“8 Profitable Online Business Ideas in 2020” is part of a series of articles, videos, and programs we are publishing to help FC Insiders and other members of FC community weather current challenging times and create financial stability and, ultimately, financial freedom, for themselves and their families.
FIRMSconsulting.com is over 10 years old. During that time we expanded to more advanced platforms including StrategyTraining.com, Strategy Training Roku, Apple TV, iOS, and Android apps. We are also running two of the world’s largest podcast channels for critical thinking, problem-solving and strategy, Strategy Skills iTunes channel, and Case Interviews and Management Consulting iTunes channel. We also run a successful book publishing business (see links to our books at the bottom of the page).
Further, we were working on other businesses as part of our private equity arm, including an electric car start-up, a cosmetics start-up, a luxury brand business, and a gold mining business. We also helped many clients build profitable online businesses or even departments within large companies. Some of these success stories are documented in detail on StrategyTraining.com. So we have a lot of experience of starting and running a business and therefore it makes sense for us to share this knowledge with our community.
In the previous article, we discussed in some detail Steps to Creating an Online Business in 2020. Today, let’s talk about online business ideas to help you create some additional streams of income during the current downturn, and beyond. If you were googling online business ideas you probably came across many articles such as “20 Online Business Ideas” and “Online Business Ideas You Should Copy in 2020.” From a quick look at them, most of them provide very weak guidance on diverse online business ideas such as Virtual assistant, Niche e-commerce store. Many of those ideas are not suitable for most of FIRMSconsulting community as people within our community tend to be highly educated and highly-skilled, particularly when it comes to complex problem-solving. So we put together a list of online business ideas more relevant to our audience. And, equally important, ideas that you can turn into profitable businesses relatively fast and with minimal investment.
In one of the previous article, we addressed the steps required to prepare for a recession 2020-2021. If you are currently working and have not read that article, please read that first as it covers some crucial steps required to prepare for a recession 2020-2021 before you even consider online business ideas for your potential own business. Such steps as updating your resume and making yourself indispensable at work should be prioritized in most cases.
You need to start taking steps now to prepare to help you weather the recession 2020-2021. If your job is secure the best investment of your time may be to make yourself even more indispensable for your organization. Because it will take time to build up your own business and become profitable. But if you think the best investment of your free time right now is to start an online business, let’s talk about some online business ideas for you to consider.
In this article, I will share 8 online business ideas for you to consider to help you create a plan B, or even plan A, as we are entering a recession. There are, of course, many online business ideas to consider. But given that we are entering a recession and that FIRMSconsulting community members are generally highly skilled, we will focus on online business ideas that have a high chance of making money during a recession, will likely become profitable fast, do require a large investment upfront and leverage higher skill levels.
As you are considering various things you can start on the side focus on what customers actually need, especially in current difficult times of economic downturn and hardship. What are customers’ biggest issues that you can help them with?
If you are interested in starting an online business, now is the time to do it. You already witnessed that every day everything is going online more and more. The rapid migration to digital technologies driven by the pandemic will continue, even into the recovery. And as everything is going online more and more, there is more and more competition. So the faster you jump in the easier it will be for you to build something meaningful.
We live in a time that is ripe with opportunity, when anyone who is willing to work hard can start a business that will allow them to work any time and from anywhere in the world.
Considering that the internet is still largely in its infancy, nearly all purchases will eventually be done online. So is it too late? No. Your grandchildren will be jealous of an opportunity you had when so many things were still up for grabs. Just take a look at what was happening with Amazon sales from 2007 until 2020. What you see is the growth of Net revenue of Amazon from 1st quarter 2007 to 1st quarter 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars). You get the picture. Things are changing fast and opportunities are still up for grabs.
So lets dive in and speak about 8 online business ideas you can make profitable fast. And they are in no particular order.
Almost any business owner will be willing to pay someone to grow their customer base if the amount to bring in a new customer on board was at least equal (we are talking about breaking even here) to initial revenue you would generate from serving that customer (guaranteed revenue). Driving paid traffic is a huge business now. It is especially so because organic traffic is harder and harder to generate. But there are few people offering this service who actually know what they are doing and who deliver value to customers. Most take your money and deliver below expectations.
So starting an ad management business that delivers results almost guarantees a fast profit, and sustainable growth and success. And you will not need to do all this work yourself. You can’t scale by doing it all yourself. You will need to build a strong team and control quality. Just as we teach you in “Replacing Income with Online Freelance Consulting” course. If you are not an FC Insider, you may find the following articles/videos helpful to understand how to scale a business like this: “Freelance Consulting Online: a Beginner’s Guide” and “10 Powerful Insights to Help You Succeed as a Small Business Consultant.”
In fact, if you do start this business and you are sure you are delivering tremendous value, I would like to hear from you. There may be some business coming your way from our companies.
Because organic traffic is so important and building an audience is generally an incredibly long and difficult process, if you can give yourself a head start and can afford it then why not? There are always people out there who are tired of running their business and who would like to sell it and retire, or start something else. Find them, evaluate opportunities, and, if it makes sense, buy an existing online business and grow it from that point.
There is a site you can use to find online businesses called Flippa.com. I never used it personally but it seems to be a good place to start. You can also buy older domain names on Godaddy.com. And, what I would do if I was pursuing this option, is I would identify some sites online in the niche I am interested in to focus on. I would then narrow it down to sites which were not updated for a while, which likely means the owner is likely open to selling it. I would then reach out to them directly. As long as you are respectful and genuine people will likely be willing to talk to you if they are considering selling. And you can take it from there.
