Best Online Business to Start in the UK

Every generation is becoming more and more entrepreneurial and the internet has been a great business opportunity for many people and in this post, I am going to look at some potential business ideas that you can start.

Before we continue though, I just want to give a quick reality check!

Starting an online business isn’t a guaranteed success and in order to make it a success, requires plenty of hard work and dedication. It isn’t a get rich quick situation (although many would have you believe this!).

For every business that I mention on this list, I will also include a ballpark figure as to the amount of capital that they require.

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1. A YouTube Channel £0 – £500

Start a YouTube Channel

Still one of the best opportunities for starting an online business is to create a YouTube channel but you really need start one with a specific goal or niche in mind and not just one that is going to make money.

What I mean by this, is that you need to produce videos that are going to help people, not just a daily vlog because honestly, no-one really cares about what you do on a day to day basis unless you are a celebrity!

Instead, you want to create videos that add value to peoples lives and these can include things such as:

  • Tutorials
  • How to videos
  • Reviews
  • Comparisons
  • Guides for travel etc

But what subject do you create these videos on? Well that very much comes down to you and your personal skill set but maybe you are a DJ and you can show people how to use equipment or software or you are a watch specialist and you can do reviews and comparisons on the various different types of watches out there.

One thing not to do, is to chase a niche or market that is good for making money from adds or affiliates because if you don’t know what you are talking about, viewers will see through you pretty quickly. Also you are building a business so make sure you are creating videos around something you enjoy and are prepared to continually learn about.

What Equipment/Skills are Needed?

Most people own a smartphone and that is all you need to get started recording videos, so just using that will cost you nothing. There is also free video editing software out there that you can use.

I would recommend investing a small amount (sub £100) to improve:

  • The audio by using something like a lavalier microphone
  • The lighting by using LED light panels and soft boxes

If you want to invest a little bit more, then you can go for a cheap or second hand mirrorless camera along with a better quality microphone and lighting.

How Does a YouTube Channel Make Money?

What makes YouTube such a good option for starting a business is that there are a good amount of monetisation options that are available, including:

  • Ad Revenue, you can apply to monetise your videos when you hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours watch time in a calendar year. Once monetised, you can place ads on your video and when viewed, you will earn a percentage of what Google charged them to show that video.
  • Affiliate Marketing, if you are using, reviewing or doing tutorials on products, software or services, you can place links to them in the description. If there is an affiliate program from these products/services, you can place a custom link that will mean that you get a commission whenever anyone buys it through your link.
  • Sponsored Videos, this is where a company pays you a set fee to sponsor that video. Generally all that is required for this is to promote the product at some point during the video and place a link to them in the description.

2. Start a Blog £50 – £150

Start a Blog

Starting a blog is quite similar to starting a YouTube channel, with the difference being that you are creating written content rather than videos.

As with a YouTube channel, you want to create content that is going to help people and answer the questions that people are asking in search engines such as Google and Bing, this can be things such as:

  • Tutorials
  • How To posts
  • Best of or Top lists
  • Reviews
  • Comparisons

Once again, the subject around which you should create this content should be something you know about or have a vested interest in as this will come across in your posts (as I hope it does on this website!).

What Equipment/Skills are Needed?

To start a blog, you are going to need two main things:

  1. Computer or Tablet w/keyboard that you can use to write your content
  2. A Website

To create a website, the easiest way is to use something like Wix or Squarespace but you will more than likely find that you soon outgrow these platforms and that is why a WordPress site (self-hosted not hosted) is the best way to go.

The WordPress software itself is free to use but you will have to pay for web hosting (I personally recommend Krystal hosting) and basic hosting will cost from £5 a month but buying annually will usually have some savings.

With blogging, the ability to create engaging content that will rank well in search engines is a very important skill and one that will improve over time. If you would like to learn more about starting a blog then check out my How to Start A Blog and How to Write A Blog Post articles.

How Does Blogging Make Money?

Blogging makes money primarily in the same way that a YouTube channel, so:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Ad Revenue
  • Sponsored Posts

With your own blog, you do have more control over the ad revenue that you get as there are multiple options to display ads on your site such as Google Adsense, Ezoic and Mediavine or you can manually place ads on your site that link to your affiliate partners, which is what I have done.

3. Print on Demand (POD) – £50 – £500

Print on Demand

The first foray into ecommerce on this list but print on demand is a very good business model, especially if you already have an existing audience and this can be on any platform. But it can still be a lucrative business even if you are starting from scratch but what is print on demand?

With print on demand, you create a selection of designs and these can be for a range of products including:

  • Clothing such as t-shirts and hoodies
  • Hats
  • Mugs
  • Phone cases

But you don’t have to buy blanks and do the printing yourself, instead you partner with a manufacturer such as Printful or Teespring, who makes the product for you and ships out to the customer.

What Equipment/Skills are Needed?

The main thing you are going to need is a website, now some POD companies will allow you to create a website on their platform. But if you want to have full control over your business, you will want to have your own site and this can be done with platforms such as Shopify, Ecwid and WooCommerce.

This is where some initial investment will be needed as these will cost money but should be no more than £30 for a basic ecommerce website.

If you don’t already have an audience, then you will need a marketing budget as you will need to run paid adverts with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and/or Google.

How Does Print on Demand Make Money?

