How Long Does It Take To Start An Online Business? Timeline

Starting an online business varies based on following a timeline. But how long does it take to start an online business?

Usually, it would take under 30 days to get a website up and running. About 20 years ago, the process took a lot longer than it does now.

Today, it’s much easier to set up a website (literally within minutes). The technicals are not as problematic compared to two decades ago.

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In this article, I’ll go over five key points in what to expect when starting an online business. To build a successful business, it is important to stay consistent and never give up.

  1. Online Business Is Not A Piece Of Cake
  2. 1-30 Days: Basic Setups And Technicals
  3. 3-6 Months: Earning The First Commission/Sale
  4. 6-12 Months: Regular Traffic And Earning More Commissions
  5. 12-24 months: Consistent Traffic And A Steady Flow Of Revenue
  6. 3-5 Years: Mastered Authority, Regular Visitors And Earning Profit
How long does it take to start an online business? This post goes over the basic life cycle of an online business (in five stages).

Online business is not a piece of cake

Similar to a brick-and-mortar store, getting rolling takes time and effort. You have to take the initiative to learn new skills, followed by implementing them.

According to Zippia, the real success rate for online businesses is between 10-20%. To switch it up, that’s nearly 90% of online businesses fail within the first few months.

One reason is that most businesses won’t make money within the first few years. So it’s reasonable to not have high expectations- even during the first year. 

Similar to any other business, things do take time to build and see the fruits of your labor set in place. Let’s review some key marking stages in the life cycle of an online business.

How long does it take to start an online business? These are stages in the life cycle of a business.

How long does it take to start an online business?

Starting an online business takes less time than it did two decades ago. Setting up your website or online store takes less than a day, and then up to 30 days to see the foundations be established. Let’s go over the life cycle of an online business.

1-30 days: Basic setup and technicals

The first 30 days are the beginning stage for getting an idea in place while setting up a website from scratch. As mentioned earlier, it’s so much easier to set up a website than it was 20 years ago.

These days, you can literally get a website rolling in as little as 30 seconds. With improved technology, there’s no need for coding or website design experience.

Whatever website builder or eCommerce program you use, most of the technical stuff is taken care of for you. So no need to worry about where to put that code or if that little detail really matters- it’s much easier to get started today.

How long does it take to start an online business? Setting up a website is far much easier today than it was two decades ago.

3-6 months: Earning the first commission/sale

Each business is different when it comes to making the first dollar. It can happen suddenly within a few months, or maybe longer.

It takes a while to make that first round of commissions. But with a little effort put in, anything is possible.

My first commission

When I started out in an online business, I was able to earn my first commission within those first 90 days. It was hugely unexpected, as I didn’t think it would take that soon.

Lo and behold, it happened during that short period of time. However, that doesn’t mean you may experience that in a few months. 

For some people, it will vary depending on what stage they’re at in their business. It’s possible it can happen sooner, or it may take longer for that first commission to take place.

My best word of advice is to have low expectations when starting out. You want to be realistic, but at the same time, not be overly optimistic that you’re going to see success soon.

A relevant article from

Read next on “How Can I Start An Online Business For Free? Where To Go?“, and find out how you can get started today. It doesn’t take much to just get started now.

6-12 months: Regular traffic and earning more commissions

If you have a website or online store, you’ll acquire more organic traffic over time. As your website matures and builds authority, it’ll get more visitors coming to your website.

Depending on how many visitors you get (daily/weekly/monthly), you may end up earning commissions here and there. At this point, you may start seeing better results from when you first started.

Keep in mind: A year’s worth of time and effort can pay off massively. You can accomplish a lot in a matter of 12 months.

12-24 months: Consistent traffic and a steady flow of revenue

This stage is where an online business can succeed or not go that well. It’s the moment where growth can be seen, and if it can continue to gain momentum. 

Depending on the business, it can establish authority and trust with search engines. A steady flow of content is being published, traffic is consistent, and revenue is steady.

