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Go From Employee to Entrepreneur with One of These 7 Online Business Models

Have you been wondering how people start online businesses and make them sustainable and successful over the long haul?

It’s a concern that most people who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey have…and I totally get it.  

It can be confusing with the way the landscape of business ownership is constantly changing.

Because I can look back now and clearly see what it took for me to get to where I am today, I want to take a little time and talk about the various online business models you can use to make your business idea a reality.

Each model is pretty different and, based on your personality, how much you want to work each week, and how much person-to-person interaction you want to have, you’ll probably find that you gravitate to one model more than the others.

With this, let’s get into today’s content!

Online Marketing Is Undergoing A Radical Shift, Right Now

Recently, I was reading on the Internet Retailer Magazine website. Internet Retailer Magazine is a Chicago-based company that focuses on providing business intelligence for people and companies who sell online.

All this company does is research and discuss the people, practices, technology, and market trends that shape the e-commerce field.

While reading, I was happily surprised to learn that small retailers are only about 1-2 years away from using the same kind of predictive technology that major retailers have been using for the last ten years.

This is hugeand I want you to bear with me for a few moments while I explain what this means to you and your future business.

Companies like Amazon and Starbucks have been using things like predictive data and marketing automation for a long time. Predictive data is exactly what it sounds like: information that helps a company predict how to create profitable marketing campaigns targeting their perfect customer.

Marketing automation, on the other hand, is what companies use to market to their target audience on more than one platform.  If you’ve ever seen an ad from Victoria’s Secret on Facebook and then a different but well-timed version of the same ad on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, then you’ve seen marketing automation in action!

In the past, these tools and technology have been a bit cost-prohibitive for smaller retailers…but that’s not the case for much longer…

And this is great news for you – the future solo entrepreneur!

See, the really good stuff tends to eventually trickle down to us over time.

It won’t be too long before the tools that major retailers use every day to make their marketing a lot easier will be tools that you can use, too.

And that should excite you!

Right now, the field is wide open. You can jump into self employment ahead of the crush of people who will be coming once they realize lucrative self employment can be.

Ok…now that I have shared that background information, let’s jump right into what I have for you, today.  

7 Business Models You Can Use To Create Your Dream Life

Below are 7, proven (profitable) business models that you can use use to start an online business that helps you serve your niche with integrity and create the life of your dreams, today.

Business Model #1 – Freelancing

The first business model I want to discuss is one that is really popular with people who have very specific skills – freelancing.  Freelancing is simply a type of work where you offer your services to people or businesses that need them.

Some popular freelancing careers include writing, graphic design, website development/design, and other service-based fields.  If you’re really good at what you do, you could find yourself making money in only a few days after starting in this self-employed career path.

If you’re looking for quick income, you’ll have a tough time finding a work that’s simpler and easier to get up and running online than this one. You can find clients on niche-specific forums, and freelancing websites like Freelancer and upWork.

You’ll want to get away from sites like these as quickly as you can, though, because a fair amount of the clients on these sites bid for work based on price alone. The last thing you want to do is spend the majority of your new career working for pennies!

Be fairly warned, though: Freelancing requires effort.  It’s still work – even though you’re working for yourself. And you’re going to want to stay on top of your skills by either being active in some kind of peer-related group or attending industry-specific events during the year.

Business Model #2: Coaching/Consulting

The coaching/consulting space is where I decided to jump in when I was starting my own online business while still in my 9-5. (And what a journey it was!)

It’s a lot like freelancing in that you will have clients. The main difference, however, is that, as a coach or a consultant, your work is to provide actionable advice to your clients.

Because of how much value you’ll be bringing to the table, coaching/consulting is one of the fastest ways to build an online business that will replace your corporate income and allow you to leave your 9-5.

You’re not doing the actual work for them; instead, you’re telling them what they need to do or how they need to be thinking about their life or their business.

If you have specialized knowledge that can help people or businesses be more effective in a specific area or areas, consultancy might just be for you.  Consulting tends to pay more because of how specialized and valuable your knowledge base has to be.

There are coaches and consultants in just about every niche. There are…

  • Financial coaches/consultants…
  • Tax coaches/consultants…
  • Interior design consultants…
  • Marketing coaches/consultants…
  • Marriage coaches/consultants…
  • Copywriting coaches/consultants…
  • Lactation coaches/consultants…

…and the list goes on and on.  If what you know can help individuals or companies grow and do whatever they do better, you might be a great fit for coaching or consultancy.

Business Model #3: Information Products/e-Learning

If you are great at teaching people through written, video, and/or audio format, you might consider creating and selling information products online and delivering them to your customers  via an e-learning format.

People who know how to market their products to their target audience and who also meet the needs of that target audience tend to be really successful in this business model. The cool thing is that it e-learning tends to be a bit more hands-off than coaching/consulting or freelancing.

