Online business ideas

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Online business ideas for South Africa

As a small business entrepreneur, don’t look at the negative side of the economy but know there is an opportunity when you look in the right place. You’ve just got to see it. With the internet and smartphones on your side, the amount of online business knows no limit.

Online business potential

There could be an excellent online business opportunity out there for you today. Don’t think that Amazon is the only online company that has succeeded. There is growth in several business areas. For example, the JD Group, the owners of companies like Incredible Connection and Hifi Corp, launched Evershop last year. 

South Africans continue to gain internet access with the growing use of smartphones. Mobile data prices are dropping, and fast internet connections are becoming more widespread. Social media is more popular than ever. Top local TV soapies are enjoyed on YouTube, and people share selfies on Facebook and Instagram. The list goes on.

The series of lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more people online as a way to stay connected and to carry on living their lives as normally as possible.  So, how could you take advantage of the growing online trend?

We had a chat with online business owners, Jen from Cyrus Farms Health Store and Steve, with his digital marketing business, about their experiences.

Get practical tips and insights about starting online businesses from Jen and Steve, small business owners, who answered our questions.

Why did you start an online business?

Jen shared the practicalities of having an online store compared to a physical store, “My business transitioned from a physical store to an online business because it was better for customers and my business. We cannot have all of our products available in the physical store, limiting what customers can buy in-store.

"So it's more practical to allow them the full variety online. The online business helps me because it avoids any wastage. All food purchases are only prepared after the order is placed. So, you're not wasting stock.”

How should someone start an online business?

“My advice to those wanting to start an online business: 

  1. Find an opportunity that is worth pursuing. Be careful of online scams, Ponzi schemes and any other get-rich-quick scams. It usually is if it seems too good to be true. Honest, and actual success in the online business space takes plenty of hard work and time.

  2. What skills do you offer, and how can you use them to start a successful online business? Study a course on the side or start working for a new business to upskill yourself until you are ready to start your own business. Also, be sure that you know how to get customers and that they want what you will offer for many years to come.

  3. Be adaptable. Even if you are currently on a winning streak, know that you may need to grow or change your business offerings to be more competitive. 

  4. Grow, and don’t be lazy. You may get new business and loss business but always push to keep the revenue flowing by getting new business on a regular basis.

  5. “Come up with a few online business ideas and let the strongest idea grow into a business.

  6. Get good business, money and legal advice and services. Talk to your family, friends and other small business owners.

  7. Keep learning. You could learn everything you need to know online through free resources that companies like Google and Facebook offer. You can also learn a lot from educational institutions and even YouTube.”

It was great to talk to Jen and Steve and get their thoughts on online businesses. Do you want to know more about finding the right online business idea for you? Read on for more inspiration. 

Learn more about online business ideas

It takes some doing to get such a business going. Seeing several legal hurdles to jump over, it’s best to consult a lawyer before starting. But, once you’ve sorted that out, the sky is the limit.

You don’t need so much money

The amazing thing about the Internet is that it won't cost you much to start an online business. It will be a great help if you are already familiar with online marketing and are well-versed with social media. So, relax; you don’t need to be a pro and succeed.

How do you spend your time?

Everyone has 24 hours each day to use for whatever they like, so time is valuable. So, do you waste time, or do you manage it wisely? Managing your time is important to having a successful online business.

How can you tap into the online world?

Some of the following business ideas could get you thinking.

What about the Chatbot business?

The number of ‘fintech’ startups is growing in South Africa, which has gotten plenty of funding from investors. The Chatbot business has exploded. Most websites have chatbots to help with customer care and signing up new clients.

Thanks to Facebook, we are now familiar with chatting to family and friends. For this reason, AI-powered chatbots are taking the lead in digital businesses, where they talk to customers instead of humans. This makes everything more cost-effective and particularly applies to client services.

It’s almost like a gold rush is on the way, with businesses scrambling for chatbots to automate their sales and marketing. Why not start your own chatbox business? There will be a learning curve, but the best way to start is to start.

Have you heard of the box subscription business?

What is it exactly? It is based on the Dollar Shave Club, started by Michael Dublin in 2011. Like other box subscription businesses, you can order a basic range of items that you need every month.

Locally, companies sell cosmetics, children's toys and more with the online subscription approach - products that people buy every month. The idea is that you sign up for a few months or a year and get discounted goods that are conveniently delivered to your door without the need to reorder every month.

Starting an online ad management business

Do you know of a local business that needs to be promoted on the internet to grow? You need to understand how to get businesses more profits from online adverts. This is a highly competitive industry, but you can master the skills and network to get business. The challenge is that paid ads can become complicated.

For this type of business to succeed, you need to understand the mechanics of online advertising, which is any advertising that appears on the Internet that you must pay for. Marketers pay an owner of ad space for using that space. Online ads are popular, and this is only the start! But, if you start early, you can create a successful online business.

Start a social media agency

Does your local shisa nyama spot need to promote its business? Do they share their happy customers’ experiences and specials on social media? Social media is part of most people’s lives, and businesses need to know how to take advantage of this. But it is a lot of work and not easy to get right. This is where your business could come in handy and make good money.

Online stores

People love shopping online now more than ever, which companies have picked up on, especially in the retail market. South Africa's major supermarkets are offering online shopping and fast deliveries now. What more could loyal supermarket customers want?

Answer a few questions like the questions below to help develop an idea with some research:

  • Could you sell products that people want at a competitive price and still make money?

  • Could your online business deal with large orders and quick deliveries?

  • Would there be enough people interested in what you could sell for you to make money?

  • Could you get funding to start your online store?

An online store is most effective if it has a payment gateway to process customers' payments on the website. Take a look at Yoco’s Payment Gateway to manage your future online store's customer payments.

Success is yours

Whatever idea you decide to turn into a business, take your time, plan, get the right advice and work hard to make your online business an incredible success. Learn more about how to start small businesses now.

Get in touch with us to see how we can help you make your business a success.

Source: 7 Online Business Ideas That Could Make You Rich

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