I’m sure you’ve noticed that technology is advancing quickly. From cars that drive themselves to refrigerators that know when you are running low on groceries, and everything seems to be connected to the internet.
Thanks to this combination, people across the globe are more connected and accessible than ever before and technology makes the world function more efficiently. Okay, well…most of the time!
The reality is that technology allows us to do things today that we wouldn’t have thought possible only a few years ago. And the things we were doing, technology has made easier and much more accessible.
So, it’s easy to understand why a growing number of people are looking to leverage this combination of technology and the internet to escape employment and create their own businesses online.
So, why should you start an online business?
First and foremost, an online business gives you a huge amount of freedom and flexibility. You are your own boss, you can set your own schedule and work your own hours (allowing you to fit work around your life rather than your life around work), and you can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection (without having to book time off first).
This connection and accessibility also means that the audience for your business is global. No longer are you bound by the how many potential customers there are in your town, city or even country. Statistica.com indicates that there are now more than 4.3 billion internet users in 2019 so it’s fair to say that even a small number of those users as your audience would mean significant reach.
Better still, it is easier now than it has ever been to start an online business and reach your audience. Simple and affordable technology means that you can set up a website in minutes (without any previous experience), automate parts of your business and reach your audience through search engines, social media and more. And like many start-ups, you can create an online business alongside your current job and earn whilst you learn and gain confidence.
So, if you’re interested to know what kind of business you can start online, I’ve shared below four business models that might be of interest. Take a look and see if any might be right for you.
Freelancing is one of the easiest businesses to start online. If you have a skill that other people are willing to pay for then you can become a freelancer and offer your services to businesses and individuals on a flexible basis.
The business world is changing, with companies outsourcing many of their needs. This means lots of opportunity for freelancers to step in and meet this varied demand.
The start-up costs for a freelancer are minimal too with the only real tools necessary being you, your skills and your computer. This means that you can get set up quickly and start connecting with potential clients.
There are many services that you can provide as a freelancer, here are just a few:
- Social Media Marketing
- Graphic Design
Getting clients can seem daunting but there are numerous platforms online, many of which are free, where you can advertise your services and reach clients.
It used to be hard work and expensive to sell products, either through traditional brick and mortar businesses or online. You needed a product line (either your own or from a wholesaler), marketing, warehousing, delivery and a customer services team to deal with any issues.
These things are of course still a consideration, but in todays digital world there are services like Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) that do a lot of the hard work for you and make it easier than ever to get products into the market that are based around your interests (or any niche that suits you).
With Amazon FBA you still need a product to sell, which you can create yourself or source online. Your products are then shipped direct to Amazon who store them for you, ship them to your customers for you and deal with any after-sales issues.
As a result Amazon FBA is typically cheaper and easier to set up than a traditional sales business where you handle all transactions yourself, but it will still require some investment to create or source your products. That investment is of course linked to the products you want to sell – a coffee mug is cheaper to buy than an electric powered bicycle!
It’s worth remembering that Amazon have some strict rules to follow when selling through its FBA program – but most of these are common sense, such as not selling counterfeit goods, or selling licensed products without the relevant permissions in place.
As an affiliate marketer your role is to promote someone else’s product or service, and if a purchase is made then you receive a commission for that sale. You don’t work for the company whose product or service you are selling, so you aren’t an employee.
You get to choose the products and services that you promote, so can align them with your own interests and the things you believe in or are passionate about and you don’t have to handle any payments, shipping or customer disputes.
Setting up an affiliate marketing business is quick and low cost. Lots of businesses have affiliate programs today, even a lot of the ones you use every day. You can sign up to be an affiliate, usually for free, and with a computer and internet connection start promoting. If you think about the things you buy yourself, most of the businesses you buy from will have an affiliate program, take a look, and the list is growing all the time.
Promotions can be free or paid advertising (paid driving more traffic to the products – but of course adding to your investment) and you can access your audience through your website, blog, email, social media or Youtube.
You’ve seen them, I know you have. People, many of them celebrities, on social media endorsing a product or service to their audience, which is typically quite a big one. This is an influencer.
Similar to affiliate marketing, influencers endorse other peoples’ products and serviced and receive a payment in return, often upfront, but it isn’t a business model open to everyone.
So why include it? Well, because in todays world of social media, with enough followers anyone can become an influencer. You don’t have to be a film star, musician or sports personality. And the number of followers might be less than you think – you don’t need millions or even hundreds of thousands of followers – a few hundred to a thousand followers would see you ranked as a nano influencer and allow you to start endorsing.
As you can imagine, you and access to a social media account is all you need to set up as an influencer, so start up costs are low.
Which Online Business is Right for You?
It’s worth considering a few things when deciding which business model might be right for you.
What are your business and lifestyle goals, how long are you willing to wait to start generating an income and how much effort do you want to put into your business.
For example, of the business models outlined affiliate marketing will probably take the longest to start generating a full time income, but once your systems are set up and you are generating traffic to your website your income is largely passive (you keep getting paid even after the work is done), so its a great model if you are looking for more free time.
If you want to generate income more quickly then freelancing or e-commerce are likely to provide this. If you have skills to offer and don’t want to make an initial investment then freelancing is quick to set up and you can generate income almost straight away. If you do have money to invest in products to send to Amazon then their FBA program could be a good fit and is a business you can grow over time by increasing your product line.
So, having seen the opportunities available to you, what online business would you start?
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