This post will show you the Sure ways to build an online business Breaking it down into all steps, from the idea to implementation!
You will get the best business ideas with which you can build a successful online business in the long term.
Build something of your own, no longer work for a manager and be able to live from a location-independent business. A wish that many have and that is absolutely achievable these days! What would it be like if you could get up in the morning, organize your working hours freely and work on your own goals? For those who think that sounds better than regular permanent employment with a capped income, this is the place for you.
This article provides insight into the different possibilities of an online business. In addition to an overview of business models and sources of income, the most important basics on the subject of founding, taxes and seed capital are also dealt with. This clear step-by-step guide can be applied to any of the following online business ideas.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to set up your own company, work independently, or want to earn something alongside your studies or job. With the help of the Internet, this can be done without a great deal of start-up capital and prior knowledge.
One more thing in advance: It is not about any methods with which one can supposedly earn a lot of money in a very short period of time. Rather, strategies and business models are presented with which one can be very successful in the long term . The more work you put into it, the faster you will be able to see the first results.
1.) Build an online business – What speaks for it
A company that works mostly online offers the founder maximum freedom . The Internet has no opening hours, and customers can purchase products, consume content, or request services at any time. This means that you can be anywhere and generate income almost automatically with the appropriate structures.
Insight: A good example of this is online trading via Amazon FBA . Here you develop a product, import it to Germany, create an offer on Amazon.de and advertise the product on the platform. If a sale is achieved, the products are then packed by Amazon’s employees and shipped to the customer. And you don’t even need an unusual product idea or a lot of prior knowledge of e-commerce. With the right guidance and the necessary commitment, a successful online business is absolutely feasible.
Of course, this is only possible after you have invested a lot of work. Be sure to note the following when you start: In the beginning, an online business will cost more money than you will get anything back. For this reason, it is always good to start part-time and still have a fixed source of income in the form of a job.
In the end you have to decide for yourself which way is the right one. Running your own online business initially means a lot of work with little profit, but it grows exponentially in the long term.
Other advantages of an online business are:
- You decide for yourself who sees the offer and can present it to the right target group at the right time with online marketing.
- It is possible to start without a lot of seed capital. With today’s capabilities, anyone can create an offering and build reach.
- Products can be sold without first having to invest in goods. If you have knowledge in a specific area that others can benefit from, you can package that into a digital product.
- It doesn’t matter which business you choose. The more you grow, the more revenue streams you can build. The business model chosen to start is just a starting point.
2.) Finding online business ideas – strategies
If you were to list every little way you can make money on the Internet , there would be thousands of different ways. In the end, however, each of them is based on one of the following basic models.
2.1 E-Commerce: Online trade in physical products
E-commerce refers to trading in physical products over the Internet, i.e. an online shop. Of course, that sounds like a lot of seed capital at first, but it requires significantly less than you would expect.
Ultimately, e-commerce is just the generic term for various ways of selling physical products. In addition to the online shop with its own warehouse, there is also dropshipping or various marketplaces where you can offer your own products.
Above all, of course, Amazon. Many do not even know that most products on Amazon are not offered and sold by Amazon itself, but by retailers (third-party providers). They benefit from the high reach and customer trust in the marketplace.
What makes Amazon so attractive for retailers is the FBA program (Fulfillment by Amazon) . This means that if you want to sell your own product on Amazon , you can send your entire inventory to the Amazon warehouse, where the products are packed by employees and shipped to each customer via Prime. This saves a lot of logistical effort and guarantees premium shipping, which is so popular with customers.
Selling your own products on Amazon probably sounds like a complex process at first. The best thing about it, however, is that the necessary instructions, such as how to find suitable products and sell them successfully on Amazon, are already available and you can follow them step-by-step. The point here is not to develop an innovative product, but rather to create a better offer than is currently available. With the right tools, you can find a suitable niche here and establish yourself with your own product.
Even if you don’t have that much seed capital available, Amazon is definitely the best way to build your own online e-commerce business. Anyone who is enthusiastic about the idea of their own product is in the right place with this online business. Of course you need a certain amount of start-up capital for the first order and other costs such as product photos. If you want to know more about it, it is best to have a look here: Amazon FBA instructions or costs of an Amazon FBA business .
An alternative to this is dropshipping. Dropshipping is trading in products that you don’t even have at the time of sale. So you have no costs for the procurement of goods or warehousing. To do this, as a dropshipper, you use the range of a manufacturer or wholesaler , whose products you offer in your own shop . As soon as an order is generated, it is forwarded to the wholesaler, who then sends the product directly to the customer.
