By Lancey Clemons
Starting an online business has been on your mind for quite some time now. You have time to spare and you want to maximize it by generating a steady cash flow.
Most businesses are capital intensive but an online business requires little capital. It fits your circumstances – an individual with limited resources.
While the thought of getting started motivates you, you are not sure where to start. Ideas run through your head but you cannot seem to choose.
If anything, you understand that building an online business helps you obtain and share knowledge. But the picture in your head is not clear and you need, at the very least, some guidelines.
The good news is that, given how much the Internet has evolved over the years, your opportunities are almost endless. Your biggest challenge, however, is to choose a venture that works.
Common Types of Online Business
If you are not sure what kind of online business to pursue, below are three common entry points to help you arrive at an informed decision:
1. Affiliate Marketing
Becoming an affiliate marketer is not as complicated as many online gurus make it out to be. Simply put, affiliate marketing is about re-selling or promoting the products or services of other entrepreneurs and companies. Affiliate marketers earn a specific commission rate for every product or service sold.
The biggest challenge for this kind of online venture is building a stable and large enough audience who can support your brand or product recommendations. Some marketers go the extra mile to build their credibility until they gain a following. They review products on their blog or create a reseller business website, oftentimes evolving into real influencers.
2. Ecommerce Store
This online business model is perfect for retailers or wholesalers who have no capital but plan to build an actual store in the future. With an ecommerce store, sellers can showcase pictures of their goods and encourage visitors to make a purchase.
One of the best ways to succeed in this online business is to direct your energy into creating a user-friendly website. Your website should not only display your products in an appealing way, but it should be easy to navigate and have features that enhance users’ browsing experience.
All successful ecommerce stores come with a shopping cart, which enable users to purchase multiple products at the same time. They also have a built-in payment terminal where buyers can choose from a variety of online payment options.
Online gigs are mostly means to an end. Any service individuals or companies are willing to pay for online is essentially an online gig. This may be in the form of data entry, surveys, email marketing or writing articles.
Gigs run for a specific duration. Once they end, you will have to apply for and complete another project. The good thing is that you can stow away your earnings to fund a future project or business undertaking.
While considered by many as mere stepping stones to the real world of online money-making, an accumulation of gigs may turn into some kind of online business. That is, if you are willing to stick it out and create an effective business model out of it.
4. New Business Models
As digital technology evolves, so do online businesses. These days, even “information” is a lucrative commodity.
Experts from any field can now sell their knowledge online through e-learning websites. Either they offer online classes and training modules for a fee or grant customers access to their knowledge base through paid subscription plans.
The emergence of online marketplaces have also fuelled the growth of Software as a Service (SaaS). These are online tools designed to provide solutions or address business problems. Businesses or individuals can purchase these programs online to improve their business and increase their earnings.
New business models have paved the way to creative freedom. Web designers can sell themes and templates they themselves designed while writers can sell their articles to various content mills. Graphic designers and developers can do the same in their respective fields.
Choosing the Right Online Business
The truth is that different business models will work for different individuals or businesses. What may be lucrative for one company may not be so for another. Your goal is to find a model that matches your immediate needs and personal preferences.
Ask basic questions. How soon will you set up your business? Will you be operating on a short-term or long-term basis? How much capital do you need? These questions will help you adopt the most viable business model.
Lancey Clemons is a blogger and digital marketer. He blogs about technology, e-commerce, SEO and many other topics. He is currently connected with Sydney-based SEO Specialists.