Online Business: Quick Buck or Real Opportunity?

If you have been using the Internet for sometime, you’ve probably already seen all those ads and websites offering online business opportunities. You’ve also probably wondered if they’re genuine or at least remotely possible, since there’s so many of them. One or two keywords regarding a particular online business and you get a million hits, even more. So are online businesses for real or just a temporary thing designed to make you or that person behind the ad a quick buck?

What makes an online business?

An online business is essentially a commercial venture set up and operated online. It may or may not include a brick-and-mortar aspect and the whole operation may be run by a single individual. It may or may not offer a tangible product. Some online businesses, for example, deal mainly with selling electronic data while others offer physical or tangible merchandise.

An online business generally allows electronic business transactions, with communications performed through e-mail exchanges and billing and payments handled through electronic processing. Transactions tend to be fast, easy to complete and convenient, often eliminating unnecessary paperwork that is so prevalent in more traditional offline businesses.

Why go for an online business?

It’s a worldwide trend that doesn’t show any signs of going away soon. It has also grown into a billion-dollar industry in just a span of a few years. Very few industries have been able to duplicate this kind of feat.

It also makes possible low-cost startups, allowing the small guys to compete with the big guys in a much level playing field. And the increase in the diversity of the products and services don’t hurt, either. These days, we now have access to merchandise and services at a high quality but more reasonable cost.

Furthermore, for many businesses, the online market is largely an untapped market, with plenty of potential. How else can you sell your products to a young woman in Calcutta and a married couple in Scotland simultaneously? Even television couldn’t do that.

What types of online businesses are out there?

There is a range of online businesses you can participate in, depending on the industry you have the skills and training for. Some businesses require certifications and special training, such as those involving financial services, computer programming, consultancy and even virtual assistance.

There are also online businesses you can penetrate without the need for complying with certain requirements. Data entry and paid survey businesses, for example, don’t require a college education, a certification in C++ programming or several years of experience in financial management. You simply have to be able to participate, follow a set of instructions and enter data.

Paid surveys, for example, offer easy earning potential. Participants simply sign up for surveys in industries or categories they are interested in, complete electronic survey forms, send them back and collect their pay. There are several online businesses such as these that offer this easy and fast method of earning extra income.

Of course, there are also online businesses that you can start yourself. Start-up costs are low since you can run the whole enterprise online, keeping overhead expenses to a minimum. From your own website, you can sell merchandise or promote your services, earn money from advertising or participate in an affiliate program.

What’s the income potential of online businesses?

Virtually limitless. It can go from letting you earn $400 a year to $80,000 in just a few months. That really depends on several factors: the type of product or service you’re selling, the type of market buying from you, the current trends prevalent in your industry, the buying preferences of your market, the sustainability of your market and your competition.

With some hard work, focus and the ability to be in the right place at the right time, you could even turn your online business into a big enterprise. Medical Solutions International of Tempe, Arizona, for example, grew from a small online placement service for nurses to an $11 million enterprise by 2006.

Online business: the ugly side

Beware of the good thing because there could be a nasty side lurking behind it. Although its proponents are getting more careful and restrictive about its security and quality, online businesses still carry the potential for risk. Some of these risks are downright dangerous. Some online business opportunities, for example, can be a notorious haven for scammers and online thieves. It’s really up to you, the prospective online business owner, to determine which offers constitute real opportunities and which ones are just someone’s idea of a way to make a quick buck.

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