This intuitively sounds like a low-value work but it could not be further from the truth. For many businesses, online organic traffic is their air. Without it they will die. This is another business I would start because of the need for our businesses and the inability to find a reliable, effective agency that offers this support.
This work will include optimizing articles for search engines (and in some cases working with professional writers to write the articles), registering in relevant databases, building quality backlinks, and so on. It is a difficult and very valuable work for an online business and our companies and many other companies will be glad to pay for effective and efficient service in this area.
As the internet grows, SEO will continue to become more competitive and lucrative. So this is a huge area that will continue to grow and where there is a tremendous demand and very few quality offerings. As with an ad agency, you will not need to do all the work yourself. You can start this way but thereafter you will need to build a strong team and control quality, so you can scale your business. Again, just as we teach you in “Replacing Income with Online Freelance Consulting” course.
You probably have certain business skills that other businesses can benefit from. You could be a strong marketer, an experienced negotiator, have extensive experience in pricing or an effective salesperson. If you are, there are businesses out there who need help in those areas. Create a site and start from simply offering one-on-one business coaching.
I personally really enjoy coaching. I wish I had more time to do it. It is very rewarding to have an opportunity to work with an individual one-on-one and see the results.
Depending on the area of your business coaching, the steps can be very simple. Let’s say you are offering business coaching in the area of business growth. You can start by analyzing the business and figuring out where it is today. You understand the competitive landscape. You then, in partnership with your client, discover where they want to be in 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and so on. And then you figure out how to get them there. You also can help them identify significant problems facing their business, and help them fix those. e.g. there may be a competitor that is a significant threat to your client but which your client is not paying attention to.
This is what we teach our FC Insiders to do every day. And this is something you can start doing on the side while keeping your day job. And see where it takes you. Get some customers, help them succeed and ask them for testimonials. If you struggle to find initial customers, consider offering to help for free, in exchange for a testimonial if you will be able to help them. Barter is important in business. Do not underestimate it!
People are willing to pay money to save them time. When you need something done you usually have 3 options: do it yourself, hire someone to do it, or find a service where it is done basically automatically. Most of us don’t have much time so we can’t do it ourselves, we also do not have much time to go through the process of hiring, training and managing people. So, if there is an alternative to automate a task, we will be very interested in exploring. Think about what is happening now with chatbots. You see it everywhere, including on Amazon and on many other major sites. Chatbots will most likely become more and more prevalent. Platforms like Manychat, ChattyPeople, and several others are streamlining the process and a good place to start if you would like to learn more about this business opportunity.
As I already mentioned, business owners are very busy. I know I am and I know many other business owners who are in the same boat. So many, including me, will be willing to pay someone who can do quality web design and web development work for them. This will include setting up a website, including designing the website or helping pick out a WordPress theme, installing different plugins, configuring it. Setting up an email collection and management system, including setting up a sales funnel and tags for different audiences.
Done for you services are very useful and always in demand. It is a great way to start in a niche you want to focus on. This area will also continue to grow tremendously and there are very few good web design and web development agencies out there. And the same as with an ad agency and SEO agency, you will not need to do all the work yourself. You may need to start there but, very quickly, you will need to build a strong team and control quality so you can scale.
If you are a strong marketer, you can start a successful online business without creating your own products or offering product delivery and support. There are many companies out there, including our companies, who will be interested in considering partnering with an effective salesperson (an affiliate) to market their services or products.
When you make the sale you get the commission and they do product delivery and customer support. The way this business works is generally through paid ads. You create a Facebook or YouTube ad, you hold a webinar where you sell the product, once the product is sold you are waiting for the commission to be received based on the number of customers who bought the product and did not request a refund. It is a very simple business model.
If you have an audience it becomes even more profitable. You can market the product to your existing audience, of course making sure it is a quality product you could honestly recommend, and then wait and see commission payments coming in.
While I am personally not very interested in investing much time in affiliate marketing because I like creating things that solve real problems, our companies will be interested in considering working with good, reliable, and professional affiliate marketers and so are many other businesses.
You can create a profitable blog on topics as diverse as surfing, scrapbooking, travel, excel modeling, negotiation, marketing, and so on. If you are passionate about a certain topic most likely there are many people out there who are just as passionate as you about this topic.
The key is to create a blog that matters to you.
What does a blog do for you? It helps you build an audience. A blog attracts potential buyers. And a blog is an asset that will continue sending visitors to your site for many years.
Some ideas for the topic of your blog are:
It’s really easy to start a blog these days.
All right, this brings us to the end of this list of 8 profitable online business ideas. As I mentioned, I specifically focused on highly profitable online business ideas that do not require a large investment, and which are high in demand in 2020. I hope that you heard an idea on this list that you found particularly intersting. And do not limit yourself to the skills that you currently have. Pick one of these ideas that sounded the most exciting, the most interesting. If you put in the work required you can learn the skills and can gain the experience that you need.
Now, a word of caution. If you are expecting to get rich overnight by starting an online business, you need to reconsider your assumptions. It takes a tremendous amount of work to build a business, online or offline, so roll up your sleeves and get ready for some really hard work. But the rewards are also great.
And if it was easy, everybody would do it. But do you see many successful entrepreneurs around you? Probably not. It is likely that most people you know are still working 9-5 for a paycheck and spend the rest of the time having fun or attending to ordinary obligations. It is a simpler life and it generally does not require reliving Sisyphus’s experience of rolling an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, and repeating this action, although later on with less and less effort and delegating larger and larger portion of it, for eternity. But it is totally worth it.
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