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What you need to know about online businesses

Online business - also referred to as e-business - is any kind of business activity that happens online.

A business owner who does any, or all, of their business using the Internet, is running an online business. Running an online business can include buying and selling online, and providing an online service. A wide variety of businesses can be found online, in many different industries.

Anyone can start an online business. If you have a unique product or idea, you can find a way to sell or trade it online. It's just like a traditional 'bricks-and-mortar' business, except your office or shop is online, so you have to decide how it will look and appeal to customers.

Types of online business

Online businesses can have different online business-fronts (how they appear on the internet). These can take many forms, such as:

  • websites
  • online shops or marketplaces
  • blogs
  • social media accounts.

Advantages and disadvantages of online business

There are a lot of things to consider before making the decision to start or move an existing business online, particularly if you're not a computer or web guru, or haven't started a business before.

Benefits of doing business online may include:

  • cost savings in rent and staffing
  • greater flexibility and efficiency in product and service delivery
  • 24/7 accessibility to customers all over Australia (or worldwide).

There can also be drawbacks in doing business online, such as:

  • some technical or web knowledge may be necessary
  • software and hardware expenses
  • risk of online scams and fraud.

Know your IT before starting online

(…that's 'information technology'.)

Learning how to use your computer and its software packages, as well as how to navigate the internet without getting lost, will let you run your online business much more smoothly.

Don't be intimidated if you're not a computer whiz – there are plenty of information sessions and courses out there for you. Check out our IT training page to see what's available.

Digital Business Kits

The digitalbusiness.gov.au website has teamed up with industry bodies to provide small to medium business with Digital Business Kits. The kits provide the tools and resources required to help businesses embrace the world of digital business

Need help when considering doing business online?

  • Understand when a hobby becomes a business.
  • Read our Home-based business topic for an overview of starting your own business from home.
  • Visit your local business advisory service if you need more personalised advice. Head to our Advisory Services tool to find your closest service.
  • Do you need financial help? As a small business or not-for profit organisation, you may be eligible for funding assistance or training opportunities to help grow online. Visit our Grants and Assistance tool.
  • Learn more about managing finances, check out our information on Finance.

The article was first published on business.gov.au

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