Starting your own online small business has a great appeal. You can pursue your digital entrepreneur idea full-time or as a side hustle. You can run it from home, saving you the overhead costs of running a regular business, giving you more money to spend on making a go of it. You can also be a digital nomad, earning income as you see the world.
Technology has advanced to the point where you can cut your ties to traditional employment with an internet connection and earn for yourself - whether it's a business you are actively involved with, such as starting a podcast or to earn passive income, such as with affiliate marketing.
The trick is to find new business opportunities that align with your skills and aptitudes, which also have a market demand that will pay for what you offer. So, here are some (mostly) low-cost, high-quality ideas for a successful online business that could be your new career.
12 of the Best Online Business Ideas
Are you creative, or are you more technical or business-oriented? Are you looking to connect with people, or are you hoping to work behind the scenes to provide a product or service that consumers want? There are a lot of possibilities for online small business startups, depending on your aptitude and aim. The following sections can provide you with some ideas.
Open an E-Commerce Store
With an e-commerce store and your own domain name, you can sell goods or services online, which consumers order and pay for through their computers, smartphones and tablets. As with any business, you'll need to brand and market your e-commerce business so that you can take advantage of your potential market. The great thing about the massive reach of the internet is that you can choose a very narrow niche - say, a travel poncho with charging ports for devices in the pockets - and still have sufficient sales to make it worthwhile. If you need help setting an e-commerce store, you can use an online platform like Shopify.
Starting a blog is a great choice for writers and other creative people to show off their work and find new clients. It can also be a good choice for any small business that wants to use a blog to establish its authority or expertise in a field and lead its target audience down a well-thought-out sales funnel.
Monetizing a blog might also involve offering sponsored content opportunities to other businesses, participating in affiliate marketing opportunities and finding a blog category that has a lot of money-making potential. Bloggers work in WordPress, Squarespace and many other blogging platforms.
Get Into Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing makes sense, especially if you have built up a network of connections and followers through social media channels. Being an affiliate marketer involves sharing a recommendation through social media channels, blogs, emails and websites, automatically earning you a commission every time someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase. Networks for affiliate programs include Amazon Associates, ClickBank and Affiliate Future.
Set Up a Dropshipping Business
Don't want to invest upfront in inventory and have to store or ship it? No problem. With dropshipping, you can sell and ship products without ever physically coming into contact with them. You can sell products through a digital storefront, and the orders are outsourced and fulfilled by someone else.
You can approach a small business yourself to see if they would be interested in working with you in a dropshipper arrangement or check out potential dropshipping suppliers on platforms like Doba, AliExpress and SaleHoo.
Buy and Sell Websites
The same kind of smarts needed to buy and sell real estate applies to websites. You need to find an undervalued property, buy it and then sell it for more. With websites, you can make some small improvements - such as to the navigation, design and search engine optimization (SEO) - to ensure you command the best prices. You can go to people or organizations directly to buy sites or use marketplaces and brokers like FE International and WebsiteBroker.com.
Freelancing used to be something you did between jobs. Now, many people throw off the shackles of traditional day jobs to become independent writers, graphic designers, accountants, engineers, email list experts - you name it. Not only does freelancer work provide more flexibility and freedom than 9-to-5 jobs, but online tools also make it easier than ever to find work. Not only can you display your talent through social media and your own website, but there are also a number of online platforms that match freelance talent for hire with clients looking for help, such as Upwork and Fiverr.
Sell Your Arts and Crafts
If you are the creative type - such as a photographer, illustrator, painter, or someone who does arts and crafts - you could start selling your physical work online. You can do it through your own e-commerce site, through social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace, and through huge online marketplaces for handmade goods that include Etsy, ArtFire and even eBay. Many creative people don't realize that it's possible to turn their love for arts and crafts into a paid career.
Offer a Subscription Box
We've seen an explosive demand for subscription box services, which contain themed packages of products. They can range from meal-prep kits and shaving blades to fitness and makeup products. You would work with different brands, suppliers and artisans to put together neatly packaged boxes of goods that can be sent as a gift from one person to another but more frequently are bought by customers for themselves.
Create Digital Products
Digital products are great because you don't have to worry about inventory or storage. After you make your own products available, they just need to be downloaded (after your price has been paid, of course). With the right skills, you can sell templates for web design or email marketing, mobile app development products, music samples for videos and much more through an online store.
If you have real coding know-how, you could start a software as a service (SaaS) where subscribers buy software solutions on an ongoing, paid basis.
Write an E-Book
It can be very hard to get published traditionally. Even big-name authors have manuscripts rejected. But digital tools make it easy for anyone to get a book published as an e-book (electronic book), with many free templates available.
Of course, you have to have a manuscript, and if you want to be taken seriously, you should use the services of a professional editor and designer. You can sell them through your own e-commerce site or a big consumer site like Amazon. But before you publish, try not to perish by asking yourself honestly if you have something important or useful to say and if there is a market for such musings.
Podcasts have become remarkably popular. In 2020, there were over 1 million of them. By 2022, it's predicted that the number of people listening to podcasts in the United States will grow to 132 million. Offering information or entertainment (or both), podcasts can be made for a very small investment in the right software and hardware and then distributed through well-known platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts and PodBean.
Become a Social Media Consultant
If you have a well-developed social media network and some experience handling social media for clients, you could offer your services as a social media consultant. While big companies and agencies handle their own social media needs in-house, smaller companies have a harder time freeing up staff time for this task. So, they need expert freelance or contract help, charging by the hour, the week or project, with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Building an impressive portfolio of work, networking and offering your consulting business services through a platform like Upwork can get your career going.
Beyond the online ideas already listed, there are, of course, countless other possibilities for would-be business owners. These include:
- Becoming a social influencer
- Serving as a virtual assistant
- Starting your own YouTube channel
- Developing online courses, tutorials and webinars
- Getting into digital marketing and social media marketing
- Providing copywriting services
- And many others
Stay on Top of Your Small Business Finances With Skynova
As you get your online business going and start to make money online - with potential customers lining up - you want to make sure you do your bookkeeping, keep track of your expenses and income, and have your finances in good order for tax time.
Skynova's accounting software is designed for small businesses starting from scratch like yours - full-featured but easy to use (it doesn't require professional accounting experience). It provides simple double-entry accounting, letting you easily swap between cash and accrual basis. You can also upload receipts, track expenses, get fast financial statements and send out branded customer invoices, knowing when they are opened and read.
Skynova helps small online businesses like yours realize their big dreams.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always do your own market research and get the appropriate professional advice before launching and running any kind of small business.