Wherever you live in the world, you will have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has devastated many businesses and careers, the remote working trend has created opportunities for starting a business on a lean budget.
With the pandemic legitimizing the practice of working and running a business from home, millions of people in the United States and the UK have founded their own remote companies as hobby ventures and side-hustles going mainstream. With many people unfortunately forced to close their bricks & mortar enterprises and millions forced out of work, becoming self-employed has become a necessity for many rather than an ambition.
The good news about working remotely is that many reports have concluded that remote work can be significantly more productive than office-based work. The deduction of a daily commute can free up more time and reduce stress and the probability of burnout.
Remote Business Ideas
Thanks to the internet, it is possible to start a multinational business from the comfort of your own home. It is not always necessary to look far and wide for a customer base, however. Since the pandemic started, people have spent more time at home and tidying up and throwing things out.
Sell Other People’s Items
One way to make money without investing any capital is to become an online seller or reseller for other people’s unwanted items. People generally have many things lying around the house and garage that they want to get rid of. If they can make a small bit of money in the process, then brilliant.
All you need is a camera, a nack for taking pleasing pictures, and the ability to list items on eBay or craigslist. Start off teaming up with one person, help them sell their items, split the profits, and take it from there. If you have the skills and the money to invest, you can also upcycle items. For example, you could buy an old bike or an old piece of furniture, get them back to near perfect condition with some hard work, paint and oil, and then sell them on for a profit.
Freelance Your Digital Skills
If you have a skill set that is deliverable online, then you have a potential business. For example, if you are skilled in graphic design, there are several ways in which you can promote yourself online as a freelancer.
Promotion is crucial, you can have the best service in the world, but if nobody knows about it, you won’t have a business. One great way to showcase your skillset is to create YouTube tutorials. While this may seem a little counterintuitive – you’re showing people how to do your job, it also serves as a great medium of promotion.
If people are watching your videos on creating great blog content, for example, they probably need blog content. If you can offer this service at a competitive price, sometimes it’s more cost-effective for them to outsource it to you than to do it themselves.
LinkedIn is also a great place to network and pick up business. If you can post regular, interesting content and interact in a meaningful way with other people’s posts, you can build a network quickly. Native content – i.e., images and videos that are posted directly to LinkedIn also perform well in terms of reach and engagement, especially if they offer value.
So if you have created a YouTube tutorial, upload it directly to the platform instead of sharing it to LinkedIn via a YouTube URL. Make sure that your account is set to “public” as well to maximize the reach of your posts.
Perhaps you don’t yet have a ‘digital skillset.’ if you have the time, you can still learn, sometimes in a matter of weeks. For example, although it can take months to become proficient with graphic design software such as Adobe Illustrator, you can create excellent graphics for social media posts and pages using a free piece of software such as Canva. The great thing is that there are many free tutorials on YouTube to help you build your Canva-abilities.
Many skillsets are in demand and that you can offer on a freelance basis. These include:
– Video editing
– Graphic design
– Social media management
– Digital marketing
– Web development
– Virtual assistant services
It can also be a good idea to create your own website, set up your own social media pages and showcase your work. Reviews and testimonials are also really important. To get started, you may have to offer your services at a relatively low price – as it can be challenging to charge full price when you don’t have any case studies to present to potential clients.
Drop-shipping involves setting up your eCommerce store and populating it with products that someone else will stock, ship and fulfill orders for.
Drop-shipping has become competitive in recent years. However, if you can find the right niche and promotional channels, it is still possible to run an international business successfully from your home.
Dropshipping from AliExpress is a popular way to run an eCommerce store. You can create a store using several platforms, including Shopify and WooCommerce. Creating the initial store will take an hour or two, but as with most things – there are lots of step-by-step tutorials to help you on YouTube.
Once you have a store, you will also need an AliExpress account, and you will need a plugin or tool to help populate your shop with the relevant products. These tools include ShopMaster and Chrome Add-Ons, including Aliexpressdropshop.
Once everything is in place, you will typically just need to click on specific AliExpress items, choose a few settings and hey presto! The items are now for sale in your own store.
One thing to remember is that while the sellers and factories behind AliExpress will receive your orders and send them, you may have to deal with customer service yourself. It can be challenging to get in touch with the sellers sometimes, and this can cause a few headaches.
