Here are fifteen+ Internet business ideas you might consider in launching your own home-based e-venture:
*Please note: Professional associations are primarily networking organizations and usually do not have start-up information. Include a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope with any correspondence.
1. AUCTIONS, ONLINE BROKER
Many people or business owners have collectibles, used items or leftovers they wish to get rid of but do not have the time or know-how to sell these objects online. If you have been successful at selling items on eBay or on other online auction sites, you may want to consider starting an online consignment venture.
Success Tips: Successful online sellers (consignees) are experienced, reputable, and earn commissions from selling others’ items. Use consignment software (see resources) to keep track of the volume of your auction listings, your database of consignors’ information, and your accounts and payments. Most consignment sellers specialize in the items they sell.
Resources: How to Start and Run an eBay Consignment Business by Skip McGrath. Selling Beyond Ebay: Foolproof Ways to Reach More Customers and Make Big Money on Rival Online Marketplacesby Greg Holden. www.auctionbytes.com — online-auction industry news; technology reviews.
2. CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY SITES
Teachers, parents, and grandparents search for quality, children’s educational and entertainment toys and products; plus interactive web sites** with ideas for activities they can do with children. People with educational, scientific, and child psychology backgrounds can use their knowledge to launch child-related sites.
**All child-interactive sites, must follow The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule as far as gathering personal information. (SEE the FTC.gov for more information).
Success Tips: Research what is presently available for children in the areas that interest you to find a distinctive niche. Make your site easy for parents or children to navigate and offer information and fun things to do, or products they can buy. Market it with ads in parent, grandparent or educational online or print publications.
Resources: Building Web Sites All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummiesby Doug Sahlin, Claudia Snell. Family Fun Magazine (http://familyfun.go.com) — sample of children’s fun activities.
3. DROP-SHIPPING ONLINE
Many entrepreneurs who do not have the money to invest in or the space to store a large inventory of products, have opted to make money through drop-shipping. They set up accounts with distributors who ship manufacturers’ products to the buyers these drop-shippers attract through web sites or online auctions.
Success Tips: Analyze the products you are selling to ensure their quality and profit potential. Research your suppliers and manufacturers to guarantee they are dependable and not swindlers. Follow up sales to ensure your customers have received their products and are satisfied.
Resources: Article: “Drop-Ship Your Way to Success” – www.Entrepreneur.com. The eBay Entrepreneur: The Definitive Guide for Starting Your Own eBay Trading Assistant Business by Christopher Matthew Spencer.
4. FOOD, HOMEMADE SPECIALTIES
Due to the popularity of cable television cooking shows, the influx of new foods from other cultures, and a growing concern for healthier eating, many people are buying specialty foods online. If you are considering making and selling a family recipe; growing a new type of produce; or creating a new food product, first research all that is involved: licensing, labeling, cooking, distribution, and marketing.
Success Tips: Learn regulations concerning commercial cooking and transport of produce. Attend food trade shows to talk with other food entrepreneurs for tips. Make sure your product has profit potential. Offer free samples at markets and fairs; hold cooking demonstrations; or sponsor recipe contests.
Resources: National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. (NASFTÒ) (www.specialtyfood.com/do/Home) — food shows; educational programs; competitions. From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty, 3rd ed. by Stephen F. Hall. http://foodsafety.psu.edu/processor/resources.htm — food entrepreneur resources.
5. ELECTRONIC PUBLICATIONS: EZINES, EBOOKS & BLOGS
Many people wish to publish their knowledge and experiences within their industry or hobby groups but find it difficult to find a major publisher because their potential readership is too narrow. With affordable technology and print-on-demand companies, these same experts are profiting by selling their know-how directly to interested readers with e-zine subscriptions or e-books that can be downloaded from their web sites. Others have found profits with blogging pursuits by selling advertising space or setting up affiliate programs.
Success Tips: As with any product, conduct market research before writing your e-publication: Who will want to read it and why? What are potential readers willing to pay for it? Market your electronic publications with how-to articles in print and online publications.
Resources: BookLocker.com – e-book publisher. The Easy Way to Write and Sell E-Books by Kristina Seleshanko.
