Starting a Business in Canada

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No nonsense information on small business.

Aug 5, 2011 - 2 minute read - business model

How To Make Money Online

I often see questions from people who want to start a small business or work from home asking how they can make money online. It’s an interesting question because it has a central premise that there is something different or magical about making money “online”. There isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. There are methods of making money using the internet, There just isn’t anything special about it that makes money magically appear. The internet allows you to reach more people. It allows you to collaborate with people on certain types of work without having to leave the house. It doesn’t pay you well for doing tasks of little value.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk will pay you a minimum of 5¢ per task for simple, repetitive tasks you can do online. This isn’t a scam, you’ll do the tasks and Amazon will pay you the money, but unless you’re super human fast, you won’t make a living doing this.

Moving up the pay scale, it’s possible to earn a more reasonable wage doing projects that can be found on sites like oDesk, Elance, or Guru. The jobs on these sites range from simple data entry jobs to highly skilled software developer jobs. When you bid on projects on these sites, you’ll be competing with workers from around the world. So while it might be possible to earn a living wage for someone living in China or India, it will be much more difficult if you live in Toronto.

The sites I’ve listed above are ways to get low paying jobs online. Doing projects on these sites makes you an employee not a business owner. There is a big difference between having a job and having a business. Don’t confuse the two.

Starting an online business is not all that much different from starting a traditional bricks and mortar business in many respects. Your delivery channel is the internet instead of a face to face interaction and that has a lot of implications but the fundamentals for profitability are the same. You must have a sound business model that delivers value for your customer. All the planning and work that goes into starting a traditional business applies to starting a business that is based online.

The internet provides certainly provides a big opportunity, but you still can’t get rich quick for doing next to nothing. Anyone who promises you differently is running a scam.