It’s that time of year – time to break out the eggnog, cosy up by the fireplace, and enjoy the coming holiday cheer.
It’s also the time when you start to look ahead to the New Year and its new prospects, ventures, and yes, resolutions. We tend to think in terms of business proposals, so “resolution,” by our estimation, amounts to a personal business proposal. So, with that in mind, let’s give some resolutions you might be keen to undertake a closer look.
If you’re the entrepreneurial sort, chances are you are looking for the best business ideas for 2014, and we’ve put together our own list of five great options for industrious types next year.
As has been the trend in the global marketplace for the past couple of years, the ideas that make our list involve the online community in the majority of cases. And that’s a good thing; because these are roles that let you take command of your own life and become your own boss.
This is the time of year when you’re getting ready to pitch a business proposal to yourself, so let’s take a look at five awesomely-independent options that won’t be hard to “sell” yourself on.
Business Idea #1: Content creation
Ask any – and we mean any – business person what’s hot in branding on the Web right now, and they’ll say, “Content is king.” They will tell you that, they will leave it at that, and they would be correct.
Clearly, that makes content creation a viable business idea for 2014, but there’s much more to it. To succeed at content creation, you have to delve into the value of information, and offer something truly worth consuming.
Content creators need to not only be good at grammar or speaking, but also be well-researched, informative, and engaging. “Make some great content” is a simple enough task to be charged with, but content needs to stand out from the sea of noise that is the Web 2.0 experience.
While many others would tell you to get cracking on content, and leave you hanging with no further information, we’ll do you a solid and offer up this little nugget of information:
Content, whether you’re creating it for yourself or your customer, is all about the end customer – they are your audience.
So, what is your audience looking for in terms of content?
Tactics to apply – repeatable steps that they can take to learn a new skill
People stories – they all want to know how it was done, so they can do it, too
Solutions – they have questions; they want you to have answers
Benefits – Can they save money by doing it your way? Can they get more done faster, using your advice?
Clear actions to take – they want some direction, something to “do” with the information they've received
Great content creators provide some combination of the above to their fans. Simply putting out blog posts or podcasts that talk about you, your company, or even your products or services can cause you to fail to meet with your audience’s expectations. Focus the content on your customers, and you’ll be ready to tap into this great business idea for 2014.
Where to begin? Sites like eLance, Freelancer, oDesk, and Fiverr have launched thousands of content creation careers, and they’re great places to start. Content creation is all about networking, and the sooner you get your by-line on a site, the sooner you can start building your network.
Business Idea #2: Webinar Host
Another highly profitable source of income continues to be webinars. If you’ve already got content creation under your belt, you are ready to try hosting webinars.
Hosts need to have strong skills in public speaking and interviewing, in most cases. You’ll also need to have some PowerPoint skills and a basic understanding of developing instructional courses. Behind the scenes, you’ll also have to have a small team of people to help with organizing, cameras, sound, video editing or streaming, and other roles. You’ll also need a place to host the webinar, which might be a rented location, or (especially if faceless) one of your own.
If you plan to stream the webinars in a webcast, you’ll want to have an online registration beforehand, in a place where your customers look. So, in a nutshell, before venturing into the world of webinars, you need to have a content-rich, converting website first.
Where to begin? Get a nice webcam or at least microphone and bring on some freelancers to help with editing and other functions. Promote with an email newsletter and secure signups.
Business Idea #3: Co-working Space Owner
Got a floundering retail business in a brick-and-mortar location? Consider turning it into a coworking space. Many different types of buildings can adapt to become coworking spaces. Practically anything will do, as long as it’s in a safe location and clean.
Coworking spaces are particularly attractive because they require little maintenance and free you up to pursue additional business ventures that appeal to you. Even if you don’t already own or lease a location, you can seek out real estate to start a coworking space. The coworking model is booming, especially in entrepreneurial hubs around the globe, so it’s worth considering, particularly if you can find a low rate on rent.
Coworking spaces are all about atmosphere and amenities. You’ll have the costs of electricity and high-speed Internet connectivity, as well as cleaning costs, but that’s about it. The biggest challenge is getting co-workers to come to the space – but that’s a matter of your creativity and local marketing strategy.
Where to begin? Start with the space. Once you have that, the rest comes down to decorating and promoting. Social media and local business word-of-mouth will get you off the ground. (HINT: Co-workers are seriously into blogging and social media, so start with some savvy and free advertising on those sources.)
Business Idea #4: Expert Consulting
Another business idea for 2014 is to market yourself as an expert consultant. Consultancy, on the Web, ranges from public relations to social media marketing, technology to compliance, and everything in between.
Rest assured, if you’re a pro at it, whatever it may be, someone else is an amateur at doing it. Tools like Skype make it possible to provide consultation to anyone, anywhere. The biggest challenge is getting customers, which hinges on your ability to sell yourself as an expert, ideally through authoritative content.
The sky is really the limit when it comes to consulting. If you have expert advice on how to remember things, there’s probably someone out there who will pay to learn to be better at that skill. (Now, if they'll remember to show up for the appointment…)
Where to begin? ODesk facilitates a variety of “intangible” consulting services via its stable of freelancers, so it’s a good place to get your foot in the door, plus, again, being active on social media and providing valuable content on a blog or guest-posting on other blogs that reach your clients.
Business Idea #5: Freelance Photographer
Here’s something of a prediction: web users are tired of seeing “stock” photos, and longing for “magazine-quality” photographs alongside other content, particularly on blogs. Consider the rise of platforms like Instagram and Tumblr and it’s easy to see that the Web is crying out for better photos. Think of all those blogs with articles that feature a single, cheesy stock photo alongside the text. Now, think of TIME or Rolling Stone. The new always meets with the old.
This is great news for freelance photographers, who can sign up for freelance sites and solicit work in their locale. This is helpful to blogs, in particular, as it will help bloggers cover stories in faraway lands with authentic photos that will lend credibility to the article.
Where to begin? We’re showing a lot of love to freelance sites, and Freelancer.com is the best place (that we know of) to find them.
Are you ready to start a business in '14?
There’s never been a better time to start your own business. The roles mentioned on this list are admittedly just the tip of the iceberg with what’s out there. But they all have one thing in common: they let you turn your entrepreneurial spirit into a profitable business, using your own creativity and innovation.
And that’s a business proposal you should have no problem accepting.
What are your business plans for 2014? Do you New Year’s resolutions center on changing your career?