Owning and maintaining an online business gives entrepreneurs the freedom to make money from anywhere in the world. The idea is enticing, and more possible than ever, but many entrepreneurs don’t know where to start. The most important step in starting a profitable online business is to find a business idea that matches your skills and strengths.
Whether you are looking to become a full-time entrepreneur or just to start a part-time business for passive income, your product or service should fulfill a specific consumer need. We’ve compiled a series of profitable need-based businesses, with minimal startup costs, that you can start as soon as possible.
1. SEO consultant
If you know the ins and outs of search engines and have technical skills in platforms like Google Ads and Google Analytics, becoming an SEO consultant could be a lucrative option for you. Many small business owners don’t realize how much of an impact search engine optimization (SEO) can have on their business. Start your online consulting business by educating those business owners on the power of SEO to help transform their websites and increase their conversion rates.
You could use your marketing skills to show business owners the benefits of using analytics data, strategic keywords and content structure to gain more organic web traffic. If you are unfamiliar with SEO or want to brush up on your digital marketing skills, you can refer to Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
Keep in mind that Google’s algorithms are always changing, so you will need to continue your education on SEO to stay relevant and successful in this field.
2. Small business consultant
If you have a great deal of business experience and knowledge, why not create a business that helps aspiring entrepreneurs find success? As a business consultant, you could use your skills to help new business owners get off to a good start and help experienced entrepreneurs keep up with demand. Your chances of success are greater if you focus your strategy on a niche aspect of business consulting.
To add to your credibility, demonstrate your expertise and bring in clients, it is helpful to be present in the digital business community. You can contribute to small business communities like business.com or write business articles on platforms like LinkedIn.
3. Social media consultant
Larger enterprises can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their social media accounts, but small businesses often have to handle their own social media marketing. With so many responsibilities, business owners are often too busy, overwhelmed or undereducated about the importance of a social media presence to spend time developing and implementing a great social media strategy. As a social media consultant, you can help small businesses determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. As their follower count grows, so will your business.
Facebook and Twitter are still the top business networks, but businesses often tend to struggle with more visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge consumer audiences, but many businesses don’t realize how big they are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their brand. If you have a background in social media marketing and a passion for photography, focusing your consulting business on one specific platform, like Instagram, can be a great way to make money while helping other businesses improve their content and achieve their business goals.
4. Niche market e-commerce retailer
There’s an audience for everything, even if it’s as specific as dollhouse furniture or organic dog food. With a niche e-commerce site, you can reach customers who seek your specific products. Building a business in a niche market can help you differentiate yourself from other brands and build your credibility and expertise. Look to social media or your own consumer needs to come up with a product to sell on your online store.
To get your e-commerce business up and running, all you need is a web hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or e-commerce software. To simplify the shipping process, you can work with vendors to ship products to customers on your behalf. This can reduce the amount of inventory you need to keep onsite. [Read related article: A Small Business Guide to E-Commerce Shipping]
5. Web designer or web developer
If you are a creative, digital professional who thrives on forming the layout, visual theme, font set and color palette of a website, freelance web design may be a good path for you. If you have little to no experience in this field, you can learn the basics of web design and master the tools you’ll need for success, like Adobe XD, Chrome DevTools and text editor software.
Put your technical and creative skills to good use for business owners who want to take their online presence to the next level. Build a comprehensive portfolio, and then create your own website to show it off and attract a steady stream of clients.