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Examples of Online Business Ideas Do you want to start an online business? Then here are 10 examples of online business ideas you can learn from before you launch.

By Nicole Crampton

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Advancements in technology have enabled entrepreneurs to create businesses that are wholly operated in a digital environment, resulting in decreased overheads and the freedom to run a business on the move. Before you launch your business learn a few strategies from these examples of online businesses:

1. Online Store For E-Commerce And Drop Shipping

Do you like the idea of selling products online? You can open an online store to sell your own products, or you can re-sell products you bought through another online store.

Before you launch your online business, you'll first need to see what your competitors are doing, here is an example of an online business:

Business Name:


Established Date: 2011

About the business: is one of the leading ecommerce retailers in South Africa, and one of the largest, most innovative ecommerce retailers in Africa. Their aim is to be the most customer-centric online shopping destination.

Innovative business offering also purchased Mr Delivery allowing them to own their logistics network and launched Mr D Food, their app-based on-demand food delivery service.

2. Building Apps

There continues to be a growing demand for new and creative apps. Taking the time to develop and sell smartphone apps can be a lucrative business idea. Before you launch your company, here is an example of an online business you can learn from:

Business Name: Codehesion


About the business:

Codehesion offers web development services where they build world class cloud-based applications. They also offer mobile development for clients wanting to build iOS and Android applications.

Related: Start Your Online Business for (Almost) Free

Innovative business offering

Their agile development approach ensures they can create software quickly and frequently reassess and adapt the design to ensure they swiftly start adding value to their client's businesses.

3. A Digital Product Or Course

Creating a digital product or course is a way to monetise your experience/ specialised skills. You'll need to compile an eBook or webinar of your courses and earn money passively through them.

Before you get started you can learn a few lessons from this example of an online business:

Business Name: Creative School of Business


About the business:

Creative School of Business offers Red & Yellow, a business school where students of all ages can go to develop the career skills they need to thrive in this digital world.

This business school focuses on equipping their students for the realities and exciting opportunities of the 21st Century, that will arise from the digital explosion and ever-increasing pervasiveness of technology.

Innovative business offering

Besides the online courses and diplomas, they also offer a physical school for students looking to learn full-time on campus.

4. Chatbot Making

Chatbots are designed to simulate conversations with online customers. Using free and user-friendly programmes you can design them yourself. Before you start your own chatbot making business, you first need to know what your competition is doing. Here is an example of an online business you can gather insights from:

Business Name: Intercom


Established Date: 2011

About the business:

Intercom assists businesses with custom chatbots that will qualify leads, help to book more meetings and increase sales and marketing.

Related: A Free Business Plan Example to Launch Your South African Business

The benefits of their chatbots is that they're developing leads 24/7, they have code-free customisation, they accelerate sales cycles and grow businesses beyond human limits.

Innovative business offering

Intercom provides a range of online products that modern internet businesses can use to accelerate their growth through the customer lifecycle, from acquisition, to engagement and support.

5. Buying And Selling Domain Names

You can buy domain names (website addresses) you think will become popular and sell them after they becomes popular. If you have the right knowledge and skills, you can launch this online business idea. Here is an example of this online business idea you can learn some strategies from:

Business Name: Starfire Holdings


About the business:

Starfire Holdings offer professional and discreet domain name acquisitions services to help their clients secure premium domain names for their businesses. They also assist their clients with advice and expertise with buying or selling a domain name.

Innovative business offering

In addition to the above services, Starfire Holdings also offers a comprehensive service from initial contact through to the closing of escrow.

6. Creating A Profitable Blog

A blog has very specific type of content, which you can monetise and earn income from. If you're a talented writer and have a lot of high-quality content you can post on your blog, this might be the online business idea for you.

Before you get started here are a few insights you can learn from this example of an online business:

Business Name: The Adventure Junkies


About the business:

The Adventure Junkies has six different pages focusing on extreme sports, such as diving, hiking, paddling, scuba diving, snow sports and mountain biking.

Related: 7 Online Business Ideas That Could Make You Rich

Each section contains a Facebook forum and information about gear, clothing, techniques and training.

Innovative business offering

In addition to all of this information they sell tangibles such as clothing and gear through affiliated links, which is where they generate most of their income.

7. Become A Virtual Assistant

Every business needs help with the day-to-day administrative tasks. If you have a talent for this type of work, you can become a virtual assistant. They perform duties, such as paying bills, making travel arrangements, managing expense reimbursements.

Before you launch your business, here is an example of an online business you can learn from:

Business Name: Outsourcery


Established Date: 2005

About the business:

Outsourcery was founded by Richard Walton who after struggling to find a great virtual PA service to manage his busy life, decided to launch his own business. Since its launch, they have rapidly expanded to assist busy entrepreneurs in leading more productive lives.

Innovative business offering

In addition to virtual assistant services, Outsourcery also offer virtual bookkeepers, content writers, webmasters and in-office staff.

8. Website Flipping

Since customers use a business' website to decide whether they want to buy from them or not, a websites appearance and interactivity can determine its success. If you have skills and experience improving and optimising websites, this could be the online business idea for you.

Related: 7 Ingredients of Small Business Success Online

You can purchase an underperforming website, optimise it and sell it for a profit. Before you launch your business, you can learn a thing or two from this example of an online business:

Business Name: WebDevine


Established Date: 2003

About the business:

WebDevine assists their clients in developing a competitive edge through website improvements and optimisation. They will also add in marketing techniques to ensure their customers bring in more traffic and convert them to sales.

Innovative business offering

WebDevine is a one-stop shop for all their clients web design and development needs, including web and email hosting, online advertising, branding, social media management and mobile/web applications.

9. Online Real Estate Investing

Online real estate investing platforms now exist, and they enable anyone to invest a percentage into a property instead of the whole amount. If you have the right skills, you can start your own online business.

Before you launch your business, learn a few strategies from this example of an online business:

Business Name: Real Estate Crowdfunding


About the business:

Real Estate Crowdfunding offers its clients lower fees, the option to invest in a development nearby and transparency, which enables their customers to find out more about projects before investing.

Innovative business offering

Real Estate Crowdfunding has been designed to give their clients a platform to help raise funds for property investment and/or to participate in property investment opportunities.

10. Online Transcription Platform

Online transcription platforms offer money for your ability to transcribe their audio files. If you are a fast typist and can understand multiple accents transcription services could be the online business for you.

Before you launch your business, you'll need some experience, but also some insights from a successful online business:

Business Name: AfroLingo


About the business:

AfroLingo offers audio and video transcription services to their clients along with 24/7 customer service to ensure their clients across the world are always supported.

Innovative business offering

In addition to their transcription services, AfroLingo has more than 10 years of experience translation over 70 languages. They are experienced subject matter experts in every major African and MENA language.

Additionally, they offer proofreading, website and app localisation services and desktop publishing.

Related: 25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Nicole Crampton

Entrepreneur Staff

Sales Enablement - Content Developer

Nicole Crampton is an SEO specialist who contributes to She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa and has continued her studies with a Creative Writing degree from UNISA. Nicole has completed several courses in writing and online marketing, and continues to hone her skills and expertise in digital media, digital marketing and content creation.

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