What online business should you start?

What you will learn in this section:

– What are the main markets to start identifying where to sell your product?

– How to take a large market and find a niche

– Step by step guide to finding your market niche online

– How to make sure your market is not too niche

Maybe you’re looking for the world’s best business opportunity before you get started.

Unfortunately you’re not going to find it here. There isn’t such a thing and if there was why would I be telling the world about it here!?

I’m just messing with you though. Sorta.

Why are you looking for the world’s best business opportunity?

The drive behind wanting to find the world’s best business opportunity is extremely understandable.

You’re looking for a way to change your life.

Having a great business that you own and run is one way to do this. You’ll be able to take control of your financial situation and build the life you deserve.

That dream and vision it very achievable.

However, it’s not gonna be easy. Especially if you spend your time looking for shortcuts and easy get rich quick schemes.

Now, I’m going to piss off some people accusing them of being lazy an work shy.

But the truth of the matter is if you are reading this article, titled the “world’s best business opportunity”, then you’re probably looking for a shortcut!

Again, the drive behind this is understandable. It’s the laziness in finding an idea that I’m pushing back on!

There is no best business opportunity

world's best business opportunity

By now some of you have probably left. And that’s fine.

For those of you who are left however I want to share a few words of advice.

The truth of the matter here is that there is no “best” business opportunity. It simply does not exist. I want to look at three reasons why it doesn’t exist and why looking for it does you ZERO favours.

Best business opportunity for YOU?

Even if there was a “best “business opportunity this does not necessarily mean that you, personally, are the right individual to be running this business.

The best business opportunity right now might involve knowing how to code a brand-new crypto currency. Or perhaps you need to be able to speak Mandarin Chinese to secure the best importation of a particular product.

Do you have the skills? If not then these are not the best possible business opportunities for you. Simple as.

They may be great opportunities for someone who has those skills. But for you? It’s a bad opportunity.

Therefore, even if there was a definitive, objective best business opportunity in the world it may not be suitable, feasible or realistic for you personally.

That’s perhaps a hard truth but it’s important to realise.

Instead spend some time discovering what a good business opportunity for you would be.

I’ve written elsewhere on this discovery process: what is the best business to start? In short it requires finding the intersection between what you’re good at, what are you enjoy doing and what there is a market for.

Best business opportunity right now?

The second truth that is important to realise is that the market is not static.

Even if there was an objectively best business opportunity right now (at this very moment in time) that would not make it the case a day, week, month, or a year from now.

The market is ever evolving. Supply and demand shift constantly. New entrants into the market come in to provide new products and services. It’s ever dynamic.

This means that even if I gave you the world’s best business opportunity today then in a few weeks time it might be worth nothing.

This is especially the case if you found this information online in a blog or perhaps a course.

A lot of  “gurus” sell the dream of online business passive income. But buyer beware!

Let’s say they have discovered a business model that works and is highly profitable. They go ahead and snap screenshot of the revenues and profits they are making on a daily basis. The screenshots look extremely attractive.

This person then packages up a course teaching their particular methodology. In it they show their earnings and then sell you a system which can provide these same riches to you.

Many of these systems will indeed produce an income. I’m not contesting that. It will require your time and effort and perhaps an investment of money but for the most part they will work when in the hands of someone who gets the work done.

However, think about how the economics of this work. If a course teaching these methods is wildly successful then there will be a lot of students out there in the market following the system. This in turn will flood the market with supply. When this happen prices fall and the profits diminish.

Example: Fulfilled by Amazon

This happened with Fulfilled by Amazon particular. FBA marketing was a great gold rush a few years ago. It was possible to find cheap products in China, slap them onto Amazon and make a profit through dropshipping.

Many people began to teach these tactics and the result was a lot of new sellers entered the market. When this happened supply began to exceed demand, prices fell and the profitability of Fulfilled by Amazon models decreased.

This is not to say that profit is impossible, only that it’s become more difficult as these methods and systems have become more widespread.

This is just a small micro example of how online businesses must remain dynamic. Even if I gave you the best online business opportunity right now it would not necessarily be the same situation a few months down the line. Especially if I’m teaching the same method to thousands of students!

For this reason it is important to continuously learn and know how to evaluate opportunities out there. Remain flexible instead of obsessing about the “best“ business opportunity.

How to evaluate the best business opportunity

world's best business opportunity

Finally, when just starting out in business it is very difficult for you to evaluate what is truly a good business opportunity.

