Working online vs having an online business

I want to tell you what you will not find here, and anywhere in my blog. You will not find how to work online. I am not considering working online. I have worked online for many years and this is not what I’m looking for now. I’m going to talk about creating a business online. You wonder, what is the difference?

Working online

Working online is, basically, like having any other job. Say, like digging dirt, or painting fences. Baking bread. Making furniture. Designing buildings. Working with your hands and/or brains, in exchange for money. Just behind your computer.

A few example of how you can earn money online by working:

  • Making physical products and selling them online. Like, making leather or felt wallets, bags, jewelry, cutlery, etc. I wouldn’t even call it “working online” per se, I am listing it here only because it gets confused with “having an online business” so often
  • Auctioning items on eBay. It isn’t that far from the above, and it requires your constant attention, searching, bidding, getting, storing, taking pictures, putting up, shipping, etc
  • IT-freelancing – e.g. programming. Working on remote projects
  • Providing copyrighting and translation services – say, writing articles on demand
  • Providing design services. Making logos, designing websites, developing corporate styles, business cards, drawing for book publishers, etc.
  • Remote consulting. Anything – IT, medicine, business, law, computer networks, design, construction, nutrition, and whatnot!
  • Teaching online. Anything – English, Math, piano, fitness, personal finance, etc
  • Becoming a virtual assistant – it’s like a Personal Assistant, but over Internet
  • Doing online researches on demand

This list can go on and on!
And tons of people do that. But what is wrong with it?

Working online is not self-sustainable

Similar to real world jobs, working online is nothing more but exchanging your time for money. If you stop painting fences – you stop earning money. You break a leg and can’t work – your income drops to zero.

Yes being a freelancer you can work your own hours, make your own schedule, be free to travel the world, but it all comes at a cost – every hour you spend with your family is the hour you don’t work, thus, losing money.

My goal is to be able to spend time with my family and friends, on my hobbies, travel from time to time. But I don’t want all this to feel as something taking away from my plate.

Working online is not scalable

Similar to an offline business, if you want more money – you should work more hours. You can’t really scale this up – if you want 10 times more money you have to work 10 times more hours. And there is always a limit of hours you can work. So, there is only as much money you can earn, period.

So, you can’t really grow. You can, to an extent, but at some point you hit the ceiling and that’s it. You can’t really get rich, just working. Period.

Working online does not make you wealthy and free.
The only thing you can be sure about that you’ll get more work!

Having an online business

Having an online business is different. Yes you do have to work for it too, but it is a totally different approach. Business is an entity separate from yourself. It is a mechanism that works for you (versus you working for someone), something that works even while you sleep.

For you to understand what I’m talking about, here are some examples of self-sustainable and well scalable online businesses. Note that many of them do require a lot of work to be put in first, but after they’re set up they earn you money even while you sleep:

  • Setting up an online store. The kind that does not require you to make merchandise yourself, and keeps your involvement to the minimum. Say, a Fulfilled-by-Amazon online store where you don’t have to care about production, packaging, shipping, returns and such
  • Building a paid service (e.g. Software as a Service). Solving a problem by building an app and letting thousands of people use it.
  • Having a popular website / blog which gets ton of visitors, and posting ads / referral links on it. The way it brings you money even if you stop adding new posts.
  • Having a popular Youtube channel (no matter the theme) and getting paid from ads and affiliates
  • Writing a book and publishing it, say, on Amazon. E-book or print-on-demand, so you don’t have to do the printing and shipping part. After you set it up it they bring you money, sometimes, for many years to come
  • Building a mobile app – similar to books, once they’re published, they sell and bring you money w/o your further supervision
  • Setting up an online course. You develop a lessons plan, you write / record the lessons, and you advertise it. When it is up, you don’t have to do anything – it keeps bringing you money.

And so on. You’ve got the idea.

Have you noticed the one difference between these and the ones before? It’s all about “building something”, “setting up something”, “working now and getting the benefits later”. It’s working smart versus working hard.

Having an online business is self-sustainable

If you have an evergreen, self-sustainable online business, you can work your own hours or not work at all for days, you don’t depend on anyone anymore. You can set it up the way you have to work only 2 hours a day, if you’re smart.

You can take an unexpected vacation and your income will not sink because of that. And you are not afraid of having an unexpected trauma that will ruin your entire future. You don’t fear the unexpected any more.

For me not being afraid anymore is a big one. Instead of fearing the future, not knowing what every next day brings, you can be embracing it!

Also, if you set it up right, then you only have to work hard at the beginning. Later on, the business will work for you on autopilot, even when you sleep, spend time with your family, sit in a beach bar sipping cocktails, travel the world, etc! Can you do it in the “work” model? I thought so!

Here, let me illustrate it for you:

And if you build it the smart way you can eventually stop working at all, retire or concentrate on something new. A lot of such people become “serial entrepreneurs”, building business after business. Isn’t that great?

Having an online business is scalable

Having an online business, you don’t have to work 10 times more to earn 10 times more. It’s all about selling more, not working more. Say, you find 10 times more clients and your business can handle that! 1.000 times more? Easy! It all depends on you setting it set up smart from the beginning.

Here is another illustration. Working all by yourself you can’t physically get over a certain number of products / clients / sales you can do a month. There is a top limit for you and it is where you hit a concrete wall.

So, online business doesn’t necessarily let you work less. But, being smart, it will help you build your future, retire early, drop all your fears of tomorrow, and generally be a happy person.

Isn’t it worth it?

Two important questions

I know, I know, everyone calls his business “a business”. But here in this article I explain what I call a business and why I will only build businesses, and refrain from working as much as possible.

But sometimes it’s hard to tell, and every time you are considering getting into a new “business”, ask yourself this two simple questions:

  • Can this business work without me, while I’m asleep?
  • Is this business scalable? Will it work well no matter are there 10 or 1 million clients?

First answer tells you if this business will free or enslave you. Second answer tells you if it’s going to make you rich or not. Only if you answer “yes” on both of them, then it’s something worth pursuing.

Think about it!

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