The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States, as people from all walks of life are always on the lookout for the next wave of great online business opportunities.
A good online business can be an excellent secondary source of income. Best of all, an online business can allow a person to pursue an interest or enter a field that they’re passionate about, making the effort all the more worthwhile.
This article will highlight 7 ways in which a person can find some easy-to-start online business opportunities, offering a bit of guidance and insight into the process of operating an online business.
What Is an Online Business Opportunity?
An online business opportunity is any business that predominantly operates online, and probably lacks a brick-and-mortar retail store.
While an online business might have a warehouse (or even a garage or storage unit) in which the business houses its inventory, much of the appeal of an online business is that it does not feature the significant overhead costs associated with a retail store.
In many cases, online businesses have much better profit margins because they are selling directly to their customers, rather using a middleman. Businesses such as Amazon have proven, consumer sales are still a wildly-lucrative market, but many consumers are fatigued with the traditional retail downsides, such as crowds, waiting in line, and the excessive margins needed to stay solvent in retail.
Why Look for Online Business Opportunities?
For many of the reasons stated above, online business opportunities are often not only more profitable than their retail counterparts but also more streamlined and time-efficient.
People have begun to recognize the value of time as a true commodity, and the modern generation has greatly shifted away from the traditional 40-hours-per-week model. As a result, people have sought passive or residual income streams to bolster.
The primary appeal of an online business for a lot of people is that it does not constrict them to set office hours or confine them to a given location. While many online business owners work twice as hard as their nine-to-five counterparts, online businesses often come with schedule and time flexibility that many people prefer.
7 Places to Look for Easy-to-Start Online Business Opportunities
The potential for a great online business opportunity is only limited by the creativity of the entrepreneur or investor.
Many people get excited about the idea of an online business after hearing about a success story from a friend or seeing something online or on TV that sparks a great idea. And though these people may conceive of an idea and think it would be an easy business to start, many don’t know where to begin to look for online business opportunities.
Below are 7 suggestions for online home-based business ideas:
1. Foreign Markets
Many savvy business owners look internationally to see what might be popular before importing it into the United States or Canada for sale. For example, if a particular product is selling significantly in Japan but there is no current North American comparable, a shrewd business person could import the product and turn a tidy profit with minimal hassle.
It goes without saying that this type of business would incur sizable start-up costs in most cases. If the business owner plans to sell a physical product, he or she would need to invest in an initial collection of inventories.
The business owners would incur the risk that a top-selling product from Asia or Europe wouldn’t play as well in North America, and could be stuck with a warehouse full of inventory that can’t be liquidated.
Even if a business owner opts not to import a chunk of inventory from a foreign market, he or she can still look to other markets for inspiration. There may be cheaper ways to do a product or service similar to one offered abroad within the friendly confines of the USA.
2. Starting a Blog
While many people begin blogs as a way to simply express their viewpoints on a given topic or celebrate their passion with like-minded individuals, a strong, good-looking blog can eventually become a very viable business opportunity.
As the blogs increase in views, the potential to monetize the blog via product or e-book sales emerges.
E-commerce simply refers to any transaction that occurs electronically. While this can be a simple cash-for-product exchange, it can also include data exchanges and more.
The term “e-business” accounts for all aspects of an online business, while e-commerce specifically refers to the exchange of services, data, or goods. There are myriad forms of e-commerce, with sales between businesses and consumers often being two-way streets.
Additionally, e-commerce can include straightforward transactions such as a simple online purchase, but also includes revenue-generating projects such as crowdfunding as well as subscription services.
E-commerce businesses can be used very effectively to make money in relatively short periods of time, thus the basis of their appeal. But these are actual businesses that require effort and know-how, and prospective online business owners would do well to educate themselves on the basics of e-commerce.
Moreover, many people use money transfer services such as PayPal or Venmo on a near-daily basis to complete electronic purchases. But it’s important for potential business owners to familiarize themselves with the various forms of e-commerce available, as to learn about the various fee structures associated with each form.
