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Online Success Requirements: Business or Technical Skills?

Steven General

I think more people would be successful working online if they would look at it the same way they look at an offline business. When someone starts a restaurant people don’t say “You can’t start a restaurant because you don’t know how to cook.” It’s just assumed that you’ll hire a chef. When you work online, it’s the same thing: You need either business or technical skills, but you don’t necessarily need both to be successful.


Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is a perfect example. He had a vision for an online program that provided a service and he had the technical skills to design that program. However, if you’ve been watching the news, Zuckerberg isn’t exactly knowledgeable about the business end of running Facebook so he’s hired people to handle that for him.

It really boils down to how you define success but most online business focus on either technical skills or business skills.

Examples of successful online businesses that started because someone had technical skills include Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Technorati and You Tube. Someone had a great idea for a program that would fill a need. Google, for example, is a huge program that helps organize the Internet so people can more easily find the information they’re looking for.

Once these programs were created, the designers brought in additional help to take care of marketing, promotion and other business needs.

Examples of successful online business based on business skills include sites like Skype, Wikipedia, Gawker Media and LinkedIn. The creators of Skype, for example, recognized a need for people to be able to communicate via voice, video and chat, in real time, across the Internet. They created the business model and hired programmers to handle the technical aspects of the plan.

Will you always have to hire someone to compliment your skills? Not necessarily. You can learn basic business and marketing skills while you work online and you can always pick up coding skills.

But think of what you really want to accomplish and how quickly you’d like to reach your goals.

Sure, the guys that started Google could have done it all themselves but it would have taken a lot of time to learn all the ins-and-outs of business. By hiring someone to help they were able to advance their business much more quickly. And had they tried to do it all themselves, their business probably wouldn’t even exist today. Someone else would have beat them to the punch.

And there are some skills you just can’t learn while you’re working online. You may never have a knack for marketing, and you may never be able to understand enough about coding to design a website like Facebook.

Look around you to successful offline businesses and you’ll see that very few are one-man operations. Almost every successful business has at least two partners – one to handle the technical aspects and one to handle the business and marketing needs. If you want your online business to be a success, sometime during your lifetime, then you’re eventually going to need help, too.

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