Suss out the need for your potential online business
It’s important for aspiring founders to ensure that the product or service is needed in the marketplace, said Cynthia Franklin, an entrepreneurship professor at New York University.
When deciding what type of business to start, “looking at where societal forces are heading and seeing if you can get ahead of the trend” is a good start, she said.
“Start with scratching your own itch,” Franklin suggests for aspiring online business owners. “Whatever you do, find something you care about because you’re going to need to put a lot of time and energy into making it succeed.”
Here are 5 of the easiest online businesses to start in 2023.
Online coaching has grown in recent years, whether entrepreneurs are offering virtual workout classes, leadership advice, or guidance on starting a business.
Amy Lee, for instance, is a life coach. She booked nearly $60,000 in revenue in her first 10 months in business, documents verified by Insider show.
There are no required credentials for life coaches, Lee said. While this can make some coaching communities seem like the Wild West, it also creates a low barrier to entry for professionals looking to enter the space.
Other types of coaches, like Jessica Hawks, seek to help their clients build startups.
Business coaching is an option for those who want to share their expertise in a certain field. Hawks started her online career as a virtual assistant, and when she realized her community was looking for advice on starting their own VA agencies, she launched her coaching program, the Digital Creatives Academy.
Hawks books seven figures in sales a year, documents verified by Insider show.
Blogging is another popular business avenue, especially for those who can share knowledge about a particular subject.
For instance, Lisa Andrea, the creator of The Financial Cookbook, started her blog as a side hustle in 2021. She shares tips on how to become financially independent and on investing, along with other money guidance. “The Financial Cookbook is a guide for everything they should have taught us in school,” she previously told Insider.
Her income streams include affiliate marketing and brand partnerships. She recommends other bloggers and digital founders take advantage of company affiliate programs by applying to be part of them online, as she did.
But it’s also important to stay authentic and work only with companies that align with your brand messaging, she added. That way, your community will stay engaged and be more interested in the links you’re promoting, which can help you earn more money.
Andrea regularly books $8,000 in monthly revenue, documents verified by Insider show.
4. Virtual assisting
Vivian Purcell is a virtual assistant who lives in Canada. She started her online career as a freelance writer in 2016, seeking flexibility to travel and live wherever she wanted, she said.
“I did the switch into virtual assistant because I wanted to bring in more of my corporate experience and educational training into freelancing to offer something of higher value,” she said.
Purcell earned more than $132,000 in 2022 sales from her virtual-assistant work, documents verified by Insider show.
Virtual assistants can work with both small-business clients as well as major firms looking to hire contract or one-time employees, said Arun Sundararajan, a professor of entrepreneurship and technology, operations, and statistics at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“It’s getting increasingly hard to hire full-time employees for anything,” said Sundararajan, who is also the author of “The Sharing Economy.” “So more and more businesses that didn’t consider gig work are now considering gig or freelance workers as an option.”
Cody May is a digital-nomad founder who built his business entirely online. He runs SheridanSt., a marketing firm for real-estate agents.
SheridanSt. helps agents with tasks like lead generation along with call and email marketing. In 2017, he left his corporate role and applied his marketing experience to start StudioPTBO, the precursor to SheridanSt. Then, in 2021, he connected with his current business partner, who worked in real estate, to relaunch the company within the real-estate niche, he said.
He’s recruited most of his staff by offering a fully remote, travel-friendly workplace, he added. What’s more, online real estate is a hot sector: The National Association of Realtors’ 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report found that 51% of this year’s buyers found the home they purchased online.