Starting a home-based internet business is easy and the overhead costs involved is nothing compared to a traditional brick-and–mortar business. We have a worldwide audience, and there’s the fun of being able to work from the comforts of our home. While the internet provides a level playing for all aspiring home-based entrepreneurs to try carving one’s niche in the online business world, and there’s no entry barrier as such, it is an indisputable fact that the success rate in this industry is extremely low. More than 90 percent of all internet business start-ups fold up within the first four months itself, and if one is not prepared for the grind required, it is a foregone conclusion that there will be a failure soon down the line. So what are the challenges involved?
#1: Requires you to be tech-savvy and have computer knowledge
You are expected to know a bit about the workings of the computer and the internet. For a technologically-challenged and computer-illiterate person, it will be difficult, if not possible to even start building a website. Yes, you need a website for your business front and you need to know how to browse the internet, upload photos, and have some degree of social presence online. You might not be required to know HTML or other web tools but at least you need to be able to explore the internet for your resources. You need to understand how the internet marketing works and how to promote your business online. If you are inadequate in any of these, it will be very difficult to survive in the highly-competitive digital market. You can always outsource your work to an experienced web developer to create your website and to freelance writers for your content, and with easy platforms like WordPress, you could create a website in a matter of a few minutes. However, you will be required to complete certain basic tasks like uploading a content, downloading or installing a plugin, etc.
#2: Choosing a niche that is profitable
We start an online business to market a particular expertise of our own, a talent or an activity. The idea is to monetise our interest or hobby – earning by doing what we love doing. However, pick up any niche and the chances are that there are already thousands of businesses already established. We have to honestly assess our abilities and be watchful of the market trends and the buying behaviour of people in the niche we want to start our business. To a beginner, it is not easy to pick the right niche as sometimes having a passion is not enough. You need to have a good knowledge of the online market before deciding on a niche. Do you truly believe you have the knowledge required to establish an authority in the field? Is the niche really profitable? Most people fail to select their perfect niche. There are some businesses that work nicely online while in some, it is extremely difficult to do well.
#3: Slow start
Most online businesses take time to grow and succeed. The start is painfully slow, and things can get rough in the beginning. Most people do not make a single cent until the end of the first year. The initial period is tough and many people do not survive the grind. Only the toughest survive and we need to constantly remind ourselves that we are here for the long haul.
#4: Lack of good learning avenues
There are many sites that claim to provide the perfect platform for learning how to build up a successful online business. But these are mostly claims at best and ways to dupe the gullible people into a get-rich-easy dream. There are not many reputed platforms that teach the ways to start an online business. Picking out the good ones from the scam sites isn’t easy for a newcomer. Building up an online business is a long, tedious process and we need to take one step at a time and not to rush into things. It will be difficult to create a business on our own in isolation. We need a good learning platform, preferably supported by an online community to learn everything.
ALSO READ: “Start A Home-Based Online Business Today”.
#5: Challenges in developing a business relationship
The anonymity provided by the internet might be helpful in improving our creativity but at the same time, it is difficult to maintain a personal, one-to-one relationship with our customers. Despite the advantage of being able to cater to a worldwide audience, it is difficult to establish a personal connection or talk to our customers directly. Since we are faceless to one another, and with so many scams happening in the internet space, building up trust is not easy.
#6: Copyright issues and building up business clones
The internet is fraught with copyright issues. Here, people copy each other’s success formula and clones businesses with the same product line or services. When a business is proven to be successful, it is likely that it is copied everywhere and there will be many similar businesses running. In some instances, the clones do better than the original itself! Hence, once you have a website up and running with good content driving a significant traffic, even your articles could be copied. People now steal business ideas and even the content from successful websites and present them as their own. The laxity in the cyber laws are exploited to the hilt by people.
#7: Choosing a good hosting company
The host server on which we launch our website or a blog is crucial from not only the technical perspective but it is important for our business as well. This is one area in our online journey which is largely ignored. The loading speed of our website depends on the host servers, and if they are slow, people mostly do not like slow sites. A sluggish load speed is a precursor for a bad user experience. Moreover, all technical glitches are resolved through the technical support of your hosting company. But if no support is extended for a random issue in your website and if you left on your own to sort it out yourself, it might affect your rankings and you might end up losing your customers.
#8: Vulnerability to spam attacks
When you open up a business store in the internet space, you are most vulnerable to spams in the form of e-mails or comments on your site. We usually give out our e-mail IDs on our website for our legitimate customers to contact us. We also include e-mails in our forms. This becomes an open invitation to spam e-mails, and many a time, website owners have to tackle these spams which they receive on their site.
#9: Security Issues
One of the biggest challenges faced by an online entrepreneur, specially those with e-commerce websites, is the issue of security. In an online business, we have to deal with a lot of customer information and online payments. You have to host your website on trusted servers and invest on providing full protection for your customers. This is extremely important because you cannot afford to lose people’s confidence in your business because of security issues. A small security breach could actually break your business. If you do not keep up with the security measures and keep your website updated, you are at the risk of your own as well as your customers’ information being stolen.
#10: Creating good quality content consistently
The blog is the engine of your website and is one area of your site that keeps on growing. It needs to be fed with valuable content all the time, and in most businesses you need to post 2-3 articles in a week. But creating sales copies that frequently is a challenge and not everybody is adept at creating relevant and engaging posts all the time. Posting relevant content is one way at gaining authority and to drive huge traffic to your site. You are going to do your business with this traffic. Regular relevant posts on your website bring in traffic and hence an increase in the possibility of business conversion. Sporadic posts between long intervals is bad for traffic.
#11: Malware and hacking problems
Running a website is open to hackings and malware from unknown sources. The risk is omnipresent. There’s the risk of all your information on your website being erased by online miscreants through hacking. You also run the risk of malware infection, the consequence of which could be your site getting blocked by search engines like Google during searches. It can even lead to your website getting crashed. Now that’s bad, isn’t it? You have to address these hacking and malware issues on priority. You might need to change your website login password frequently.
#12: Marketing and getting visibility
Marketing and getting visibility are challenges that all businesses face, whether offline or online. It is more daunting when you are marketing online. Having a website does not mean getting hordes of customers automatically. You have to create your own traffic first by getting your pages ranked in Google and other search engines. But getting ranked also does not ensure good business conversion, and you need to promote your business to your audience. Your website needs to have better visibility. And ‘visibility’ here means connecting with the right audience. You could promote it via the many social media channels but that is easier said than done.
You could be easily overwhelmed with many questions. How do we define our audience? How do we create the content? How do we connect with our audience? How do we make them follow the call-to-action on our site? How do we retain our customers? How do we manage to grow a following? These are all big marketing challenges for a beginner.
Having our own home-based internet business is an exciting prospect. It’s always easy to start one. The challenge is in maintaining it and continuing to be successful at it. The internet is a constantly changing landscape and one has to remain alert to the changes taking place in both the online and offline space. People’s buying behaviour is different in the digital space – they are more wary and impatient. It takes a lot of hard work and patience to succeed in an online business unlike the general misconception that it is an easy fare. It takes time to establish one’s brand, and hence when you are entering the online business world, be prepared to wait. Internet business is like any other business – there’s no substitute for hard work and there are no short-cuts to success. It’s no get-rich-quick formula.