours daily. As your online business grows, you find that during these two hours you can earn almost as much as working full-time.
Then you move on to developing your business seriously. It is the moment to consider what could you improve. Analyze what you spend your working time on and, according to the Pareto principle, find 20% of activities that generate 80% of your income. Delete, limit or delegate the rest. How can you streamline your operations to develop an effective, scalable eCommerce business?
Thanks to delegating tasks, you can spend time creating substantive materials because it is your core activity. For this, you can give away other things that take up your time, i.e., legal, accounting, technology, material composition, marketing, and logistics. Other people can deal with these things while you develop your business.
Investing and managing your finances
At the beginning of running an online business, you don’t have much money to invest, so you prefer to invest your time rather than cash. When the business grows, try to invest the money earned back into the business.
A novice should therefore make a website using free solutions and plugins, but alongside the development of the business, you should value your time more and invest in premium solutions that allow for more automation.
It is good practice to set yourself a fixed monthly salary. At the beginning of the business, you will earn less than this appointed salary, but as company income increases, pay yourself only this salary. Leave the remaining funds in the business account and spend on investments in the business and new materials, new products, conquering new markets and industries, and increasing automation.
Create a financial cushion that will allow you to pay your salary to yourself and maintain business stability in worse times.
Online business has many advantages over working in the office. Not having to commute saves you an hour or two a day, but eCommerce has more significant advantages. The ability to sell and provide services online makes you significantly expand the area of your business. You can sell nationwide or even worldwide.
You can scale your business, i.e., automate and delegate activities and create digital products that sell themselves without your further intervention. Meanwhile, you can focus on improving automation, delegation, scaling, and developing your business.
It is up to you whether you want to work two hours daily or you are more attracted to developing your business, increasing its scale, and earning more.
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