Define your product or service. Starting an online business gives you the benefit of having access to millions of customers, but you also have a lot more competition. No matter what you're trying to sell, you can bet that hundreds more online retailers have a similar idea. What differentiates your product from other similar products? To help your product stand apart from the rest, you'll need to find a niche.
Many small companies and startups now outsource jobs that aren’t part of their core business (such as HR, admin, and accounting), which makes this skill set a great opportunity for starting a side business idea that engages your number prowess. Because companies always need to track their cash flow, freelance accountants and bookkeepers can really benefit from the increasing demand for part-time help.
These reasons are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the importance of being online. Not only will you improve your business’s visibility but you’ll also have some great opportunities to talk to all your customers. Got some new products? Received some great feedback from a customer? Being online gives you a great platform to shout about your business through a variety of channels, tools and techniques, not all of which require a hefty budget.
Like other forms of self-employment, home-based businesses face a number of challenges relating to financial management and tax compliance. Part of the business plan that is prepared prior to forming a home-based business is a financial plan detailing how much it will cost to begin the new venture and keep it running. After the business has been established, it is vital that the entrepreneur set up a good bookkeeping system to manage cash flow and ensure compliance with tax laws. Bookkeeping systems can be manual or computer based. Experts also recommend that entrepreneurs set up a separate checking account for their home-based businesses in order to better document business expenses. Canceled checks, paid bills, invoices, sales slips, receipts, and other financial documentation should be kept on file in case of an audit. Another important aspect of financial planning for a home-based business is tracking working capital—the difference between current assets (cash, accounts receivable, and inventory) and current liabilities (operating expenses, debts, and taxes)—in order to maintain a realistic picture of where the business stands financially.
Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business News Daily and Business.com staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.
Building a solid customer base is much easier said than done. At the heart of the process is creating an organization that values its current customers and goes out of its way to ensure their satisfaction and happiness. Customers are smart — they can tell whether they are high or low on a company’s list of priorities. If they sense that you don’t care much about whether they do business with you, they’ll likely jump ship as soon as another company that really does care about them comes along.
Web designers are incredibly valuable for technology companies—which is why becoming a freelance web designer is a top side business idea today. Web design is all about mastering the art of creating a beautiful, value-driven experience for the people using a website or app. There are always new websites popping up in need of professional web design, and foundational books like HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites by acclaimed web designer Jon Duckett and Don't Make Me Think by user experience legend Steve Krug will get you started down the right path to quickly determining whether or not becoming a web designer is a viable side business idea for you.
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.