How to Start an Online Business (It’s Easier than You Think)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 10/23/23 •  12 min read

14 years.

That’s how long I’ve been running my own online businesses, and while the online landscape is completely different now than it was back when I started in 2009, there’s one thing that remains the same:

There is no one right way to build an online business.

Every single one is different. Even businesses in the same industry, that offer the same services, will have characteristics that differentiate them from any other business out there.

There are certainly best practices, strategies, and tactics that you can adopt to help you on your way.

However, in the end, the thing that will make your online business succeed will be the way you combine all of those, plus your own personal experience, to create something unique.

In this post, I’m going to cover all of the essentials for learning how to start a business online. Understanding the basics is really important to make sure that you start the right business, or in many cases, help you to understand if an online business is even the right path for you to take.

If you’re looking an all inclusive training, I’d suggest taking a look at our course “The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Business”.  It’s the most in depth course I know of that covers all those things you need to know, but didn’t know to ask.

How to Start an Online Business: The Benefits

Having done this for the better part of a decade and a half I’m acutely aware of all the benefits of owning an online business. There are a lot of them (and certainly some drawbacks, as you’ll see as well).

Here are the benefits to running online business for that I’ve found in my experience:

These are just some of the benefits of having an online business that I personally have experienced. Others might have things that are personal to them that I haven’t listed here.

I wrote a post a while back that I felt outlined the benefits of this lifestyle pretty well:

Check out: 14 Things Location Rebels Can Do That Employees Can’t

The Drawbacks of an Online Business

At least once a month I think to myself:

“Self, maybe you should go get a day job.”

Seriously, I do. For as great as my life is, and for as much as I love my business, there are times when I think it might be easier if I didn’t have to have so much responsibility.

After all, one of the best parts of building this type of business is the skills that you’re able to acquire. Skills that could prove very lucrative to the right company.

But at the end of the day for me the tradeoffs have always been well worth it.

As you’re reading these, think about your personality and if you truly think working for yourself is a good fit for where you’re at and your goals.

Point and case:

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Types of Online Businesses

There are all sorts of online businesses out there. But in the end, most of them are variations of a handful of different types of businesses.

Each of these are good fit for a different type of person, with different goals. Our Beginner’s Guide helps you figure out exactly which one is right for you, but this overview should give you a bit of an idea of what your options are.

Ideas for an Online Business

Finding ideas for an online business can seem really daunting, but it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Decide what type of business you want it to be. Look at the list above, and choose the one that fits your personality best. For example, do you want to work with people? Or sit behind a computer? Do you want to sell products? Or be a writer?

Step 2: Make a list of all your hobbies, passions and things you like to do. 

Step 3: Brainstorm. Knowing generally the type of business you want, and now a few industries you’re interested in, spend 30 dedicated minutes brainstorming different ideas.

Step 4: Validate. This post will give more detail into both finding your idea, and also validating it.

Questions to Ask Before Starting an Online Business

There are a few questions everyone should ask themselves before getting started. While these days the technical aspect of starting a business or website is extremely easy, being consistent with it and growing a business over months and years is more of a challenge.

The following questions help ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons and are in a good mental place to start pursuing it:

If you have positive answers to all of those questions, then you’re likely going to be in a great spot to get going.

How to Start an Online Business: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

I remember back when I was living in Thailand, I was cheap.

Okay, let’s face it, I’m still kind of cheap, but I vividly remember writing a blog post called would you rather have a beer or a business.

And in it, I realized that on any given night I might go out and spend $20 or 30 on beers without thinking about it for a second.

However, when it came to investing in my business, I’d agonize over buying a $10 domain name.

It’s a weird mental game that I still don’t fully understand.

But what I do understand is how difficult it can be to start investing in yourself, in your business, and get over all the uncertainty that can come along with entrepreneurship.

So to help you combat that, and to give you real, tangible next steps, I’m going to make this easy on you.

I’ve created what I believe to be the very best introduction to starting an online lifestyle business on the internet.

It walks you through everything. It introduces you in detail to all of the different types of online businesses, helps you figure out which one is best for you, teaches you the most common online marketing tactics, and gives you a roadmap for getting started.

I think it’s one of the best starting points for teaching you everything you need to know, that you didn’t know you needed to know.

That makes sense right?

If you’re looking for a solid next step, I’d start there.

The only question left to ask yourself is:

Would you rather have a beer or a business?

If the answer is the latter, check out the course, and let’s get to work.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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2 comments on "How to Start an Online Business (It’s Easier than You Think)"

  1. Sean I love the list of pros and cons dude. Been at this for a decade but I screwed up for many years. Having been doing it from a clearer, more detached space for a good 5 years I know the pros outweigh the cons and it is quite simple and easy to start this gig. The key for me is to keep doing the yoga and exercise; those 2 practices raise my energy, opening me up so I keep creating and connecting from a generous, genuine energy. Excellent post.

  2. Vathani Ariyam says:

    Very inspirational article. you are an excellent writer. I never miss any of your articles.

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