The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.
At some point, you might be ready to hire employees. Fortunately, that won’t necessarily require you to expand into a commercial office space because your employees can work remotely from their own homes. Not only is it becoming more common to have a remote workforce, apps and other tools make it fairly easy to manage others from afar, so long as the job can be done remotely and you use the right tools.
Like graphic design, Web design requires skills that can take years to acquire and perfect. But if you have them, the market is there for creating attractive, useful Web sites for all sorts of organizations. Starting a Web-design business does require some up-front investment, particularly in software, although candidates to start Web-design firms might have those applications already.
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.
The trend of healthy eating is here to say. Yet with so much contradictory advice online about what is good for us and what is not, more and more people turn to professional nutritionists for specialist tips and guidance. You can easily find free online courses to learn the fundamentals of this profession and start offering personalised nutrition plans online.
If you speak like James Earl Jones or Scarlett Johansson, quite a number of digital publishers (including game developers, animated film-makers, and training video producers) pay good money for voice talent and the time investment isn't too intensive—making this a great side business idea. You can find these publishers looking for voice-over artists on sites like PeoplePerHour, Freelancer and Upwork, as well as their calls for talent directly on their websites or through voiceover agents. If you do pursue this as a side business idea, be prepared to invest for the long-haul as it can be a very competitive industry.
You can also use an all-inclusive ecommerce web service. Sites such as Shopify and Volusion offer competitive packages, with free templates, custom packages, credit card processing, and more. Ecommerce web services makes it easy to sell your products on the web, without a lot of overhead. There are no custom interfaces or templates to work with; you simply create an online store within the framework of the service.
If editing and advising college students on how to write compelling 500 word essays on topics such as "You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech," seems like a compelling business idea to allocate your free time towards, trust me—tons of parents will pay you to edit admissions essays and offer constructive feedback for their children. Be careful not to blur the ethical line of actually writing their essays, but serving as an editor to help them convey their message can become a great side business idea that has the potential to spread by word-of-mouth referral in your community.