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What Is an Online Entrepreneur

Updated on February 22, 2013
Being an online entrepreneur doesn't necessarily mean walking off with a big bag o' money.
Being an online entrepreneur doesn't necessarily mean walking off with a big bag o' money. | Source

As the economy collapsed after 2008, many newly unemployed people asked themselves “Exactly what is an online entrepreneur?” Regardless of what they thought the answer was, as they exhausted unemployment benefits, the answer became “doesn't matter, need to give it a shot.” Being an online entrepreneur means not following the latest get-rich-quick scheme. It means a lot of hard work, research and commitment; just like being a brick-and-mortar entrepreneur.

What is an online entrepreneur?

Most online entrepreneurs don't sell a widget. They sell the process. They sell how to get that widget and all the information surrounding it. An online entrepreneur has a great idea, a particular viewpoint on an issue people care about or a uniquely useful ability to create and package information for people.

A true entrepreneur has that great idea or information, and more importantly the ability and wherewithal to create a high-traffic, high-percentage website or app.

A true online entrepreneur is not someone doing click-for-cash schemes, filling out lengthy opinion polls for a chance to win $1,000. They are not the folks on their laptops at Starbucks trying to get rich quick by making $500 off a single blog post. They are not getting suckered into an internet franchise dropshipping some useless widget in an online version of multi-level marketing.

Why Do People Want to Start an Online Business?

Many people are becoming online entrepreneurs because they feel they have no other choice. Layoffs and a simultaneous lack of job opportunities are pushing people into seeking ways to make money any way they can. Some people become internet entrepreneurs because they see success stories on blogs or on the news and believe anyone can do it. Unfortunately, these folks are the target market of the scammers.

On the other hand, some folks become an entrepreneur because they want to. They want to stay home with the kids or an elder parent. They like the idea of having much less or no commute expense. Some of them may be tech-savvy former defense employees who were laid off after sequestration came about and wanted a new career away from government budgeting issues.

Some economists are seeing online entrepreneurship and freelancing as the new version of employment. It's how labor and idea creation will be handled in the future. Employers don't want the risk and expense of dealing with absenteeism, benefits and taxes that come with on-site employees. Folks who would be employees don't want the risk of being laid off once again. And they see that doing several part time processes that they may be good at from home is better than hoping their single employer raises their hours.

How to Start Generating Online Income as an Entrepreneur

One of the benefits of online entrepreneurship is the relatively lower cost of startup compared to a brick-and-mortar storefront. A very small retail storefront or office space may cost tens of thousands of dollars to start up when you add up-front rent, build-out and furnishings. This compares to as little as $100 for domain registration and hosting if you are experienced at designing your own wordpress or joomla site.

The best tip for becoming an online entrepreneur is to recognize if you enjoy coming up with ideas but hate to implement them. This is a business, and you have to run it like one. It's vital to see that it takes the same skills -- time management, market savvy and self-motivation – as opening a physical store or office.

Best Successful Online Business Ideas

  • Freelancing: This is the purest form of the new version of employment. Many people are offering their services on a project-by-project basis on freelance sites. Some of the popular and well-respected ones include elance, guru and odesk. If you have spare time and are interested in turning that time into a limited amount of cash through very quick tasks, there is also Amazon's mTurk program.
  • Writing: This is what many folks here on HubPages are doing as online entrepreneurs. In addition to HubPages, freelance writers use elance, Yahoo! contributor network and squidoo.
  • Reselling: At the last garage sale my family hosted, we noticed several people come by with an unusual sense of purpose. They were hitting all the garage sales in town looking for items they would be able to resell on eBay or Craigs List for significantly more than they buy them off families. Many people who are just trying to get rid of “stuff” will severely underprice items that can make more on eBay / Craigs List if they knew to do it.
  • New item retail: Sites such at etsy allow people with craft skills to actually make items to sell online. Soaps, decorative items and craft kits are popular if you have the ability to make them quickly and well.


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    • floating mind profile image

      floating mind 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Hi JRGray,

      Good information. I am teaching myself how to generate high traffic as I want to start an online service based website. I think I'm off to a good start, and this hub helps by pointing me in the right direction.

      Thanks for the hub.