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Are you looking to start an online or retail business and wondering where to begin?

Or, are you just curious if now is the right time to start a small business?

The truth is, there is no bad time to launch a business.

Entrepreneur explains that it can be smarter than you might think to start a business during uncertain economic times. "If you do your homework, presumably there's a need for the business you're starting. Because many people are reluctant to launch in tough times, your new business has a better chance of getting noticed."

Whether you’re already in the hustler phase or still gathering ideas, let’s look at some of the best businesses to start.

Online business ideas

We’ll dive into examples of both online and retail businesses, but remember it’s always wise to have an online component of any business—from brick-and-mortar bakeries to professional consulting.

If you want to work from home while reaching people around the world, consider one of these online business ventures.

  1. Ecommerce site. The opportunities here are endless, but let’s look at some of the most actionable. If you have an eye for collectibles, antiques or vintage clothes, consider opening an eBay or Etsy store. Etsy is also the online home for countless hobbies-turned-businesses, from handmade jewelry to custom printing. Amazon is another popular option. In addition to self-publishing books and joining its affiliate program, Amazon lets you easily sell products from home. Thanks to services like Amazon Fulfillment, Amazon will pick, pack, and deliver your orders for you.
  2. Professional consultant. Do you have expertise in an area in which others would want to grow, even if you don’t consider yourself an expert? In other words, what are you the go-to person for among your friends? You could be an expert organizer, executive coach or business coach.
  3. Tutor. Whether it’s writing, music or homework help, the world has moved to online learning. The ability to work with students remotely is both in demand and highly rewarding.
  4. Freelancer. There are many online platforms where you can market skills such as copywriting, web development, SEO, social media management and more. Check out sites such as Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr.
  5. Content creator. If you have a niche interest or expertise, consider starting a blog, podcast or YouTube channel. You can use your online presence as a springboard for your own products, such as eBooks and courses, and/or as a way to make commission as an affiliate partner. Examples of other partner programs include:
    a. The Twitch Partner Program pays creators to stream a variety of content, from games, music, talk shows, art and more
    b. The Medium Partner Program allows writers to earn money for the content they publish on Medium based on engagement from members
    c. The Quora Partner Program lets users earn money by asking questions that many people want answers to and by requesting qualified writers to answer questions
  6. Vacation rental management business. According to Entrepreneur, companies are earning anywhere between 10–40% on the gross rental rate. And don’t let giants like Airbnb stop you. “If you're at all interested in the hospitality industry, and you live in a tourist destination, this is a terrific business that can make money fast. Companies like Lodgix, Lodgify and 365 Villas offer terrific turnkey solutions for quickly building and managing your very own vacation rental management business.”

Retail business ideas

Maybe running a business from home isn’t for you. Do you want to be your own boss, set a flexible schedule and still have the potential to make earn a good income, while working in a retail space?

  1. Pet groomer. Americans spent more than $95 billion dollars on pets in 2019, according to the American Pet Products Association, with pet services being the fastest-growing category. You can start building relationships with local pet stores, veterinarians and dog walkers immediately so you can have a strong network in place when you launch your new business. If you’re considering this business, make sure to check with your state’s regulations first.
  2. Food or coffee truck. Traditional brick-and-mortars are not your only option when it comes to the food industry. Izaak Crook of AppInstitute says, "Food trucks are a fantastic way to showcase your culinary expertise without the overhead of opening a static restaurant. Create your own mobile app for your truck and help to build a loyal customer base through offering a loyalty scheme.”
  3. Real estate agent. In many states, you can complete the required training, earn your license and hit the real estate market in a few short months. While there may be no shortage of real estate agents, the market continues to grow.
  4. Turnkey business. If you have limited time or budget to start a retail business, the minimal time and investment here may be right for you. Examples of turnkey businesses include franchises, storage units, laundromats and automated car washes.
  5. Mystery shopper. Strategy, research and insights all come together when retailers employ mystery shoppers to anonymously evaluate the performance of a store. Consider services such as a comprehensive shopper strategy, testing employee training and SWOT analysis.

Common reasons for starting a business

The reasons people start businesses are as varied as the those who start them. Consider some of the most common:

  • Do you seek self-direction—the independence and freedom that comes from owning your own business?
  • Do you seek to challenge yourself, try something new and learn new skills?
  • Are you looking for your next financial opportunity?
  • Do you have a mission you care deeply about that you believe could translate into a business?

Which is true for you? And how can you build a venture around it?

Next steps

Remember, along with starting a business comes risk. That’s why it’s important to have small business insurance, and Nationwide is here to help. Head to the Nationwide Business Solutions Center to learn more about what you should know before starting your online or retail business.

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The information contained in this blog was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nothing in this brochure is intended to imply a grant of coverage.