The 20 Best Online Businesses to Start in 2020

Working from home is a huge perk for many people, but what are the best online business to start today? Sometimes, a person is a stay-at-home parent who wants to earn money for his or her family on the side. Other times, a person just enjoys the convenience of working from home. One way to accomplish one’s dream of working from home is to start an online business. This list of the best online businesses to start in 2020 are some ideas to start with.

What are the Best Online Businesses to Start with No Money?

Hands down, the best thing about starting an online business is that most of them require hardly any up-front investment; many require none at all. For instance, domain flipping could start with just setting aside $100 to buy 10 cheap domain names; in a few months or a year, you could sell them for twice that, or ten times that, or 100 times. Many digital products, like books or videos, cost nothing but your time to produce; since there’s no physical product, there’s no overhead. There’s no need for angel investing or begging for startup financing either.

So why online? The best businesses to start in 2020 aren’t brick-and-mortar storefront businesses; those are best left to meth kingpins who need a front for their real business. In this day and age, we spend as much of our life online as off; there’s not really any distinction between the two, when we’re literally connected to the internet at all times. The younger generations – the Millenials and Zoomers – don’t see a distinction at all – digital products are real, virtual experiences are actual experiences.

So if you want to start a business today, don’t go looking for a bank loan to open up your dream boutique; start a website for a few bucks and start drop-shipping luxury clothes. Don’t buy expensive video equipment and open up a studio; get a good smartphone and start a YouTube channel. With the internet, there is virtually no barrier to entry. All of the old gatekeepers are gone. That’s what makes it possible to get into some of the best online businesses to start with almost no risk and no investment. (And you don’t put anything in the landfill, either.)

Our List of the Best Businesses to Start in 2020

These are all just ideas to help people find a business idea that works for them. However, not everyone has these skills or abilities. Some of the best online businesses to start require no money at all – only the expertise you already have and the ambition to share it. Therefore, it’s important for people to think about what they’re good at as well as what kind of degree a person has when thinking of business ideas. A person should consider what he or she can offer that’s unique.

This list of the best online businesses to start with no money (or at least a low-risk investment) are simply presented in alphabetical order.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the best online businesses to start because it doesn’t require any money to start. A person uses his or her social media, website, or blog to advertise a business’s products. You might offer reviews, do demo videos, or compare products. The key is that affiliate link. When a customer clicks through your site to buy the product, you earn a commission for leads or sales. The most prominent example is the Amazon Affiliates program, but many businesses are getting into the act.

2. Blogger

Blogging may be done on a freelance basis for other individuals, or a person can start their own blog and monetize it. Once you build up a readership, there are all kinds of ways to generate revenue, from advertising to affiliate marketing to paywalling or membership. This answers what is the best business to start online because it doesn’t require any money to start. However, it’s vital to have another source of income because it takes time to grow a blog. Check out WordPress for the most options. 

3. Buy and Sell Domains

Believe it or not, all the good URLs haven’t been taken already. Domain flipping is still a totally viable business or side hustle. If you have your finger on the pulse of what is going on in politics, pop culture, sports, and other niches, you can grab up domain names that someone will want before they know they want it. Buy them cheap, sell them high, and you didn’t really have to do anything but click some buttons. Sites like GoDaddy and NameCheap can get you started for next to nothing.

4. Coaching/Consulting

Are you an expert in something people want, like health and fitness, finances, or motivation and self-esteem? Coaching and consulting is something you can do from home with nothing more than a laptop, a headset, and a platform like Gotomeeting or Skype. It’s important to know the rules and regulations in your area, of course – there are important limitations on nutritional advice, for instance, and don’t even think about giving legal advice if you’re not a lawyer. There are plenty of people and companies who want advice, and if you market yourself well, you can be a go-to consultant.

5. Content Management

So many people create websites and YouTube channels. Not all of them get noticed because the creator doesn’t understand SEO, so the video or website never ranks. A content manager or SEO consultant helps their clients optimize their content in all sorts of ways, across all sorts of platforms, and makes sure they get the content they need. It’s one of the best businesses to start without money, but it’s important to keep up with the latest techniques and trends, so you will end up spending money on continued training like online courses and conferences.

6. Course Creation

If a person has a special skill, talent, or knowledge, it’s possible to share this information with others for money on platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and more. A person may offer the course at a fee or monetize the website with advertising. A person may take one of several approaches for course creation. One is creating it as a written site and monetizing it by offering it at a fee or making money through advertising. A person may also create videos on a website or through YouTube. It’s possible to charge a fee for access to the site or for the video or earn money through advertising. In fact, you can teach people to do the very things on this list, like domain flipping or app development.

7. Develop an App

For those who are tech-savvy, app creation is a solution to what is the best online business to start from home. It ranks as the best online business to start from home because it doesn’t require any money to start. What it requires is a service people want, an idea for providing it, and the skill to make an app that does the job. An app developer can sell their apps for money to companies, offer apps in app stores for a fee, or monetize the apps through advertising. There is no limitation, and nearly anyone can list an app on the various app stores.

8. Digital Marketing

Individuals can offer digital marketing services to help businesses create material to help them market their business. Often, digital marketing consists of understanding SEO and helping a business or individual reach more customers. If you can get your client to the top of Google with strong keyworded content, you’ll be worth your weight in cryptocurrency. This answers the question “what is the best business to start online” because it’s high in demand and is free to start.

