If you’re looking to bootstrap an online business with only a modest amount of capital, you’d do well to consider starting it up online. Rather than spending valuable resources finding the perfect bricks-and-mortar location, you could set up a virtual presence and get your business up and running in a fraction of the time. We have hundreds of online businesses for sale on Bizdaq.
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as all that. In addition to coming up with an idea that will pull in the punters, you’ll also need to create your site and figure out how – through a range of online and possibly offline marketing strategies – you can drive trade to your site. Setting up an online business without a business development strategy is a bit like building a shop in a field in the middle of nowhere.
While you should be ambitious, you do need to temper it with common sense. You may like the sound of setting up shop as a graphic designer, but unless you have design skills and some experience of the digital and creative market, you might struggle to make it pay. The best place to start is with your own strengths. You don’t need to know it all, but you need to feel confident you can deliver the service you promise.
Profitable businesses have one thing in common: they serve customers. Every business will do this differently – but all will provide goods or services that solve problems, improve efficiencies or satisfy a specific need. The opportunities are there and the market is potentially limitless. As long as you’re prepared to put in the time, you could build an online business to be proud of.
Social Media Consultant
This is a role that’s bubbled up in recent years due to the magnitude of the marketing opportunity that exists across global social media platforms. No business can afford to ignore social media – in fact many are increasingly compelled to adopt it as one of their primary communications channels, as customers demonstrate their preference for contacting companies via platforms such as Facebook.
Because it’s such a public forum and businesses can’t afford to neglect it as a PR tool, more and more are employing specialists to handle their interaction. Larger firms can hire a full-time staff member or task their marketing department with managing their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but small businesses often have to juggle their own social media marketing. With so many other responsibilities to oversee, it can be a big ask for business owners to spend the necessary time developing and implementing a great social media strategy.
This is where a good freelance consultant comes into the picture. As a consultant, you can help them work out the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. You might be commissioned for a set number of hours a week and will need to keep detailed records of your activity so you can provide a report at the end of each month. Generally, your success will be tied into that of your client –as their following, so will your business. You need to be social media savvy to do this job – and have a talent for communicating to different audiences. Get it right, though and you could carve out a profitable niche.
Become a blogger
Anyone can start a blog. All you need is hosting and a domain – WordPress is a good place to start and offers a large range of professional-looking templates that make it easy to get up and running without too much technical know-how. If you have an aptitude for writing and a passion for something – dog training, cake decorating, monster truck rallies – that you think others might share, you have the opportunity to reach a global audience.
The hard part is making money out of it. Good writers can make a decent living writing ghost blogs for their clients. There’s a growing need for quality content and not every business has the time or resource to create content in house. If you want to earn money through your own blog, you need to gain large volumes of traffic. Once you’ve got the footfall, you can look at the various ways of monetising your blog – through selling advertising space, offering premium services and member-only areas, or through affiliate sales.
If your blog provides really top-notch information that serves your audience – step-by-step instructions on restoring model trains, for instance – you could think about using Google Adsense or selling advertising space directly on your blog. For example, the train restorer might be able to sell ads to manufacturers of specialist paint or parts or publishers of magazines and books on the subject. By promoting affiliate products on your blog, in your videos or whatever medium you use, you can make money while you sleep. You could sell also your own products – online training courses that leverage your expertise, perhaps.
Sell on eBay
Selling on eBay successfully isn’t an easy option but it can be lucrative. Some people use eBay as an extension of an existing business – they run a shoe shop that specialises in hiking footwear and offer their products on eBay because it might open up a new market for them. If you’re starting from scratch, you should be looking at targeting a niche where the profit margins are high and competition is low. Think twice before selling products that are expensive to post or that require a unique listing every time – vintage china, for example.
If you pick the right product, you can import items and make huge profit margins out of ‘drop shipping’ goods. The great thing about drop shipping is that you only buy stock when your customer makes their purchase. So you can open an online store with absolutely no stock and you’re your orders shipped straight from the supplier to the customer. No need to be stuck with items you might not sell or to store, pack or ship the goods – it’s all done for you. SaleHoo is a great resource for finding suppliers.
Another option would be to offer people in your community an eBay sales service. Lots of people have stuff they’d like to get rid of but don’t have the time or skills to list it themselves on eBay – some don’t want to go to the hassle of setting up an account or worrying about handling payments. You can offer to photograph, list, pack and ship their goods for a percentage of the sale price (plus maybe a set admin fee). It could be a good way to put your foot in the door.