Ultimately, starting an online business is similar to starting a business with a physical storefront. You’ll still need to do business planning and you’ll benefit from making sure you understand your tax obligations from the start. Just don’t underestimate the importance of putting together a functional website and getting it in front of your target market.
Earning money on GigWalk is similar to working on Task Rabbit—not a bad side business idea if you've got the free time. You get to choose from an amusingly diverse range of jobs from taking snapshots of restaurant menus to counting the items arrayed on supermarket racks. It won’t make you rich though, with payouts tending to congregate in the lower half of their $3-to-$100 range. But, if you're looking for a steady little side business idea, it can't hurt doing a strange but fun errand and getting a tip at the end. When you’re bored or a little short on cash, you can access GigWalk anytime, anywhere via their mobile app. Meanwhile, all the jobs specifically vetted for you will be within reach (ideally, just a brisk walk away).
The number of websites and blogs operating online demand a constant stream of high-quality, beautiful photographs that can help businesses attract and convert more customers. Setting up a stock photo library is a great business idea as it targets virtually every industry regardless of a company’s size. Check out sites like SmugMug, Photoshelter and iStockPhoto for more information.
Be prepared to face a catch-22 when it comes to funding. “More often than not, a home-based business is going to require less capital, but often, because most of the funding is for intangible assets, it’s harder to get more traditional sources of funding,” says David Nilssen, CEO and cofounder of Guidant Financial Group, a firm specializing in self-directed IRAs and small business financing. If you’re having trouble getting a traditional bank loan, Nilssen recommends these options for obtaining outside funding.
If you have experience with marketing, SEO or a knack for getting people excited about the products and services you use on a regular basis, think about refining your skills and putting them to work as a small business marketing consultant in your region—especially if you can become a local SEO expert and can help local clients rank higher in their search results as your side business idea. Businesses of all sizes are in constant need of bringing in more customers, which is where you come in with your business idea. Start by pitching some of these small business marketing ideas by Brian Downard and you'll be sure to impress the first set of clients you begin working with in your area.
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Carpets make your home warm and cozy. But they also tend to gather dust, grime, stains, allergens and bugs over time. You can tap into this opportunity by launching a carpet cleaning side business idea or serving as an independent contract cleaner in your free time. Either way, you’ll need to invest in proper equipment such as vacuum cleaners, carpet brushes, and cleaning chemicals in order to launch this business idea. Look into the possibility of renting equipment for a full weekend and lining up 5-10 clients to service, to offset your rental costs. If you turn a healthy profit, you'll eventually be able to invest in owning your own equipment and increase your margins, thus going from side hustle to serious business.
The basic idea behind an online drop shipping business is that, as a small business owner, you don’t have to maintain a large inventory of products or handle any delivery to your customers. That eliminates the financial cost and risk of having a warehouse full of stuff you might not sell, and the hassle of arranging to send orders all over the country or the world. In fact, you don't have to manufacture or store any products at all.
Cash, or the lack of it, is one of the key indicators of a company’s success over the long run. If you have cash, you can buy and stock new products for your customers, develop innovative new services for your clients, pay for your day-to-day operations, and expand your operations. If you don’t have cash, your business will certainly suffer, and so will your customers and clients.
Recently, I have been thinking about my other passion… motivation and inspiration. I have though that maybe my unique advantage is to merge my photos with words of motivation. I could add more products such as posters, calendars, cd’s, etc. much like one of those motivation sites. It would be personal to my photography and my knack for inspiring others.
Techies can hedge their bets by doing some trouble-shooting work, too. On the service side, "the margins can be high because you're not competing with global operators," says Avron Barr, principal at Aldo Ventures, a software technology consulting firm in Aptos, Calif. Taken together, the "software publishing" bucket--which the IRS takes to mean both coders and help-desk types--boasts an average 14% pretax margin.
Mobile applications are more popular than ever, and people are willing to pay good money for ways to manage their lives from their smartphones. If you have a great idea and happen to know coding, you can run with it and create your app yourself. If you just have an idea and don't know the ins and outs of how to turn it into a reality, there are plenty of software developers looking to collaborate with people on app creation.
One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer's lifetime value. At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that first sale is by far the most difficult part--not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to get them to buy again:
Natalie! I feel like you wrote your comment just for me! My list is tiny and I DON’T email them often *facepalm*. I mean having totally manageable numbers means I can engage them in conversation, yet my head’s been firmly in the sand longer than I care to remember. SMH. That’s all changing this week, though! I’m challenging myself to reach out and foster engagement in my tribe. Can I get a witness!? :D
Are you ready to start your own successful home-based business? Whether you’re doing business at home or away from home, it helps to set up an LLC or other business structure to protect yourself from liabilities and boost your business’s credibility. When you’re ready to form your business entity, Incfile can help you for as low as $49 + state fees.
When Disbrow set up her business, she says jumping through the hoops was pretty easy. Her city required her to register her business and fill out a few pages of paperwork. “They just want to make sure you’re not running a dentist office out of your garage,” she says. “But if I hadn’t known about the requirement for registering, I could have gotten in trouble.”
Driving for one of the two globally expanding app-centric taxi alternative services, Uber or Lyft can still be a fairly lucrative way to earn money as a side business idea on nights and weekends—working only when you want. But before you dive head first into this side business idea, do your homework and calculate the costs of extra gas, mileage, tires, wear & tear and usage on your vehicle—it's not a guaranteed business idea that'll turn a huge profit every weekend.