An economic crisis is more than simply a downturn; it’s a disruption to the entire way societies value the things they purchase and own. The economic activities that were previously important suddenly aren’t, and those that didn’t matter now are critical for their survival.
The crisis that the Covid-19 pandemic created is one of these moments. Old needs are being cast aside and new needs are being created—novel ways to run businesses, sell products and services, and even communicate.
Every crisis brings waves of bad news. But for an entrepreneur like yourself, this can also be a call to action, a new set of challenges and problems, some of which can be solved by online businesses.
In this article, we’ll outline four online business ideas that are likely becoming more relevant than ever during the changing world of this pandemic.
Fitness Equipment and Programs
Great for: Ecommerce sellers, freelancers, content creators, digital product creators
People may be concerned about getting sick, but they also want to remain fit and healthy, and everyone is having to find new ways to do so. With social distancing and stay-at-home orders mandated in almost every country, gyms have had to close doors while their customers were stuck at home.
For those who like to work out, however, the quarantine won’t stop them. Those who own training equipment, like jump ropes, mats, and dumbbells, can still train at home. Among those who haven’t, many are turning to at-home training apps, like Aaptiv, Daily Burn, Peloton, and Sworkit.
Aaptiv’s CEO, Ethan Agarwal, told Business Insider that, “Engagement for non-equipment programs has increased by 50% this week,” a clear indication that demand for training at home is on the rise.
Some gyms have already started to offer virtual training to their existing customers as a way to adapt to the new environment. But undoubtedly, what this pandemic has meant for consumers is that they need to be prepared for training at home, with or without equipment.
All of this means that if you work in, or have wanted to work in the health and fitness space, now would be a good time to accelerate your efforts.
When you think about fitness equipment, don’t just think about those bulky all-in-one fitness machines that 40-year-old men have in their garages (I know because my father was one of them).
Fitness equipment can be anything that you need to exercise, and that includes:
- Mats and towels
- Free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.)
- Ropes (jumping, battle, etc.)
- Training balls (medicine, grip, etc.)
- Training gear (gloves, clocks, etc.)
- Clothing and shoes
The easiest way to start is to go to Alibaba and find manufacturers for these products.
There’s a lot you need to know about finding the right manufacturer, so check the following posts for assistance:
- How to Find a Reliable Overseas Manufacturer to Bring Your Product Vision to Life
- The Step-by-Step Guide To Finding A Product Supplier In China You Can Trust
Another option is to resell products in your own store, which is way easier to pull off than manufacturing, but as always, it also means you are competing head-to-head with bigger brands. You also lack control over quality and pricing.
Besides selling physical products, you can also sell fitness programs like:
- Training video courses
- Online workout programs
- Coaching services
All of these options apply both to the training industry, as well as nutrition—dieting programs and the like. Here’s a good example from Legion Athletics:
Creating any of these programs requires for you to be an experienced person in this field. If you have a degree in the fitness and nutrition realm, this can surely help, but what matters the most is that you can show results.
Keto dieting, intermittent fasting, HITT training programs, and bodyweight training work equally well. As long as you can explain what they are, why they work, and how others have achieved the desired results (gaining muscle, losing body fat), you can make a living in this industry.
To learn more about creating (and selling) online courses, check out the following posts:
- How Foundr Sells its Premium Online Courses to Thousands of Students
- How to Create an Online Course Like Foundr
Great for: Freelancers, digital product creators
Now that everyone works from home, people will begin to realize that the idea of working remotely is far from the paradise they may have imagined. If you thought working alone, with your comfortable bed, fridge, pets, and video game consoles close by was easy, it’s time to wake up. It’s not.
You probably won’t miss the commuting experience, which some studies have found to be a huge cause of stress. And it may be nice to escape the corporate work environment, if that’s your status quo. But beyond that, remote work can be isolating and stressful for many people.
Add to that the constant presence of your family, which, especially for parents, can be an even greater source of anxiety. That’s why people need to find ways to decompress and relax, and that’s what wellness programs are for.
A wellness program is any behavior or practice that makes it easier for you to deal with your stress, so you can be a happier, more productive person.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that wellness programs have a return on investment of $1.50 to $3 per dollar spent, over the course of two to nine years. They also reduce health costs and improve productivity. Most wellness program include any of the following:
- Smoking cessation
- Training (lighter than most of the ones described previously)
- Healthy eating
- Mental health counseling
You could create digital programs or coaching services that target any of these points individually, although this would mean you’d be competing in an already “red ocean” market—one filled with competitors.