Learning to separate the wheat from the chaff in business takes experience. If you’re just starting out you have no metric by which to compare different businesses.

How can you find the “best” business if you can’t yet identify good and bad businesses? Trick question: you you cannot!

Then how do you get better at evaluating businesses? By being in and around the world of business, working on your business on a daily basis and learning from your successes and mistakes.

All of this requires getting started. The longer you spend searching for the objectively “best“ business opportunity the more time you spend out of the arena. And if you’re out of the arena you cannot learn how to evaluate business opportunities.

It’s a dreadful chicken and egg situation of indecision and inaction. You want to know the best business before you start. But…until you start you don’t have the knowledge to know what the best businesses are!

World’s best business opportunity: Start with You

world's best business opportunity

Well, this is no fun is it? I’ve come along and crapped on your parade!

What about positive helpful next steps? Great idea!

Instead of looking for the best business opportunity in the world you need to find something that is suitable for you right now.

There are obviously two components to this. The first is finding something suitable to you. The second is finding something that works right now.

As mentioned above and outlined exercises for working out a good business for you personally to start. In terms of timing there is no better time to start that right now.

Best starter online business

The truth of the matter is that starting and running a business is a skill. The first time you do it you will most likely fail! And this is not necessarily a bad thing: this is how we learn.

The key for your first online business is to make sure that the learning opportunity comes with little to no risk.

Do not get obsessed with one idea and invest a lot of time and money into it. Make sure you do make the mistake of renting an office and staff so that you have high monthly overheads to cover. And please do not run off and quit your day job immediately to pursue your new online business.

Instead, start small and build slowly-learning as you go.  Keep risks and losses minimal so that you can always bounce back and continue to learn. Do not expect your first business to make you rich and help you retire early. Instead, think of your first online business as a school in which to practice and hone your skill at running an online business.

You came here looking for the worlds best business opportunity. Hopefully I’ve disabused of this notion. Instead, by following some basic advice you should be working out what the best business opportunity for you is right now.

Stop chasing the perfect. You will not find it and chances are you will stay in search mode instead of getting started.

Instead, it’s time to take the plunge and actually start something real. It may not be the “best“ business opportunity in the world but it will be your first online business.

From the starting point you’ll be in a better position to evaluate business opportunities and hone in on that elusive (perhaps impossible!) objectively best business opportunity.

Starting an online business – or any business for that matter – is a skill than can be learned. For this reason it’s sensible to ask what are the best online business ideas for beginners. If we start with a beginner friendly online business we can hone our skills more effectively.

Think about how you acquire a skill normally. Let’s take the one armed press up as our example – simply because it’s a skill I’m personally working on and have been thinking about.

online business ideas for beginners
Definitely me and not Batman.

If you just drop to the floor and try to do a one arm press up what will most likely happen? At best you’ll just be stuck with your arm tensed under you, unable to lower your body. At worse your arm will totally collapse and your face will be making friends with the floor at a decidedly unfriendly speed. Ouch.

Whatever the outcome we likely agree that without practicing the skill of doing a one arm press up the likely outcome is failure.

Instead to progress to being able to perform a one arm press up we might:

  • Make sure we can do 100 “regular” press ups with good form
  • Work on building a solid core and throughline by holding a plank for 3 minutes.
  • Start with assisted one arm press ups whilst we build single arm strength
  • etc. etc.

We’d acquire the skill in a series of steps. We wouldn’t just expect to have the skill immediately. These things take time.

Online Business: a Skill

Running an online business is exactly the same. It’s a skill that can be acquired.

Does this mean you need to go and get an MBA? Absolutely not. But it does mean a learning curve.

We wouldn’t expect to start a business on Monday and be a millionaire by Friday. Some guru may sell you on this idea but guess what – they are the one who becomes the millionaire.

Instead we can learn how to set up and run online businesses. Step by step, moving from one competency to the next.

Most people make the mistake of going too big, too soon. They read about the latest unicorn multi-billion app acquisition and think “yes please I’ll have me some of that!” and launch into the deep end : depleting their savings, hiring staff, renting an office, burning through investor cash and so on.

And it all collapses. Why? Because they didn’t have enough skill in running a business to pull it off.

They crash and burn and cannot bounce back from that. Game over. They join the ranks of “failed businesses” that we hear about in the terrifying statistics about how hard it is to start a business.