This type of business can be scaled locally but also internationally. Drop-servicing is the process of selling-on someone else’s services. You can also look to take advantage of geo-arbitrage using drop-servicing.
With geo-arbitrage, you take advantage of countries with a relatively low cost of living and another country with a relatively strong economy. So, for example, you could live in Thailand and sell your services to clients in Europe and the UK. Because the cost of living is significantly cheaper in Thailand than in Europe, you can offer your services, or drop-services for a relatively low price, while still making a luxury lifestyle affordable.
Alternatively, with geo-arbitrage and drop-serving, you could do some research on freelancing websites such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, and find some highly skilled freelancers based overseas who charged a relatively low rate for their services. You can then sell on these services at a profit to local companies in Europe and the UK.
Using PeoplePerHour, for example, you can search for people charging under £10 per hour for graphic design services that speak English and have an average “star rating” of more than 4. You could then put together a list of services and prices that you can offer and contact local businesses, offering graphic design for a highly competitive price.
By partnering with graphic designers in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, you can provide high-level services for great prices while still making a profit. On PeoplePerHour, for example, it’s relatively easy to find graphic designers who charge less than £10 per hour, whereas the going rate for a freelance designer in the UK is around £25 per hour.
Tips for Scaling Your Business Internationally
Once you have built a successful business, perhaps locally, you may start to plateau in terms of your profitability and earning potential. Remember, however, that bigger is not always better, and it may be more efficient to improve your offering and increase your prices, rather than try to pick up more and more customers.
You should always evaluate the risk to reward ratio of scaling a business, too. If you are already earning a good living and need to double your investment and take out a large loan to scale internationally, it might not be worth the risk.
While you may already be outsourcing some of your services, as in the example of drop-servicing, you may want to take further advantage of outsourcing to free up more time and reach an international audience. For instance, you could hire someone to translate your website and an additional freelancer to promote your business internationally using Google and Facebook Ads.
If your business is limited by the number of hours you can work each day, you may wish to outsource some administrative tasks. You can hire a virtual assistant, for example, to help with filtering emails, answering emails, managing your social media accounts and bookkeeping.
In addition, you can use a virtual receptionist or telephone answering service to take your phone calls while you are focussing on the work at hand. With research suggesting that interruptions can increase your error rate, heighten anxiety and disrupt your focus for on average 23 minutes, having someone to take phone calls and greet callers politely and professionally can improve your customer service and, at the same time, free up hours per week for you to focus on the core work of your company.
If you are selling or serving an international market in different time zones, then you would benefit significantly from a 24/7 point of contact for clients and customers. With a 24/7 phone answering service and 24/7 fully managed website live chat, you can provide a point of contact for potential customers regardless of the timezone they’re in.
With one-click purchasing and high-speed internet connections, people are highly impatient. Having a 24/7 live chat availability can be a real competitive advantage because people want instant answers. For higher-end products and services, people are also highly likely to want to talk to someone. Having a 24/7 contact number answered by a polite receptionist can make the difference between winning and losing a client.
WordPress Website & Plugins
There are many ways of creating your own business website and many platforms that will help you do it. The most popular choice, however, is WordPress. WordPress websites are easy to build and relatively cheap to create and deliver to clients. You can use themes or templates to produce highly professional websites quickly.
WordPress websites also come with “plugins.” These are effectively extensions to the website that provide additional functionality. For example, the WooCommerce plugin allows you to build an eCommerce store, and you can use the Moneypenny Live Chat plugin to add 24/7 managed live chat to your website.
An excellent plugin for your business website or, if you are a web designer, for your client’s websites is WP Remote. This plugin allows you to manage multiple websites with multiple login credentials, all in one place, from any device connected to the internet. You will get dashboard alerts when an update is available for any website or the website’s themes or plugins. You can install the updates with one click. This is important for usability but also for the security of your website.
Another plugin called Uncanny Automator can be very useful for remote business owners who operate in different timezones. This plugin is effectively a bridge between other plugins that allows them to interact. You can set up automated workflows, so for example, regardless of the time of day and whether or not you are asleep, you can create a workflow whereby your CRM database sends out a welcome email as soon as someone submits a form, or
Because of its popularity, WordPress websites often get hacked. Be sure to add additional security to your website and your clients’ websites. For example, a plugin such as Sucuri can create a web application firewall to prevent a large percentage of attacks.