For instance, PayPal imposes a standard fee structure of 2.9% of transaction cost plus $0.30 per transaction. While this does not seem significant, if an online business owner is selling lower-cost goods at a higher volume, this particular fee structure could really dig into a business’s profits.
In short, if starting an online business is potentially in your future, be sure to educate yourself on the basics of contemporary e-commerce. This approach may not only reveal new or unique online business opportunities for a potential owner but will also ensure that the business uses the smartest online practices.
4. Opening an eBay Store
While some people with a flawed understanding of eBay might roll their eyes, the truth is that eBay is the world’s largest global marketplace. The world’s largest eBay sellers are involved in thousands of transactions every month, and an online business owner with a great product would be wise to utilize the market reach of eBay.
The benefit of selling on eBay is that an owner is offering a product to the world. In fact, many of the most successful eBay sellers (36%) are “cross-border traders”, meaning that they operate in one country and sell the majority of their inventory in another.
While eBay’s fee structure is notable (usually 10%, though exceptions apply), the upside is that an online business owner can create sustained customer relationships across the globe.
The other advantage is that a potential business owner can operate in a space that he or she has a unique understanding of, and thus gain a significant advantage within a given market.
For example, if a potential business owner happens to know about rare coins, eBay offers a global platform and worldwide exposure wherein the owner can carve out a market niche. The fee structure is again quite high, but it also offers additional liquidity to hard assets that collectors or investors might otherwise have difficulty moving.
5. Buying or Investing in a Pre-existing Online Business
Those who have investment capital but limited interest in running their own business can instead scout for investible online businesses. Some people may prefer to buy an online business rather than start their own, and this could be a good opportunity.
For example, some businesses might sell a certain product extremely well – so well, in fact, that they have a hard time meeting online purchase orders.
Because online businesses are often looking for additional working capital, clever investors can potentially buy into successful online businesses that already exist, obtaining equity with a given company in exchange for cash up front.
To take this idea a step further, an investor could purchase a complete business. A routine internet search will produce a list of online businesses for sale, and potential buyers can do additional research to see which businesses or spaces best suit their particular interests.
6. Buying Up Strong Domain Names
A shrewd business person could find a great online business opportunity in the purchase and sale of online domain names.
Domain names are often critical to the success of an online business. A great, short online name drives traffic (and thus sales) to a website, while a cumbersome or undescriptive name can inadvertently chase away hundreds of prospective customers.
The sale of domain names is actually a business in an of itself, with sites such as GoDaddy hosting auctions for names with investment potential. Bidders and buyer can purchase domain names for sale at relatively low costs, with the idea that bigger businesses will eventually want to purchase the domain names from an owner at a hefty profit.
So, someone looking for a fresh online business opportunity could consider getting into domain name sales, as some names can be purchased like penny stocks for under $1. But other owners who already have a product or service in-mind may want to do some scouting to ensure that the purchase cost of a good domain name for their business won’t be excessive.
7. Web Design or Overhaul
Lastly, programmers and those with technical know-how can create an opportunity for themselves by building or improving websites. If you understand HTML and have a flair for aesthetics, you can carve out a great niche for yourself by designing or overhauling websites for small online businesses.
In fact, a person with a talent for web design might find that this skill serves as an entry to additional online business opportunities, as web-page design will indirectly give the designer a lot of insight into various online small businesses.
The designer could then decide which business best meshes with her or his interests, and possibly invest in or join a successful online business permanently.
Be Creative to Find Great New Business Opportunities
Successful online business opportunities are only limited by the creativity of the entrepreneur or the business owner. Starting an online business has never been easier, as the wealth of educational platforms and guidance is at an all-time high.
If you are looking for a few suggestions for starting an online business, remember these ideas:
- Look into foreign markets
- Consider starting a blog
- Learn the ins-and-outs of e-commerce
- Open an eBay Store
- Purchase or invest in a pre-existing online business
- Buy or trade domain names
- Design or overhaul the company website for a business
The one thing that you can bring to an online business is your own perspective and ingenuity.
What online business opportunities have you tried so far?
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