So…if you want to travel the world or do basically whatever you want whenever you want, and you want to have a fair amount of free time on your hands, creating info products and delivering them through an e-learning platform is probably going to be your best bet.

Business Model #4: Software Development

You might think that software development should be in the freelancing field, but I didn’t put it there because it’s such a unique profession with many fields branching off of it – all of which could be their own discipline.

Some software developers develop games and sell them. Others develop mobile apps.  Some develop desktop apps or WordPress plugins. Still others are specific to PC or Apple products.

When you develop software, you create applications that solve specific problems via computer. You could develop for large companies, consulting firms, or even for solopreneurs with specific needs.

There is such a significant need for developers that you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a market for whatever it is that you want to create.

Software developers are people who are responsible for building businesses like WordPress, Aweber, SnapChat, and even Facebook. They create mobile apps like Instagram and even productivity tools like Evernote and Slack.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to create the next Facebook to be successful as a software developer. You could create an application that helps your local community in some way.

All you need is just one, useful app and you’ll have a significant business that people appreciate!

Business Model #5: Affiliate Marketing/Joint Venturing

Joint Venturing is when two or more parties decide to work together for commercial purposes.  For example, an email marketer might decide to promote an information product that was created by an info marketer.

Or a health coach might partner with a personal trainer to promote their personal training courses and they split the profits from the sale.

Normally, in a joint venture, one person owns the content or the product, and another person or a group of people promote it in one way or another.

Your biggest challenge in joint venturing or affiliate marketing is going to be finding great people to partner with, long-term, but once you find the right people, it can be a very lucrative buisness model.

Business Model #6: Subscription/Membership Model

This is a business model that, again, relies on your having some very specific knowledge and then having people pay you a fee to be a member.  This is called the subscription model or membership model.

Two really great examples of this model would be Ben Settle’s Email Players and Gabby Bernstein’s membership program, Miracle Membership.

Ben Settle teaches copywriters and business owners how to use email marketing to earn a living and/or improve on their current income.  Gabby Bernstein shares unique, inspirational content and a monthly call, both of which are only available to her members.

There are so any variations of the subscription or membership model that it’s not even funny.  Some subscription-based membership business models provide a physical newsletter that members get every month. There may or may not be any interaction with others members.

On the other hand, the feeling of community and mastery-level feedback might be the biggest selling point for certain types of memberships or subscription services. You can run your business as a membership website with a forum on a WordPress website or have a Secret Group on Facebook that only paid members have access to.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll want to do a lot of research beforehand to make sure that there is a market and a need for what you want to offer. It can be a very lucrative model with as much time investment as you’re comfortable doing after you get it up and running.

That choice is completely yours.

Business Model #7: The Group Programs Model

The final business model we are going to discuss today that lots of solo entrepreneurs gravitate to is group programs. In the groups programs model, you’re doing coaching or consulting, but you’re doing it in a group setting.

The beauty of this kind of business model is that the group, while relying on you for your expertise, also feeds off of the strengths of the other members. Their participation is just as important as yours and creates a beautiful dynamic between members when it’s properly managed.

Just like with coaching and consulting, Group Programs can happen in nearly any niche.  

They can take a lot of time and patience to create, build, and grow, but Group Programs can pay you really well once you figure out your pricing structure and how often you want to run new groups.

Putting It All Together Will Be Your Greatest Challenge

Once you have your business idea figured out, your biggest challenge as a business owner is going to be marketing and selling your offer.

Putting it all together from start to finish is where a lot of people get tripped up…but it doesn’t have to be that way for you.

My unique gift to the world is that I know how to show people the best ways to build profitable businesses and get them sold out with customers or clients.

I started my first business a decade ago and built a 6-figure business on the side while still in my 9-5. I’ve become known as one of the top experts in the world on helping you transition from employee to entrepreneur.

My programs have helped over 1,000 students…

…and it’s my goal in life to help as many people as I possibly can.

The time is coming when the kind of work I do on the Internet is going to be the norm for people. If this is your dream in any kind of way, you should do everything you can to get your first paying clients asap because I truly believe this is the wave of the future for professionals.

Which of these online business models are you excited to start with? Let me know in the comments!

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The proven blueprint for building a profitable online coaching business that frees you from the 9-5

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The proven blueprint for building a profitable online coaching business that frees you from the 9-5


Luisa Zhou is the creator of the Employee to Entrepreneur system, which shows ambitious men and women how to build profitable and meaningful online businesses that replace (and exceed) their 9-5 salaries. Fun fact: She’s also a former International Space Station engineer. LEARN MORE


The proven blueprint for building a profitable online coaching business that frees you from the 9-5

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