Newsflash: it’s impossible for you to achieve all your entrepreneurial dreams if you haven’t even decided on an online business idea. From a product-based fashion store to a service-based graphic design agency, the choices are endless.
That said, it’s important to choose the right option for you. After all, this decision could be the difference between a thriving business and one that struggles to get off the ground.
You have to be passionate about your business. It has to give you the drive that you need to get out of bed and work on it every day. And you have to be able to remember why you’re choosing to be your own boss, whether this is so that you can travel the world or spend more time at home with your kids.
I know that making this decision is easier said than done, but I’m here to help the best I can. In fact, if you’re ready to start an exciting new chapter of your life as a mover and shaker, let’s not waste any more time!
1. Find Your Niche
How to choose the best online business idea for you 101: decide on a sector that you want to specialise in. This is called a niche, i.e. an area of expertise that you’ll know more about the average person.
Struggling to think of one on the spot? Not to worry — there a couple of things you can do to help yourself.
Assess Your Background and Skills
Firstly, take a step back and look at your background. Ask yourself:
- What did I study at school?
- Where have I worked in the past?
- Which industries have I been a part of?
Speaking of employment, a quick and easy way to find your business niche is to assess your previous or current profession. Make a list of your skills, key areas of expertise and what you can offer the world that’s out of the ordinary.
For instance, I started a blog in 2011 while studying Fashion Marketing at university. It wasn’t long before I was fortune enough to work with brands and line up sponsorship opportunities left, right and centre.
(And get free clothes and makeup in the process!)
The fact that I absolutely lived and breathed my blog is how I knew I wanted to set up a business in the fashion industry.
Consider Your Passions
Let’s get one thing straight: my blog started as a hobby. It was a creative outlet where I could share my fanaticism for fashion with the world.
And I didn’t make any money from this hobby for years.
Keeping this in mind, what do you like to do in your spare time? What do you have an obsession with? Which subjects can you talk about for hours without getting bored?
A good way of coming up with a business niche is to ask yourself the following question. If you won the lottery and didn’t need to earn money to live, would you still want to work in this industry?
If the answer is yes, that’s how you know that you’re really passionate about it.
2. Analyse the Different Types of Business Models
Once you’ve identified your niche, you need to decide on what type of business you want to set up.
Personally, this didn’t come to me straight away. Sure, I’d already fallen in love with blogging for myself. But the idea of content writing for other companies to help them grow didn’t materialise until years later. Therefore, you might find that you’re in the same boat.
If so, don’t worry. I’ll outline a variety of possible business models below.
Selling Physical Products on Amazon or eBay
Like the idea of having a product-based biz? You could set up an online shop on Amazon or eBay where you have the opportunity to sell a wide range of products.
To make life easier, you could even use drop shipping. This is where you buy stock from a supplier and allow the supplier to send them directly to your buyers.
Ergo, you wouldn’t have to handle the products yourself.
Selling Physical Products on Social Media
If you’d prefer to handle and distribute physical products yourself but don’t like the idea of having to create an online store, you might want to consider selling on social media.
Both Facebook and Instagram offer the option for you to sell directly through their apps. You can add as many products as you like and also gain valuable access to key insights and analytics.
Offering a Service Online
The great thing about selling a service online is that there are minimal setup costs. Likewise, when your business is up and running, there are minimal overheads — especially if you work from home. (Pyjamas optional.)
From graphic design to photography, tutoring to Virtual Assistance, it’s all about capitalising on your skills to become a success.
Offering Digital Products
If physical products aren’t your jam, you could try offering digital products. I’m talking about creating and selling:
- Online courses
- Graphics, photography and digital art
- Video and audio webinars
Many online business owners who offer digital products also decide to set up a membership site. This is where people subscribe to a website on a monthly basis. For a fee, they’ll receive new content, tutorials and digital products related to their interest.
And the plus point is that you, as the creator, would receive recurring income. Kerching.
Like eBooks and membership sites, blogging is a lot of work.
After all, you have to create content regularly and consistently to keep your audience engaged and consequently make money.
Speaking of, you can earn a living blogging in the following ways:
- Sponsored posts in partnership with brands and companies
- Advertising via your homepage and sidebar banners with platforms such as MediaVine or Google Ads
- Affiliate marketing where you sell a company’s products as if they were your own
- Digital products or membership areas
- Offering a service alongside some of the above methods
And spoiler alert: if you boss your online marketing, it can be rather lucrative.
3. Consider Initial Costs
Like I mentioned previously, there are minimal overheads involved in maintaining an online service, blogging or digital product-based business. That said, there will be some setup costs for any online business.
After all, with the exception of selling physical products on Amazon, eBay or social media, you will need to create a show-stopping website.
To do this, you have to invest in a web host (*), beautiful design (*) and domain name. Therefore, ask yourself: do I have the money to spend on these costs? Or is there a way I can acquire this money?
If not, this might affect your decision when it comes to how to choose the best online business idea for you.
You also need to keep in mind that it’s extremely rare for any new online business to be profitable straight away. Do you have money to live off while it gets off the ground?
Personally, I had to ensure I had a pot of savings I could dip into during the beginning stages of my content writing service-based business. I was lucky that my biz was profitable in month one, but I didn’t actually make a decent living until a few months later.
4. Know Your Why
Still wondering how to choose the best online business idea for you? Well, you need to figure out your why.
Full disclosure: being a new online business owner is no easy feat. You have to wear so many different hats on a daily basis. Because of this, it can often feel like you’re trying to split yourself into multiple parts – and this is tough when there’s just one of you to go around!
Take full-time blogging, for example. You have to be an idea generator, researcher, writer, photographer, image specialist, proofreader, editor, social media content creator, social media manager, website designer, graphic designer, website manager, brand coordinator and SEO specialist all in one!
It’s exhausting, to say the least.
Although, if you’re truly passionate about your why, all the hard work and commitment will feel worthwhile. Allow me to explain…
Your why is the reason you want to create an online business for a living. Do you want to be able to work around your kids being at school? Care for your elderly family members? Be a digital nomad?
Either way, figuring out your why can affect the type of business model you choose. After all, it’d be difficult to be a digital nomad if you ran an online store with a physical warehouse. Right?
5. Evaluate Your Lifestyle
It’s alright having an end goal in mind for your business, but you also have to keep in mind your current situation. Which type of business is going to be the most suitable for your lifestyle right now?
Alongside taking into account your financial constraints, you need to consider:
- Where you can work on a daily basis
- The needs of your family
- How much time you have
Ultimately, you need to choose a model that makes sense for you and your loved ones.
How to Choose the Best Online Business Idea: Final Tips
The truth is, you might start with one online business idea and then it naturally evolves into another. This is a very common scenario for both new and old entrepreneurs who adapt according to what their audience wants. So, the key is to just get started.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Because let’s face it, there are so many benefits to being an online business owner right now.
Do you have any extra tips in terms of how to choose the best online business idea for you? Which ideas are you throwing around? I’d be happy to help in the comments!