However, there are some hurdles compared to Amazon FBA , such as finding a suitable wholesaler and getting visitors to the online shop at all. In addition, you usually have no influence on the quality and development of the products. How a dropshipping business works is explained in the following article: Start a dropshipping business
2.2 Offer services as a freelancer
If you have specific skills that another company can benefit from, you can offer that as a service. Self-employed freelancers work for other companies. This can be marketing, writing or graphic design, for example. It’s best to just think about whether the current job can also be offered as a service or whether you have special skills or knowledge in other areas.
This means that you work together with other companies on an order or project basis. The big difference to your own company is that as a freelancer you still usually trade time for money. But if you are an expert in a field and do a really good job, customers are also willing to pay a lot of money.
Typical areas for freelancers are:
- Copywriting (writing texts)
- Design and image processing
- Online Marketing Services
- Work as a virtual assistant
- Sales by phone or online
- Programming and web design
You can find more detailed information about the different services in the following
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Whether an online business of this kind is the right one depends entirely on your own goals and ideas. If you want to earn something extra while studying or traveling, this option is perfect for a side income. However, if you want to scale the business large, you should look for a way that you can automate as much as possible.
Tip: If you still want to build a scalable online business in the service sector, you can position yourself as an agency. Good examples here are text or marketing agencies.
In order for the range of services to be found, you need a presence on the Internet. All doors are open here. If you have some seed capital available, you can create a website with WordPress, for example, and advertise the service using online marketing. If you don’t have any start-up capital yet, social networks such as Instagram or YouTube are suitable, on which you can build up a long-term reach with good content (e.g. informative videos) .
Tip: There are many sites where freelancers are placed with clients. Take a look at Freelancer.com , for example , where you can apply for jobs/projects. On fiverr.com you can also offer your service directly at a fixed price.
2.3 Digital Products
Digital products are products that can be sold over the Internet, i.e. are not sent in physical form. Typical products are e-books, video courses, licenses (e.g. photos, videos, music) as well as tools, software and apps. Digital products have a major advantage over physical products: They do not have to be purchased, stored or sent by post and can be sold indefinitely.
Of course, this minimizes the start-up costs and initially makes it a little easier for founders. At the same time, however, it also ensures that the market is flooded with digital products without paying attention to quality and real added value for the customer. Many only use this opportunity to earn some money in the short term. Of course, this also endangers the trust of other product suppliers who value high product quality in their online business. However, if you have specialist knowledge in one area and want to pack it into a high-quality product, you can build a successful online business with digital products.
What are the options?
- E-book: E-books are digital books that users can download to their device for free or at a low price. Probably the easiest way to launch an e-book is through Amazon KDP , Amazon’s own e-book marketplace. E-books are particularly popular here as advice (e.g. recipes, productivity) or fiction.
- Video Course: Video courses are how-to guides on specific topics created by subject matter experts. Training plans, business strategies or relationship advice are, for example, very popular topics in this area. These courses can then be offered and sold via appropriate marketplaces (Digistore24 / Udemy).
- Digital Assets: Images, sounds and videos are an essential part of content of any kind and can be found everywhere on the Internet. If you hired a photographer or a band to do this every time, the costs would be far too high. This is why there are stock agencies that sell the rights to any type of digital content.The advantage for the producer is, for example, that he doesn’t just sell his picture exclusively once, but several times to different buyers. So if you’re already producing music, photographing or filming, you can post your work on sites like Istock , Fotolia or Shutterstockoffer for commercial purposes. However, building an online business purely on this source of income will not be enough. However, it is a good option as an additional income, for example alongside a freelancing business.
- Tools & Apps: In order to bring tools or apps onto the market, you first need knowledge in the field of programming. But if you are familiar with it, you can use this skill to either work as a freelancer or to bring handy tools or apps to the market yourself.
Coaching has become increasingly popular in recent years. There is a bookable coach for virtually every topic who offers personal support in his or her specialty. If you are an expert in a certain area and can also show successes or results, you can share your knowledge with others in the form of coaching. Concrete examples are nutrition coaches or financial advisors.
But how do you start as a coach? In theory, you don’t have to meet any requirements to become a coach. You can make an offer and offer your help online. It probably won’t work in practice, because you won’t get customers just like that. Above all, it is important to be able to show concrete successes and results from practice, especially your own.
For example, many coaches have started posting free content on platforms such as YouTube, thereby initially generating reach. Once you have a community that trusts you and is convinced of your knowledge, coaching is a possible next step.
2.5 Social Media or Blog
With Instagram, YouTube, TikTok or a professional blog, you can now build a reach without starting capital. This reach can then be used to offer or advertise products or services. For this reason, social media is a good starting point for an online business. Why is that?
When faced with any problem, the first step towards a solution is probably a search on YouTube or Google. If you’ve found a good video about your problem and the channel specializes in that very topic, you’re likely to leave a subscription as well. The more subscriptions the channel has, the more trustworthy the content creator appears and the more likely people are to buy their products.
