When we’re not rolling out new features for quizzes, we work to create resources and ideas to help you grow your business. So, if you’re at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey or looking to change up your existing strategies, this post will help you discover the best online business ideas.
First, I’ll break down some of the most popular online business models so you can decide which is the best fit.
E-commerce had been on an upward trajectory even before the pandemic, but as more of us had to move to digital platforms to communicate, work, and shop, e-commerce businesses started to boom. Retail e-commerce sales reached almost $5.1 trillion in 2021, and opportunities are only growing in this space.
E-commerce is all about selling a physical product, and what you sell is completely up to you. Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, and even Modcloth all fall under this umbrella.
Starting an e-commerce business tends to have upfront costs, like manufacturing and inventory storage, but there are a couple of strategies you can use to mitigate this risk. For example, printing products on demand. If you’ve got a knack for art and creating your own designs, you can use print-on-demand to simplify the manufacturing process.
A print-on-demand strategy also limits the cost of buying base products to print. Applying your designs using specialized equipment ensures you’re not buying and storing wholesale supplies. There are a lot of benefits, like the ability to create a unique product design to set you apart from competitors.
Then, there’s drop shipping. Drop shipping means you’ll be selling products without holding inventory. When a customer purchases something from your e-commerce store, your merchant will be the one fulfilling orders.
However, drop shipping has some downsides, like low margins and competing with other e-commerce brands. There’s no control over your supply chain, and customization options are limited for product design. But the flexibility of drop shipping is great for experimenting with your business and exploring your passions with low overhead.
If you’re ready to start an e-commerce business, getting solid leads who are ready to purchase should also be at the top of your list. Creating an interactive experience helps build a personal connection with prospective customers, and you can use Interact’s quiz builder on a free trial to do this.
If you’ve already launched your business, check out this video on how to create a quiz in less than 10 minutes.
What if selling physical products doesn’t align with your business goals? Let’s talk about some service-based business ideas next.
Owners of service-based businesses almost never have to worry about manufacturing or inventory. Do you have a wealth of expertise and enjoy collaborating? Then consulting sounds like the right fit for you.
Consultants are incredibly valuable for businesses in pretty much any industry or sector. Marketing consultants, financial strategists, operations managers, and even human resources professionals can all serve as consultants.
Consulting tends to be flexible, meaning consultants have more control over how they spend their time, and they can choose who they want to work with.
So, how do people get started in consulting? Well, one of the first things to consider is your existing experience. If you’ve already had managerial experience or other leadership roles, you’re probably ready to transition into a consulting role. If you need more confidence before advising others, try out some low-cost consulting to build your portfolio; you could also take some consulting courses before diving in.
At this point, you should outline some core consulting strategies for your business. To do this, we recommend first defining your specialty, getting specific about how your existing experience and passion overlap. What do your colleagues or friends come to you for most often? How does your experience align with your interests? For example, if you have a passion for music and a portfolio in copyright law, you could narrow in on copyright consulting for musicians.
Next, let’s talk about defining your preferred industries. Becoming a consultant is a great opportunity to lean into a specific industry or passion that you’ve always wanted to pursue. Take a look at your work history and identify patterns. Your resume will offer clues here. If you’re committed to saving the environment and you’ve worked as a digital marketer, you could pivot into a social marketing role for environmental agencies.
To transition into some industries, you might need to invest in gaining more specialized knowledge or getting a certification or license. For example, if you’re working in any type of legal capacity, it’s critical that you’re compliant and licensed as outlined in your state. If you want to carve out a specific niche to differentiate yourself as a consultant, look into courses that will help you showcase your skills. If you work in marketing, for example, you could take a Hubspot course to get your inbound marketing certification; or if you want to work specifically within social marketing, you could combine a Hubspot course with a more specialized course on social media to further develop your unique differentiators as a consultant.
Next, you need to find clients and land referrals. Getting clients might feel intimidating, but as a consultant, you can experiment to find what works best for you. Getting to know other professionals can build long-term relationships with people who will think of you when future consulting positions open up.
Marketing yourself and sharing your work through case studies is also a great way to show potential clients that you get results. Creating content that helps build a personal connection will make prospects more likely to choose you over another consultant. Personalized lead generation tools work well for this, like segmented email lists, lead magnets or freebies, and, of course, customized quizzes.
And not every service provider is a consultant, of course! Maybe you have the knowledge and experience to guide others, but you aren’t looking to collaborate with companies or agencies.
Do you have a knack for teaching? Do you enjoy working one-on-one? If so, coaching could make the best use of your skills. Many of these startup coaching strategies overlap with the steps we discussed with consulting. The main difference is having a more intimate one-on-one experience working with individuals.
Course creation is another online business model. Course creation provides entrepreneurs with the benefits of a coaching career, but it reaches more students in less time. Higher education is inaccessible for many, and the rise of virtual learning through online courses is growing in popularity. Often, entrepreneurs who start as coaches or consultants transition into online teaching by sharing their knowledge in a new format. You could start with live virtual courses with limited registration, so there’s a personal connection with your students, but if you’re ready to reach more people while freeing up even more of your own time, you can create pre-recorded courses.
Okay, I hope that covering some of the more common online business models gave you insight into how to start one of your own. At Interact, we’re always here to help if you need resources or advice.
Check out Interact’s youtube channel or come back and visit the blog for more ideas for starting and growing your business.
Best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!
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