Did you know besides your traditional job, you can start an online business that pays you just enough to live any kind of life you want? A job where you can work from anywhere, make your own work hours and get paid even when on an abroad trip.
That is not an exaggeration. It is a modern way of doing business. It is actually the new business reality. I have tried it myself over the years and it has worked for me.
You don’t need to have an MBA from Harvard to start an online business. Neither do you need venture capital or special business connections.
With any amount of money you have at hand, you can start a powerful online business that serves the flooding ocean of internet people.
There are millions of people out there who are so much willing to pay you if your business can solve their problems.
You could be that kind of person your friends turn to whenever they need relationship advise. Maybe you are a computer wizard. Or you have a great fashion sense. All these can be turned into an online business idea.
You turn any skills you have into a profitable online business venture. Then scale it as much as possible, automatically. These are not simply theories. I have done it many times and i have succeeded.
Why start an online business?
There are many reasons why one should start an online business rather than traditional or office based business, and below are some of them:
- Low setup fees
- Earns you extra
- Operation has no boundaries as you can sell to a global audience.
The dark side of online businesses
You must have seen tons of websites online promising to help you get rich quickly. Some post hopeless inspirational quotes about how to start a successful online while their own businesses struggle to exist.
Most of this dangerous information comes from numerous blogs that simply focus on the minutiae of starting an online business while others will post deceitful info just to generate a few thousands of traffic on their blogs.
Following advice on these blogs leaves you spinning your wheels, stagnated in one place and not getting anywhere. You are left stuck in a Marketing Tactical Hell.
But things don’t have to be this way. You can actually start an online business that is genuine, authentic and provides real value.
Just like I have helped tens of my online students start successful digital businesses, this guide will exactly take you through what you need to start an online business.
The guide won’t take your online business idea from $0.00 to $10,000 overnight. It will instead take you through required steps to build a powerful online business that provides value to your clients.
I’m not going to sing kumbaya around the fire, I’m going to share my proven strategies and insights discovered by the world’s most successful internet entrepreneurs.
Online business models to start a low-cost, high-profit business
To start any online business, all you need is a website, emails, sales page and customers.
But before we get there, you have to first decide what kind of online business you want to run.
There are 8 major online business models any average business starter can use. Some of these models yield huge profit margins, take little time and above all scale easily. Others take a lot of time, have overhead costs and are usually difficult to grow.
I have personally tested most of these online business models. Let me quickly take you through them so you can decide which one is right for you.
- Sell physical products
- Online information products
Online business model #1: Advertising
The most common business model that almost every one of you has seen is advertising. Those little advertisements you see on websites – they are usually Google AdSense.
Here is how they work: You create a website or blog on any you niche you understand. You grow traffic for you website. Then apply with one of the advertising networks who would place advertisements on your website.
As you get traffic, you will earn a few cents every time people view or click on those advertisements.
Some corporate advertisements from independent advertisers will pay you a fixed amount weekly, monthly or annually depending on your agreement with the advertiser.
I have tried advertisements on some of my blogs and I’m earning good revenue per month. But you need to have huge amounts of traffic to earn a decent amount.
Below are the different types of advertisements you can use:
- Google Adsense
- Google adsense alternatives e.g Media.Net, Infolinks, Bidvertiser, RevenueHits etc
- Native advertisements e.g Outbrain, Taboola, Disqus Reveal, Nativo etc
- Premium banners
- Sell text links
- Podcast advertsing
- Sell ads in news letters
- Cost per mile advertising
- Advertising plugins/widgets
- RSS advertising
- Pay Per Play (audio advertising)
- Video advertising
- Popups/light boxes
Online business model #2: Affiliates
Affiliate marketing is a practice of marketing other people’s products online. You get paid every time someone purchases a product or service through your special affiliate link.
This is actually a modern interpretation of an old marketing idea where you get commission on a sale.
You introduce your audience to you affiliate products (products from brands you trust). You earn a commission on any sales generated through your affiliate link.
This means you have to find products you like and match with your website theme, promote them to your website audience and get a commission on every lead that converts.
Here is an example of how affiliates work:
You are a loyal follower of my website. You have fallen in love with the information I share here. You trust it 100%.
Now one day I recommend a product from a company I personally trust. If you buy this product through my affiliate link, I will get a small commission from your purchase.
Affiliate commission structures vary depending on the provider of the affiliate program. Typically, affiliate commissions start from $1 to as high as $10,000.
For instance, I do affiliate marketing with Bluehost [a hosting company] and I earn a commission of $65 on every commission I generate for them through my affiliate link.
Below are some affiliate networks you can join today
- Commission Junction
- Amazon Associates
- iTunes Affiliate Program
NB: Only work with affiliate networks whose products/services are relevant to your website niche. For example if your business website is about fashion, then I don’t expect you to have web hosting affiliate links but rather affiliates links from ecommerce stores that deal in fashion accessories sales such as Amazon, Alibaba, AliExpress, Jumia etc.
