Are you looking for clever small business ideas? How about a business that runs on autopilot delivering products and services over the internet?
Around 10 years ago I bought an ‘ebook’ from ebay which taught a simple strategy to profit from the site. You can read about the strategy in my article “how to start a profitable ebay business“. The strategy is one of many clever small business ideas. However, the better strategy was the selling of the ebook. It struck me as the best of all the clever small business ideas I had found.
Clever Small Business Ideas
The ebook I had bought was simply a pdf document which had been compiled. In the buying of the ebook I noticed that I could purchase it and have it delivered all completely automatically. I bought it from a website, paid through Paypal and was sent to a download page. Here, I could access the ebook and save it onto my computer. Although there were some limitations to this model it struck me as one of the most perfect, clever small business ideas. It was effectively like an online vending machine business.
Clever Small Business Ideas – Products
There are thousands if not millions of ebooks available to buy online. Many are being given away for free too. I’m not suggesting you start an ebook business. It is the concept which I found clever. I wrote a few of my own ebooks too and tried to sell them online without much success.
I spent a lot of time investigating the concept of selling digital products over the internet. This led me to affiliate marketing. What is affilaite marketing? Affiliate marketing is basically referral marketing for the internet. You simply send people (website traffic) to other people’s products.
When they sell through your links, you earn commissions based on the sale. Affiliate links are tracked so you get credit for sales referred by you. There are literally thousands of affiliate products which you can promote to earn commissions. You can sell both physical and digital products online. But it was digital products which fascinated me. For a couple of reasons.
Clever Small Business Ideas – Digital Products
I couldn’t get my ebay purchase out of my mind for a long time. It was so simple I couldn’t understand why people weren’t doing this already. Set up a website which sold products automatically. Then send people to the website via advertising. This is basically the affiliate marketing model. What’s great about it is it can be scaled.
Scaling up a normal ‘bricks and mortar’ business means taking on new staff, perhaps renting a new building and improving customer services and expanding machinary etc. etc. It’s a huge operation and very costly. Scaling up a digital online business only requires sending more people to a sales funnel/website. This just means tweeking your advertising and then increasing your budget. The system is already in place to take and deliver orders again and again. No staff needed, no business premesis needed.
Digital products, as I found out later, tend to offer larger commissions than their physical counterparts too (40-50% of their cost). Physical products incur other expenses like storage and delivery. This means affiliates can’t make as much for each item sold. With digital products there is no storage or delivery costs. Items like ebooks, downloadable documents, website memberships and accessable software all have very little costs involved after their initial creation. As such the product owners can pass the profit on to affiliates because advertising is their main cost.
Clever Small Business Ideas – The Right Products
Selling a single ebook for $10 means you will have to sell a lot in order to make it your living. However, if you sold higher ticket items for $1000 +, you wouldn’t need to sell as many for it to be profitable. In addition, if you had a range of other ‘back end’ products to sell existing customers you could continue earning for each sale you make.
With a ‘bricks and mortar’ type of business, you get repeat custom. This is a major ‘building block’ of many businesses. Without it you are always continually trying to sell over and over. By promoting products which have more inherant value for people, you can build a long term and sustainable income from selling digital products online. You can do this by choosing products which offer:
- High ticket items – Earn larger commissions for each sale
- Multiple products to sell to existing customers – A product range
- Membership products – Which pay you repeat commissions
- Built in sales team – You can concentrate of finding customers and benefit from sales closed on your behalf
- Multi-tier commissions – Make commissions based on sales of your team
This is the cleverest of clever small business ideas. You can use the same system which I used to purchase the ‘ebook’ I found on ebay but you can also build a solid and dependable income from it too, by virtue of the sales model above. It is scalable and you also create time freedom and flexibility as you build you business. You don’t create more work as you grow your business, as you might have to for a physcial type of business.
Clever Small Business Ideas – The Sales Funnel
A sales funnel allows you to automate much of your online business. By using a landing page you can collect a visitor’s email address in exchange for some information or a ‘freebie’. This could be an ‘ebook’ for example. Once in the sales funnel, your subscriber receives a series of emails which are informative, interesting and educational. You can also offer your subscribers useful products through these emails which have your affiliate links in them. This can all be pre-built and as such completely automated.
The only job then is to advertise. Again, online advertising can be set up, delivered and then scaled up to reach an ever growing global audience. Another benefit of digital products is they can be accessed from anywhere regardless of location. You can set up multiple advertising platforms to grow and scale your website traffic to a landing page. By collecting emails you increase your opportunity to sell to potential customers. Some may even buy from you years after they initially subscribe. Growing your list of subscribers substantially increases your potential for sales. If you have a range of products and services, sell monthly memberships and high ticket items you have multiple income sources from your online business.
Learn more and access tools, software and education to build your own online sales system. You can access:
- Ready made landing pages
- Pre-built email series
- Your own custom built website (pre-populated with affiliate banners)
- Online training platform
- A community of other online business owners
- A range of products (including high ticket) to promote through your email list.