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What Type of Business Can I Start?

I'm going to bet that the first thing you'd want to know is the type of business that you can start online, the types of products that you can sell and, of course, how you are going to make your money.

There are a lot misconceptions about online businesses, especially about how money is made. Many misconceptions are due to simple ignorance, an unfamiliarity with the earning and income possibilities of the web.

Many people also tend to look at products for online businesses in the same way they would offline products. While products normally sold in offline businesses can also be sold online, the same cannot be said for products that an online business can sell. Other than the typical offline products, there are a lot more online products that a business on the web can choose to sell.

Online businesses also tend to be structured differently from the offline ones. Many offline businesses would usually have only one or two products or product categories, and the main income would be the profit from the sale of their products.

Many offline businesses are usually quite focused on a single product or product line. And generally, their main income would be derived from the sale of those product/s. The whole company is built on the product, and its fortune will rise and fall along with the product. If the product is rendered obsolete, the company will probably fold.

On the other hand, an online business tends to be less focused, with multiple products in multiple niches, and the ability to adopt a new product or drop an old one with a few clicks of the mouse. Income would also be equally diverse, with revenue from ads and other income sources supplementing the income from the sale of the products.

In short, an online business would typically be more nimble and more diverse than its offline counterpart, probably due in large part to the flexibility of the medium that it conducts its activities in. And the medium is constantly changing and evolving, with new capabilities added each year.

To have a better idea of what an online business can look like, let's look at some of the more common types of Internet businesses, their products and how they make money:


Selling Your Own Offline Products and Services

This is probably the most common way of selling online. You have an offline product or service, and you make use of the online medium to provide additional selling opportunities and increase awareness of your product.

In addition to selling, such businesses can also use the online space to:

  • Take orders.

  • Accept payment.

  • Provide more data or information on their products.

  • Schedule and manage deliveries, returns, repairs, etc.


Selling Affiliate Products

In the online space, not having a product of your own is not a problem. There are no shortage of businesses and individuals who will pay you a commission to sell their products. All you have to do is to refer a customer to them, and if that customer buys, you get paid!

In fact, not having a product of your own might actually work to your advantage. Imagine not having to worry about inventories, payments, deliveries, returns, repairs, complaints and all the other stuff that comes with having a product of your own.


Selling Online Products and Services

I would define online products and services as those products and services that are only relevant online or can only be accessed online. Examples of such products and services would include:

  • Downloadable ebooks and software.

  • Webhosting.

  • Autoresponders and email marketing services.

  • Web analytics.

  • Membership sites.

If you are considering selling your own product, downloadable ebooks and software would be a good idea as they bypass many of the headaches of physical products.

Many online products, like membership sites or webhosting, provide recurring income, in that you get a regular payout as long as your customer remains a subscriber. Such products are great for building up an income over the long term.



Content or information can actually be the "product" of a business. The idea is that the content will attract visitors, and ads are served along with the content to generate revenue, along with the marketing of relevant products and services.

There are a few ways that ads can generate revenue:

  • Cost Per One Thousand Impressions or CPM. You are paid by the number of times the advertisement is served. The ads can be in various forms including:

    • Banners or text ads that are served as part of a web page along with the content.

    • Popups or popunders, which can be served when the web page is loaded, or loaded when the visitor exits the web page.

  • Cost Per Click or CPC. You are paid a percentage of what the advertising company earns when your visitor clicks on their ad on your website. Depending on the ad, a single click can earn you a few cents to a few dollars or more.

  • Cost Per Action or CPA. You are paid when the visitor performs a certain specified action, which would usually be something along the lines of:

    • Entering their particulars into a form.

    • Downloading an ebook.

    • Completing a survey.

Your content can be organized in various forms like:

  • A blog.

  • A website on a specific topic.

  • A website with user generated content like social media sites, photo sharing sites, forums, wikis, auctions etc.



I think the auction site, eBay, deserves a special mention as many businesses use this auction site as their main platform for selling. Such businesses would normally use a service provider called a drop shipper.

A drop shipper provides the advantage of having your own products, without many of the hassles like maintaining inventory and delivery. When the business makes a sale on eBay, the business will contact the drop shipper with the details of the customer and product purchased. The drop shipper will ship the product ordered to the company's customer, but making it look like it is the company that shipped the product and not the drop shipper.



Do you have an idea of what you want to do yet? It is all right if you don't as there is a lot of ground to cover and no harm in taking your time to check out your options.

Do take note that the above list is by no means exhaustive. Many new and exciting websites and services are continually being rolled out online, some with features and services never before seen.

Perhaps, if you work hard and dream hard, your site can be the next Facebook or eBay?


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What Type of Business Can I Start?
Am I Suitable for Such a Business?
How Much do I Need to Start a Home Business?
How do I Start?


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