A much better approach would be to position yourself as a more multifaceted wellness service. This means you can sell to companies who want their employees to be able to deal with isolation and remote working, or to individuals who need this help as well.
The first case is much more profitable—think companies with dozens or hundreds of employees willing to spend top dollar for these programs—but hard to pull off, as you’ll probably need to do some serious selling. Catering to individuals is much easier, but it obviously means you will make less money per client.
Both digital products and services can work equally well, depending on your existing skills, knowledge, or preferences. If you create a digital product, like a course, you can create it and then sell it on your site, similar to what we do at Foundr.
Alternatively, you can create a course and sell it on Udemy or Skillshare. Both will bring higher volumes but lower margins as they each take a cut of your sales.
You can also create video content and promote it on YouTube. This will take time to work, but the payoffs can be substantial, as we explain in this piece:
Also, you can create an Instagram account and build a following there. Slowly but surely, you can start building an audience that is eager to hear your regular guidance.
Both YouTube and Instagram can work equally well for your digital courses and services, but as a start, you should pick one of the two. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, so by picking one option you will grow much faster and more efficiently.
Services for Remote Work
Great for: Freelancers, digital product creators, SaaS developers
A basic issue that everyone is dealing with right now is the fact they have been forced to work remotely. For those of us who are used to it, it means little change in our routines. But for those who were used to working from an office, this is a huge change.
Most importantly, a major shift has happened at every company, given that remote working requires a long list of cultural, operational, and technological changes.
It’s difficult to predict how the pandemic will unfold, but even if things go back to normal relatively soon, many executives will likely want to keep some of these new practices in place, either to prepare for future public health scares, or to improve productivity.
One study done with British telecom workers who work remotely indicated that they are up to 40% more productive when they work from home. Another study done on US-based employees—half of whom already worked remotely—found similar results: working remotely increases productivity by increasing time spent on working, reduced stress, and increased well-being.
For the right entrepreneur, this could be a promising opportunity.
To start, you might create software that targets this audience. There are dozens of companies that cater to this need, from Zoom to Slack to Hubstaff and more.
Obviously, competing with any of these dominant companies would be extremely difficult. Instead, I’m talking about starting small yet highly focused companies—what Tyler Tringas calls “micro SaaS businesses.”
It is a software as a service business owned and operated by one person or a small team. These businesses are location-independent, high margin, low-risk with predictable recurring revenue.
If you could create something simple yet important for companies that are forced to work remotely—or those that choose to do so—you could be sitting on a gold mine. Anything that focuses on communication, organization, security, collaboration, or time management will fit the bill.
Another option, if you’re someone who has worked remotely for many years (ahem, anyone at Foundr), then you might use your knowledge to assist companies making the transition. Many large and small companies will need to learn how to adapt their processes and systems to this new environment, and you can be the one who does that for them (for a nice fee).
Here’s one of the few examples I could find about this type of service I’m referring to:
Beside this example, I haven’t come across many people offering these kinds of services. Still, I’m sure many executives are trying to figure out how to organize and systematize their operations in this new remote environment. If you can solve the problem, there’s real value in that.
Or, you can package your knowledge in the form of digital products (think ebooks and video courses) and sell them on your site or on digital platforms like the ones described above.
Remote working isn’t going anywhere. On the contrary, it will only grow over time. If you’re an expert on the matter, this is your opportunity to shine.
Great for: Freelancers, digital product creators
The Covid-19 pandemic ignited an economic crisis that has not been seen since the Great Depression. Thousands of people are under the impression that they might lose their jobs, while many others have already lost them.
As tragic as this may be, it could also present an opportunity to finally launch your online freelance career. There are many benefits, including the ability to:
- Work remotely
- Work with clients you like
- Charge as much as you want
- Work as much or as little as you want
- Set your own work environment
- Take the reigns of your professional life
Freelancing also comes with downsides, and they can’t be ignored. But regardless, you should still consider starting (or continuing) your career as an online freelancer.
