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Why the rise of e-commerce makes it easier than ever to be an entrepreneur

Guest post from Kayleigh Alexander

As we struggle with the gig economy, and bemoan the drawn-out death of the lifelong job security that used to be within reach for the average worker, it’s clear why more and more people are developing and pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions. When you can’t confidently leave your fate in the hands of others, you need to bet on yourself.

Fortunately enough, this rise in solo ambitions has coincided with the exponential growth of an industry perfectly suited to charting your own professional course: that industry being e-commerce. But why is selling online such an exceptional base for skirting the regular 9-to-5 and forging your own destiny? Here’s why:

E-commerce is location-independent

Think about the classic trope of the small-town teenager gathering together all of their belongings to drive to the big city and pursue their dreams. Back when the internet wasn’t around to keep us all connected, your options were completely limited by your surroundings, and having the best retail ideas in the world wouldn’t help you if you couldn’t find your way to a place with suitable production facilities and plenty of disposable income.

But with e-commerce, it doesn’t really matter where you live or work. As long as you can consistently get online, you can sell. You don’t even need any type of production facility, since you can use dropshipping suppliers to list and sell products you don’t stock. You can start a store, run ads, make some sales, and profit — all without leaving your kitchen.

It doesn’t cost much to run a store

Starting a traditional store is a huge commitment. At the very least, it involves renting a location at substantial cost, investing in inventory, and spending many hours working the till — so if it goes awry, you can lose a lot of money. But starting an online store is totally different. You can create one for free using one of many viable store creation tools, and only need to pay for hosting, add-ons, and corresponding sales fees.

And if you can’t face building a store (maybe you’re not very tech-savvy, or lack design skills), then you have the option of buying a low-cost store through an e-commerce site marketplace — that way, you’ll be able to start selling immediately. Since you can find reasonable storefronts for as little as $50, this is completely viable.

You can easily diversify your operation

The fact that it doesn’t cost much money (or time) to get a store off the ground has the valuable knock-on effect of making it fairly easy to diversify your online operation. Returning to the example of the traditional store, imagine that you had a hardware store but developed an interest in selling clothing. What would your options be? You could start selling clothing in your hardware store, leaving people confused, or try to build a new clothing store at great cost.

As an e-commerce seller, you can fully explore your interests at any pace you prefer. Run two stores simultaneously if you want — three stores, four stores, as many as you want. As long as you configure them correctly, and stay on top of inventory, they’ll largely chug along with you needing to provide not much manual input. That way, you can always get more in-depth with whichever store happens to be your main interest at that time.

There’s no mandatory schedule

Trying to become an entrepreneur using old-fashioned methods rather limits what you can achieve — at least, the rate at which you can achieve it, and the manner in which you can get it done. Consider the standard working day: if you’re chasing business meetings and pitching schemes, you’ll have a hard time getting much done after 5pm.

But e-commerce is a 24/7 industry, being strongly international and not being restricted by opening hours, so you can pursue it whenever you want. If inspiration strikes at 2am, you can work on your site from your laptop. And if you want to work weekends but take Wednesdays off, it’s within your grasp. No one will stop you, and it won’t hurt your chances of succeeding.

For these reasons and many more, e-commerce is the path ahead for many aspiring entrepreneurs today. Curious to see if it could work for you? Why not give it a try? If you keep the costs down and take your time, there’s very little risk — and it might turn out to be the challenge you need.

Kayleigh Alexander is proudly associated with the NSBC.