Money attracts money! This phrase has been true for so long and remains true to date. But the online business industry has transformed this saying and today, you actually don’t need money to manifest money. There are online businesses and brands being built every day, some of which require little to no investment. Building a business or brand is much easier in this digital age than it was a few years ago, and let’s discuss how.
Up until the beginning of this decade, a business in India was generally synonymous to brick and mortar. Due to the lack of digital infrastructure and faith in online transaction systems, the Indian consumer was more comfortable buying from a physical outlet. Hence, if you wanted to build a business back then, you would have to invest a certain amount of money into a business even before you launch it to the world. There are many costs associated with a traditional brick and mortar business and some of them include:
An office/store space which comes with costs pertaining to the rent/lease, furnishing, maintenance, etc.
Most businesses also require obtaining certain permissions, licenses, registrations, etc. before starting the operations.
Before you can sell the product, you need to invest money in the inventory to stock up your store. If you are just starting out, it is going to be difficult to find vendors who will trust you with credit. So, in all probability, you will have to invest cash upfront.
Rise of Online Business Industry:
Due to businesses being capital-intensive, there was an entry-barrier for people who had sound business plans but not enough resources. The online business industry has brought down this barrier by introducing a way to build businesses and brands with minimal to no investments.
WIth the introduction of cut-price data plans and cheaper smartphones, the internet industry has vastly been revolutionised in our nation. India accounts for 12% of the global internet users according to the Mary Meeker 2019 report on Internet Trends. The internet user base is continuously on the rise which has brought greater opportunities to the online business industry. On top of all these trends, the pandemic led social distancing movement is increasing sales for the digital sellers.
With this huge customer base and low initial investments, creating an online business seems to be such an amazing opportunity. And you must wonder, how to actually build a business online. The internet is a world in itself and the opportunities it offers are endless. Even though it is not possible to cover all these opportunities in a single article, the following ideas will get you started if you are looking to dip your feet into it
1. Online Marketplaces:
Every internet user, at some point while surfing the internet, has probably landed on an online marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Ebay, etc. These businesses allow merchants to create seller accounts on their platforms and sell their products on these marketplaces. Since, these platforms invest heavily in advertising, search engine optimisations and other marketing strategies, you shall save a lot cost and time by simply listing your products on these marketplaces.
Unlike a physical store, you do not have to purchase the complete inventory upfront and can initially start by finding a local wholesaler/manufacturer who can provide you the products on an order basis. In fact, I have a friend who has been using these platforms to sell items for the past 4 years without investing a huge sum on maintaining the inventory. If you are still skeptic about this, read the story of Rakhi Khera who clocked a revenue of Rs. 3.4 crores by selling on Myntra.
2. E-commerce website:
If you are looking to stand out as a brand and are unwilling to share a large part of your profit margin with the online marketplaces, developing an e-commerce website might be the way forward. Unlike common belief, building an e-commerce website is not very expensive. In fact, it can be done for free using the most popular WooCommerce plugin for WordPress.
The major costs involved in creating an online store shall be for the digital marketing in order to generate traffic on the store. This cost can be brought down by offering high quality products and customer service to create a loyal customer base.
3. Social Media Brands:
The power of creating a social media is enormous. According to a study by social media firm Hopper HQ on Buzz Bingo, Cristiano Ronaldo earned around $47.8 million from paid Instagram posts which was more than what he made from playing soccer for Juventus ($34 million) in 2019. Leveraging her massive social media following, Kylie Jenner entered the Billionaire’s club with her brand Kylie Cosmetics.
Creating and managing an social media account is free. Posting the right content and creating a following that would buy from you is all you need to build an online business.
4. Influencer marketing:
Talking about social media, all of us remember the charm of TikTok and how it made people famous almost overnight, These influencers garnered huge social media followings and created a brand for themselves. Digital marketers invest huge sums on influencer marketing. If you are able to build a substantial following, you might be able to take a share of the pie.
5. Content Creation and Affiliate Marketing:
Youtube has given rise to content creation as a form of income and remains one of the most popular platform among content creators. Creating a youtube channel does not require any investment initially. And once you are able to gain a certain number of viewers/subscribers, you can monetise your content with ads or sponsorships.
There are a host of skills such as content writing, software development, etc. etc. for which people hire freelancers. If you have such skills, there are a host of freelancing platforms such as fiverr, UpWork, etc. which can be used for monetising these skills.
7. Selling Online courses / E-Books:
With the whole nation in a state of lockdown and schools closed, the online education has grown substantially. If you have a special skill that you believe can be taught to others and monetise, you can create an online course or ebook which may be sold to prospective customers.
So, if you are looking to start an online business, you have a host of options to choose from. While the medium you choose to start your business, you will face challenges which you will have to overcome to achieve success. Even though the entry barrier seems to have dropped, but the path is still not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it.