Posted on Feb 13, 2018

5 Myths and 5 Truths About Starting an Online Business

Thousands of online businesses will appear in 2018, especially with how easy it’s becoming to build an e-commerce website or regular business website. But unfortunately, there’s a lot of inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information currently available on the web regarding what it takes to start an online business.

To help you get off on the right foot as you start your online business in 2018, here are some debunked myths and some truths to remember.  



1. An Upfront Financial Investment Isn’t Required

If you find a web hosting service and website builder that are affordable, or even free in some cases, you may not have large upfront costs. But if you want people to know about your online business, attract them to your website, and persuade them to buy from you, you’ll need to financially invest in things like:

  • Online marketing and advertising
  • Content development and distribution
  • Materials, time, and services needed for developing, creating, and delivering your products or services
  • Tools, software, services, equipment, or physical space you’ll need to use
  • Operational costs for physical locations
  • Overhead costs for employees, contractors, or freelancers

2. It Doesn’t Require a Lot of Your Time

A lot of individuals who are interested in starting an online business think their passions and ideas are enough to make them successful. Unfortunately, they’re not. You’ll need to take a lot of time to learn things you don’t already know if you want your online business to be successful, unless you have a lot of capital that’s readily accessible to hire an entire staff of employees.

For example, someone who is great at designing unique picture frames from custom materials may not be that great at business accounting or e-mail marketing. So, they would either need to hire someone who is good at accounting and e-mail marketing, or take the time to learn the ins and outs of those business functions if they want to be successful.

3. You Don’t Need a Business Plan or Strategy

According to Investopedia, most businesses fail because they don’t have a solid business plan. While you don’t necessarily need a 20-page detailed document outlining your mission statement and quarterly projections right away, you still need to have a plan and be prepared. You’ll want to consider:

  • Processes, procedures, and timelines you’ll follow
  • Products and services you’re going to offer
  • Monthly income goals and prices for your products and services
  • Monthly expenditures and what you need to spend money on (see myth #1 above)
  • Marketing initiatives and plans
  • Cybersecurity, customer support, and quality assurance strategies
  • Any legal requirements you’ll need to follow

You’ll want to create a business plan so that you’ll clearly be able to outline realistic goals and expectations for your online business. You also want to make sure there’s a market for what you’re selling and that you’re not under- or over-valuing what you’re trying to sell.

4. You Don’t Need a Marketing Strategy

New businesses that don’t investigate their market and have a weak online presence are also more likely to fail (Investopedia). If you want people to find out about your new online business, you need to find them and market to them, whether it’s on social media, online ads, etc. Come up with a plan that details who your target market is, how you’re going to reach them, and what type of content they engage with the most.

5. Starting an Online Business All by Yourself is Too Hard

Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there you can rely on as you start an online business in 2018. There are website hosting platforms and website builders that make creating an online business website easier than ever before.

There are also platforms that let you automate your marketing emails and social media posts (e.g. MailChimp, Constant Contact, Hootsuite, Buffer), and easy-to-use software for accounting (e.g. Wave and QuickBooks). It’s also easier than ever before to find talent you can outsource for things like content creation and web design.

Everything you need to start your online business is easier to find nowadays, and the right automated software and services help a lot too, as you won’t have to manually perform all the business functions yourself.



1. You Don’t Have to Make Money Immediately to Be Successful

Did you know that Amazon didn’t turn a real profit until 2003, even though it was founded in 1994 and reached over $140 million in sales in its first few years of operation (Inc.)? This is where passion is important when it comes to starting an online business—you’ll need to stick it out and keep working to reach your target market. You may not see a high return on investment immediately, but if people are learning about your business and buying from you, you’re most likely headed in the right direction.

2. Customer Service and User Experience are Everything

A bad online reputation has the potential to spread like wildfire due to social media outlets and review sites. Be sure to have a customer service plan in place, so you know the best ways to respond to customer complaints and inquiries.

In addition, use customer feedback to continue to improve your products and offerings to build a positive reputation. And, make sure your website is easy to view and navigate from a mobile device. Otherwise, users will leave your site before they can even learn about what you do or offer.

3. Security and Trust are More Important Now than Ever Before

With the growing number of hacks, data leaks, and data breaches, online users are starting to be distrustful of online businesses that don’t display security certificates or have a privacy policy. This is especially the case for e-commerce businesses that collect payment and shipping information from their customers. In 2018, be sure that no data about your customers is compromised, and inform them of how you intend to keep their data and information secure.

4. Being Agile and Using Data and Analytics is Important

According to a seminal article published by The Economist in 2017, oil is no longer the world’s most valuable resource—data is. What does this mean for your new online business? It means that regardless of how small your online business is, you’ll need to collect and analyze data about users who frequent your website, customers’ purchasing habits, and more. Otherwise, you will fall behind your online competition.

Collecting and analyzing data on a regular basis will also allow you to start an online business that’s agile and able to adapt and pivot when industry trends and online markets change. With the expedient way technology is created and content is consumed nowadays, agility based on real data about your audience is the best way to propel your online business forward.

5. Sharing the Right Content for Your Business is Critical

Knowing your online target audience, what they care about, and where they are online is critical when starting an online business in 2018. If you want your online business to stand out from all the online clutter, you must create content that is helpful, informative, engaging, relevant, and optimized for search engines.

As you start your online business in 2018, be sure to keep the above myths and truths in mind so you can be successful.


Feature Image: Pixabay