In the world of the one arm press up:  they fell and broke their nose. Yikes.

Build to Learn rather than to Earn

Instead let’s flip our mindset. What if we start our first online business with the express intention of learning. The best online business ideas for beginners are those that help us to earn and move from beginner to expert.

Will you make money? Potentially! If you find the right product/market fit and manage to fulfil the need.

Doing so first time is hard but not impossible. But more realistically you won’t be able to first time out of the gate.

The good news though: the second time will be much easier.

If our first online business idea doesn’t pan out we at least learn more about the world of online business. We acquire more knowledge and skills. All of which makes the second attempt more successful.

Shifting our mindset means that all online business ideas for beginners are basically learning opportunities. A way to skill up and come back stronger.

Find a framework

Ideally when kicking off your first online business idea you need a framework to follow. Basically a series of steps. You want to remove guess work and follow a system that has been shown to work.

We do this when we learn at school. We follow a textbook. We do this when learning the one arm push up. We follow guides by those who have gone before us. Acquiring the skill of starting an online business is no different.

What framework or system you follow isn’t that important if I’m honest. The key is to have something to follow to smooth the learning process. Remember we aren’t demanding great financial success from our first online business! It’s instead a learning exercise.

If I’m biased (and I am!) I’d suggest the BATON system (Business, Audience, Tribe, Offer, Network) as an effective series of replicable and repeatable steps for starting an online business. 



baton overview online business ideas for beginners

The main thing is simply to have a framework to build your online business with so you can focus on learning and acquiring skills.

What about those Online Business Ideas for Beginners?

What exact idea you pursue isn’t important. It’s the process of starting and learning that matter.

However, you’ve come here specifically to head what the best online business ideas for beginners are so I guess I had best give you some right?

The key for a good online business idea for beginners is to reduce the capital risk. 

What’s that? Basically –  we don’t want you losing lots of money on your first online business.

Remember – we are talking about online business ideas for beginners. It probably won’t work as a financially viable business right out of the gate (sorry!) so we need to reduce downside risk. We need to ensure that any money that is put into the business isn’t so much that if it’s lost you’ll never be able to start a business again.

If you put your life savings into your first business and it goes bust guess what? That’s the end of your online business journey!

Instead we make sure that your online business has as little capital at risk as possible so that you don’t get torpeedo’d if it doesn’t work out.

Specifically we want:

  • Online not offline.
  • Digital not physical
  • Build once, sell many
  • Product not a service

The ideal online business idea for beginners is generally some form of information product. These come in many many forms. It could be an eBook, an online course, a resource pack, audio material or much more. Some form of digital information that you pack into a product that once produced can be sold over and over again.

Importantly information products require very little capital investment. They rely on your knowledge and time not cash. This makes them (eBooks, courses, audio etc.) ideal online business ideas for beginners.

Online Business Ideas for Beginners and Skill Acquisition

The key here is that by building an information product business you i) reduce your capital at risk and ii) can still acquire all of the skills required to start and run any online business.

You’ll learn these skills in a controlled environment where a single misstep won’t bankrupt you.

And these skills are transferrable to ALL of your later online business.

For instance working out social media marketing automation for your information product business is very similar to working it out for a 300 person online consultancy company. Same skills – different scale.

Working out how to set up Stripe to take credit card transactions for your $7 eBook via a full eCommerce store? Same skill – different scale.

Yes the financial rewards of running a larger scale business are higher. Of course they are! But so are the risks.

This is why when looking at online business ideas for beginners it makes far more sense to start with something derisked and manageable. Acquire the skills. Then scale.


What online should I start then?

The reality is the specific and exact business that you start is not that important.

At this stage in your online business journey (ie. no action yet!) the main thing is you get something started, regardless of whether it will be successful and regardless of what exactly it is.

Once you have momentum and are actually acting on your desire to have an online business it becomes much simpler to work out what exactly that online business will be!

This might sound counterintuitive: how can you start a business when you don’t know what it is?

But the truth of the matter is whatever business you start now will probably be unrecognisable a year from now. Most businesses go through a number of iterations before you land on a successful combination of product and market.

I’ve written another blog article about what online business is best to start for a beginner. The short answer is start something that will allow you to experiment, learn and progress in the skill of running an online business without spending a lot of time or putting capital at risk.

Next Steps: Getting Serious

However, once you have dipped your toes and are actually serious about creating an online business that works for you, it is vitally important that we work out what is the best online business for you personally.