Not only you can benefit from the options available to online workers, but this crisis will shift the mentality of many executives to work with freelancers because, like it or not, they are often cheaper and bring fewer legal liabilities than full-time employees. I know this may be unpleasant to hear—but it’s a reality.
(Obviously, if your services are highly valuable, then you might be more expensive than a full-time employee, but that’s because you bring the value that an employee can’t.)
With the financial challenges so many companies are going through, many will be interested in hiring people who still provide value at a price lower than a full-time employee, or even just with a lower financial commitment.
What’s more, many companies who had to close down due to the lockdowns may feel like they have to shift their presence to the online world as well; they will need to adapt to the new online environment, and only freelancers with digital skills will be able to help them. These skills include:
- Marketing, including SEO, PPC, and copywriting
- Design, including web, UX, and product design
- Programming, including back-end and front-end development, and DevOps
- Media, including video animation, editing, or production
- Other digital skills, including web analytics, big data, and project management
If you have any of these skills, then you probably face one of two situations:
- You have never freelanced before and you want to learn how to do it
- You have freelanced before but you haven’t met your financial expectations
Consider educating yourself on the matter by taking courses from some of the following platforms:
- Foundr: Biased as I may be, our courses are taught by actual practitioners who have track records of success, so don’t take our word for it, check what they have done and what our students have learned as well.
- Udemy: These are cheap, often general courses that will introduce you to any topic you wish to learn about. They are great for cash-strapped beginners, but don’t expect to learn much beyond the basics.
- Skillshare: Another great site with cheap courses about dozens of topics. This one often has better content quality, but you can’t still expect to learn advanced ideas with these courses.
If you are in a rush to jump into a new skill, you can implement those skills in the marketplace as you learn. That means going to Fiverr or Upwork and starting to apply for jobs. You won’t make a lot of money, but you will learn fast and you will make some money on the side.
Eventually, take the advice laid out above for those who are experienced in what they do, because that’s where you will find the real profits.
If you already have in-demand skills, here’s what you need to do:
If you have never freelanced before:
One of the first mistakes many freelancers make when getting started is that they rush to the bottom of the barrel. Because we’re assuming you already have experience in what you are doing—and that you are good at it too—this will only hurt you.
There’s no need to lower yourself just because you haven’t freelanced before. Worse yet, don’t start in low-value marketplaces where you can only get paid low rates (think Fiverr).
A big part of freelancing is your state of mind. This means you need to treat yourself as a business—literally, because legally speaking, you are a sole proprietorship. You are your business.
Now, let’s focus on getting clients. How do you do it? Here’s a summary of how to start as a freelancer in exactly 58 words:
- Understand the value of what you do—like, why would anyone buy from you?
- Define your target audience precisely
- Develop a pitch and start reaching out to potential clients
- Learn about contracts and payment terms so you don’t get screwed over
- Do a freaking awesome job so your customers don’t ever leave you (and refer you to others)
But please, don’t take my word. If you really want to learn how to become a successful freelancer, check the following posts:
- The Complete Guide to Becoming an In-Demand, Well-Paid Consultant, Coach or Freelancer
- How to Become a Successful Freelancer
- The Steps to Becoming an Entrepreneur: 5 Skills You Need for Freelancing
- Taking the Plunge: How to Get Started as a Freelancer
If you have freelanced before:
If you are already experienced—for example, you are a developer, a designer, a marketer, or have some other online-first skill—then you need to start building a business around your skills.
In order to open and grow a successful freelance business, you need a system—a structured, step-by-step plan that takes your business from zero to six figures and beyond.
Start by opening a website. Add copy explaining your value proposition—that is, what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for.
Promote yourself through content. Talk to your acquaintances—old employers, old colleagues, people you’ve met over the years. They may hire you right away, or they may refer you to others who need your services.
And if you need a really effective method to get new clients, follow the advice laid out in this post: The Complete Guide to Getting Clients for Your Consulting Business, from Finding Prospects to Sealing the Deal
This crisis will leave a mark on all of us, just like the 2008 financial crisis did. But if you use your entrepreneurial spirit to launch your business and break free from the job market, you could come out of this crisis stronger than before.
It won’t be easy, but if you take the advice laid out in here, you’re on the way toward the results you want. And if you need more help, sign up to our email newsletter, where you will receive the latest news and tips from our many experts.