6. FITNESS & HEALTH: SENIORS, CHILDREN
With 10,000 baby boomers turning 59 every day and the increase of child and teen obesity, our seniors and children need specialized assistance and products to maintain their fitness while staying active and healthy. Your web site could sell exercise equipment, toys or health care products; or offer activities, information, or a combination of these offerings to improve these populations’ health.
Success Tips: You will have more success if you have a background in fitness and health and some experience with children or older adults. Market your web site with articles in related publications and by demonstrating products or activities at health-related trade or medical shows.
Resources: American Council on Exercise (www.acefitness.org) — trainer certification; workshops; publications like, Exercise for Older Adults, 2nd ed., Youth Fitness, and Fit Food. National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (www.ncppa.org/physactfactsheets.asp) — online fact sheets and resources.
7. HOME OFFICE TECHNOLOGY
Millions of people work from home performing income-generating tasks and need the right technology to do this. To save time and money, many home workers prefer to buy office and personal technology online. You could launch a web site selling software and equipment for specific industries or professions, or sell quality used equipment on online auction or classified sites.
Success Tips: A background in electronics and technology is necessary to recommend the best new or used equipment for your clients’ needs. You could also offer to set up their home offices with the right equipment and mobile technology for traveling.
Resources:PC Magazine (www.pcmag.com) — print publication covering the latest technology.
8. OUTDOORS HOBBYISTS’ & SPORTS PARTICIPANTS’ USED ITEMS AND EQUIPMENT
Many people have good used sports and hobby equipment they no longer need. If you are knowledgeable in sports like cycling or skiing or with hobbies such as tying fishing flies or photography, consider selling related used equipment at online auctions, on free classified sites, or as a sideline to your existing web site; or launch a site just for that purpose.
Success Tips: Know the resale value of certain items as far as their condition and the demand for them when selling used items either directly to buyers or on consignment. Well-written ads with detailed specifications and photos are needed for successful sales. Market your site at trade shows, competitions, and by listing your web site on all your correspondence.
Resources: The Business Guide to Selling Through Internet Auctions: A Proven Seven-Step Plan for Selling to Consumers and Other Businessesby Nancy L. Hix, Patrick M. Byrne.
9. RECRUITER, INTERNET TECHNOLOGISTS
Computer-based companies continually search for qualified Internet technologists, and many small business owners want to subcontract with independents to meet their technology needs as their companies change or grow. As a recruiter specialist in this industry, you can refer top applicants and/or independent professionals that fit your clients’ criteria.
Success Tips: Search for skilled technologists through online job ads, canvassing technology colleges and universities, at job fairs, and through referral networks in your industry. Use your web site to recruit qualified job candidates and obtain new clients from all over the world.
Resources: The Association for Internet Recruiting (www.recruitersnetwork.com); also sells, Start Your Homebased Recruiting Business! E-book — The Internet Recruitment Training Manual by Shannan Hearne. www.booklocker.com/bookpages/shannathearne01.html
10. RESUMES, ONLINE
No matter what the status of the current job market, well-written résumés will get
job-seekers more responses than those written solely from templates. Quality professional résumé writers provide clients with attention-grabbing cover letters and well-written résumés that convince employers the value of hiring them. Many résumé professionals also post their clients’ résumés to specific online job sites that match clients’ skills, and offer interview coaching and additional services.
Success Tips: You should have the marketing and sales skills to help you write well-organized résumés with compelling content to highlight your clients’ best assets. Make use of in-person meetings or telephone conversations to better analyze clients’ skills and job goals.
Resources: Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches (www.parw.com) — courses, seminars, certification. The Overnight Resume by Donald Asher.www.resumebiz.com — resume and Internet-related articles and e-book, How to Start a Home- or Office-Based Resume Business.
11. SECURITY, ONLINE SPECIALIST
Hackers continually invent new viruses to disrupt many web sites’ operations. You will need the training and expertise to advise your clients on the best software and technology to protect their files or to restore them should they become infected.
Success Tips: To introduce your services, offer to perform a brief security analysis to small or new companies. Conduct presentations and workshops at business conferences to meet potential customers. Post informative articles on your web site, and send out regular e-zine security alerts and tips to existing customers and to new visitors who sign up.
