Three sets of skills are required to grow your own small online business:
- marketing skills (and some business management knowledge)
- web development (programming) skills
- design skills
Very few people have or can reach the necessary level of expertise to handle all three components themselves. Plus, the bigger the business gets the more unlikely to be able to manage everything without help.
Three directions can be pursued by fresh online entrepreneurs.
- using ready-built systems and growing your online business around them
- outsourcing, hiring professionals
- partnering with someone who is qualified for the domain where you lack expertise
Let’s take them one by one.
1. Using ready-built systems and growing your online business around them
This is the path taken by most people, especially at the beginning of their experience, before they crystallize their own online business.
- there are plenty of ready-built systems online for most niches
- people are naturally lazy, so they usually jump at the opportunity presented by a turnkey product, easy to set up, use and promote
- costs (both monetary and time required to manage) are lower than for the alternatives
- people love systems, rules, because they feel safe using a “proven” system
- a particular system might or might not be for you (you’ll probably fail a few times before learning what to avoid or when to get out)
- they lack flexibility; you can’t add your own ideas into the system
- you don’t own the business, so you don’t really have control over it
- you need to understand the business model the system uses; if you expect a long and steady growth and the system provides a rapid growth for a limited time then dies under its own weight, you might be taken off-guard and lose money (and time)
2. Outsourcing, hiring professionals
New entrepreneurs rarely go this route. The bigger the online business, the higher the chances to hire professionals to help with certain tasks.
- you reduce your own workload
- professionals can do a better work than you can in a domain you lack expertise
- you become available for other projects or tasks
- the most expensive of the three alternatives, when used extensively
- not everyone knows (or not always) what to ask from a professional
- it takes time to learn what to expect and for how much; and when to reject a project as flawed or to ask for revisions
3. Partnering with someone who is qualified for the domain where you lack expertise
This can be a mutual advantageous solution.
- expenses are split between partners; reduce costs for hiring help
- potentially better control of the quality of outsourced tasks or projects
- work is divided between partners
- partners can focus on different aspects of the business
- all partners must be willing to share control
- impossible without mutual trust
- rules to avoid or defuse conflicts are needed
- profits (but also losses) are split between partners
Now that you have the pros and cons of each alternative, which route would you take? And where are you now compared to your desired path?