It is a common question that many people have on their mind. And the answer is yes. The internet is nothing more than an extension of the real world business environment and economy. Is it going to be easy? The answer is no. Starting a business and making it a profitable enterprise is never easy. Some people get lucky with an innovative product or service and skyrocket within a short period of opening their business. But in most cases it is about patience, perseverance and innovation.
Finding an online job
Not everybody wants to start an online business though. Some people want to earn online in the form of a part time or full time job. Well, if you are looking for online employment then you better think again. It is available but the opportunities are few and far between unless you have unique skills that are in short supply. Working as a freelance writer is by far one of the most common employment opportunities, although you are more of a contractor than an employee.
But do not quit your day job just yet. There are literally millions of people looking for freelance writing work. Although writing jobs are plentiful, it is not always easy to secure a constant income through this route. You should rather look at getting in with an established media or web development agency that is looking for writers. Else you will live the freelancer’s credo – “life as a freelancer is either feast or famine”. Prepare for more famines than feast these days.
With the influx of highly skilled professionals from Asia who will work for a pittance just to secure an online employment opportunity, you will be hard pressed to earn a decent living in South African terms. But it is possible and there are many South Africans who have secured good full time online jobs with local and overseas companies. Naturally their unique skill set allowed them such opportunities.
Starting A Business Online
The size of the internet economy is substantial. Just how big is the internet economy? Well, according to World Wide Worx, the internet economy contributed some 2% to South Africa’s GDP in 2012 and this figure is set to rise to 2.5% by 2016. With the South African GDP being just short of $400 billion, this is some $8 billion generated through the online environment. South Africans are becoming much more comfortable with the internet, and shopping online is now much more widely trusted than it was 10 years ago.
So you can very much start an online business and be successful. But do not be fooled into thinking that it will be much easier than a real world business in a traditional brick and mortar office or shop. It is all about supply and demand. Do you have something to supply which is in demand? A product or service that people will want to buy online? If so, and if you have done your homework thoroughly, then you can make a success of your online business.
It takes the same formula as it does in the real world. And the most important factor is you, the entrepreneur. You have to be innovative, a risk taker, hard working , enthusiastic and somewhat of a visionary. You have to be prepared to do battle with the competition and survive the tough times (especially in the first year or two of your business). You will also need some degree of technical ability when dealing in the online environment although there are tons of service providers to assist you, at a price of course.
The biggest pitfall for most people who are looking at making money online is falling victim to scams. And the days of big earnings from systems like Google Adsense or affiliate marketing with very little effort is gone. Actually it never really existed as a long term sustainable business model. You will have to work hard to make your business work. If you are not prepared to work for it, or if you think that an online business is the get-rich-quick route for you then do not even get your hands into it.
The online consumer is much more aware and mature than his counterparts of yesteryear. So nobody is fooled by shoddy websites with question products. Or spam emails offering dirt cheap car insurance. You will probably spend more than you ultimately earn by starting a venture that has no chance of success.