Resources: Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets and Solutions, 3rd ed. by Joel Scambray, Stuart McClure, George Kurtz. Internet & Intranet Security by Rolf Oppliger.
12. SPECIAL-INTEREST BASED SITES
If there is a movement, cause, or subject you feel strongly about or wish to promote or provide a different viewpoint, you can join the thousands of others who have built web sites to build support and supply information for these purposes. Finance your site with advertising, paid subscriptions, memberships, affiliate programs, or by selling related items.
Success Tips: Research to see what similar sites exist and how yours will stand out. Encourage return visits to your site by providing opportunities for input with message boards and discussion forums; and by offering current news, articles, and resources. Market your site with listings in specialized directories and on major search engines.
Resources: Membership Websites — Tips, Techniques and Secrets — An Insider's Guide to Publishing by the Editors of the Subscription Website Publishers Association.
13. TRAVEL AGENCY, SPECIALTY
While people are paying more online for travel, competition is fierce among major sites offering travel bargains. However, travel entrepreneurs who offer travel packages tailored to people’s special needs or requests like those who have disabilities or those who want to travel with pets are more likely to discover lucrative travel niches.
Success Tips: You need training and experience in the travel and tourist industry to build up contacts and resources for potential clients. Use financial and business experts to assist you in writing a travel business plan. Stay current with ongoing trends in the industry and technology to offer your clients the best services and to stay competitive.
Resources: Special Interest Tourism by Norman Douglas, Ngaire Douglas, Ros Derrett. Start Your Own Specialty Travel & Tour Business by Entrepreneur Press. www.homebasedtravelagent.com — publications and resources.
14. WEB DESIGN CONSULTANT
Many entrepreneurs, professionals, and small business owners who do not have a web site, know it pays to have one, but are unsure of what kind they need and whom to hire. Web site consultants specialize in helping small business owners or those in their profession or industry find web designers and marketers who meet their needs and budgets; or guide clients through the mechanics of building their own site.
Success Tips: You need a combination of web design and marketing skills to advise clients how a web site can best help them promote or start a profitable Internet venture. Market your services with your own web site, articles, and presentations at business meetings and conferences and through clients’ referrals.
Resources: How to Start a Home-Based Web Design Business, 3rd ed. by Jim Smith. The HTML Writers Guild (www.hwg.org) — web design training and certification.
15. WEB MARKETING STRATEGIST
Small business owners who have launched their web sites seldom have time to adequately market them. Web marketing strategists can determine which are the most economical and best promotional and strategic marketing methods to attract a steady stream of visitors to their clients’ sites.
Success Tips: Promote your services within your business networks with talks and workshops, focusing on self-employed individuals and owners of virtual enterprises. Post testimonials of satisfied clients on your web site along with helpful marketing articles and e-books to attract potential clients. Offer your satisfied customers rewards for referrals.
Resources: Online Marketing Success Stories: Insider Secrets, from the Experts Who Are Making Millions on the Internet Today by Rene V. Richards. Web Digest for Marketers (www.wdfm.com) – free weekly e-newsletter.
16. WEB SITE EDITIING
Business owners or organizations lose credibility if potential customers and users find grammar or spelling errors on their web sites; or are unable to comprehend what is posted. As a web site editor, you can offer to proofread and polish online copy, articles, blogs, and other written materials for entrepreneurs and authors.
Success Tips: Having the credentials and experience in English grammar (or in the language that you are editing) will help establish your expertise. Market your services to members of local business owners’ organizations, web site designers, and especially to web site owners that are in industries (e.g., medical, technology, and education) with whose terminology you are familiar.
Resources: McGraw-Hill's Proofreading Handbook by Laura Killen Anderson.
The Internet offers entrepreneurs endless possibilities to explore and succeed in e-commerce with the potential to reach a worldwide market. Why not you? HBM
Priscilla Y. Huff’s latest book is Make Your Business Survive and Thrive! 100+ Proven Marketing Methods to Help You Beat the Odds and Build a Successful Small or Home-Based Enterprise (John Wiley & Sons). Her blog is “Entrepreneurship, Your Way.” Questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Office of Advocacy of the U. S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov/advo) revealed that smaller companies (those with fewer than 10 employees) benefit most from being online