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The Internet Age and Online Business Opportunities

The Internet Age has spawned thousands of ways to make an income by using it. It literally provides opportunities to make ‘a fast buck’ but unless supremely talented or extremely lucky, this can at best be a supplementary form of income. Of course, the work may pay well but it requires plenty of time and dedicated effort to be invested in that space. Such ways of earning incomes are provided by online businesses.

There is no dearth of ideas to choose business opportunities online but it requires a great deal of planning and research to find one that suits an individual’s skills and area of expertise best. The topmost advantages of online businesses are that it requires no ‘brick-and-mortar’ structure nor does it require many people to conduct the business. An online business can even be headed by a single person. Some of the very popular online business opportunities include:

• Blogging – this is an excellent way of giving space and freedom to writing expression. Though blog writing does not require great technical skills, it needs a certain amount of promotion to attract others to the blog and building a following. If the blog becomes popular, advertisers can be requested to post their ads on the blog; products can also be promoted on the blog which result in paid commissions.

• Paid writing – many people start their own blogs but are unable to sustain for a long time. Writing articles for other sites or blogs can help an individual indulge and entertain the passion of writing and earning an income. For someone who has a good command over a language, becoming a copy editor and accepting assignments for editing etc. is well paying.

• Affiliate or Reseller – ideally suited for those who have the knack of marketing and selling products. An affiliate or reseller is one who can earn a commission through sales of products promoted on his or her website; all it needs is to tie up with an affiliate program and start promoting products

• Professional freelancing – skilled people in respective trades can accept projects through bids for article writing, content creation, SEO, website design, data entry, programming and many other jobs for established businesses. Elance, Freelancer.com, oDesk and others are popular freelance sites.

• Online advertising – Google AdSense is the most popular in this category where PPC (pay per click) advertising options for ads clicked by visitors to a website or a blog can bring income. However, the returns depend on the amount of traffic to the website or blog and the click-through rates. Other forms of online advertising can be through Blogads, TextLinkAds and RSS feed.

• Selling photos – an avid photographer or a shutterbug can make good revenue by selling photographs that they have clicked on various subjects. There are plenty of people who are not into photography and who require images for various purposes. Many agencies like Shutterstock and Fotolia offer incentives to people to earn through their photographs.

Other ways of conducting an online business and earning revenue include -

• Webinars and e-tuitions – online tutorials, lectures and seminars
• GPT (Get Paid To programs – filling online surveys, playing games
• Theme designing – design theme templates for websites and blogs
• Forex trading – stock market may be a risky option but dogged determination and research will bring in good returns
• Virtual Assistant – small online businesses use VAs (Virtual Assistants) to function as an office secretary to handle many tasks and administrative duties.
• Medical Transcription – this area needs particular skill sets such as high speed typing and a firm grasp of medical terminology. This is used for quick turnaround of medical reports, patient history and documents, consultation and clinical notes, psychiatric evaluation etc. and is more or less like a BPO service.

Strategies and Mistakes Some People Make When Investing in RRSPs

The Home Buyers Plan (HBP) - Because an RRSP is a tax deferral vehicle, you can use it for deferring income now, and later for things other than retirement. Although this will reduce the amount of money you have at retirement, you can use it to subsidize your income in years that you have a lower income or may have lost your job. You can also use your RRSP money to purchase a home. The HBP allows firsttime homebuyers to withdraw up to $20,000 TAX-FREE from their RRSPs as long as they pay it back in instalments over the next 15 years. If you are a couple, you can withdraw $20,000 from each of your RRSPs, which will give you $40,000 as your down payment for your home.

The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) – This allows you to access funds from your RRSP to help pay for your own, or your spouse’s education. Under the LLP you have the right to withdraw up to $10,000 per year without paying tax, to a maximum of $20,000 over a four year period. Then, to avoid having to pay tax on the money you used for education, you must repay the money back into your RRSP over a 10 year period starting after the fifth year.

RRSP or TFSA? – If you have the money to make a contribution, but don’t want to claim the RRSP deduction in the current year, as your income is already low enough, you can carry forward your deduction to future years when you need it. Alternatively, if you know you will want to withdraw the funds, but would like to shelter the growth of your investments until the time you need them, then contribute to your TFSA. Both programs allow tax sheltered growth. The benefit of the TFSA is that you don’t have to declare the growth on your investment as taxable income.

