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10 Internet Business Ideas: Legitimate and Minimal Investment

written by: KLeeBanks•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/19/2011

Perhaps you have decided to explore the entrepreneurial potential of e-commerce and need a legitimate Internet business idea requiring a minimal investment. Evaluate your interests, skills, and resources to determine which of these 10 internet business ideas may be right for you.

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    Introduction & Preliminary Steps

    An increasing number of people have discovered their entrepreneurial spirits since the downturn in the economy that began around 2008. Massive lay-offs and closed businesses inflated the unemployment figures to "historic proportions" according to multiple news sources. Any relatively scarce job openings typically become inundated with applicants, creating highly competitive situations. Rising costs of gas and related commuting expenses only add to the stress of finding and maintaining regular employment.

    The idea, therefore, of operating a legitimate Internet business is appealing based on many aspects. Whether a new entrepreneur decides to run a home-based business or rent a small office space, he or she should first evaluate interests, skills, and resources. Most Internet businesses do require a minimal investment, depending on the type and nature of the business. Another important preliminary step is doing market research regarding your idea, service, or product, to determine if there is in fact a market for your prospective Internet business.

    If you are a new entrepreneur, or one looking to start a new business, one of these 10 legitimate Internet business ideas may work for you.

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    10 Legitimate Internet Business Ideas

    Internet Business Ideas First of all, you should keep the word "legitimate" in mind. Far too many scams exist already on the Internet - from "get rich quick" schemes, to identity theft rackets, to content thieves who convince eager writers to "just submit sample articles" only to never hear from the alleged "clients" or companies again, and have the "sample articles" show up online without the writers ever receiving compensation.

    So the emphasis is on finding a legitimate Internet business idea, followed by the second qualifier: minimal investment. While "minimal" is a relative term, the 10 ideas for a Internet business that follow should be suitable for most anyone with the appropriate and relevant skills.

    Would one of these ideas work for you?  

    1. Affiliate marketing: An entrepreneur who enjoys sales and working on commission could potentially do well with a website promoting niche products or services. As visitors to your site click on related links and make purchases, you earn a percentage of the sale, lead, or call referrals generated from the click through ads.

    2. Custom orders: If you have skills in specific arts or crafts, you can offer custom orders through an e-commerce arrangement. For instance, if you are an artist, you might offer to sketch or paint portraits of pets, people, or scenic vista from photos. As another example, if you are a quilter or doll maker, you may create items to order from customers’ specifications.

    3. Drop shipping: Another e-commerce option might include setting up an online store or selling through an auction site like eBay. You set up an account with a distributor and drop shipper of your selected products and arrange for the delivery of products as they sell. You don’t have to handle, store, or ship the products yourself.

    4. eBay: As one of the most well-known online auction sites, eBay offers a global “yard sale" and highly successful e-commerce marketplace. You can sell or resell new or used items on eBay part time or full time, or you can train to be more active as an eBay affiliate, seller’s assistant, or trading assistant.

    5. Educational consulting, tutoring, instructional design, curriculum development: The Internet has created a global classroom with the advent of e-learning. Educational professionals can offer various forms and levels of educational consulting and tutoring. Educational professionals with the proper training and expertise can also provide instructional design and curriculum development services.

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    Stone Alley Hosting 

    6. Graphic design: Anyone skilled in graphic design can set up an Internet business and typically find plenty of work. A few options include designing templates for blogs and websites, banners, business logos, and more. You may also offer animated graphics or computer-generated imagery (CGI) for special effects.

    7. SEO consulting: Search engine optimization is an essential element of successful websites. Anyone who studies and acquires this knowledge can find success helping clients optimize their websites for increased traffic through higher search engine results and page ranking.

    8. Virtual assistant: Telecommuting has become a common practice, even more so since the downturn in the economy around 2008. Many companies have decided to outsource common office tasks to virtual assistants. Depending on your skills and training, you can offer a variety of administrative and business support services.

    9. Website design and hosting: If you learn graphic design, HTML, CSS, and coding languages such a ASP, PHP, or Perl CGI, you can set up a business designing websites. You may even go a step further and offer hosting services, including registering domain names and setting up email accounts for your clients.

    10. Writing and editing: Websites need content and Web content writing has become a popular and widespread Internet business, whether you work for the so-called “content mills," or private clients who need to populate their websites. Other options include writing company blogs, providing copywriting services, editing or proofreading services, and resume writing services.

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    Whether you choose to change your employment situation, or circumstances drive you to make changes, you may want to consider a legitimate Internet business idea and become an entrepreneur. It's usually a good idea to assess your personal and business interests, your skills, and your available resources. Be aware that some type of minimal investment if often necessary to get your Internet business up and running.

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    References, Resources, and Image Credits


    1Homenotion. Internet Home Business with Ms. Liz: 10 Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online. Retrieved from

    2Sparkplugging. Internet Business Ideas: The Top 10 You Can Start and Run In Your Underwear. Retrieved from

    3Business Ideas for 2011. 7 Top Internet Business Opportunities for 2011. Retrieved from


    Homenotion. Internet Home Business with Ms. Liz: How to Promote Online Business. Retrieved from

    Best Real Income. Home Based Business Opportunity. Retrieved from

    Image Credits

    Office Help 4 Hire Image: Courtesy of this writer, K'Lee Banks

    Stone Alley Hosting Image: Courtesy of Becky Ryan-Willis