At the beginning you should find out for yourself whether you enjoy standing in front of the camera, taking pictures or writing texts. Depending on whether you are into video editing and film, photography and design or writing and online marketing, either YouTube, Instagram or a blog is the right platform to start with. If you have already generated reach on a channel, you can continue to expand your online presence and become active on other platforms.
It’s important to deliver quality, useful or entertaining content that there is a demand for. It doesn’t always have to be about expertise. The goal should always be to provide viewers, followers or readers with real added value. This can either be learning something new, being able to solve a problem, or being entertained.
A good example of an online business is the Instagram page and the AlleAktien blog . Starting with freely accessible stock analysis (added value) on Instagram and in the blog posts, they now offer the community a paid membership that gives you exclusive stock analysis. Ultimately, the site has grown into a profitable online business driven by a passion for stocks.
Affiliate marketing is also a suitable source of income if you have built up a reach on social media or a blog. Surely most of them have already bought a certain product through a recommendation. The best example are YouTube videos in which the channel owner has linked specific Amazon products.
Most of these links are affiliate links . This means that as soon as a viewer buys a product via this link, the YouTuber gets a commission from Amazon . With a high range, good money can be earned with this method. However, affiliate marketing should be viewed more as an additional source of income and not as the foundation of an online business.
If you want to learn more about the topic, you should definitely check out this blog article: Affiliate marketing in Nigeria – Everything you need to know
3.) Start online business (part-time).
If you don’t have any reserves or savings set aside, the best way is to start the business alongside your job. Especially at the beginning it is good to still have some financial security, as the first profits will probably not be enough for a living and will take some time.
Tip: With a job alongside the business, you can reinvest 100% of the profits and thus grow much faster.
The other side is of course the motivation and the available time. Continuing to work after a hard day at work definitely requires more motivation than being able to focus 100% on your own goal.
One reason many don’t just jump in is that they’re faced with a wall of tasks and don’t know where to start. The solution is to look at the whole thing a little more calmly and with the necessary patience. Even if you only invest 1-2 hours in your business every day, you get a little closer to your goals every day.
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Of course, working hours will slowly increase as the business grows. After a while you can shorten the working hours at your job and work part-time on your business.
Step by step: How to start an online business!
Step 1: What is the overall goal? What exactly do you want to achieve? This can be, for example, financial or local independence. But maybe you just want to spend more time with your family? These goals should be defined and written down at the beginning.
Step 2: Decide on a path that can lead to the goal. How do you want to start an online business? It is best to go through the above options again or find other ways in this article: Earn money online
Step 3: What is the very first step to take? In most cases, this should be the business registration, which is the prerequisite for your own company . It can also be to acquire the necessary knowledge first. Here it is very important not to get bogged down in theory and to implement it as quickly as possible.
Step 4: Go to the trade office and register the trade, fill out the tax registration form and open a business account at a bank. All of these tasks can be ticked off in under two hours. When that is done, you have already taken an important step. More on this below in the chapter Founding an online business .
Step 5: You have now defined your major goals and met the first requirements. An important step at the beginning is to break down the goal into many intermediate goals. If you always have one big goal in mind, you quickly lose focus and don’t know which tasks will lead you to the goal. To do this, ask and answer the following questions:
- What do I want to achieve with my online business?
Become financially independent with an e-commerce business.
- What options do I have to achieve this goal?
Sell products on Amazon or start dropshipping.
- Which of these options makes the most sense right now?
Amazon: Awareness of the platform and FBA program
- What do you need to do for that? What are the most important tasks?
Find the product and manufacturer, register as a seller on Amazon
- What is the prerequisite for getting started quickly?
Register a business, open a business account (instructions)
- What do I have to do for it? What is the first important step?
Make an appointment at the trade office and a bank
With this method, you can break down each goal into small steps in which you keep asking yourself: What do I have to do to achieve it? In the example above, the first task would be to make an appointment with the trade office and the bank. After that is done, you can move on to the next big goal and reduce it back to small steps.
- What do I have to do for it? What is the next important step?
Learn how to search for profitable products on Amazon .
- What do I have to do for it? What is the next important step?
Work through all the good videos and articles on the subject.
Whenever you get to a point where you don’t know which step to take next, you can break the intermediate goal into its component parts and ask yourself ” what do I have to do to get there?” . You do this until you have a clear to-do in front of you and can start implementing it again.
Tip: It doesn’t matter what you choose. It is always helpful to look for people who have already successfully walked the path and are happy to pass on their tips. This saves you a lot of time and money because you don’t make certain mistakes in the first place. However, before you learn from a person, you should ask yourself: What makes this person capable of passing on this knowledge? If this person has not yet had any practical success to show for themselves, you should definitely look for someone else.
