As of 2016, over 11 million small businesses in the USA were owned and operated by women. This accounts for over 35% of small businesses in the country. As technology advances, there is no better time than now for women to opt for a career as a small business owner. As internet proliferation expands worldwide, this the time to set up an online business and manage it successfully.
For women in the USA who are looking to start a career as small or micro business owners, technology and the internet help in setting up businesses online with little overhead and faster returns than many traditional businesses. It is important to know what you are interested in and how much you are willing to learn.
You can opt to start an online small business in any one of the categories:
- Technical/technology services
- Business support services
- Sales and promotions
As a first step, you would need to set up your own small business website regardless of your business type, but beyond that each business has its own unique requirements.
Here are Top 10 lucrative online small business options for women entrepreneurs in the USA.
1. Web design/Graphic design/Software Development
Technical services are not just the domain of men. More and more women are offering technical and technology services online. If already you have the certifications or have the inclination to learn web design, graphic design, logo design or software development, then setting up an online small business that offers these services could be a great opportunity for you.
There is tremendous potential in the small business space and you could market your services to small and micro businesses in your own local area to achieve highly satisfying results! Or you could create apps that have niche audiences like a meal planner for single professionals, digital organizers for working parents. As the world goes increasingly digital and families become increasingly nuclear, there are several untapped arenas for helping people make lives easier through digital means.
Cost of set up typically includes the hardware and software you need. You could work out of your own home and thus remove a lot of the overheads. You would periodically need to engage accounting services as your business grows but you get to decide hours, clients and your own output.
An example of such a business is https://agirlandhermac.design/
2. Online tutorials and courses
What’s your first instinct when you want to find out something about anything?
That’s right, you head off to Google and run a search. Billions of “How to” queries are typed every day and there is a huge market and a bigger demand for tutorials and online courses on everything ranging from nail art to PHP coding to Cloud Computing.
You could set up your own course with your own website or you could work with major online academic platforms like udemy. Otherwise, you can leverage the power of a platform like YouTube that allows you to reach millions of people and pays you as your viewership starts to expand.
An example of someone running their own course: https://eliteblogacademy.com/
3. Online Video post-production
In the online video space, YouTube is the leader in terms of both production and consumption. Since its first video upload in April 2005, the platform now has 1.3 billion users, 300 hours of videos getting uploaded every minute, 3.25 billion hours of videos watched every month, and 30 million daily visitors.
An interesting statistic: 20% of these visitors leave videos after 10 seconds because of bad production values.
That’s where your potential market is. Also, the fact that 9% of small businesses in the USA use YouTube regularly. Given the kind of viewership stats, you can always help more small and micro businesses uncover the potential of online video production.
Video post-production helps in making videos more watchable and reduces bounce rates. If you don’t already have the required certifications, there are plenty of platforms from which you can complete courses in video post-production including LinkedIn.
4. Assistant services
Another area for a niche online small business is Assistant Services. You can offer your services as Virtual Assistant for small and micro businesses in your local area. Your services could involve anything from making and following-up on appointments, scheduling calendars, managing phone calls from vendors and suppliers and even coordinating between various parties for an event hosted by a small or micro business near you.
You could also offer Personal Assistant services for individuals and small businesses run by individuals (for example, an accountant) by managing their phones, mails, calendars and even doing online shopping for them.
This is an excellent business choice for women who have excellent organizational and people skills. It is also a good choice for women who would like to run a business from home. Investment would include the hardware and software required for managing phone calls and calendars.
An example of such a business is: http://www.completeerrand.com/AboutTCE.htm
5. Bookkeeping services
Small and microbusinesses rarely have full-time accountants due to budgetary constraints. If you are a certified accountant you can offer a full-range of accounting and tax-filing services to small and micro businesses around you.
Even if you are not certified but you have excellent skills with numbers or are good with business analytics you can offer a range of services to such small companies. These services include:
- Balance sheets
- Income statements
- Variety of financial reports – monthly, quarterly, annual.
Investment involves software for accounting and reporting.
6. Online marketing consultant services (Social media, email marketing)
If you are good at networking and have great marketing skills or the right certifications, offering marketing consultant services is another great idea for an online small business. Small businesses don’t have large marketing budgets but you can help them leverage the online media to market their business effectively through free platforms like social media and email marketing.
Help small and micro businesses reach out and engage with more customers by creating and executing online marketing campaigns on social media and through email marketing. Now the small business digital marketing services where more creative and brings out collective information for your business.
You can decide the hours and the clients, which makes for a flexible option for you. What is more, you can do this for clients anywhere and not just small businesses near you.
7. Website management, content management
Yet another online business service that you can offer is in website management for small businesses. You can help them keep their website up to date by planning for and coordinating the required updates and upgrades for the website. Coordinate the website’s content strategy to keep it fresh always.
You can offer hands-on services if you are an expert in web design or you can offer to act as project coordinator and charge consulting fees alone.
An example for this kind of services is http://www.janneman.co/
8. Create and sell products online
Online retailing is a great option for those who have the skills to create or craft items for people. Whether you recreate vintage furniture or you are an artist painting landscapes, the online world gives you an opportunity to create and sell your creations for highly satisfactory prices.
You can leverage niche retailing platforms like Etsy or major online retailers like Amazon to sell your work. Alternately, you can create your own website and sell your products through it.
An example of a highly successful niche artisan online retailing business is: http://www.enchanteddoll.com/
9. Sell services online
You can set up a website that helps individuals and small businesses reach out to essential services and professionals quickly and easily. While you may think of online directories when you read this, the difference is that you provide a personal link between small business and supplier.
You sell the supplier services to clients, coordinating with suppliers at the backend to ensure that the services get delivered on time. You become the point of contact for the clients. This is a time-intensive business but is an excellent choice for those looking to use their managerial skills and their existing professional network to create a lucrative business for themselves.
