What’s the easiest, least expensive online business to start now?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.
1. Service-Based Businesses Save Money
When you don’t have to worry about product development, manufacturing, shipping, etc., it’s easy to keep overhead costs low. Consider coaching or consulting in your area of expertise. If you’re a word nerd, provide writing or editing services. Love code? Do web development. Consider the ways in which you can provide value without shipping an actual product.
Service-based businesses are always less expensive to start, but you can create product-based businesses that are not costly by building your business using an outside supply chain. Partner with a logistics company that will drop ship for you, or allow you to order on demand so you have no stock and buy on an as-needed basis when your customers order. This cuts overhead and reduces cash requirements.
It takes time to establish yourself as an expert or guru in the field, so begin by serving in the online market to learn the ropes, meet contacts and build your client base. Everyone is on the lookout for a great support team, and you don’t need a website, product or coaching program to get started. Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
4. Open Up Shop!
Platforms like Shopify have made it ridiculously easy and cheap to start an online business that otherwise would have had hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs. With drop shipping or third-party fulfillment, you never even have to touch the product yourself — just focus on the marketing, customer service and product selection.
Blogging is hard to make money from, but it’s possible. It doesn’t cost much to start up a blog, but it takes a ton of work. Just remember blogs like AllFacebook by Nick O’Neill and TechCrunch have made great exits.
Starting an online business is very different from starting a business online. While the barriers to starting an online business (e.g., e-commerce, blogs, and online publications) have been low for years, now it’s just as easy to start an offline business online. Crowdfunding tools like Kickstarter allow you to raise money with little more than an idea.
I’ve often thought about this very exact question myself. If you are interested in gaining entrepreneurial experience online, with a little to no startup cost, then I recommend creating an online virtual personal assistant business. Market yourself for a niche client; help organize their schedule, monitor email, book flights, make reservations, maintain their social media updates, etc.
The least expensive online business is going to depend on your skill set. If you are tech-savvy and can code, then you’ll have different opportunities than the idea guy or business development gal. While there aren’t “easy” online businesses, there are “easier” ones that take significantly less time and fewer resources.
You’ve almost certainly got a skill set that you can offer up to clients on a freelance basis. You can start freelancing on sites like Elance or oDesk within 15 minutes, with no upfront cash. It’s not a long-term business plan, but that approach can get the ball rolling so that you can build something bigger from it.
Build a system that produces a steady stream of content to attract a valuable demographic. Obtain the contact information for those individuals and then sell that information (with the individual’s permission) to a vendor related to the content that you are providing. For instance, you can have a blog that talks about real estate in South Florida and sell their contact info to a Miami realtor.
If you’re starting an online business right now, you have two choices: either spend the bucks, or get ready to roll up your sleeves and spend time marketing it. The nature of the site is of lesser importance. People need to understand that building a website is not the finishing line; it’s only the beginning, and substantial cash or effort must follow.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.