Yes. They can be.
If the foundations are set up properly, with a mixture of good intention, a willingness to serve from your true self, and to keep adapting, then online businesses can be hugely successful and sustainable.
It’s no wonder that online marketing has recently become such a buzz-word both on and off the web.
I have begun my journey into the online business world. It’s been hugely interesting comparing it to all the other employment I’ve had over the years and to challenge my preconceptions of business in general.
For starters, I’ve always been an employee. I’ve never worked for myself. The idea of being my own boss had never crossed my mind, at least not in the corporate or conventional sense.
I’ve actually spent most of my adult life either training in vocational skills, travelling, or working in volunteer positions. These activities are an even bigger sideways jump from regular employment.
Don’t get me wrong, being an employee is not a bad thing. It’s usually pretty simple; you have a set amount of work to do, you do it, and then you get paid. You don’t have to organise, strategies or build any of the products or services which the company you work for is selling.
When you work for someone else, you are not solely responsible for the company, and when you go home you can leave work at work.
If you’re not a natural high achiever or human power-house then you’re probably more comfortable with this set up. You’ll have demands, like any job, but it makes sense that it’s much less demanding than being the boss.
Although in this situation, with little or no creative control or say in how the company evolves, having to follow orders, and do work that maybe you don’t believe in, you can quickly become frustrated.
You would probably end up wasting your talents which could have serve a different and more noble cause.
Plus, if the company goes under, you lose your job. There isn’t total security in being an employee.
So, it can be inviting to start your own business, especially from home, and to make it reflect you and your skills, passions or interests. You have that control aspect.
However, the notion of setting up your own business can also be a scary one. Growing up, my understand of business was that it was hard work. Very hard work.
My parents took over a family business from my Grandfather and as beautiful as my childhood was, I still have memories filled with them working long hours, being stressed, and having phone calls well into the evening.
It wasn’t all bad, they were very proud of the work they did, and rightly so. They achieved amazing things, but at the expense of a lot of their time, money and energy.
The idea of starting my own version of that did not really inspire me. But for a while I thought it would be a shame not to take over the business which had been in my family for several generations.
My parents never wanted me or my sister to join the company, knowing our dreams and aspirations lay elsewhere. As time went on it was clear I would not have survived even if I had been suited to the traditional and conventional ways of the world.
They are no longer working in that same environment, and I have to say I am glad for them.
Sadly though, I have worked in many jobs which I’ve had absolutely no interest in. Earning money or having a career was never at the top of my to do list.
I realised a long time ago that making money or having a career was never going to be at the top of my to-do list.
My head and heart agreed that my priorities should reflect my core values, and so I’ve been brave enough to not take action out of fear, but rather follow my gut and do work, even as a volunteer, that focusses on my passions and interests.
This has been hard to do at times, especially when I’ve had no income or any future point in sight when I will have an income. Up until now following my heart and not selling out has been the right thing to do, but I haven’t made it any more sustainable than any other work or lifestyle I’ve had before.
It seems to be an issue which has a lot of momentum for change behind it these days. People are challenging the system; more and more people are deciding to be self-employed and more and more entrepreneurs are becoming hugely successful.
This can clearly be seen in the digital space. For example, if you’ve ever used YouTube, especially in the last 5 to 10 years, you’ve probably noticed many normal everyday people building their own YouTube Channels.
They gather hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers, and it becomes a thriving business. As long as there is the internet and there is YouTube (neither of which seem to be disappearing any time soon) then these popular channels will stay popular and be sustainable.
Sounds pretty straight forward, but it’s not for everyone. Luckily, this is not the only platform to leverage on the internet. There are many more spaces on the web to work with when building an online business, but learning how to use them is key.
And I definitely needed help in finding that key. I mentioned above that I have started my journey into online business, and I have to say, I’ve never done anything quite like it.
It feels different.
So much of the control is mine, and yet it’s not scary or overwhelming.
I’ve joined an educational program called the SFM which has taught me how to build my own business and then leverage the internet through it with a number of digital and marketing skills.
Speaking about them on this platform, my website, is my opportunity to pass on what I have learnt and gained from them, to others.
I choose to recommend them as what they offer is truly amazing and anyone, honestly, anyone can learn what I’ve learnt and turn their lives around.
Through this training I have changed my mindset and how I view business completely. Because having marketing or digital skills is not enough; you have to know and understand why you are creating an online business, this is what will sustain you.
I have taken this on board, and now my business serves me and I can clearly see its potential. This has been a very steep learning curve for me, and I had my own levels of scepticism about it.
Online marketing was completely new to me, so of course I was nervous before I started, I’m human. SFM understands this, and they deliver as much points of contact with real people in the system as possible to help their members feel safe in this relatively new market space.
I would not have been able to do this alone, at least not in a way connected to my best self, or in any sustainable way. So the support has been invaluable for me. They are there day and night to make sure you understand and implement the training.
Now that I have these skills, and as long as the internet is here, I have a job and income. If you’ve noticed adverts for online business or online marketing programs already, you may feel like the internet has become saturated with people fighting for space in this line of work.
But it’s not like that at all.
There is so much diversity online that if you set up a business today, you won’t be competing for the spot light.
Just think of how many millions of people use the internet every day, all looking for different things. Many people could be looking for exactly what you want to provide, but it’s not available to them because you haven’t created it yet!
I’ve found confidence in knowing I bring diversity and uniqueness to the table, and knowing that I have real value that the world needs, both on and off line.
I’m not worried about other online marketers with similar messages to mine; they are not me, and I am not them. So, what I offer will be different, with its own space. And in this way, my online business will be sustainable.
My life away from the internet is still my priority. I spend most of my time outside or working on other projects, and yet my business never sleeps. I monitor and develop it, but I never need to be chained to it. I make it work for me, how I need it to.
Taking advantage of the internet and this opportunity is the best professional decision I’ve ever made.