Contribute as early in the year as possible - If you contribute at the start of the year, all of the income earned on your contribution will accumulate tax-sheltered for the rest of the year. The effect of early contributions over a few years will be incredible. If you’ve always made your contribution just before the deadline, consider making both a contribution for the current year and next year at the same time. Then continue as usual, making your contributions at the “deadline” – only then you’ll always be one year ahead.

Top 5 Advantages of Starting Your Business Online

Starting a business is risky. It’s the reason why everyone doesn’t have one. It can require thousands of dollars of investment just to get off the ground. 9 out of 10 of all new businesses fail in the first year. Before any profit is made, things like product inventory, incorporation, advertising, employees, accounting, insurance, licenses, commercial space etc. have to be paid for.

Enter the internet..

The digital world has taken away a lot of the risk of starting the business of your dreams. There are still start-up expenses involved in the beginning but they are not nearly as high as starting a brick and mortar business. License and incorporation fees are going to have to be paid online or offline but most of the other expenses can be avoided in the early stages by starting with your online presence.

If it can be sold in a store it can be bought online and shipped to the customer’s home. At the very least it will add an additional revenue stream for the business. There are plenty of advantages to starting a business online but here are my top five.

1. There is no immediate need for full-time in-house employees.

What makes online business so powerful is its scalability; meaning you do a little bit of work for a greater result. With automation tools you can have a lot of your tedious data entry tasks done without you even thinking about it. With PayPal you can accept payments online through your website without you even knowing a credit card was entered.

If you are selling digital products that are to be downloaded then there is no need for pre-ordered inventory or commercial space, thus eliminating the cost of rent.

For when you actually need the assistance of a real human, sites like oDesk.com and Elance.com make it possible for you to outsource work to people on a for hire, monthly or even a full-time basis.

Things like insurance and security are needed for online as well as online but securing intellectual property stored online in the cloud is a lot less expensive than doing the same for merchandise in a store that is susceptible to theft or fire

2. You have the freedom to travel.

There is no need for a physical location in most cases so there is no need to stay in one place. If you need to pack up and move your company to another state where there is more opportunity, it can be as simple as packing up your laptop and accessories and leaving. With a physical ‘brick and mortar’ business, it would be a little more difficult to relocate. You will most likely be constrained to whatever lease agreement you may have in place.

As you know, business and tax laws vary from state to state. Having your operation online gives you the freedom to choose where you want your business to be incorporated. You would have to have some sort of address established in the state but it doesn’t have to an actual store. There are a few states who’s laws work best for the traveling internet entrepreneur. *I am not an accountant or a business lawyer so please consult one before getting started.*

3. The whole world has access to what you’ve got to offer.

You aren’t limited to your immediate geographical area anymore. You aren’t limited to ANY geographical area for that matter. Offering your products and services online opens your business offering up to the edges of the world. The internet doesn’t sleep and there are billions of people online looking for solutions to their problems, while YOU are sleeping.

4. You are at the fingertips of a growing online market.

The internet definitely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as more and more people are gaining access to an internet connection or a smart phone every second. E-commerce is following the same trend as more and more people are becoming comfortable making purchases online and from their mobile devices. From a consumer’s standpoint, making purchases from the comfort of your own home can save you a lot of time, and for certain products, shame or embarrassment.

5. You can inexpensively test your market.

Not every brilliant idea translates into a consumable product or service. And as you know, the failure rate of new businesses is very high. Another advantage of starting a business online is the ability to gauge interest without actually having the product readily available for sale. One example of this that I’ve seen a lot is a preview or ‘beta’ page with a prototype of a product where people can sign up to ‘be the first to know’ when the product is made available. This can be done with a food product, a clothing line, an app, pretty much anything. It’s a great way to gauge interest before you go all in with a final product.

You don’t need $10,000 to start a business anymore..

There are hundreds of ways to make money online and frankly, who can afford NOT to open up shop to the billions of people on the internet. There are still a lot of traditional brick and mortar businesses that are not providing their products and services online, constraining themselves by business hours and management of on premise staff.

All you need is a website, a product or service and consistent potential-buyer traffic to that website. No permits, no city council meetings, no weather constraints and depending on where you live, no off duty police officer.

Recommended reads: ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ & ‘The $100 Startup’