Best Online Business

by Jake Smolarek
Workspace flatlay

A complete guide on how to build online business.

If the last year has taught us anything, it's that doing business online is possible for many of us. Working from home still allows us to remain connected to anyone, anywhere. The internet has revolutionised industries. For many, the idea of working from home or working from anywhere has a considerable appeal. All you need is an internet connection and a device. For many, the freedom to work wherever and whenever you want is only matched by the freedom to be your own boss. Creating your own business online offers you this additional freedom to work for yourself and not have to answer to anyone higher up. Successful online businesses give you more time and flexibility and can give you additional financial freedoms. Not to mention, for many people, being your own boss working from home is a dream career. However, building a successful online business isn't as easy as you might think. There are lots of challenges to overcome, and it takes hard work, time, and dedication. It might look easy, but maintaining an online business can be a serious struggle.

What to think about before you get started

Perhaps the most significant thing to consider before you commit to an online business is the time commitment. You might think you can spend a few minutes a day checking emails and contacting clients, but, in reality, you need to be prepared to spend several hours a day at your computer. And that's in the beginning! Once your business takes off, you may spend all day every day looking at a screen. While this is fantastic if it allows you to quit your day job and focus on your online business, you may not have the time if you have other commitments. An online business requires regular attention and upkeep. Because the internet allows for frequent, fast communication, client and customers will expect you to regularly be in contact, so you will need to be available to respond. In addition to taking lots of time, online businesses are almost 100% conducted using a computer or laptop screen, and to begin with, you will likely be working alone. This is a very different working atmosphere than business conducted in an office with colleagues. You should be prepared to spend several hours a day looking at your computer without talking to anyone else. It can be lonely and hard work. Not to mention the strain on your eyes. You need to consider if you are willing to work in these conditions. If you are a people person, you may prefer working in an office with others or choosing an online business that requires you to speak to clients daily. One of the most important things to think about before setting up an online business is what you will do if it is a success. You should plan for success from the start, or you may not be prepared to take advantage of opportunities. You should look into the administrative necessities so that you know what needs to be registered, what you should tell the government, what tax you will need to pay and how any additional income will impact your life. Ensuring you have the legal side in hand can focus on running the business and building it up. If you do not know these things and suddenly find yourself making a lot of money, you may have to take time out to get things sorted, and this could cause you to lose momentum. Not to mention, if you don't get the tax situations sorted, you could end up with a hefty bill. Plan for success from day one, so when you achieve it, you're ready.

What do you need to start an online business?

Of course, the first thing you need is an excellent online business idea! If you already know what you want to do, then that's great; head to the bottom of the page to find out how to take your first steps. If you're stuck and wondering what some good online business ideas are for you is, we've listed some of the most successful online business ideas below to get you started. Make sure that whatever business you choose to start is something you are passionate about. An online business requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication, and it can often be an isolated and lonely career when you're just starting out. If you aren't truly passionate about your new online work, you may find it challenging to maintain motivation. It might sound simple, but you will need a decent, stable internet connection and a reasonably modern laptop or computer to start your online business. Being connected to the internet is essential, and a connection that keeps dropping out or runs slow may end up giving you a headache. Online companies generally have a lower start-up and overhead costs than other business models, but one of the few places you should spend money is getting set up. You don't need top-of-the-range everything, but you should invest in making sure you have the tools to run your business effectively from the beginning. The final thing you need to think about is registering your business. This is generally very simple and can be done in one afternoon. This simply makes your business official, gives you some legal rights, and means the government knows what you are doing. Head to the official government site to do this. Once you are registered as an official business, you can start making money without worrying a tax man will knock on your door and hand you a large fine.

The 15 best online business ideas for 2021

Suppose starting an online business appeals to you, but you don't know what you want to do. In that case, these are the best online business ideas for the coming year. 2021 is set to see lots of people continue working from home and many more people looking for new ways to make money as many businesses scale down. Now is a great time to get ahead of the game and set up a new business. One of these online business ideas could be your next big project.

Build a dropshipping store

Dropshipping is a super easy online business to set up. Dropshipping is like an online store, but rather than selling things yourself, you just facilitate the sale. Some of the most popular dropshipping companies in the world are Etsy or Not On The Highstreet. A dropshipping business allows you to host sellers on one platform. This increases their chances of selling, and they pay a small percentage of each sale to you. This is fantastic if you don't want to get involved in the logistics of finding, storing, and shipping items. Dropshipping allows you to keep your business 100% online, and there is less daily maintenance than running a full store yourself.