Notice this is not the same as saying what is the “best online business”. This is too abstract. We need to personalise the online business to your particular interests and skills.

All of this is covered in exhaustive detail in the Business portion of the BATON model. In fact the Business portion of the BATON model is primarily focused on the question of what online business you should start!

However I’m going to use this blog article to run through the basic exercise you should be carrying out before starting an online business.

Find the sweet spot

In short we want to find the sweet spot between three different aspects:

We are looking for the intersection between:

  • What you are good at (Skills)
  • Thingsyou are interested in (Sustainability)
  • What people are willing to pay you for  (Market verification)

We are looking for the Goldilocks zone. We need to find an activity that falls between these three different areas. If you can find this you have the basis of a successful online business.

What are your skills?

First up we need to work out what you are good at. This means knowing what  your skills are and what value can you provide the world at large?

All businesses solve problems. This is what entrepreneurs actually do. They help answer questions and solve problems that the market has.

To be able to do this you need to have the knowledge and skills to be able to help others.

Yes, if you don’t have the particular skills you could acquire them and then use the skills to help the market but you are just adding additional time before you can launch your online business. As a result it makes a lot more sense to start with an inventory of what it is that you are good at already.

How do we go about doing this?

Let’s discuss three different ways to work out what your skills are.

What are you good at? Self-reflection

The first is simply to sit with a piece of paper and pen and list out – from your point of view -what you believe your skills to be. This will be a nice easy starting point.

This list might include what you do on a day-to-day basis, your accolades, any certification or degrees you hold or simply what you know to be your particular strengths.

We are not necessarily looking for for academic subjects here. Instead we are looking for general skills that are applicable across a range of activities.

For example maybe you know that when it comes to birthday parties in your friendship group you were always the organiser. If this is the case then you likely have a high level of organisational skills. You don’t necessarily need to have a project management degree for organisation and project delivery to be considered your skills!

Therefore the easiest place to start is simply with a bit of self reflection and self inventorying. Make sure to do this with pen and paper rather than on an electronic device as it allows your thoughts to flow more freely. We tend to self censor less when writing on paper which is important in this exercise because there are no wrong answers.

What are you good at? Ask Around.

The second way we can cover our particular skills is to ask the people around us.

This is important because sometimes we do not recognise what it is we are good at simply because we take it for granted.

For example I know that I can put together a website but I do not necessarily think of this immediately as a “skill” that I possess. It’s become so second nature so as to become unremarkable. As a result I might have forgotten to add this to the personal list of my particular skills.

However, when we ask people around us what it is that we are good at these forgotten aptitudes quickly rise to the surface. You might be known as the go to person in your particular social circle because of skills you now take for granted.

Asking other people is also vitally important if you lack self-confidence in your own abilities. If you know that you tend to be hard on yourself then you may have found the list of skills in the first part of this exercise is rather lacking.

This makes it all the more important to talk to people who know you and get their perspective on the issue. You might find yourself surprised because you’ve never personally thought of yourself are strong in these particular areas.

What are you good at? Formal Assessment

The third way we can uncover our particular skills is to more formalised assessments. For example the Strengths Finder 2.0 book and online questionnaire. Another useful exercise is to take a Myers Briggs test. is a good place to start.

Whilst these assessments should not be taken as gospel they are often helpful for reminding yourself of certain aptitudes you have which you may have forgotten to include.

What you enjoy doing

By completing an honest self assessment, asking your peers and completing more formal tests you should the end of this process have a long list of your particular skills and abilities.

Put this aside for a moment.

The next major part of this process is to do a similar activity but instead to uncover what you’re interested in and enjoy.

It’s important that you enjoy or are at least interested in what your online business is about. This is not the same as saying “follow your passion”. In fact I do not recommend following your passion in a business. Instead we need to find the intersection between what you are good at, what are you interested in and what the market will pay you for.

Your passion may not (and it will tend not to!) fall in this intersection.

Instead what we are interested in now is sustainability. Whilst the online business does not need to be focused on your passion it should at least be something that you are interested in and enjoy sufficiently to make the business sustainable.

Why you shouldn’t start an online business you hate

Simply put if you hate the business there is no way that you were going to put in a sufficient amount of time and energy required to make it successful.

Starting an online business is already difficult enough but if you hate the particular area of the business it makes this process an impossibility!