A long-term scenario for a successful business

For an online business to do very well, it can take between 18-24 months until it starts earning its first dollar. Obviously, that’s a long time to wait and see; however, some businesses don’t see the light until they reach this stage.

It can take at least 18 months to really start seeing traction in a business. At that point, you can move forward and see where it goes from there (i.e. constant growth).

How long does it take to start an online business? Growing a business realistically takes 18-24 months.

3-5 years: Mastered authority, regular visitors, and earned profit

At this point in the life cycle, your website has a big presence online and is viewed as an authority. It’s at a point where business grows exponentially, and it can scale even further.

Your website is getting a lot of traffic while earning consistent revenue. If it’s the right time, you can outsource and hire to give yourself more time to work “On” the business. 

I think a key point to hammer down is working ON your business, instead of working IN the business. As an entrepreneur, you want to do that to keep your business growing further.

I won’t go into much in detail, but this practice can save you time while potentially making more money in your business. It can take a few years to get to this point in a business. But, it’s well worth sticking it out in the long run.

How long does it take to start an online business? Staying consistent to working on your business will come a long way.

Is it hard to start an online business?

For the most part, starting an online business is easier now than it ever was. Basics and technical stuff are easy; learning the right skills and staying consistent over time is the challenge.

My thoughts on online business

In my experience, it’s not that easy starting out. The technical components are not that difficult (setting it all up is the easy part).

The big challenge is getting traffic to your website, along with sticking to working on the business. If you fail and give up too soon, your business will not get that far.

Here’s my best piece of advice: Give your business 12-18 months before you decide to reevaluate it. I believe 18 months is a good timeframe to see if the business is viable and worth continuing from that point on.

Even if you decide not to continue with that business, you will gain valuable skills and lessons. That may be the outcome if the business is not successful, but it’s still worth seeing what happens in the long run.

If you’re doing it part-time, then sure, it will take you longer. In that case, you still need to be patient, persistent, and never give up.

A relevant article from

Read next on “Why Is It Hard To Start An Online Business? Top 7 Factors“, to learn some common mistakes people make when getting started in business.

Final Words

Starting an online business is not difficult to set up. While the technicals are easy for setting up, it’s putting in the content creation part that can be challenging.

Along with that, acquiring organic traffic is another challenge when starting out. It can vary for each business (either a few months or between one-five years).

No matter what, it’s important to keep going at it and never give up. The stages in the life cycle of an online business can be helpful to look over, especially when you’re beginning a new business venture.

Your Turn: How long will it take you to get started?

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Have you thought about starting an online business?

Are you surprised to know that it can take between one-two years to see results?

If you’re working on a business, is there anything holding you back? For instance, do you struggle with remaining consistent with creating content?

What can you do differently about it now? Are you willing to stick it out for the long run?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is the owner and chief editor of 

He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 

Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” 

In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. 

You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

2 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take To Start An Online Business? Timeline”

  1. I agree that starting an online business is lots of work. You need to be trained and consistent with your business.

    Three years is good period to master the act and start seeing progressive results.

    But the importance of training cannot be overemphasized. You must start with a good platform for training. It makes a lot of difference.

    • Hi Ayodeji,

      I believe starting anything in life will require time, effort, and hard work. When it comes to business, that rings true for sure. 

      I don’t disagree with you that three years is a good timeframe. For some, it may be sooner, while for others it’ll take longer. It varies for everyone: Not everyone will experience success at the same time.

      Proper training is necessary to succeed in online business. There are a lot of good platforms out there, while other are not (or likely to be scams).

      If you’re looking for a great platform to try out, I encourage you to look over my top recommendation. This place is by far one of the best platforms to getting started in the online world.

      If you know someone who might be interested, feel free to pass on this recommendation. It may help them get started on the right path to success.

      Thank you very much for sharing your insights- they’re greatly appreciated.


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