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. You can grab the free Udemy course on BATON here if you want full details.



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.




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