When you sign up to an account with a print on demand company, they will tell you how much a particular item is going to cost to produce. It is then up to you to decide on what the retail price for it is going to be and it is the difference between the cost price and the retail price that you get to keep.

4. Teaching/Tuition – Free – £500

Online Tuition

Now there is a bit of a catch with this one, in that you need to have a skill or knowledge that people want to learn about but fortunately there are lots of opportunities for this including:

  • Academics – Maths, English, Science, History or any other subject that is taught in a typical education establishment
  • Business & Tech Skills – Marketing, Web Development, App Building, basically any kind of skill that can be beneficial to a business or a potential business opportunity in its own right
  • Hobbies – Musical Instruments, Photography, Crafting (knitting, card making, jewellery making) and Cooking. As you can imagine with hobbies, the list is pretty much endless but there are people making money teaching others how to be better at gaming!

When it comes to how you will actually teach people, there are a couple of different options:

  1. You create a course with a fixed curriculum
  2. Your students can hire you by the hour and the lesson is conducted over platforms such as Zoom or Mikogo

You can even do a combination of both, it really does depend on what you want to do but also the subject you are teaching.

What Equipment/Skills are Needed?

The basic equipment you are going to need is:

  • For Courses
    • Camera
    • Audio
    • Lighting
    • Editing Software

With courses, you will need somewhere to host the course and there are plenty of options out there such as Udemy, Skillshare and Thinkific.

  • For Teaching
    • Webcam, smartphone or camera that can do live streaming
    • Video call software such as Zoom or Mikogo

Other equipment that may be required does depend on what you are teaching, this may be equipment that you already have or you need to acquire.

You will also need a website where you can promote your course, with the likes of Thinkific, you can build a website on their platform and they will host it for you. I would recommend building your own as you may want to expand your business in the future, so you could use something like WordPress, Create.net or Wix.

How Does Teaching Online Make Money?

This one is very straightforward, you make money either from course sales or from people buying a time slot with you.

5. Dropshipping – £300+

Dropshipping

The second ecommerce related option on this list is dropshipping, which is a very popular entry into the world of ecommerce.

What makes dropshipping different from traditional ecommerce is that you don’t physically hold any stock. Instead, you list a range of products that are available from your chosen dropship partner on your website and then when you receive an order, the supplier packages and posts the order directly to your customer.

This leaves you to focus on the marketing and customer service aspects of the business.

What Equipment/Skills are Needed?

The main piece of equipment needed for this is a website and ideally one that has integration with your chosen dropship partner or partners as this can help to automate the process. This is one of the reasons why Shopify is such a popular choice with dropshippers as they have the largest selection of dropshipping related apps.

When it comes to skills, social media marketing, such as Facebook ads, is the one that is going to help you generate the most sales. Knowing how to run Google ads will also be beneficial. Marketing is going to be where most of your start up money is going to be spent and your profits re-invested.

How Does Dropshipping Make Money?

Dropshippers make money on the difference between the products cost + the cost of getting the sale (Facebook ads etc) and retail price. Margins on dropshipping products are usually quite slim, so volume is the key to making money from this business.

6. Ecommerce – £3,000+

Ecommerce

This is the traditional form of ecommerce, where you physically buy and hold all of the stock that you have for sale and are in control of the logistics such as packaging and postage.

The initial set up of a traditional ecommerce business does require more investment and also planning as well due to the fact that you control many more aspects of your business but the potential rewards are also much greater.

Don’t believe me? The big names such as Amazon and Asos are traditional ecommerce companies.

The main advantage of traditional ecommerce is that you aren’t reliant on third-party suppliers to do the work for as everything is done in house. You can also build a brand and possibly have your own branded products, which usually have better margins than the equivalent unbranded ones.

What Equipment/Skills are Needed?

When it comes to equipment, there is potentially more required but this does depend on how much you do in house or outsource.

  1. Computer – might seem obvious but is definitely needed as without it, you will struggle
  2. Website – an ecommerce website so you can list your products and take orders
  3. Photography Equipment & Editing Software – ideally, you want your own product images as stick/manufacturer images don’t help you stand out from the crowd
  4. Packaging Setup – having a packaging setup, with supplies will make your life a lot easier and more organised

The skills required are very similar to that of dropshipping as paid advertising such as social media or google will be one of the main ways you drive traffic to your website. You may also want to learn some copyrighting skills as blogging is a great way to drive organic traffic to your site.

Other skills that you may need are photo editing as they usually require a little touch up straight out of the camera.

How Does Ecommerce Make Money?

Ecommerce is obviously very similar to dropshipping in that you make money on the difference between the cost price and the retail price of the item.

While the premise is pretty much the same, margins are usually greater in traditional ecommerce as buying wholesale will significantly reduce the cost per item and also control the postage, which may also be cheaper depending on the services that you use.

Conclusion

I hope you found this list helpful as I wanted to include businesses that have a relatively easy barrier to entry but are also proven business models.

Now you may be struggling to decide which one to go for and it very much comes down to you and want you want to do. If you like the buzz of chasing a sale, then the ecommerce options are going to be great for you.

If you want your income to be potentially more passive, then YouTube or a blog could be a great option.

One piece of advice I would give anyone looking to start an online business is don’t chase the money because running a business will be your life! So make sure you do something that you enjoy as this will transmit to your work, especially if it is YouTube or a blog and also, working on something you don’t enjoy all day every day, soon becomes a chore, trust me!