Online businesses have tremendous appeal to people who find themselves being worn down by the 9-to-5 grind or have a strong need for more time or schedule flexibility. Moreover, many people dream of working for themselves or seeing a passion project brought to life.
The good news is that starting an online business doesn’t have to be a dream. A sharp entrepreneur can get a business started without quitting her or his day job.
This article will discuss how to start an online business while still dealing with the responsibilities and time constraints that come with a full-time job.
Let’s dive in!
What Are the Most Successful Online Businesses?
There is no preset formula for creating a successful online business, though there are a handful of traits that great online small businesses tend to have in common.
One main thing that a lot of the most successful online businesses have in common is that they rely on the skills of the business owner rather than inventory. For example, some of the most profitable online businesses focus on owner skills such as SEO, web design, technical writing, and so on.
While there are ways to expand these businesses that will increase expenditures, initially, many successful online businesses are just a business owner with a well-honed skill and a laptop or smartphone.
In some cases, potential online business owners will have a specific product or product line that they wish to sell. It’s not uncommon for online businesses to import and sell goods from Asia in North America, or vice versa, and clever small business owners are skilled at identifying various market opportunities related to consumer goods.
But in many other cases, owners launch great online businesses with only their expertise and minimal equipment.
Below are some other commonalities that successful small online businesses share:
1. They Fill a Need Within a Market
The most successful businesses – online or otherwise – work by identifying demand for a good or service within a given market, and fulfilling the demand to the best of their ability.
What separates many of the successful online businesses from the ones that fail is that some owners become focused on a particular product or service, regardless of the market’s apparent demand for it.
Business owners are then compelled to use overly aggressive sales techniques as a way to make the market accept the product or service. Putting aside the debatable effectiveness of this approach, selling a product or service can become very costly.
Meanwhile, the clever and often more successful owners read a given market and then tailor their offered products or services to match the demand. Not only does this cut back on the cost of selling a particular product or service, but owners are often able to build their business more rapidly via gross profit.
2. They Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising
While online businesses ultimately want to generate organic traffic to their websites – though of course using effective SEO and backlinks techniques – using Pay-Per-Click Advertising in the early days of a business can be a very effective way to drive traffic to a site while great backlinks and keywords help it climb Google rankings.
Firstly, PPC ads appear on search pages right away, and secondly, PPC ads let you explore different keywords, prices, headlines, and even different selling styles. Not only do you get instant traffic, but you can also utilize PPC ads to find the best, and highest converting keywords. Then you can allocate those keywords throughout your site, in both your copy and code, which will impact your rankings with organic search results.
How to Start an Online Business from Home
The daunting part of starting an online business for most people is that they assume that any online business will incur a ton of initial costs. While this can be the case in some situations, more often than not individuals can start successful online businesses from the comfort of their homes.
But what most people don’t know is that they can start an online business for free – or at the least, very inexpensively – using their home as their primary workspace.
Other Suggestions on How to Start an Online Business
One of the benefits of working a regular job while you build or select an online business is that you can be a bit discriminating in your choices. Because you are not yet relying on an online business as your primary source of income, you do not have to jump at the first opportunity that presents itself.
That said, a potential entrepreneur can find great online business opportunities in a number of different places. Below are a few of the more common approaches people take when attempting to start an online business:
3. Consider Selling on eBay or Amazon
While some may not consider eBay or Amazon sales as legitimate online businesses, sellers who move the most volume on both sites often do thousands of transactions per month. In many cases, very legitimate, successful online businesses operate on eBay, Amazon, or both forums.
The downsides of running an online business on either eBay or Amazon are that the business is reliant on products rather than services and that both eBay and Amazon charge somewhat considerable seller fees. eBay, for example, charges a final value fee of 8-10% on most sales. This can cut into profit margins significantly.
That said, eBay and Amazon both offer global exposure and plug-and-play selling formats, greatly reducing many of the time-consuming drawbacks associated with running an online business.
In many cases, an eBay or Amazon seller account won’t be enough to satisfy the entrepreneurial spirit of many small-business owners. But if the primary goal is generating revenue and getting away from the 40-hours-per-week work schedule, then eBay and Amazon both serve as good options.
A few of the best items to sell on eBay include low-weight, strong margin items such as video games and personalized jewelry. An online business owner’s personal expertise will greatly come into play, but these are just examples of products that a potential owner may want to consider selling.
4. Trade Domain Names
If you have any familiarity with stock trading, then you know about the concept of active trading and penny-stock trading. Website domain names are traded in a very similar way, with investors and speculators buying up potentially intriguing domain names and attempting to flip them for a quick, tidy profit.
Many small business owners know that a great domain name can be the difference between heavy web traffic and a fight to drive traffic to a given site. Domain names for sale online can have a great deal of value, and people looking for a secondary source of income could do worse than to further investigate domain name trading.
If you can obtain a strong domain name at a minimal cost, there’s a good chance you later sell the name to an eager buyer at a significant profit.
While this type of online business could take some time to build, in other cases, an investor could happen upon a great domain name and turn a sizable profit almost immediately.
5. Buy Expired Domains
Another commonly used (but lucrative) tactic is to buy expired domains, particularly if the domain name includes a strong keyword or would seem to have major appeal for a particular business or industry.
Every day, several thousand domain names expire. This can happen for a large number of reasons, such as owner negligence or the prior owner transitioning away from a given project or space.
While expired domain names don’t have much value to most people, they can have incredible value to a select audience. For example, if a domain such as “discountlaptops.com” were to expire, you can bet that there would be a swarm of potential investors looking to pounce on it.
If you are looking to get an online business up-and-running, and you understand some of the less appreciated ways to drive traffic to a given site – such as great backlinks and strong SEO – then you may have a distinct advantage in the expired domains market.
There are a number of websites dedicated to rounding up domain names for sale, and if you are interested in generating some largely passive income – or doing some light investing – then you may find that scouting domain names are a good way to help build an online business.
If the idea of buying and trading domain names appeals to you, check out some of the sites that host domain name trading, and see if this is an online business idea that you are possibly interested in pursuing more.
6. Locate an Online Business for Sale
If you are working a day job with an eye on launching an online business, why not consider cutting out the middle part of the project and just purchase a pre-existing online business?
People who have an interest in operating their own small business online but want to skip the tedious steps of building a customer base and driving traffic to a website can opt to buy an online business that’s already operational.
Unless a person has a particular passion project or a great idea for an online business, purchasing a small online business can often be the most profitable and time-effective way to go.
In a similar fashion to domain names, there is a litany of websites dedicated to the sale and exchange of small online businesses. Potential business owners can check out some of the online businesses currently available and decide if this is an avenue they wish to tread down.
Starting an Online Business Is Simpler Than You Think
When a lot of people think about starting an online business, they assume that the process has to be drawn out and that there has to be a significant pain period before the business owner can realize a profit. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth.
To recap, a few great ideas for starting a successful online business include:
- Buying and trading expired domains
- Creating a seller store on Amazon on eBay
- Purchasing a pre-existing online business
While in some cases it will take an online business a bit of time to become profitable. A business owner working a day job can begin to reap benefits from an online business venture almost immediately.
Are you planning to start an online business?
Tell us what you plan to do in the comments below!