4.) Start an online business Requirements
As soon as you earn money with self-employment , you also have to register a trade. This is also really easy and can be done in a few minutes with an appointment at the responsible Citizens or Trade Office.
After you have registered a business, eg a sole proprietorship, you will receive what is known as a tax registration sheet from the tax office. You have to fill it out and send it back to the tax office. You will then be assigned a tax number and, if applicable, a sales tax ID. What exactly is it all about?
- Tax number : The tax number is used for identification at the tax office and proves that you have properly registered.
- VAT ID: If you have a UID no. you have to pay the VAT you have received to the tax office and you will get back the VAT you have spent. For business purchases, the VAT ID must be are often given, as this ensures that you really have a trade.
The tax office or the tax bureaucracy gives many young founders headaches and prevents them from getting started. In fact, it really isn’t that difficult. As a sole proprietor, it is sufficient if you master the basics in this area:
- Write outgoing invoices: As an entrepreneur or self-employed person, you have to write an invoice to your customers for every product purchased or service rendered . You can use tools such as Easybill for this, which take care of the correct information, design and structure as well as the invoice numbers. If you sell products online, you can also link Easybill to various marketplaces and automatically send invoices to customers.
- Collect incoming invoices: Of course, with your own online business you also have business expenses that can be deducted from taxes. With a corresponding incoming invoice, the expenditure can be claimed for tax purposes. It is best to create a folder on the computer and collect all invoices there.
- Open a business account: You should open a business account at your house bank so that you and possibly the tax consultant do not have so much work to do in the end. This is done relatively quickly and costs around €5 – €10 per month. If all business payments only run through this account, it is easy to keep track of all transactions
The subject of taxes affects everyone, regardless of whether they are entrepreneurs, self-employed or employees. A fundamental difference is that with a commercial activity you take care of taxes yourself or hand over the work to a tax consultant. But what taxes do you have to pay?
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As a small business owner, you do not pay sales tax. This means that you only have to submit one tax return every year. As a sole proprietorship, there is also the advance sales tax return, which must be submitted monthly in the first year.
- Tax return: The tax return should always be done with a tax advisor. This takes over the determination of the profit in the correct format, from which the tax amount to be paid results. If the profit has not exceeded the limit of approx. €9,000, you do not pay income tax yet. If you exceed the allowance, 14% tax is due. The more you earn, the more taxes you have to pay.
- Advance sales tax return: The sales tax advance return documents the sales tax received and spent within one month. The amount to be paid results from the difference. If you spend more sales tax than you collect, you get money back from the tax office. The VAT pre-registration results automatically from the accounting. This can best be done with tools such as SevDesk. Of course, the safer way is through a tax advisor. This costs about 50 € / month and takes care of both bookkeeping and VAT returns.
From self-employed to entrepreneur
At some point the moment comes when your own business yields enough money to finance your livelihood. Then you can start to ask yourself whether you should quit your job and start an online business full-time.
But you should make this decision with caution, as some things will change. On the one hand, of course, there is no security. A business that brings in a good salary every month does not go bankrupt overnight, but there can always be setbacks, so that you may have to forego a salary.
In order to be prepared for this situation, you should first build up financial reserves. Everyone can determine the amount themselves by multiplying their fixed monthly expenses (incl. salary), for example, by at least four. That means you and the company can survive four months without any new income.
Other important points are health insurance and old-age provision. Of course, you have to decide for yourself whether you want to pay into the pension fund or not. There is no getting around health insurance. Here you can expect monthly costs of around 200 €.
If all these points are not a problem, you have good prerequisites to work full-time on your own goals. Then you will also notice how quickly the company suddenly grows when you can invest so much more time.
As soon as things are going really well financially, you can hire the first employee and concentrate purely on working on the company and not in the company. This means that time-consuming tasks that someone else can do better are outsourced to employees or service providers. Then you only worry about strategic decisions and steer the company from a bird’s eye view to success.
It is always a more or less long way to get there, but it will pay off in hindsight. A business always grows exponentially as more and more money flows over time, leading to higher investments. Especially at the beginning your own patience will be put to the test. Many overestimate what is possible in one year and underestimate what is possible in five years. The key to success is staying focused and working toward your goals.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
• What is an online business?
In principle, an online business is any commercial activity in which products or services are offered and sold over the Internet. This includes online trading and freelancing.
• What do you need for an online business?
First you should decide what you want to start your business with. From selling your own products via Amazon to services such as writing texts, there are different options to choose from. Once you have found your way, all that is missing is the business registration in order to be able to start your own business. More about the possibilities and requirements in this article.
• What kind of business to start?
Depending on previous knowledge, seed capital or expertise, different online business ideas are available. Which one you finally decide on is best made on the basis of interests, goals and existing skills. More about this here.
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