10 Skills That You Need to Run an Online Business by Yourself

Sourcing Your Product
Sophia Amoruso, founder and former owner of fashion site NastyGal, made millions in a few years by selling vintage clothing online. © MARIO ANZUONI/Reuters/Corbis

The Internet might be just a bunch of electrons moving through space, but you've got to have something a bit more substantial to sell. Unless you're a consultant offering services or an artisan who makes his or her own products, you have to find a source to provide you with inventory. That might mean scouring flea markets and thrift stores for vintage stuff that you can fix up and sell on eBay, a strategy that Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso used to create a company with $24 million in annual revenue in just four years [source: Patel].

You also can arrange to have your product manufactured to your specifications by an overseas manufacturer, through a Web portal such as Alibaba or IndiaMart. One downside is that the expense of a minimum order could run into the thousands of dollars. Finally, there's also the option of dropshipping, in which you basically serve as the user interface for a manufacturer who not only makes the product but handles shipping as well. You can find such a partner through one of several dropshipping aggregators on the Web, such as WorldWide Brands. Be aware that margins on this type of enterprise are thin [source: Shopify].