Build websites for others

If you're great at building websites and creating online web pages, you could start a business creating websites for other people. Did you know that as of February 2021, there are almost two billion websites on the internet? What's more, over 500,000 new sites are being added every day. This means that no matter how much competition is out there, you will always be able to find work helping others. Creating websites for others from scratch using coding can be a very profitable business as many people are looking for unique websites to make them stand out. However, even if you do not know any computer coding, you can still use software platforms like Squarespace and WordPress to help others build their dream website.

Freelance

Whatever skills you have or use in your day job, you can certainly turn them into a side hustle online business in your free time. If you are an accountant, you can create a website offering financial advice. If you work in social media, you can provide marketing advice. If you're a writer, you can freelance for others. All you need to get started is a website to advertise your services. In fact, you don't even need a website. Platforms such as People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Upwork are great places for freelancers to pick up extra work. Whether you are a graphic designer, computer coder, writer, lawyer, or architect, you can be paid to freelance online for other companies. You will probably have lots of competition from others as freelancing is a popular way to pick up extra money. However, this is great as you can check out the competition and make sure your pricing is right. It does take time to build a business as a freelancer, so this is a great online business that can start as a side hustle until you build up more of a client base, allowing you to quit your day job.

Sell handmade goods

If you are super crafty and make items, you can set up a digital store and sell them online. This is a really great digital business idea if you have an existing hobby or skill and want to turn it into a full-time business. Setting up an online store is super easy and doesn't take much time at all. If you don't want to set up your own store, you can use dropshipping sites, which allow multiple sellers to sell items through one large online store. This can be great to start with as you are more likely to get customers and build a reputation. However, you will have to pay the hosting site a small percentage of your sales or a small fee. Once you have started to build a customer base, you can create your own website and store, which will mean you keep 100% of the profits. As an online business, this is a super-successful, tried, and tested method of making money in the long run. The only other things you will need to think about are supply and stocks. If you make perishable goods such as cakes, you will need to ensure you can stock supplies and ship on time. You will also have to take responsibility for shipping your items and should factor this into your costs.

Market research

Companies are willing to pay big bucks to determine what people think about them, their products, and their brand. They need to know who is really buying their products, what do people really want, and why they would buy from someone else. Because the demand for information is high, if you are a consumer of anything, you can make money online by just giving your opinion. Some companies send out surveys which you can be paid to take part in. Or you can take part in tests and experiments for new products or get paid to provide feedback. The pay for surveys ranges from just a few pence to several hundred pounds, so you'll need to be smart about what you do. This can work well as an online business, and consistency really pays off. The best thing about this is you can pick it up and drop it whenever you want. If you're going to dedicate all your time to this, you can make some decent money, but it also works well as a side hustle to pick up some extra cash. The more surveys you do, the faster you'll get until you can earn a decent wage per hour if you line up lots of surveys to do. The downside is you sometimes have to dig around and spend time doing research to find the surveys. Once you get good and build up a good knowledge of consumer needs, some companies may pay you directly to provide specific market research. Doing surveys could lead you to a full-time career as a marketing consultant for major brands, all from the comfort of your home. If this is your dream, try to focus on a particular market area where you can build up your knowledge and become an expert.

Teach an online course

Online courses are becoming more and more popular. There has been a massive boom in online classes over the past year as people look to the internet for new hobbies and skills. This means the demand for new courses is at an all-time high. Whether you are a chef, jewellery maker, historian, or linguist, there will be people willing to pay to learn from you. Online courses vary from one-off sessions to courses spread out over several months. This means the costs can vary greatly, so the more time you spend making your course, the more money you will earn. The great thing about teaching online courses is that you can still interact with other people if you'd like. Real-time lessons can be beneficial and pay well, or you can prerecord videos for students to use whenever they like. You may need to create additional online recourses such as worksheets to test or check how much people are learning. As an online business, this requires more start-up effort than other business ideas as you need to create the course in its entirety before you get paid. However, once you've nailed the course, you can use the same content over and over again.

Trading

Nowadays, you don't need to be a financial expert on a trading centre floor to buy and sell shares. Many people buy, sell, and trade shares on the stock market from their own homes. Of course, this online business needs you to invest before you can start making money, as you will need to buy shares. The key to success in this business is continually having an eye on the markets and evaluating the fluctuations. This means you will need to spend a lot of time online. A fast internet connection is a must, and as this requires so much time, you should be prepared to commit. Some shares make money slowly over several months, so this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and you will need to play the long game. Having said that, online trading can become a very successful online business.