Online Business Model #3: Software
Not everyone can write code but if you have great software development skills, this can be a tempting online business idea for you to start.
You have heard the media talk stories of how Silicon Valley startup founders made billions of money from their small tech startup companies when they went public, this means starting an online business would mean doing something similar to what Silicon Valley guys did.
But let’s face the fact; this online business model isn’t a viable option for most people who can’t program or code.
If you can’t code, and have enough startup capital, you can always hire professional developers to create for you software products. However it is important to have basic understanding of how the product is developed, how to market it, distribute it or upgrade it.
Online Business Model #4: Selling Physical Products Online
This is usually the first model that comes to mind for many people when they think of starting an online business.
Here one can create physical / shippable products and market them online. He can do so via own ecommerce storefront, auction website or sell his products through third party ecommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay or Jumia.
Physical products require warehousing and shipment. However unlike digital products, physical products are easier to sell as most consumers tend to trust tangible goods compared to digital items.
Below are some ideas for physical products one can sell online:
- Fashion products
- Handmade products
- Sell merchandise
- Sell printables
- Beauty products
- Home appliances
Online Business Model #5: Coaching and consulting
If you are an expert in a certain topic you can start an online business where you actively coach and consult for others.
You will have to be recognized as an expert in your field in order to have clients trust you. Consultants make money by offering one-on-one counseling / coaching sessions.
People hire consultants to solve their problems and pay them in return because they understand the value they generate from their experience, knowledge and exposure.
Self-experience is one great skill. If you are an expert in any niche, you can start an online professional consulting program and charge people for your services.
For instance, if you are an expert in a web development niche, you can offer consulting services like web design training, website audit, website marketing, SEO services etc
Personally, through this blog, I offer several IT related consulting programs targeting individuals, small businesses and corporate brands.
Other consulting services you can offer include:
- Legal consulting
- Offer Strategy services
- SEO consulting
- Coaching Consulting
- Social media consulting
- Business strategies
- Content marketing
- Internet security
- Blogging consulting
- Market entry strategy
- Financial consulting
- Virtual assistant services
Unlike other online business models, coaching and consulting typically relies on personal relationships. It is upon you to work based on referrals till you become an authority in your industry or niche. It is not just a matter of posting inspirational quotes here and there. People need coaches and consultants to get them on the right track.
Online Business Model #6: Manufacturer’s Direct
An example of a manufacturer’s direct model is a company like Apple, the consumer electronics manufacturer, which has an online product catalog where consumers can order for their products directly from them.
Any individual or business can directly go to apple’s website and purchase the products in store. This enables Apple to operate with fewer field sales representatives.
Microsoft also uses this online business model, giving their product consumers to customize their computers according to their needs.
Online Business Model #7: Freelancing
If you can’t think of a specific online business model to start; Are you a great designer? Are you a coding genius? Or are you an SEO wizard? Use your skills and expertise to launch an online business today.
Some of freelancing business opportunities include:
- Content writing
- Web design
- SEO consulting
- Business and Technology consulting
- Business strategies
- Remote IT support
- Graphics design
- Software development
Online Business Model #8: Selling Information Online
People are willing to pay to access valuable information online especially the information that solves their current problems.
If your content can accomplish some confusing difficult task, someone out there is willing to pay you for it.
However people will not pay for any information that resembles a typical blog post or when they can easily find it somewhere else for free. Ensure your information is comprehensive, authentic, exclusive, and solves a real problem.
What Online Business Model is Right For You?
Each of these online business models can give you an opportunity to have a 6-figure online career.
While some of these models work best for starting digital business entrepreneurs, all of them can be slowly scaled to powerful businesses as you gain more and more skills.
The best advice I can give you is to get to the field, play the game, get your jersey dirty and get the experience.
You might get some challenges in the beginning but those should just be lessons that will help you take the right path.
Remember what works for me may not work for you. You just have experiment stuff, apply a little tweaks until you find out what works for you. It is all about trial and error.
Step by step guide to starting an online business in Uganda
With the increasing global unemployment rate, there’s a dire need for people to have at least one alternative source of income, and the easiest way of doing this could be starting an online business.
Online businesses are getting more attention than never before. The ease for starting a business online without the need to have a physical office has made it affordable to starting online entrepreneurs.
What does it take to start a successful online business? Well here are the 12 super steps to start an online business in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria or anywhere else in the world.
1. Find a problem and address it
The first step to starting any online business is identifying a problem that people face in their daily lives and find creative ways address it.
A problem could be that, people find it difficult going to local markets to buy products. Such a problem could be addressed by an affordable and reliable online store where customer order products online and they are delivered to door steps at little or charges.
