Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Starting a Web-based Business, Part 1

Recently, I received a question about websites:

Naomi said,
I noticed that you have a good number of websites. I am trying to start a sewing business online and I was wondering, how much does it cost you and how do you get your a websites started?

I read this, and had to chuckle. Me? Know anything about websites and web businesses? Yeah right.

But an honest question deserves an honest answer, so here I go.

To begin with; yes, I have quite a few "websites," or other web presences. To sum it up briefly...too many:

~ 10 blogs (yes, ten. No, they aren't all public.)
~ 1 Online Thrift Store, Simply Modest
~ 1 Online Bookstore, Better Books

This blog, The Fruit of Her Hands, is my oldest one, and the one on which I am most active. In just a few days, it will be 3 years since I began blogging. Simply Modest has been running for several years, but I only became a co-owner of it in 2009. Better Books is fairly new, and I'm still working all the bugs out on that venture.

So you can see that my experience with web presence has been limited to the past three years, at the most. My time in web business has been a short year and a half or so.

That being said, I feel that I've learned several things very fast - many of them the hard way. If you, like Naomi, are considering a web-based business, perhaps I can save you some hard knocks by mentioning things I've learned in the past couple years. Keep in mind that this is all based on my own experience, and is by no means an exhaustive list of advice. If you are better grounded in this topic than me (and that wouldn't take much!) please leave additional suggestions - or corrections - in the comments section.

For the sake of time, let's forget about blogging in this discussion. Blogging can be a money-maker, but it blogging for income isn't an avenue I've chosen to pursue at this time, and we want to discuss business right now. Let's talk about home-run businesses that are mostly web-operated.

In other words, the kind of thing a stay-at-home daughter can do, to have an income and still be involved on a day-to-day basis with what's going on at home.

It sounds so inviting, doesn't it? Make money, still be a daughter who lives at home, earn an income from your hobby, and wala!

It's not that easy. Truly, I went into web business with no idea of the tremendous amount of work a successful business takes.

That would be my first piece of advice to the entrepreneur seeking to start a web business; take good thought to what you're getting into! Even Jesus said that nobody goes to war without counting the cost, numbering his soldiers, and determining if he has a chance to win.

By started a web business, you are, in affect, becoming self-employed. That isn't for every personality. Not everybody thrives when they are their own boss. Be honest with yourself; do you have self-discipline? A lot of it? Are you self-motivated? Do you pay attention to details? Can you manage money? Do you inspect your own work, and hold yourself to high levels of quality?

Beyond the question of personality and character traits, there's the issue of time. If you treat this like a part-time job, you'll earn part-time, minimum wages. Or less.

Many young ladies work from home because of conviction. They want to be under their father's authority, and they don't want to treat their home like a hotel/fast-food place combo. They aren't afraid of being out and about, doing things outside the home, but they don't want to leave their focus out there.

But they also want to earn an income - not to build a career centered around personal ambition, but to become a asset to their home, rather than a liability.

That's not to say a job-less girl is a liability. In a non-material way, a helpful, kind, loving daughter and sister is worth much more than her weight in gold. And, even in a financial context, a frugal girl can be saving her family much more than she costs it.

But an income is nice. It's great to be able to not only help cover your own expenses, but also give gifts to others. And how wonderful it is to be able to give to the Lord's work, and further God's kingdom with money you've earned yourself!

So go ahead, if you feel led of God to do so; try a home-based business.

But the world of supply and demand doesn't soften just to deal with young ladies who are trying to be the "Proverbs 31" woman. Few people are going to say "Aw, look - so sweet! She's working from home; let's help her business along." Some people will, but not many. You cannot depend on good intentions to carry a business. Your motivations mean nothing if they aren't backed up by sweat, and time. If you don't put work into this thing, it will fail.

So count the cost. Do you have time? And the determination to see this thing through?

End of point one.

Somehow, I feel a series beginning.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

Thanks for sharing those points that you've learned.
I can't wait for the part 2!