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5 Online Business Ideas You Can Start in 2021 with Little or No Money

5 Online Business Ideas You Can Start in 2021 with Little or No Money

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It’s a new year, and that means it’s resolution time. If 2021 is the year you resolve to start your business, here’s everything you need to know about how to turn your resolution into reality.

Many people dream of starting an online business. Being an online entrepreneur can be a wonderful lifestyle, giving you a better income and more freedom and flexibility to manage your time, travel and enjoy each day. Some people get held back from starting a business because they think it takes a lot of money. The truth is: many great business ideas don’t require a lot of startup capital or a small business loan. Even if you have very little cash in the bank, a good idea and a willingness to work hard can make it possible to start an online business in 2021.

Here are a few of our picks for the best online businesses that you can start with no money:

Start an Ecommerce Business

People are shopping online more than ever before. And not all of that money is going to big businesses like Walmart and Amazon; many small independent retailers are making good money with their online businesses.

There are a few types of ecommerce businesses that may be a good fit:

  • Specialty Online Retail

    Do you have a particular product or type of product that you’re passionate about? Do you like to make handmade crafts and goods? Do you know a particular industry really well and know how to spot a good price on merchandise? If so, there are lots of opportunities to start an online business as an ecommerce retailer. You don’t need lots of money to get started, but you might need to buy inventory upfront with your personal credit card and self-finance or “bootstrap” your business before you can qualify for a small business loan.

  • Dropshipping

    Running a dropshipping business is a great business model in many ways because you don’t actually have to own the inventory; you work with a dropshipping company that ships the merchandise to your customers. Your job as the online store owner is to market your store, attract customers and sell products — but you are selling merchandise that is actually owned and shipped by your supplier. You make money by getting a percentage of the sale price. The profit margins with dropshipping are lower than if you controlled all the inventory and distribution yourself, but the costs are lower too. This ecommerce business model can be a good way to get started with selling online. You can always start small and experiment with new retail strategies over time.

  • Selling on Amazon or Shopify

    Many small ecommerce businesses get started by selling on Amazon or Shopify. These ecommerce platforms offer helpful resources for small business owners. For example, Shopify and Oberlo help small retailers add products to their Shopify stores, handle the inventory for the business owner and also manage packaging and shipping of orders. Amazon offers Fulfillment By Amazon to ship, store and manage customer service for your sales. You can also set up your own business website and sell products directly from your site, but it might be helpful to use some of the tools available to meet customers and make sales with these heavily trafficked sites.

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Start a Consulting Business

Do you have professional business skills? Do you have corporate career experience and you want to try to do something different with your expertise? Whether you’re a business strategy expert, a marketing consultant, an IT expert, a finance guru or any other professional, you can start a consulting business and sell your professional services to corporate clients.

Want to know where to get connected with clients and consulting gigs? Check out the MBO Partners Marketplace to get connected with consulting projects from Fortune 500 companies.

Be a Freelancer

Do you have creative talents, like writing, graphic design, website development, coding and more? You can start a business as a freelancer. Being a freelancer is great because you can have lots of variety, set your own schedule and name your own rates, and you can work on lots of interesting projects with great people all over the world. (This article was written by a freelance writer!)

A few good places to look for freelance projects, depending on your skill set and how much you want to charge for your work, include Upwork, FlexJobs, Freelancer.com, Guru and Toptal.

If you want to make money as a freelance writer, check out ClearVoice, Contently, Skyword and MakeALivingWriting.com.

Be a Teacher, Tutor or Coach

Many people during 2020 learned about the benefits of remote learning and online school. People are more interested and willing than ever before to take classes online. Depending on your skills, expertise, qualifications and experience levels, there are a few easy ways to start a business online as a coach, teacher or tutor:

  • Teach English Online

    Millions of people around the world would love to learn English, and one of the best ways to learn English is to speak with a native English speaker. There are several online English tutoring platforms where native English speakers based in the U.S. can get paid a decent hourly wage to teach students who are based in China, Japan, South Korea and other countries. Check out ESL Authority for more information on how to make money teaching English around the world.

  • Teach Online Classes

    There are many schools, colleges and universities that are hiring qualified instructors for online learning. Check out FlexJobs for online teaching job listings.

  • Start a Coaching Business

    What can you do that other people would love to learn? You might have some valuable skills that can be useful in starting a coaching business. Whether you want to be an Executive Coach who helps business leaders maximize their performance or a Life Coach who helps people solve problems and maximize potential in their personal lives, there are many ways to start a coaching business online without having to spend a lot of money.

Be a Virtual Assistant

Do you have solid administrative skills? Are you savvy with technology, good at staying organized and adept at helping people get work done while providing friendly professional service? You might be well-suited to starting a business as a virtual assistant.

As a VA, you can help companies stay productive and be involved with a wide variety of interesting projects, all while working a flexible schedule and earning a comfortable living. Learn more at the Association of Virtual Assistants.

No matter which online business idea you pursue, be sure to start your business the right way by forming an LLC or other legal business entity. This will help you minimize your personal liability, maximize your tax advantages and get the most out of the opportunities of being an entrepreneur.