9. Drop-Shipping

You may think you need a big investment, a storefront, and maybe a warehouse to start a retail business. But drop shipping is one of the best online businesses to start with no money. That’s because you need no shop, no factory, and not even any storage to dropship – you just have to set up an Amazon page or web store and take your place as the middleman in a transaction. Then have the company ship the product to the buyer. You didn’t have to drive a forklift or run a register; you barely have to lift a finger (except to click “send” of course).

10. Freelance Writing

Jobs in Public Health Medical Writer

Individuals and businesses alike need skilled writers. Plus, this is one of the best online businesses to start with no money. There are numerous platforms like WriterAccess that pay fairly and do all the work of finding clients for you. Plus, countless writing job boards are out there for freelancers, and an individual can advertise online on Craig’s List, FaceBook, or various other places across the web. Besides not requiring any money to begin, a writing business ranks as the best online business to start because a person can earn a lucrative salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median pay for a writer was $62,170 per year as of 2018.

11. Graphic Design

Graphic Designer

A graphic designer is an individual who creates visuals. It’s possible to be a graphic designer who creates images through computer software or by hand. An individual in this field may create logos or images for books, websites, or magazines. This is the best online business to start from home because it’s free to start, and a person doesn’t need a degree if he or she has skills. A person could also choose to complete a course in graphic design. A person may choose to advertise their services online, find gigs on job listing sites, or work for a company that hires graphic designers on a freelance basis. Another option is for a graphic designer to create a website to advertise his or her services. Someone who chooses this job can make a lucrative salary because the BLS states graphic designers earn a median salary of $54,680 per year, which is the same as $26.9 per hour.

12. Handmade Goods

Those who have any artistic or crafting ability may want to craft. A person can open up their own store on a platform like Etsy or create their own website. Social media platforms make excellent places to advertise for arts and crafts. Although there isn’t an average a person earns from crafting, this is one of the answers to “what are the best online business to start” because it’s ideal for creative people. This business takes some funding to start in most cases, but that entirely depends on your materials.

13. Instagram Influencer

Instagram - 500 million users

Okay, you’re not a Kardashian – and why would you want to be? But the amazing thing about social media is that there are literally no barriers to becoming an influencer. What you need is a voice (it helps to actually be an authority on something) and the dedication to build up your base. It takes time and it takes savvy; you make those virtual connections, put in the hard work of clicking those likes, and maybe stir up some controversy now and then. It’s one of the best online businesses to start in the 2020s.

14. Membership Website

One of the best businesses to start with no money – a membership website – is a little like selling drugs (no, stay with us here). You start out with giving people something they want for free; it could be as simple as a discussion forum or useful information. Then, as you build your evidence, you put up a paywall for premium content, offer perks for members, and turn your free hobby into a source of passive (or nearly passive) income.

15. Podcaster

Podcasting totally breaks down the barriers to audio media. Just a decade ago, the only way you could make your voice heard was through traditional media outlets like radio, but with podcasts, anyone can make a radio show with a microphone and simple audio editing software (which comes packaged with many computers automatically today). There are dozens of platforms already in place that help podcasters, like Buzzsprout. Build your audience in a niche where people want to hear what you have to say, and get advertisers. Mark Maron revolutionized the field from his garage; what can you do?

16. SAAS – Software As A Service

Software Developer

If you’re a software developer, a SAAS business could be the best business to start from home in 2020. Most of the time, the best software comes from the desire to meet a real need, and it may be right in front of your face. Think about what problem you’re having right now, and how software can solve it. Guaranteed, if you have that problem, someone else does to, and will pay for your solution.

17. Selling Digital Products

Software Developer

Remember how musicians used to have to sell tapes out of the back of their van? Remember how novelists had to beg publishers to read their manuscripts? There are no gatekeepers anymore! A freelance photographer can sell photographs online as long as they’re original photos. A musician can sell an album in MP3 without any company’s support. Reports, stock photos – any product you can make and sell digitally, you can make and sell digitally yourself.

18. Social Media Management

A social media manager is the individual who runs social media pages for people and companies. A person can freelance by advertising, which is why this is the best online business to start with no money. It’s also possible to contract for a company that offers this type of service. Make sure posts go up at the best time, interact with users, and make timely apologies when your boss writes something inappropriate on the company account. Build up your clientele by word of mouth, and soon you could have more accounts than you can keep up with.

19. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistant

A virtual assistant business is another answer to what is the best online business to start from home. Those who are organized and skilled on the computer can find companies who link individuals to people and businesses that require a virtual assistant. Additionally, it’s possible to advertise online and find people who need a virtual assistant. It’s a job you can do from anywhere – helping professionals organize their calendar, make calls, set up meetings, transcribe audio, and much more. And as a virtual assistant, your out-of-control egomaniac boss is a safe distance away to keep your work-life balance.

20. Web Developer

Internet software web development

In today’s world, it’s hard for most businesses to survive without a strong web presence, which is why this ranks as one of the listings for “what are the best online business to start from home.” A web developer can create websites for individuals and businesses, either from scratch or using one of the many off-the-shelf software packages out there. It can be a one-and-done job, or you can keep revenue coming for regular maintenance.


15 work-from-home online businesses you can start today

10 simple businesses you can start from your dorm room

How To Start a Business When You’re Still Employed