Full Time or Moonlight

Up next for the prospective online business maven is the question of time. Will the business call for a 40-hour per week commitment or primarily be a part-time activity? The vast majority of new online businesses begin as part-time affairs, many of which scale up to full-time operations after customers and sales increase to an appropriate level. A quick glance at a few randomly chosen online companies reveals that there are as many types of businesses as there are people. It is obvious that some of the more active sales-oriented sites are indeed full-time jobs for their owners. Other sites that sell a single product or act as resellers of books or technical products are likely side jobs for their owners.

The Time Commitment

Most Internet entrepreneurs begin their online careers on a part-time basis, but a growing number are jumping in as full-time cyber workers. However, even those who aim to go full-time at some point in the future are usually better off starting slow, and building up hours and income steadily. This way, risk is greatly reduced because there is still income from one’s regular “day job.”

Starting out part-time not only cuts risk, but also allows entrepreneurs to test the market and see whether their ideas are good ones, and are strong enough to support full-time work at a later date. There are a few disadvantages to part-time ownership. After a full day job and a part-time Internet business, few people have the energy to devote much time to marketing and research.

There’s also the risk of career burnout, and living for several years without any leisure time. In extreme cases, a few over-zealous Internet entrepreneurs lose sleep and eventually their health.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of planning and forethought, a part-time business can begin with a commitment of just 5, 10, or 15 hours per week. With moral support from one’s family, a decent dose of self-discipline, and a modicum of time-management skills, practically anyone can begin a part-time online business.

Then, if the finances and time schedules work out, that online career might be able to replace a traditional day job within a year or so. Before deciding whether part- or full-time Inter-preneurship is the way to go, assess a few key areas of concern.

First, research the business niche and see how much competition already exists. Areas where there is very little competition and high potential profit margins are ripe for full-time owners to jump in. Even at that, a six-month “test period” is almost always a wise move before jumping in with both feet.

Many online business owners use the following financial principle to determine when, and whether to switch-up from part-time to full-time work: if a 20-hour-per-week online business is earning about half of one’s full-time income, then it is relatively safe to make the switch from traditional work to full-time online entrepreneurship.

It is also smart to consult with family members and see how they feel about the idea of full-time, or even part-time online business ownership. Spouses, children and regular family commitments can sometime become neglected unless everyone gets in on the planning and discussion. There’s a lot that goes into a decision to take on a new part-time job. One of the big advantages of online work is that there is no commuting, and at-home workers can keep an eye on children and pets even while toiling away at the computer. In fact, there’s already a global culture of “work-at-home-moms,” sometimes referred to as WAHMs. Don’t be misled by the literal name of that group, because it includes about as many men as women.

What are some of the best online businesses to start? Keeping in mind that any well-run part-time job can eventually turn into full-time employment, the following list is certainly not all-inclusive. It is a good place to start, though, and reveals some of the best sources of income for people who want to give Internet entrepreneurship a go.

Graphic design, web design, and web development: These three are usually mentioned together but each is a distinct career path for online business owners. Even non-techies can utilize online courses and tutorials to learn enough about building web pages and web sites, and about creating graphic content for clients. These technical skills are in high demand and people who take the time to learn the ins and outs of the trade can earn a healthy income online.

The sales field is perhaps the biggest of all online business niches, simply because it includes every product and service known to humanity. Tax preparation is another area where online entrepreneurs do quite well. Anyone willing to learn some basic sales skills or the rudiments of the U.S. tax code can easily begin a web-based business.

Other web-based business that are worth looking into, and include something for just about every interest and skill level, are English language tutoring, career coaching, ebook writing and selling, Amazon reselling, affiliate marketing and sales, being a virtual assistant, standardized-test tutoring, blogging, travel consultant, and freelance writing. With very few exceptions, most traditional part-time jobs can be adapted to online entrepreneurship.

Because there are so many niches for online work, potential business owners need to take a long, hard look at exactly where their skills lie and what they will enjoy doing for the long haul.

The only way to answer the question, “Should I go full or part time with an online business?” is to choose a few niches, research each one, and then decide on the route you’ll take. Even those who want to go full-time right out of the gate should spend the first two or three months as part-time entrepreneurs just to make sure everything runs smoothly. People who want to be part-time owners have less of a commitment to make, but still must do their homework and ease into the new endeavor.