I am searching for a way to achieve financial independence using an online business model, ethically.
What that really means is
- using an online business to help me achieve Financial Independence.
- ensuring the business is aligned with my values and ethics
Why an online business?
- Flexibility of location
- Compatible with my skill set and knowledge / experience
- Easier to fully offset and opportunity to be a BCorp.
- Lower initial overheads.
- Because I can. It keeps me growing, learning.
Full disclaimer, I have worked in digital marketing and communications and setup a digital agency at one point. My positioning sucked, I undervalued myself and I learned a lot. Having said all that, there’s plenty of opportunity online and people doing well. So my focus is taking those learnings, using them to help others not make the same (expensive) mistakes and to build an ethical, sustainable and profitable online business with an exit strategy (just in case).
How will an online business help me achieve Financial independence?
Firstly, an online business can be a side hustle or a full time income. This means it can either add to my income from current work (increasing my ability to invest) or it can be a useful income if I retire early and want to keep doing something.
Secondly, a website is an asset, as is a profitable business. They can be bought and sold. So, if I am successful and grow a profitable business and want to exit, I can. The same as any business, there is also the opportunity for it to be a time and resource drain.
What is the downside?
The downside is that the Internet is fully of ‘make money online’ opportunities. They are very good at convincing you to part you with your money. Ethics are out the window on many of these, they’ve bought or made up reviews, fudged figures, etc.
Due to low barriers of entry, online is also extremely competitive. 90% of all data that exists today was created since 2016. We are producing vast quantities of content and information.
Content marketing is well-established and contributes significantly to this. That means much of the content created today and published on the Internet has the sole purpose of marketing to you… and leading you down rabbit holes. They know how to find and push your psychological buttons!
So the biggest challenge today is finding the right online business opportunity and pursuing it with clarity and focus.
This will help you avoid the race to the bottom.
Finally, the other big risk is that you don’t treat it as a business. If it’s a hobby, that’s fine but if you are on a path to FIRE you likely want to make each dollar count. Having a budget and profit and loss sheet, will help you monitor your spending and keep the focus on it becoming a profitable asset. You can do this in Excel or Google Sheets (free) at first and when you grow, look to invest in dedicated software. Both have excellent templates.
What are the different online business models that can help me reach financial independence?
The three basic business models for an online business, are:
- Sell a physical product.
- Sell a service.
- Sell a digital information product.
That is obviously very simplistic. Think of some of the online businesses you may know, and you will realise it’s more complex. For example Amazon is an online marketplace with a massive logistics operation. Then Internet does not need an article listing all the opportunities! Here’s an interesting article that does a great job of exploring some of the online business model options by Jase Ridley.
I’ll likely circle back to this as I progress my journey. I would love to hear your stories and if there’s anything you want to know more more about, let me know in the comments.
In conclusion, do research and due diligence. You will be on your business journey for countless hours, weeks, months and years. Choose the journey and your companions well – it will make the experience fun and enjoyable despite the inevitable ‘adventures’ and mishaps. They form part of the fun re-telling and help make the story.