Become a social media influencer/content creator

Perhaps some people's dream job and a total nightmare for others. Becoming an influencer is an online business that takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Rather than building a brand, you are the brand. This is a great job for anyone who wants to start an online business but doesn't want to spend all day every day on their computer. Influencers also have to test products and services and arrange photoshoots. This means that as well as working on online content, you'll also have to produce it, giving you a break from the screen. However, content creators spend a lot of time online on their computers editing photos and videos, responding to email, writing blog posts and Instagram captions, leaving reviews, and talking to brands about sponsorship. Content creation can be advantageous if you are passionate about your subject area, but you should be prepared for a lot of hard work. Don't be fooled into thinking you can only write about beauty, skincare, makeup, and fashion. If you do some research, you'll also find influencers who focus on food, travel, lifestyle, gaming, cooking, DIY, and more. Whatever you choose, just make sure you love it.

Mine cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency burst onto the scene in 2009. The most famous cryptocurrency is Bitcoin which infamously turned people into billionaires overnight. Since then, the hype around online currency has died down a bit, but it can still make you a lot of money. If you want to start an online business without using external skills, mining cryptocurrency is a good idea. Mining cryptocurrency requires lots of time online and a fast internet connection. It's all about speed and consistency. Of course, the risk here is that you are getting paid in a very volatile currency that could boom or bust at any stage. This means you could become an overnight millionaire, but you could work hard to get a steady income and lose it overnight. If you do mine cryptocurrency, it's worth exchanging at least some of your winnings into a real-world currency as these are more stable and more likely to create a substantial income.

Become a blogger

If you are passionate about something and want to turn it into your career but don't know where to start, you should create a blog. Blogging involves writing regular posts or updates on your own website about anything at all that you want to write about. Try to stick to a significant theme so readers know what to expect on your blog, and you should start by posting at least once a week. This means readers will know to regularly check back to get new content. Bloggers can make money from getting more views on their site, and once you've got a good following, brands or companies may approach you to work with you to post sponsored content. Blogging takes a while to build up to getting a good following, so it would be a good idea to start blogging as a side hustle and then build up to making it your full online career. If you can source original images and photos to accompany your posts, then you'll get more hits. Blogging requires very little initial investment and start-up capital, so nothing is stopping you from getting started today.

Transcription and Audio services

Some more useful online business ideas that require very little start-up investment are transcription and audio services. Many online platforms like acx.com, which needs people to record text or sites like Transcribeme.com, which requires a transcription. These are fantastic jobs as they can be picked up or abandoned when you have enough time. If you wanted to make this a full-time online business career, it is possible to find enough work. The more you do, the faster you'll get, and the more money you can charge. You will need decent headphones if you want to do transcription work and a good microphone if you're going to record a text for radio adverts and voiceovers. Audio services and transcription work are straightforward to find online, and you can very quickly make a profit. There are more jobs every day, so the key to getting the best-paying jobs is to ensure you are regularly checking job boards, or you'll end up getting the worst-paid job. Once you've done a few jobs, you can set up a website with a portfolio, and clients may contact you directly to request your services. This will save you time as you won't need to spend hours looking for work.

Be a virtual assistant

For many people nowadays, there just isn't enough time in the day to get things done. This is actually great news for you because it means there is plenty of opportunities to pick up work as a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants handle all the online and digital admin for people who don't have the time to do it for themselves or just dislike doing it. This means they are willing to pay someone to send emails, answer invitations, book appointments, order items, check inventory, file paperwork and taxes, and complete other administrative tasks. Virtual assistant businesses often handle the administration for more than one person or company at a time. You need to be super organised but if you enjoy this work you can end up with regular clients who will pay lots of money to not have to handle these things themselves. You will need to make sure you can learn and understand all major platforms, including social media, emails, and LinkedIn, as well as have a grasp of business messaging platforms such as slack and zoom. You'll also need a good internet connection because people want to regularly contact their assistant. It wouldn't hurt to have a phone number as well.

Start a YouTube channel

YouTube is another online business channel that has been disregarded in recent years. YouTube creators got a lot of media attention in money several years ago, and now people don't really think about it, which is excellent for you because you can still earn a lot of money from YouTube. If you don't really like computers and technology starting a YouTube channel is the best way to start an online business without worrying too much about computers. And YouTube is definitely a business. The biggest YouTube stars are still earning millions every year, with the biggest earner raking in almost $30million. There is plenty of money to be made on YouTube, from racking up views to deals and sponsored content. Like all businesses, YouTube requires daily work. Besides recording, editing, and posting videos, you will need to respond to comments, work with brands other YouTubers and promote content elsewhere. Like all online businesses, this means a lot of time behind a computer, but you will be in front of the camera doing what you love when you record your videos.

