4 Advantages of Starting a Business Online
There are many benefits to starting an online business, especially when you consider the hassles of start-up and operation at brick-and-mortar locations. Mobility, lower start-up cost, lower overhead, and accessibility are just four of the many advantages (Durant, 2017).
First on the list, mobility, is perhaps one of the most attractive features of internet business ownership. Rather than being stuck at a single place for hours on end in order to operate, your business can be conducted from anywhere that has a connection to the internet! This is a plus if you would like to travel without it interfering with management and operation. Even if you plan to move, you do not have to worry about the hassle of relocating your business (Durant, 2017). It can be as mobile as you are. You may find this quite liberating and empowering.
The start-up cost of an internet business can be significantly lower than that of physical business locations. Securing a storefront, decorating, getting equipment, having signage and displays made, etc., can cause start-up costs to skyrocket. In contrast to physical businesses, your main up-front costs in starting an online business is buying a domain name and creating a website. You can even use free website service to help design and build your site (Durant, 2017). If you want to sell products, you can avoid putting tens of thousands of dollars into start-up costs for a physical retail location and test out your store ideas at a much lower cost using ecommerce (Wang, 2016).
Without having to pay expenses such as utilities, rent, and store upkeep for a physical building, the overhead of an online business can be kept quite low. A physical retail store could cost you near $10,886 in monthly expenses, while a custom ecommerce site costs near $6,000 (Wang, 2016). Hosting is one main expenses in running an online business. The good news is that your monthly hosting bill can be kept quite low for a new business. Credit card payment processing and automatic booking are among the third-party services you might employ that contribute to overhead (Durant, 2017). An internet business allows you to make changes to its design easily and quickly, without the costs associated with remodelling or upgrading an actual building.
Lastly, accessibility is a huge benefit to having an online business. Customers can find and visit your business at any time because they do so via websites. Websites do not require the presence of a constant human staff in the same ways that brick-and-mortar businesses do. Your store can be open 24 hours, 7 days a week without having to pay the high costs of wages, taxes, benefits, or other expenses involved in hiring employees (Durant, 2017). Depending on the quality of staff you hire, you could be looking at up to $100,000 annually in staffing costs to operate a physical business that is open 7 days per week, for an average of 10 hours per day (Fox, 2011). The constant availability of websites allows customers to access your business even if they work extremely late or early hours. All they need is an internet connection to visit or shop at your business, and these days most of us are taking the internet with us wherever we go, with access on various mobile devices. You can also access and make changes to your website while on the go. No physical location can compete with this degree of convenience and ease of making modifications.
Hosting for Your Website
As mentioned earlier, hosting is one the key elements in starting an online business. For your online store, ecommerce shop hosting providers can handle marketing, payments, secure checkout, and shipping processes for a monthly fee. Still, knowing what hosting is and why you need it can help you shop for it. The content on your website is kept on a server, and the company that owns the server is the hosting provider, or simply a host. Hosting providers sell server space and other services related to running a website for your business. Several companies offer hosting packages, and there are different types of hosting. You must consider your needs in choosing from the best available server and host options. Hosting providers often offer varying degrees of server management, but unmanaged servers are also available for sale (Stevens, 2016). There are four categories of web hosting: Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud. In shared hosting, multiple websites are using the same server.
Shared hosting costs the least of the four types, and may be best for beginner websites, or for anyone on a tight budget. A shared hosting package is also a good option for test sites, or any site that does not receive heavy traffic regularly (such as 100k visits monthly). Those are the pros to using a shared host provider. Now here are the cons: the bad neighbour effect. Because of having several users (maybe hundreds) on the same server, a few users can drain most the server’s resources, and cause all the other sites to run slowly or even go down temporarily. These disruptions are unpredictable to the users (Stevens, 2016). Providers that offer shared hosting include Blue Host and ipage.
Virtual Private Server hosting, or VPS hosting service, is more powerful than shared hosting, because sharing is limited to about 10 to 20 users. In addition to having fewer users on the same server, VPS hosting also uses a hypervisor. The hypervisor manages the distribution of server resources and almost eliminates the notorious bad neighbour effect (Stevens, 2016). Blue Host is also among the VPS service providers.
Cloud hosting is similar to VPS. In fact, the names are sometimes used interchangeably. Cloud hosting, however, is more scalable than traditional VPS. You are allowed to use multiple servers within a network, and your site may be more secure using cloud hosting than with a single-server option.
With dedicated server hosting, your website is the only one on a single server. No sharing means the bad neighbour effect is eliminated. If your website gets over 100k visits monthly, then you need a dedicated server. Although dedicated servers offer lots of flexibility, you need to know more about computers and server technology than you would with the shared or VPS hosting options. Although there are managed dedicated server options, the user still must do more of the work on his (or her) own. Therefore, you need a server administrator if you are not quite savvy. In addition to flexibility, dedicated server hosting offers more control. You can run lots of applications with single purposes and get your website running fast. However, hardware failure can be an issue with dedicated server hosting. When RAM fails in other types of hosting, other memory modules automatically take over. You may have to wait a longer time with a dedicated server, especially if you are doing all the monitoring on your own (Stevens, 2016).
Starting an online business has many benefits. The mobility and accessibility of internet stores are unmatched by brick and mortar locations. Also, start-up cost and overhead can be significantly lower because many of the expenses involved in opening a business at a physical location simply do not apply in an online store situation. Hosting for your website is among the up-front costs in starting an online business. There are different types of hosting and several providers offer different hosting packages to serve your internet business needs. Shared hosting is good for beginners, but as traffic increases, you may want to upgrade to VPS hosting. Cloud hosting is like an upgraded version of VPS hosting. At over 100,000 visitors per month, or if your security needs warrant it, you may need a dedicated server for your website.