The world is increasingly mobile, and increasingly international, which is why choosing to buy an online business could be a sensible, and forward-thinking, business move.
The main positive attributes of owning a website, are that they’re relatively affordable, offer flexible working hours and don’t require a fixed office location.
We talked to a number of web entrepreneurs about why they chose to run their own website who give you a lowdown on the key benefits.
When Maria Osbourne bought a website with her husband, the mother of two was attracted by the low barriers to entry, the modest upfront financial commitment, and, most importantly, the chance to work from home.
"websites are good for people with family commitments. Now if the children happen to be ill, I can sit them on the sofa with a blanket, pop in and check they're OK, and have my lunch with them.”
Maria runs the business with her husband, and their shared business allows him to be a hands-on dad too.
Maria explains that “the childcare responsibilities are divided equally. He takes the children to school in the mornings and I pick them up in the afternoon, so the children see as much of their dad as they do of me and that's great!"
Even after purchasing the business you can expect general running costs to remain low. Maria explained:
"In terms of day-to-day running costs all you're paying for is your phone line and broadband, and it's up to you how much you pay for advertising and promotion."
The basic requirements needed to run a website mean that fixed overheads should start low and remain low.
Abhai Rajguru, who set up Alexander Rosse, an online accountancy, and book-keeping service, also recognized the benefits of having low startup costs, and, importantly for them, consistent cash flow.
Abhai explains that "being accountants, we're pretty good at building a financial model, so we were able to fund it ourselves.
The way we're structured, [the cash flow] means we don't have a huge investment and that's one of the features of modern electronic businesses.”
Relocatable & flexible
An online business also doesn’t demand that you do 9-5 hours; you can work in response to the business’ needs and your own personal commitments.
This may mean that you have to work more hours on some days, but also means you can take time off whenever you view it as sensible to do so.
The popularity of online
Online sales continue to rise as high street shops and independent stores report ever-declining sales figures.
And it is not just product sales that are benefiting from this online shift, but services too.
Tourism and other service providers are now selling experiences and services through websites and apps.
Christopher Hill founded an online travel agent targeted at professionals aged between 27 and 38, a demographic group who use the internet heavily.
"Because we were targeting young professionals, who tend to be rather web-savvy, we knew the internet was very important," explains the CEO of Hands Up Holidays.
A website can also reach out to its target audience globally, and not just in its local vicinity.
Richard Stephenson runs a self-publishing website, and Gavin Wheeldon set up Applied Language Solutions, an online translation service.
Gavin told us that the main advantage, as far as he’s concerned, is the technical capabilities of online. He told us:
"The main thing is process automation. For example, you can now go to our website and get a tattoo translated into most languages for £6. It’s a massive advantage over competitors."
Able to undercut the competition, Applied Language Solutions has, unsurprisingly, flourished and Wheeldon now presides over a company turning over £7.5m a year.
Another benefit of owning a website worth highlighting is, rather than needing to hire permanent staff (and worry about the associated responsibilities and costs), an online business can use highly experienced freelance experts from anywhere in the world to fill in any knowledge gaps or skill shortfalls.
Marcus Simmons, who set up an advertising website, warns that the innate advantages of internet businesses can lead to complacency.
"It's a double-edged sword: it's a low-cost start-up, but from a traditional business point of view your balance sheet and account can look weak because of the low-cost. So, the advantage can also be a disadvantage."
However, alluring web opportunities - tried-and-tested business principles - still apply.
You still need to do your homework on a prospective acquisition. And you still need to approach it as a serious business opportunity and put in the necessary work to get it up and running and making a profit.
As with all entrepreneurship, there is some risk and website businesses do fail.
However, the lower financial risk means you can more easily dust yourself down and have another go