See an example here: https://www.jennifersoap.com/store/
10. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is the method of promoting other people’s or company’s products through your own online business in return for a commission from sales. Your online business would be involved in promoting one or more products through your own digital platforms like your blog or video channel on YouTube.
Affiliate marketers range from individuals making a few thousand dollars a month to entire companies earning millions of dollars.
To become successful in affiliate marketing as a small business, you would need to actively promote your website, blog and video channels to ensure maximum viewership and maximum potential for sales.
So, how to start an online small business as an affiliate marketer?
- Choose your niche product or products.
- Tie up with an affiliate network that sell these products or approach companies directly for starting an affiliate relationship.
- Start reviewing products via a blog and a video on YouTube or a live streaming platform like Periscope. People always want to know more about products and are looking online.
- Set up the affiliate links from your website.
- Encourage your viewers to purchase products from your website.
- As you gain more and more viewers, collect emails via your blog or newsletter.
- Grow and personalize your content and engage with your customers to ensure more purchases through your website.
- As your business makes money, you can grow more by moving on to pay per click advertising.
You may need to invest money to purchase products before reviewing them, your other initial costs would include your website, video production costs, travel if any.
An example of someone who created a successful business out of affiliate marketing is Justine Ezarik or https://www.youtube.com/user/ijustine
Before you choose any online small business to start, understand the commitment it will require. You will also need to answer 4 critical questions before you sit down to draw up a business plan.
What you need to know before you start your online small business
A lot of us want to start a small business and we may even have a plan but along the way we may become uncertain, especially if the business starts to take precedence over what used to be our life priorities. There is, however, no need to lose heart.
Before you start your business, get answers to a few important questions. This will help you plan your small business for the best possible outcome.
1. Why are you doing this?
For women who want to start a small business online, it is important that you know why you want to go down this career path. A business is not a hobby. Unlike with a hobby, the expectation from a business is that it will provide you with an income regularly. Business also entails regular expenses. Cash flow is the biggest concern for anyone running a business.
When you are clear about why you want to start a small business, you can better plan your cash flow.
It could be that you are looking to take time off from a corporate career and devote time to family. Your business is a means of supplementing your family’s income, but not the primary income.
It could be that you want to pursue a life long goal, take all your work or life experience and build a company for yourself. In this case, your business is also your primary financial support system.
It could be that there is a business opportunity in the market and you have the means to capitalize on it. You want to invest in a business that generates additional income for you. In this case, you will need good managers to run your business for you.
It could be that you have a few hours a day to spare and you want to generate some income out of those otherwise idle hours.
Once you are clear about the motivation and the outcome you are expecting, it takes you one step closer to understanding what your small business will be about.
2. How much time you can devote?
This is a critical answer. Are you planning to be involved full-time in the business or are you able to spare only 3-4 hours a day for it? When you know this, it helps you decide the scale of your small business and what all you will offer.
For example, if you wish to offer small business web design services and will be available only 6 hours a day, then you can decide to target niche businesses and offer specialty services to a limited clientele. This will help you develop business credibility and prevent being swamped with work you cannot complete.
3. What are you good at?
Next, identify what type of small business is most feasible for you. What is your area of expertise or experience? What talents do you have that can be nurtured and turned into a lucrative business?
If you are good writer, you may want to start a freelance writing service. You could start off by offering blogs, articles, reviews and so forth. Maybe expand in a year or two with more writers and other web content developers.
If you are good at handicraft or you an artist, you could set up your online store selling items that you create. In a year, depending on demand and market growth, you could even add people to your team, take up more orders.
Sometimes, skills are not tangible. You could be a brilliant organizer but unsure of how it translates to business. You could offer virtual assistant services. You could plan the calendars, trips and events for small companies in your locality.
If you have excellent networking skills, put it to use by offering business networking services for local small and medium businesses in your area. Small businesses rarely have the budget for full-time business development managers but would be happy to accept your services whenever they need it.
It may also be that you think you are good at something, but you may find that there are others who are doing it much better than you are doing it. Competition in your chosen line of business could be high.
So, what do you do? Give up?
No! You need to find out opportunities to learn.
4. What would you enjoy learning to do?
If you have the willingness to learn, you can enhance existing skills or even develop new ones. Take some time out to see what you are willing to learn.
The internet offers a wide range of courses and tutorials on nearly every subject. What’s more, many online classes are offered at minimum costs. Leverage these online education platforms to take up courses suited for your line of interest.
You never know, if you find you enjoy learning and have ideas for teaching then you might find yourself running an online education business in no time!
Once you have these four answers, you can sit down to write down your business plan. By now you know what you want to do, what’s your time commitment to the business and what or how much you need to learn before you can start.
Don’t worry about the business plan either. While it seems intimidating to set up a business plan, you have to remember that a business plan is simply a set of answers to some pertinent questions.
Get down to your small business plan
A basic business plan should be able to answer the following questions:
- What niche in the market is your business going to occupy?
- Who is your target customer?
- How will you reach your target customer aka your marketing plan?
- What is the competition like?
- What is the potential in the market for your business to grow?
- What are the various components of your business?
- What is the process flow of these components?
- How much will it cost to set up the business?
- How much will it cost to run the business?
- How will you manage the cash flow for the next year?
- How will you manage cash flow for three subsequent years?
- When will you achieve breakeven point?
- When do you expect to see profits?
- What is your exit plan?
Now that you are armed with all the information, go ahead and make a success of your online small business.
If you need any support along the way, in marketing or even setting up your business, always remember that you can ask for help. Companies like Small Business Web operate with the sole objective of helping online small businesses to take root, grow and branch out to maximum success.