The 4 Best Online Small Businesses To Start Now

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For better or worse, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed Americans to live more of their lives via the web. From working to learning to shopping, many in-person activities are now done partially or fully online — and things will likely stay that way even as the country opens back up.

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Despite the fact that many small businesses took a beating during the pandemic, now could be a great time to start a new one. That’s especially true if you’re able to harness the new digital world that we all live in. 

Not sure what type of post-pandemic online business to start? We reached out to small-business owners for their recommendations. Here are a few ideas that don’t require a ton of money or inventory to get up and running.

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E-commerce has exploded since the start of the pandemic. Online spending not only increased by an extra $183 billion over the past year, but Americans are expected to spend a record $1 trillion online in 2022, according to a new report by Adobe.

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But what if you don’t have a product? Try setting up a dropshipping online store. “Dropshipping means that you sell your products without manufacturing, storing or shipping them,” said Tytus Golas, CEO at Tidio, a company that provides customer support tools for businesses. Essentially, you act as the middleman: You set up a website to facilitate orders and market the products, but the supplier actually holds inventory and mails orders off to customers.

“A dropshipping online store is a great investment in our unstable times since you don’t need to spend money on inventory,” Golas noted. All you need, he said, is an idea, an e-commerce platform and a promotion strategy (think: Facebook/Instagram ads, content marketing, etc.). 

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With schools shut down for many months, COVID-19 had a dramatic impact on the way we learn. Remote, online schooling was the only option, and it was a tough transition for many children (and the parents who became homeschool teachers overnight). 

Kids are on their way back to live classrooms for the most part, but online learning remains a great way for adults to improve their skills — or learn new ones. “They may have been laid off from their jobs due to the economic strain on their employers, or may have had time to reassess their current career,” said Shannon Fox, education and training coordinator at Lowes Financial Academy. “Having the option to learn online opens doors, as students aren’t hindered by their location.”

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So if you have a skill that you think others would pay to learn, consider setting up online courses or coaching. And online teaching doesn’t have to just cover career-based certifications. “You can transfer skills such as crafts, music, business skills, life coaching — the list goes on,” Fox said. “Flexible, accessible, online courses are the future, and hold huge potential for industries across the board.”

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Chris Gadek, head of growth at AdQuick, said that one of the best businesses to start post-pandemic is a marketing or advertising business. “With companies having suffered during the pandemic, they are looking to boost their growth in the coming months,” he explained. “A lot of money is being spent on advertising and marketing, and we are seeing a huge boost in demand.” 

Indeed, U.S. advertisers increased their digital ad spending by nearly 15% last year, despite the pandemic. And it’s estimated that digital ad spending will increase more than 25% this year. “Serving these businesses needs to grow their customer base is a great place to be in the industry,” Gadek said.

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If you’re a decent writer with fresh ideas, you could turn a blog into a business. “As a founder, I believe that blogging is a new venture that can help people earn more post-pandemic,” said Martin Luenendonk, CEO of FounderJar, a platform that helps users launch online businesses. There are a few reasons why, he said. 

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For one, the internet has been the primary source of information for just about everyone these days. Though the web is competitive, a blog that’s informative and engaging can attract enough readers to build a lucrative business.

Starting a blog also requires minimal financial investment. “All you need is a laptop, an internet connection and a creative mind,” Luenendonk said. Plus, you don’t need a large workforce or overhead to grow your business. “You can start blogging alone or with the help of a graphic artist — you don’t need to pay for labor and office space, making it very cost-efficient,” he added.

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When it comes to making money with your blog, there are many options, including affiliate marketing, sponsorships, subscriptions and more. 

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Last updated: June 22, 2021


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