Once you identify a problem that people face offline, go ahead and find the most effective solution to this problem and build a plan that would bring it to fruition.
2. Write a business plan
After identifying a problem people face and its possible solution, the next thing is for you to write a business plan on how the problem will be solved. Creative planning and execution is the key to the success of any business.
A business plan is always the first planning phase. It can also be important especially if you are thinking of getting a bank loan or seeking for funding from potential investors. While many will require a business plan, some will need a business prototype or business model canvas.
Regardless of what banks or investors ask or what you need to start off your online business, having a business plan or working on a plan is very crucial to the success of your business.
3. Register your domain name
Now that you have a business plan, so what next? After you have identified and good and executable business idea and you have a plan to back it up, go ahead and pick and a great and brandable domain name for your new business startup.
Choosing a right and appealing domain name is a very important step. A bad name can hurt your business.
Pick a short name (with less than 15 characters) that is easy to spell and its meaning relates to your business.
Below are some characteristics of a good domain name:
- Shorter than 15 characters. But below 10 is recommended.
- Easy to remember
- Easy to spell
- Have a .com extension
- Descriptive (easy to tell what the business is about by just looking at the name)
- Don’t include hyphens or numbers
- Brandable e.g apple.com, instagram.com, Microsoft.com etc
Domain names go for an average of $12 while Uganda’s Country based Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) such as .ug or .co.ug go for only $25.
4. Register your business
After registering your domain, proceed and legally register your business with government authorities responsible for registering new businesses.
Registering a business would ensure that you have all required licenses to run such an online business and you are not breaking any laws such as evading taxes.
It is also advisable to have a business name that exactly matches your domain name. If your business name is Trendy Fashions, the domain name should be trendyfashions.com [if it is not registered by someone else].
Unfortunately most short .com domain names are already taken but if you really want a particular name and its .com domain is already taken, you may maintain same name but opt for another domain extension such as .ug, .net or .org.
5. Build a functional and effective website
Once your business is fully registered, proceed and hire a professional web developer to develop for you a website and bring your idea to life.
It is not just a matter of having website but is your website responsive? Can it load perfectly in any device? Is it easy to use? Will people find your business in searh engines like Google when they search for businesses or products similar to yours?
Hire a web developer who knows all these. One who will build for you an effective and fully optimized website that will convert visitors into buying customers.
I always advise people to go for custom websites that exactly meet their business demands since template websites always have limitations especially when it comes to functionality and user interface. Get a custom website that looks and functions exactly as your business idea.
A great website is a very important factor when it comes to the success of any online business. But of course a great website won’t come at cheap cost. If you are looking for a high quality website, you should be willing to spend what is worthy.
Remember there are so many fake web developers out there who hide behind the concept of cheap web design and end up misleading gullible clients who end up wasting money on websites that don’t convert at all.
- The Cost Of Designing, Developing And Hosting A Website In Uganda
- What Is A Website And Why Every Business Must Have One
- 9 Things We Need From You Before We Can Design And Develop Your Website
- 14 Things Your Business Is Missing By Not Having A Website
6. Buy web hosting
The next step is for you to host your website online. When you design your website, for people to be able access it on the internet, you have to first upload [virtually] it on a powerful computer called a server. The process of doing so is what is known as web hosting.
Typically, a good web host will cost you an average of $80 per year for websites that don’t receive too much traffic. Websites that receive huge amounts of traffic could require a more powerful web host that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
If you are a small business starter with a WordPress website, I recommend hosting your website with Bluehost because of their robust hosting environment and 24/7 support.
7. Register A Merchant Account
If your business idea involves selling products online, you should think about how you will be receiving payments online.
Setup an online merchant account that you would enable you receive payments from customers around the world. This merchant account would be integrated in your website for processing payments instantly.
Some great platforms to setup a merchant account include;
- Mobile Money
- PayPal [See limitations in Uganda]
- Card Payments e.g Debit, MasterCard, American Express etc
- Offline methods e.g Western Union and MoneyGram
Once your merchant account is setup, your web developer should integrate the payment gateway in your website or app and you should be able to receive payments as soon as your business launches.
However you don’t have to use all these merchant payment gateways, only use what works for you. For example if your buyers are predominantly Ugandans, then accepting payments via Mobile Money is a great choice since almost everyone in Uganda owns a mobile money account unlike credit cards which are owned by a few individuals.
Please also understand the behavior of your customers; typically Ugandans do not have an online buying culture since online shopping is just evolving here. Some are afraid of rampant online scams. If you sell deliverables such as physical products, ensure that you provide an option for a customer to pay cash on delivery.
8. Setup Your Social Media Channels
After setting up a functional website with payment gateways integrated, the next thing for you to do is create your business social media accounts on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc.
