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Starting an online business

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by karll, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. karll

    karll Well-Known Member

    I'm employed as a low-level drone and have been content with that for a while, but lately I've contemplated starting an online business on the side doing a little contract work, for the experience and to see if in the longer term I could potentially get away from my day job. (Unlikely, but it's a nice dream to have.)

    Does anyone here have any pointers / articles that could help me get started? What do I need to do to register a business? (I live in the UK.)
  2. BGL

    BGL Well-Known Member

    Do what you love to do and see if you can make it pay. I liked participating in online forums and my passion for the medium and the message (boats and stuff in my case) did it for me.
  3. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    The nuts and bolts are the least of your worries. Here in the USA we don't even have to register anything to start working...only when you start a corporation with an official name, etc.

    I say go to it and start working. If decent money starts coming in, then ask around about whether you need a corp, etc....
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    What work ?
  5. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Not sure if you want to make money out of a forum? or some other online service that might include a forum?
    Maybe you're not clear on that either :)

    From what I can see over a long haul the ones that succeed at making money purely off a forum are few. Can be done but you need a ruthlessly commercial project or a big lucky break. Some of the success stories there are about really useful information, or social community - but the second one is a specialist skill that needs solid experience of running/ coordinating human groups outside the net.

    But projects do much better more reliably which use online tools to deliver stuff in the real world. Think Amazon, Ebay, online supermarket shopping, online travel booking or hotel booking. Or legal or other professional advice.
    So think of services or products in society you know a bit about and find more interesting than others.

    Most or all of what you need to know about websites, including forums, you can learn online - there are loads of online tutorials - and forums! Don't get seduced into paying for courses as most are not worth it.

    Self employment though is a real skill package. From 30 years of it here's my best tips.

    1. This has two sides - what do YOU want? Always important because SE is going to hammer you so it's got to be worth it.
    But almost as important is - what do your clients want? Walk the other guy's moccasins. If you can't imagine how others think and feel learn to, or forget it. Because that imagination will create your product/ service, and will ensure it sells.

    2. Don't give up the day job until you're really earning money. SE money is unreliable.
    Don't give up on all the day job/ bread n butter money at once. Try to decrease gradually.

    3. Always keep a small steady bread n butter income going. One day a week or a few hours, Because £10 arriving every week (£45 a month) is worth more than £150 lumps in SE money. Lumps are usually balanced by big hollows of little or no income.

    4. To prepare for a lower income - forget dreams of more money, SE is about freedom not money, start cutting out expenses.
    Car payments have to go. Buy second hand, learn to fix it yourself. Ditto any other expensive gadgets. Learn computer hardware. Cut most booze.
    Learn Ebay. Freecycle. Charity shops. Farm shops. Learn to cook, not heat a packet (it's cheaper and keeps you stronger).
    It's a much better quality of life but a less flashy one.

    5. OK that's the foundation. Now you need to think about long hours working. Are you OK with 12 hour days - minimum?
    A day off a week, one day, could be a luxury. You can easily end up having to retrain yourself to take half a day off for your health! Seriously that's a standard story in SE.

    6. The first three years are the hardest. Multitasking like you've never dreamed it. You'll be stretching yourself into skills and abilities you can't possibly imagine. It's scary ... but omigss you grow!
    If you do get going really well life will be work. No it's not grim if it suits you. The pride and joy, the sheer energy of it is just not like anything else except parenting.

    7. Don't go SE when you or your partner is pregnant, or the first 3 years of your kid's life. Child and SE both devour sleep and energy to a ruthless degree; the combination will trash your relationship and probably the business too.
    If the unexpected happens, and birth control is never 100% unless you're gay or celibate, GET HELPERS. Seriously. It takes three adults to care for a child.

    8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Tough guys don't make it, they crumple. Hard stats show most women do because girls ask for help, learn skills and get better. Also more cautious.

    9. Don't be afraid of using your own judgement. Ask for help - but when you've got advice, training whatever, the buck stops here with you. Ladies, by all means cry, it does you good. Then dry off and do it.
    Achievement is always won through pain and down bits which at the time often seem like the end. Think heroines and heroes of legend.

    10. The really tough bit is knowing when to be determined - grit teeth, keep going: and when to adapt, be flexible, be creative. weave and dodge. Hold firm. Only you can decide though you can talk it over with companions and mentors, and you should.
    You need to be both - sometimes at the same time!

    Tough yes. Worth it? Oh yes say I. Up to you if you agree.
    karll likes this.
  6. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    What kind of online business are you trying to make?
  7. Slavik

    Slavik XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    You will need to register with HMRC as starting self-employed work. Unless you have any particular reason to register as a business then the paperwork is simple enough.

    Registering as a business only adds initial capital expendature, and potentially dependent how you set up, extra overheads on your work. If you just want to "see if it works" then skip this step until later on.
  8. karll

    karll Well-Known Member

    That part is a bit sketchy at the moment. Probably doing some of the things I do already in my day job. Somehow I know and like to work with databases (Oracle, MySQL, Postgres etc). Possibly I could be doing migrations / conversions, writing database migration scripts from one software to another. I also know my way around Linux and have a little experience with setting up servers, installing software, setting up cron jobs, init scripts etc. And I know how to program, but mostly Python & Java.

    No, not really clear. The forum I have already is not-for-profit.

    Yes, I think personally I'd struggle to make much money off a forum. I was lucky with the forum I have now, but one of the success factors for this particular forum is that it's not-for-profit. I don't think I have the patience to try and grow another forum with the aim of making money.

    Exactly, those are some of the thoughts I have had too.

    Definitely! I'm a bit of a scrooge, so I wouldn't waste money on anything unless I thought it was really, truly useful / necessary.

    Sounds like you're speaking from experience :) We already have a little daughter who is just 1 year old. I don't think I want to do that to her or to my wife. I think at the moment all I'm looking for is a little extra income, and the experience of being self-employed (if only partly).

    Thank you very much for the input and advice!
  9. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    All is not lost to the patter of tiny feet and lost sleep! But you're right to beware of overstraining your wife. Very risky.

    You could do research over the next year/ + get used to XF and other useful software so you get really quick with them. Plus online tutorials in specialist bits. Also worth looking at https://www.coursera.org/ - could really scatch your itch with some of their free university courses.

    I spent about 6 months researching up to 30 or more programs of EACH TYPE before I set up my biz. Questioning their support. Making lists to compare positive and negative features. In the end I'd get a shortlist of 2 or 3 to really test ion depth.
    But I didn't have the luxury of your available time. I was researching while my biz was running with just basic programs so all very pressured.
    About once a year I run checks on what's new in the different kinds.

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