Top five online businesses you can start today

Ground-breaking companies have been founded in garages, dorm rooms and home offices. Here are five online business ideas for inspiration

The internet has given wings to global entrepreneurial dreams. Ground-breaking digital platforms have found their beginnings in humble garages, bedrooms and home offices. Armed with no more than a vision and a computer, ambitious professionals are transforming their pioneering online business ideas into profitable firms.

There is no reason why you too cannot be one of those entrepreneurs who run a successful start-up from the comfort of their couch.

The most bankable online businesses have high demand, a proven record of success and long-term revenue prospects. Here are five such hot ideas that you can implement today.

1. E-commerce

Do you enjoy designing clothes, baking delicacies, crafting accessories, or building furniture? Dial E for e-commerce.

Government trade figures show that 82 per cent of the UK population bought at least one product online in 2021. Recent figures from Statista showed ecommerce revenue totalling £810bn, with fashion being the leading sector.  

The best part? You don’t require coding expertise to create profitable virtual establishments. Many website builders work by drag and drop so you can place elements where you please.

>See also: Advantages of a merchant account for your e-commerce business

Affordable e-commerce platforms like Shopify have slashed the barriers of e-commerce entry by easing the process of designing moneymaking (and stunning) storefronts. Use templates to get you started and build a theme, with the ability to broaden functionality through apps. They’re mobile-friendly to reach more of your customers.

You don’t even need a physical (or digital) product to become an online merchant.

The Dropship model - online business ideas

Source: Oberlo

Dropshipping allows you to sell products, at desirable profit margins, without stocking them.

Simply import your preferred goods from a products marketplace such as Oberlo into your online store and start selling instantly. The suppliers take care of the logistics and the marketplace pretty much automates your store.

Find out more about dropshipping by reading Five successful small business ideas for 2021.

The e-commerce industry is only going to get bigger and better. Grab your slice of this pie and make money sharing your incredible skills with the world.

2. Website design

Where do prospective customers go to check out an online business? Their website. This first impression better be the best impression.

When done right, the business’s website offers a significant competitive advantage. It can also become one of a small business’ most profitable marketing channels.

Online business ideas

Source: 2020 Small Business Marketing Report

Discerning users demand easy navigation, clean designs, personalised copy, mobile responsiveness and fast loading times.

According to CloudFlare:

  • Pages loading in 2.4 seconds lead to a 1.9 per cent conversion rate
  • A 3.3 second loading speed leads to a 1.5 per cent conversion rate
  • A 4.2 second loading speed leads to a <1 per cent conversion rate
  • A 5.7 second loading speed leads to a <0.6 per cent conversion rate

What’s more, COOK increased conversions by 7 per cent when they reduced page loading time by 0.85 seconds.

Websites that don’t measure up lose traffic, trust, search rankings and sales. This is why businesses are eager to expand their web design budgets and pay good money to recruit the best in the field.

If you are an intuitive designer who knows how to create a customer-centric, clean and high-converting website, this could be a fulfilling and fruitful full-time business.

>See also: Your guide to starting an online business

3. Freelance content services

There are around 4.2m self-employed workers in the UK who fulfil a variety of roles across a variety of industries. The solo self-employed contributed an estimated £303bn to the economy last year, according to data from IPSE.

The freelance content services business, in particular, is a goldmine.

Studies indicate that prospects consume between 3-5 pieces of content, on an average, before making any decision.

Creating relevant, informative, beneficial and credible content is critical to business success. Businesses are thirsty for – and willing to reward – freelance content providers who excel at crafting such persuasive (written, visual or audio) material, including articles, infographics, videos, podcasts and newsletters.

Outsourcing content creation results in a steady stream of unique material with half the effort for businesses. The result is strengthened customer trust, search ranking and revenue.

If you thrive on creativity, providing freelance content services can be your ticket to a prosperous career.

>See also: How do I build a website for my small business?

4. Business coaching

People are different, but their desires are universal.

We all yearn for better health, less stress, more willpower, greater success and increased happiness.

Business coaches offer an outside perspective and objective guidance to enhance ‘individual performance in a business context‘.

They help release limiting beliefs, build leadership skills, set SMART goals, provide clarity, manage distractions, reinforce professional relationships and improve finances.

The most effective coaches undergo rigorous training; in some cases, 125 hours or more, to get certified in their chosen area of expertise (see below for common specialties/niches).

Global coaching study - online business ideas

Source: 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study

Business coaching is growing in stature and there is an ever-increasing demand for knowledgeable, eager and ethical coaches.

So why not monetise your passion for helping others to succeed?

>See also: Top social media tips for small businesses

5. Affiliate marketing

Would you like to make a living endorsing products you love? Then set up shop as an affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing spend in UK grew by seven per cent per cent in 2021, according to Dentsu.

The premise is straightforward. Advertisers provide a unique affiliate code for marketers to place on their website. When visitors to the affiliate marketer’s site click on this code, they get redirected to the advertiser’s website.

If the referral link leads to a purchase (or other desired action), the referrer gets paid. In this way, affiliate marketers secure ‘a piece of profit for each sale‘.

You don’t need to pay upfront fees, store or ship products, or provide customer support to get started in affiliate marketing. All you need is a pertinent platform to broadcast your voice.

The key to success is selecting the right advertising partnerships. You are staking your reputation with every product you promote, so choose wisely.

Diligently research market needs and only pick products that align with your brand. Constantly test and fine-tune your campaigns to keep the money flowing into your bank.

Further reading

What’s the best website builder for my small business?

Want more online business ideas?

This list barely grazes the surface of online business ideas. Peruse some more by checking out 6 best small business ideas for 2022 and Five business ideas that are bound to click.

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Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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