Only create accounts on social media platforms that matter and are relevant to your business. Ensure that these accounts are created in same name with your business name.
Having a social media presence brings your potential customers closer and helps you create a great relationship with them. Even they are not buying from you, there’s a high chance that they would one day buy or recommend your products to their friends.
Run your business pages professionally and don’t buy fake followers. There’s no point in having 1M fake facebook fans when they can’t buy from you because they are actually not real human followers but bots.
9. Create Valuable Content
Content is King! If you are setting up an online shop, blog, commercial website or any web based startup, you need to create original and high quality content that your prospective customers would find valuable.
Take an example, if have an eCommerce store, you need to create attractive product visuals with good prices, all placed in right categories to ensure authenticity and credibility of your business.
Similarly, have a blog section on your website where you write client targeted content such as How To Guides, Tips, short reports, whitepapers or videos. If you run an online fashion store, it is a great idea to publish content about fashion tips, fashion tribes, fashion do’s and don’ts etc. If this content is well optimized for search engines, it would drive you traffic that can convert into sales.
Search Engine Optimization is technical and if you aren’t a tech savvy, your web developer should be able to do this for you. This is why I said, when choosing a web developer; choose someone who understands all these things.
10. Monetize Your Online Business
How you will make money from your online business should already be entailed in your business plan.
It could be through advertising, affiliate marketing, selling digital products, selling physical products, subscriptions, sponsorships, services, freelancing etc
Defining and excusing your monetization plan is crucial when it comes to keeping lights on till your business scales to a certain level.
11. Market / Promote your business
You can’t ignore this. Every business needs promotion, especially starting businesses. That is why even the world’s biggest brands like Facebook and Google who are known by everyone still advertise today.
If you can’t set aside a promotional budget of at least $1 per day, then you shouldn’t be in business. A $1 Facebook ad can expose your business to 4000 people in day. If you are doing this and your competitors aren’t, then you win the awareness game.
Promotion doesn’t mean you should go around the internet irritating people with your business link asking them to click, or nagging your friends with your Facebook business page link asking them to like it or invite people to follow it. This is unprofessional and it is considered spam.
Spam advertising is a number one business reputation killer. There is no one who would wish to associate with a business that looks like a scam. That is why it is very important to create credibility around your brand.
Be professional and market your business professionally.
Other ways you can market your online business
- Influencer marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Content marketing
12. Start link building
Link building is the practice of promoting your website by placing your website’s links (hyperlinks) on other people’s websites e.g in an article. Link building is just one of the many Search Engine Optimization [SEO] practices.
Link building is one of the main factors search engines like Google use to rank websites in SERP. When other relevant websites link back to you, search engines will categorize your business as an authority and will be given priority to rank high in search engines.
If your website gets a good rank position in Google, means you will get higher traffic which can potentially convert into sales.
Link building should be done naturally and any paid link exchanges or any other shady approaches to getting backlinks can have search engines penalize your website. For example your website can be blacklisted in Google and any website that doesn’t get organic search traffic is as good as useless.
Often new online business owners don’t know where to start when it comes to local linkbuilding for SEO, below are some of the ways to build backlinks for your online business.
- Partner with niche-specific influencers
- Do guest posting
- Post on forums and social media
- Add your business to online business directories
- Write testimonials for websites you are using
- Use internal backlinks
- Comment on blog posts
- Get interview by a popular website
List of online business ideas you can start in Uganda
- Online shop g electronics
- eCommer store e.g boutique
- SEO consultancy
- Business coaching
- Business and Technology consulting
- Specialized retailer
- Start a classifieds website like OLX
- Internet search
- Social media management and consultancy
- Web design / web development services
- Affiliate marketing
- Online school
- Start a social networking platform
- Remote support
- Graphics design
- App / Software development
- Crypto, stocks and Forex trading
- Professional freelancing
- Drop shipping
- Content writing
- Online / Digital marketing
- Vlogging / YouTuber
- Become a social media influencer
- eBook author
- Travel consultancy
- Online courses / Online instructor
- Sell handmade crafts
- Start a technology website
- Online radio
- Online TV
- Online dating platform
- Invent an app idea
- Online journalism – start a news website
- Sell cosmetics or herbal products
- Mobile salon (hair, makeup, manicure, pedicure etc)
- Legal music streaming service
- Start an online food delivery service
- 100 Small Tech Business Ideas You Can Start In Uganda
- Business Idea – Start A Legal Services Marketplace In Uganda
- How To Start A Lucrative Mobile Money Business In Uganda
To wrap it up, choosing an executable plan, having a highly quality and having a marketing plan is the key to success of any online business. Take these elements serious.
Do you have any questions about starting an online business in Uganda? Or tips to help fellow online entrepreneurs? Let me know by leaving your comment below.