As a result of this it’s important to find an intersection between your skills and something that you enjoy. If you are setting up an online business in order to escape the 9-to-5 grind then hopefully this will be good news. You may be a fantastic accountant in your 9-to-5 job but the whole reason you are setting up an online business is to escape the world of accountancy!

So if accountancy is something that you simply abhor and there is no use me telling you to start an accounting firm!

To uncover what it is that you enjoy we’re going to follow a similar process.

What do you enjoy? Self reflection

Again sit with a blank piece of paper and a pen and jot down things that you enjoy. This might be specific activities – for example windsurfing – or it might be particular processes or even feelings.

If you are the person in your group organises everyone’s birthday parties the particular activity that you enjoy may not actually be “organising birthday parties”. That may be too specific.

Instead, through self reflection you may realise that what you were interested in is getting like-minded people together.  Regardless of it being your friends and regardless of it being a birthday party; it it may be the activity of creating something communal from nothing that excites you.

What do you enjoy? Day parting

The second way to flesh out your list of interests is to look at what you actually do on a day-to-day and a week to week basis. Especially your free time.

We tend to gravitate towards activities that we enjoy, even if we do not recognise this. Therefore by taking inventory of our actual use of time we should be able to uncover further details about our interests. Do this properly using a timetracking app to get a realistic reflection rather than a subjective guess.

What would you enjoy if you did not have to work anymore?

Third, spent some time reflecting on what you would do if you did not need to worry about money on a day-to-day basis. This is often a very liberating thought exercise as it forces us to think how we would fill our days if work and money was no longer a concern. Most people never actually stop to reflect on this because we are so busy treading the hamster wheel!

Your initial thought might be “sod it” and sitting on the beach drinking mai tais for life. This tends to be the knee-jerk answer only because we are so busy working all the time that our idea of leisure is simply defined as “not working”.

In reality when someone doesn’t need to worry about money they will tend to find other goals and activities to fill their time. Otherwise human beings get extremely bored and despondent.

So go beyond the initial “doing nothing” answer and think about what you would actually spend your time doing once you got over the initial honeymoon period.

Pulling it all together: finding the intersection

Now you should have two nicely fleshed out lists.

One is a list of all your skills and what you’re good at. The other contains your interests and what you could do on a sustainable basis.

At this point I recommend putting your lists away and coming back to them in a few days so that they are fresh.

When you return to your lists what we’re going to do is look for intersections between the two.

Are there common themes? Are their certain topics, areas and activities show up in both lists?

Each time you find a connection write the intersecting activity on a new sheet of paper.

Easy overlaps

Chances are there are a few which appear on both lists. The reason for this is that we tend to do things that we enjoy. And by doing these things we tend to get better at them. This is a self reinforcing cycle which determines what we spend our time doing.

You see this with children at school. Those who enjoy playing football get better at football. The better they get at football the more they enjoy playing football. The more they enjoy football the more they will play football et cetera et cetera. It’s a positive reinforcement loop.

Niche Generation

Hopefully by the end of this intersection exercise you should have at least 5 to 10 intersecting activities. These are areas where you are both skilled and enjoy performing the activity. These are your online business starting points.

Each one of these is a potential niche for your online business. A niche is simply an area that we choose to operate in. The more specific and well-defined the niche the higher our chances of success within that niche.

A wide niche like “exercise” is going to be harder to succeed and then a narrow niche like “performing Turkish getups with a kettle bell” which is a very specific subset of exercise.

Hopefully your initial list of interests and skills were specific enough so that your intersecting list is full of specific activities rather than wide generalisations like “exercise”. If not go back and repeat the process. The more times you’ve done these activities the more specific answers you’ll get and the more potential business niches you’ll uncover.

Moving on to market verification

The third step of this process is to take these niches and verify whether there is a market for them. This is where we can actually answer the question “what online business should I start?”. We’re close now!

Remember we are looking for Goldilocks zone between what we’re good at, what we are interested in and what the market is willing to pay for.

It’s no good to simply be good at something and have a sustainable interest if nobody is willing to pay for the value we can produce in this niche.

It might be an extremely enjoyable and lifelong hobby but it will not be a business!

Because of this we now need to take our 5 to 10 niches and run market verification on each one in order to filter down to what could potentially be the basis of an online business.

I’ll cover this market verification in the next blog article. For now you have enough homework (completing your list of skills and interests) to get you started!

This is very much an interactive process and simply reading about it will not help you start your online business.

So get going!

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