There are two types of online entrepreneurs when it comes to the way they choose to start a business: the ones relying on networks of friends or partners who light the path and the ones starting on their own.
Regardless of the way they took their first steps in the online business environment, one thing stands out as a common feature: they all took action and kept going.
Now, on their path they all come across various myths that may or may not hinder their growth. Everyone is free to interpret things in their own way, but in some cases it's better to lift the cloud of preconceptions so you can see the reality.
These myths have been debunked by well-established entrepreneurs who have concluded, after many trial and error attempts, that theory doesn't always go hand in hand with practice.
Debunking 5 myths about being an online entrepreneur
In a previous blog we’ve covered a few myths referring to being an entrepreneur in general. Those myths apply to the online context as well, but in this post we’ll focus on myths referring specifically to being an online knowledge entrepreneur.
Anyone can be an online entrepreneur
The Internet is an open gate to a whole world full of business possibilities which technically addresses everyone who wants to be an online entrepreneur. Practically, though, you need more than just wanting to be one.
Starting a business requires of you a lot of grit, perseverance, agility, a thorough understanding of how the online world works, as well as other skills, like being able to adapt to your customers' needs, to create an online community, to find your own niche, and much more, to be successful.
These skills can be learned, but mastering them doesn’t always equal success. Many online entrepreneurs fail. For instance, Reid Hoffman created SocialNet, an online dating and social networking site, which wasn't a success, but then went on to co-found LinkedIn and invest in big names like PayPal and Airbnb.
It is said that to achieve greatness you have to meet failure. This is what happened to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, one of the biggest success stories of the online market. But success came after some failed attempts and recycled ideas.
Some studies have shown that up to 90% of online businesses fail in the first few months. This means that even though theoretically anyone can be an online entrepreneur, not everyone can remain in the successful 10%.
You have to do everything
There is a common belief that doing business online implies a one man's job. Yes, it's true: you can tackle most of the challenges of the online, but you cannot expect to be able to do everything on your own and also grow as a business and as an entrepreneur.
To make sure you use your time productively, dedicating yourself to promoting your knowledge and realizing your vision, you should reach others' help. It doesn't have to be a specialized company in the field, you can always work with freelancers and that may even cost you less.
Online means free
The internet is a pool of tools and resources that can help you get things started and manage your online business, and some are indeed free, or cost very little. This doesn’t mean, however, that having a business online is really free.
There are various costs to most of what you need to do, either in the time invested or in the actual money to be paid. The tools, the people that help you in one way or another, full-time or part-time employees or freelancers will require some investments.
This should not come as a surprise since you cannot do all the work and evolve as an entrepreneur and grow as a business. Weigh your options carefully and choose the best cost-quality ratio.
A big budget for online promotion is paramount for success
The belief according to which you have to put a lot of money into promoting your products in order to succeed is not entirely wrong. You do need to nurture the advertising part of promoting your business but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should break the bank.
Read more: Promoting your online course through online ads: What are your options?
Social media marketing is one of the best ways to market your products online, but it has its limits. So if you want more, you have to invest more. Also, with the range of options on the market it's a pity to stick to one alternative.
Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket, because online promotion is just one avenue of making your business known. Email marketing is also a way to reach potential customers without spending too much time or money on it.
Other marketing options could be SEO, creating a community, reaching out to influencers, offering free content, being present in all ways possible and on all platforms.
Read more: Leveraging online communities to promote your course
Automate! Automate everything!
The online world allows you to optimize your work by automating a lot of things like subscriber emails, offers, discounts, surveys, etc. But businesses are run by people for people.
You can’t fully automate your social media presence, for example; nor your customer support; nor your outreach emails, receipts, promotions, returns. These have to include a personalized approach to suit individual buyers.
As an entrepreneur you will have to make some choices and discover what suits you and your business. Whatever you choose, try to be authentic and involved in your own business and don’t let the above myths about being an online entrepreneur get to you. Instead, always remember the following:
- Make investments only if they are worth it.
- Don't be afraid to fail because you can achieve greatness from it.
- What worked or didn't work for some doesn't necessarily apply to you.
- Don't try to do everything and know everything.
- Keep going and you'll find the solution to whatever problem you may encounter — even if that means ending a chapter, you can always begin a new one.
And while you are at it, enjoy the process! Every step you take is essential for your becoming.