Become a digital tester

Believe it or not, companies will pay you to try a new game, test a new website, or shop on a new online store. All online companies want the digital experience to be as smooth and easy as possible for their customers, which means they need to try it out on real people. You can be paid as a tester to spend time using a new digital product such as a game or spend half an hour on a new website looking at how easy it is to use. You provide feedback and notes so the company can perfect its offering before sending it to the public. Becoming a digital tester is a great way to create an online business, even if you have minimal computer skills. Companies often look for people with average computer skills to test websites because they want their offering to be easy for the average person so you can make money online without learning a new skill.

Customer support

More and more companies are looking to outsource customer support as it can be expensive to rent properties to deal with enquiries. This means that you can earn a living as a freelance customer service agent. Either by phone or over email, or live-chat, you can interact with customers and try to solve their issues. Whatever company you work with will provide an easy framework for you to follow and the answers to the most common questions and problems. This is a great online business if you are a people person and still want to interact with people on a daily basis. As well as a good internet connection and lots of patience, you will need a noise-free environment as companies don't want unhappy customers on the phone listening to a screaming child or a loud clock chiming in the background. You will also need a landline rather than a mobile as most companies prefer this to mobile devices. As you may be aware, the waiting time for customer service responses is generally quite long, so you are guaranteed work.

Taking the first steps

If you know what sort of online business ideas you want to turn into a real job, you need to take the plunge and get started. Never forget that fear kills more dreams than failure because so many people are afraid to even get started. If you don't know how to get started, then we've come up with some ideas to help you get started. Check out the competition: Once you've got your business idea, you need to take a look at what is already out there. Use a search engine to look up the potential competition. You need to see what you're up against. Look at several pages from the first page of results and several from the 15th page. You should be able to see a noticeable difference. Make notes on what might get you onto the first webpage and what you should avoid. Don't be afraid to change and adapt your idea at this early stage. You might do some research and find the market flooded, in which case you'll need to get more specific to find your niche and set yourself apart. Build your brand: Then, you should spend some time thinking about your business brand. This is the online personality you are going to create, and there are lots of online tools you can use to help you get it right. What do you want people to think of when they see your business's website? Professional? Fun? Whatever it is, you need to build your brand around some fundamental principles. This will help you create a reputable and consistent brand that will be the foundation of your business. Find your workspace: Just because an online business can be run from anywhere doesn't mean it should be. Working on your own on a computer can be very challenging, and if you want to build a sucessful online business, you need to make sure your working area is as good as possible. You don't need to hire an office space or even have a dedicated room in your home for this, but there are some key things to consider:

  • Try to use a space with some natural lighting as this has been proven to increase efficiency and productivity.
  • Make sure you buy a decent chair, or you might find yourself with back and neck pain from leaning forward too much.
  • If you need glasses, make sure you wear them. If you don't, consider investing in blue-light glasses that help counteract the effect of looking at a screen on your body. Looking at a screen all day, every day, can cause sleepless nights and anxiety.
  • Try to declutter the area around you. If you are working at your kitchen table, make sure it is clean and mess-free. Working around the mess can make you distracted and stressed.
  • If you can't buy a new laptop or computer, take yours in for a service. Technicians will be able to delete old files to speed up your device and clean it and replace broken keys.
  • If you can, find a quiet place away from distractions and noise. When working from home, it can be easy to become distracted, but you should take your new business as seriously as you would any other kind of job.
  • Find an IT Technician: Unless you are very confident when using computers, you should try to find someone who you can call in case of technical emergencies. Online businesses rely on technology, so when something goes wrong, your whole business grinds to a halt. You should know who to call if you get a computer virus, need more storage space, your computer crashes, or you lose an important file. Even if your business doesn't involve complicated computer programming or coding, it's reassuring to know someone can help you.
  • Ask for help: No matter how much business experience you have, you will need help. Just because your new business is mainly online doesn't mean it isn't a serious business venture. You will need help and support along the way. This will range from emotional support from friends and family to professional advice from a life coach, mentor, or industry expert. When starting your online business, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Bring your online business to life

If you've always wanted the freedom of working for yourself and starting an online business, now is the perfect item to get started. In general, people are becoming more accepting of working from home. All you need is an idea and a good internet connection to get started. If you're nervous, start with something that can be your side hustle while you get things sorted and work out if your new venture will succeed. The beauty of an online business is that everything is up to you, and you can build an online business that suits you and your life. There is nothing to lose by getting started and perhaps a lot to gain.

About the Author

Jake Smolarek

Life and Business Coach & Entrepreneur

For over 10 years I have been helping people achieve their personal, professional, and financial goals faster and easier than they've ever imagined.

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