Step 4: What kind of internet business can I start?

Selling online doesn’t just mean setting up a global online shoe shop or huge bike parts store.

Clicks and mortar business

Cheesy phrase right? It basically means an e-commerce website which supports a real bricks and mortar store in the high street. Lots of existing business owners are rightly exploring e-commerce because of the growth opportunities it offers. Got a great brand and great products but can’t afford opening up a new high street store? Why not set up online and open it up to the whole world? You can then spend time marketing your website to the people you were originally going to sell to with your new physical store – but then some!

Many physical store owners are already dabbling with eBay and Amazon Marketplace, but as e-commerce tools get easier to use and cost very little to run, retailers are going out on their own setting up for themselves via sites like Shopify and Bigcommerce.

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Virtual goods

Ever downloaded music? Paid for and downloaded an e-book or a knitting pattern? Millions are each day, so there’s no reason why you can’t set up an online business selling exclusively online services or downloads.

Offering virtual goods has the advantage of not taking up physical storage space (except hosting costs on a server or hard drive). With little or no ‘stock’, costs are often dramatically reduced. Made something that doesn’t sell? No need to store it in an expensive warehouse.

Obviously creating and selling original software or useful online tools is a whole different kettle of fish to selling physical goods and it’s not something that can be explained in a single post because of the technical knowledge required – but there are huge opportunities to be had if you can pull it all together.

There’s also the potential to sell your expertise online. Good at design? Great at marketing? Think you can teach people a new skill? There are all kinds of services you can sell. Selling online courses, videos, Word or PDF downloads for a fee – it’s all possible. For example, one of Shopify’s apps – called Send Owl – lets you charge customers to download useful documents. That could be lessons in something, a novel, a dress-making kit – anything at all that can be sent via the internet.