If you could live and work anywhere, where would you go? This isn’t a hypothetical question. When executed correctly, these online business models empower you to create income whether you’re sitting at a kitchen table or on a beach in Bali. Today you’re going to learn the five low risk online business ideas you can start with no space, a little bit of money, and an internet connection.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living life on your terms, you need to know these business models freedom-loving entrepreneurs love. I’ll even tell you what’s my favorite at the end. Chances are you might think that starting a business from home is unobtainable -where are you going to get the money and store all the inventory. I mean, finding a place to work is hard enough. These days condos and houses seem like they’re just getting smaller and smaller. Well, what if I told you that you don’t need a bank loan or even a family inheritance to start an online business? There are no traditional startup costs with these business models like inventory, warehousing, and retail space. These ideas allow you to focus less on logistics and more on getting started, which is the hardest part of starting a business.
1- Digital Products
Digital products can’t be held, tasted, or touched, but everyone consumes them, from online courses to videos, music, and more. What makes them so especially appealing to entrepreneurs is that they can be created once and repeatedly sold to different customers meaning less maintenance and logistic headaches. This scalable digital, easily automated business model is great for anyone looking for new income streams that might be strapped for cash or time. Creatives, artists, and educators here are looking at you.
Digital products have lots of advantages that make them uniquely attractive.
- They have low overhead costs, so you don’t need to hold any inventory or incur any shipping charges.
- There are no reoccurring costs of goods, so you retain the majority of your sales in profit.
Here’s something else that’s interesting, e-learning is an industry expected to be worth $325 Billion by 2025.
If you’re building your business using the Shopify platform, there are tons of tools that are going to make your life super easy. They’re going to save you so much time, money, and energy and save you hours of rooting around the internet.
2- Digital Services
We all know there are two fundamental categories of businesses -product-based businesses and service-based ones. For some reason, when it comes to making money online, services aren’t the first thing to mind. Yet building a service-based business is a great place to start for first-time entrepreneurs, and that’s because they empower you to monetize on a skill you already have.
The internet has shown us that people will pay for almost anything. So why not monetize your skills? Traditionally service-based businesses mainly operated in the local economy, but today the internet allows you to reach clients halfway across the planet in a matter of seconds.
While offering services isn’t a passive source of income if that’s what you’re looking for, it can be a lucrative way to make money if done correctly. You can connect through one-to-one consultations or leave consultations with larger groups to maximize your impact.
I also think that services are one of the best businesses to start because they can be expanded with any of the other ideas we’re going to discuss to create additional revenue streams. With most businesses but especially with services, specialization is the key to profits. Look for a niche that is an inch wide but a mile deep; the more specific you make your offering, the more you make competition irrelevant.
It’s important to remember when selling services is that you need to maintain healthy client relationships and stay organized. I know these sound pretty self-evident, but they’re really easy mistakes to make, and the amount of times I made these mistakes early on in my career makes me shiver to this day.
With services, your growth can be limited to your time if you don’t learn to outsource when necessary, and no one wants to feel overworked and overtired. Also, when selling services, make sure you don’t let your time commoditized. That means when selling, sell based on value, not based on time.
A pro tip is that you can offer your services to a freelance marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr, and these can really increase your chances of getting discovered by the people who need your skills.
With subscriptions, people make reoccurring payments in exchange for access to a virtual product service or community. What makes this business model so great is that these customers’ lifetime value is often a lot higher. I mean think about it there are very few products that we buy monthly.
Subscriptions take various formats, such as memberships to exclusive content on a website or software as a service like Adobe Creative Cloud or Shopify. Subscriptions are ideal for entrepreneurs who can commit to creating new content features or experiences often enough to justify the monthly cost to customers.
For new entrepreneurs, memberships are particularly accessible. Since the content is behind a gate that is only paying subscribers can access, you can host exclusive content like live streams, podcasts, or Q&A s.
Having a subscription-based business makes reoccurring monthly revenue a little bit more predictable. So, churn rate is something you need to keep your eye on. What is the churn rate? Well, it’s just the amount of customers that you lose every month.
It’s also a great idea to use email marketing. That way, you can keep your members informed of new content. Utilize emails, video teasers, customer testimonials, and articles. They’re all fantastic ways to build excitement for new product launches.
4- Print on Demand Business
Print on demand business is incredibly scalable for someone just starting. Print on demand sites can be used to build a business based on a drop shipping model where the product and shipping are all handled by a third party. This means all you need to focus on is product design, brand building marketing, and customer service. The fun stuff t-shirts, hats, phone cases, hoodies, skirts, and tote bags all become canvases for your creativity.
Even if you’re not a designer, you can create beautiful design with Canva, or use freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Dribble, and 99designs to find a designer that will bring your vision to life.
The first step to starting a print on demand business is finding a service provider. While many print on demand services might seem similar at first glance, you have to carefully consider the ones you choose based on various factors such as what products you want to create, where you will be shipping them, and what prices you want to retail at.
For example, low base cost with one product might make it the obvious choice. That is until you realize it’s going to take 21 days to reach your customers with your most affordable shipping option. And let’s face it, these days, everyone is conditioned to believe that fast shipping is a universal right.
Print-on-demand is one of the most accessible ways to source products and start an online business. Some immediate perks to note include you can create products quickly. So once you have a design, you can then create the product and put it up for sale in a matter of minutes.
Shipping is also essentially taken care of as it’s out of your hands and into the suppliers. After the sale, you’re just responsible for customer service. It’s also low investment which means lower risk. Since they’re not physically holding on to any inventory, it’s easier to add and remove products, test ideas, and if you need to pivot.
I also want to be transparent and mentioned there are some limitations to a print-on-demand model. The first is lower profit margins. Naturally, your cost per item will be higher than if you buy in bulk, and on demand products may yield thinner profits depending on how you price them or acquire customers. You’re also going to have less control over shipping.
Shipping costs can get complicated as it varies for different types of products. Your options may also be limited if you want to create a stand-out unboxing experience.
Lastly, there may be limited customization depending on which service provider you choose and which product you select.
5- Launch Your Own Book
You may not be as inspirational as Oprah or as creepy as Stephen King, but I firmly believe that everyone has at least one good book in them. Cookbooks, photo books, comic books, poetry books, or novels a few of the knowledge or creativity there were a variety of original books that you can bring to a niche market.
Launching your own book can also be a great way to monetize on a blog if you’re looking to start one, or maybe you already have one. Lulu xPress and Blurb are popular platforms for creating orders and distributing your own books as physical and digital products. They let you choose from a wide selection of book sizes as binding types and print quality to build your book. Simply plug your info into the pricing calculator, and voila, Blurb lets you print in almost any format you can think of.
Blurb empowers you to make ebooks as original as you, and they can also help you with selling and distributing your book through their bookstore Amazon and more. One thing to consider is that although you can buy one book at a time, costs are naturally going to go down when you buy in bulk. That being said, consider pre-selling or crowdfunding your book idea. So that you can be sure there’s enough demand to feel confident making a bulk order. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is building something no one wants.
So, there you have the five online business ideas that are low investment that you can start from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. In case you are wondering, my favorite idea is digital products. They’re incredibly scalable, you’re not tied to shipping or physical goods, and once you do the work upfront, you can make money while you sleep.