Step 1: First things first – should I set up an online business?

So you want to set-up an online business. Well done you! But wait. Why? What gives?

People think about setting up a new online business as a means to change their life. A big change. A new start. Sticking up two fingers to the man. Independence. Work from home. But setting up and running a successful business can be hard. HARD. Really, really hard. Why so? It takes time. A whole lot of patience and time. To do it, to do it, to do it right (so said George Harrison). (According to Shopify, you can actually create your online store in just 60 seconds but I haven’t timed it!)

So bearing this in mind, it might be an idea to have a think about what you want to get out of establishing a business. Is it for the lolz? The bragging rights? Big cigars? Flash cars? Or is it something more profound or long term? Is this your ticket to life long independence? Being your own boss? Exploring work from home ideas might just give you what you need.

Have you got what it takes to run a business?

It’s often said that entrepreneurs are born, not made. Not so. But you do need to be 100% honest with yourself when looking at what’s needed to follow through with the everyday tasks and challenges of running a business.

For example, do you procrastinate when faced with a tricky task? Do you waver when faced with a tough problem – and put off making a decision? We all do from time to time, but when it comes to working with suppliers, customers, or – gulp – the tax man (absolutely not recommended), you’d be wise to ditch that delay.

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Timing is everything

Everyone dreams of quitting their day job to set up their own business. But unless you’ve got a big wad of cash to lean on, that’s unlikely to happen. The reality is that most folk start with small business ideas – usually working from home at night while holding down a day job – and then they build it up from there.

You’ll also need to have a think about how much you’ll need to earn before giving up the day job (that steady, regularly paying, reliable day job). But how much is ‘enough’? Will your idea to sell specialist fat-free snacks to health conscious console gamers (nice idea eh?) really make enough during the first few months so that you can give up that dull (but salaried) 9 to 5 day job? What’s enough for you to feel comfortable that you can survive and pay rent or the mortgage – and then eventually grow the business into something more substantial?

With all this in mind, you’ve got to be thinking about every possible angle – your personality, your personal life, your bank balance and attitude to money, your determination to set up the business (and push on through to actually launching it) and then grow it into something worthwhile, your ability to cope with competition…the list goes on.

There’s lots to think about. But if that doesn’t put you off, read about the common barriers to starting an online business.