Before 2020, working from home was seen as a bit of an anomaly or at least a special exemption. Now the cubicle has been replaced with the home office and our daily commute has been drastically shortened. I honestly don’t think that this is a fad, or something that will be done away with in the years to come because it’s much cheaper for companies, much easier for employees, and the technology that makes this possible is only improving.
Without the daily commute and the long office hours, more and more people are increasing their streams of income and starting their own online businesses from home which is why I wanted to do this Article on the very best online businesses to start from home in 2021. When I first started my online business in 2017, there were so many barriers to entry that people had, like, I don’t have enough time, I don’t wanna deal with the technology, I don’t even have the equipment or the bandwidth, and now post 2020 almost all of these excuses have completely disappeared.
I’ve talked about this graph right here before on my Instagram, and if you’re not following me there already you can find me financialcoachjess. I’ve talked about this graph before and it’s important because when the world experiences big changes like 2020, we want to be the innovators or the early adopters. And here’s the thing, there’s so many people that are still afraid of opening their own online business and they want to wait and wait for other people to show them the affirmation and the validation that they need in order to have the confidence to step up and start.
But these types of people are not the innovators or the early adopters, they are the late majority and the laggards. By the time that this majority builds up the courage to actually start their online business, the prime time will have passed. It’s gonna be so much more competitive, they’re gonna come up against way more obstacles, they’re gonna get frustrated and they’re gonna quit and say, I knew this wasn’t gonna work. And it’s like, yeah, because you waited way too long.
But the good news is these innovators and early adopters they don’t wait, they jump in and they figure it out during this prime time. As you consider what online business you want to dive into, these are my top online businesses that you can start from home in 2021. Before we get started, what makes them the best? I specifically looked at competition, flexibility, skillset needed, profitability and startup costs.
These are not in any particular order, but the first business that I will mention is starting your own online bookkeeping business. I talk about my own experience with bookkeeping in these two articles here, but in this Article I wanna specifically hit on why bookkeeping is one of the best online businesses. First let’s talk about competition. So there are so many accountants, bookkeepers, people that are overall just good with numbers here in the US and all over the world, but the 21st century bookkeeper is so much more than someone who is just good with numbers.
When I was only doing bookkeeping full time I got feedback constantly that my clients loved how responsive I was. They really appreciated my communication and basic people skills. I always did my best to have a great first impression and to really have an overall friendly demeanor because I knew the market and I knew that this would really set me apart in the best way. And it did, small businesses don’t want bookkeepers that care just about the numbers, they want bookkeepers that care about how the numbers affect and relate to the growth and sustainability of their business. And there’s a big difference.
When you look at the competition this way, there’s not a lot of accountants or bookkeepers that are running their online business this way and it can really help you stand out as you continue to niche down and find out what businesses you really work well with. Throughout my years of doing bookkeeping online full-time and sending out so many proposals, literally so many proposals, it almost always was not that I got beat out by another bookkeeper that just very rarely happened. Usually the reason it didn’t work out is that it just really wasn’t a great fit.
Sometimes, actually most of the time the business was looking for someone in-house that they could have at a desk answering the phone during business hours and spoiler alert that’s really nearly impossible to find. If you have someone who’s truly qualified to do the bookkeeping for your business, they’re not gonna accept 17 to $20 an hour sitting at a desk, answering a phone all day. This is very much an old school approach which is a little bit of a red flag to me that it wasn’t gonna work out well in the first place.
Another reason why the proposal would get turned down and it wouldn’t work out between me and these businesses is because they just truly weren’t in a place where they could outsource their bookkeeping. Maybe they’re still paying their contractors cash under the table, and they’re behind on their taxes, and they truly needed really an overhaul of their systems and processes within the business, and they didn’t wanna pay for that and they weren’t in a place maybe to pay for that and so it just didn’t work out between us.
All that to say on very few occasions did I have a business owner come back to me and say, we went with another bookkeeper. I can count maybe on one hand the times that that actually happened, so the competition in this way just really was a non-issue. Flexibility. So let’s talk about flexibility here. I don’t talk about this too much on my Instagram or on my YouTube channel, but I still have nine bookkeeping clients that I work with on a monthly or a quarterly basis and I absolutely love these clients.
I go in once a month and I categorize all of their transactions and I send them an email of the transactions that I have questions about. When they get back to me, I go in a second time, finish up the transactions, look for any red flags and I send them the corresponding reports that they want and they can compare that month to previous months and make any adjustments in the future that are needed. If the client is struggling with cashflow in particular, we’ll schedule a meeting and really go over some ideas that I have to free up cashflow.
and on several occasions I’ve brought ideas forth that have saved the client thousands of dollars over the course of a year and that really helps them move the needle and continue to grow. As you can see I work with a very specific type of client, you might be doing weekly transactions, weekly reports. I’ve set my expectations up and I only accept clients that really fit the criteria of going in and reconciling monthly. This works for me because it gives me a ton of flexibility and it’s still super valuable for the client.
Overall a bookkeeping business has the potential to be extremely flexible and to really work with your lifestyle as long as you set clear expectations up front. So this takes me to the skillset needed. Bookkeeping is probably close to 50% software knowledge, and 50% bookkeeping and tax knowledge. Even though there’s no certification needed in order to start a bookkeeping business, you cannot skimp on the skills needed. This is not something that you can just wing by watching a YouTube video. I took Ben Robinson’s Bookkeeper Launch course in 2017 to start and grow my bookkeeping business and I had zero prior bookkeeping knowledge.
I was a full-time high school history teacher and I went from that to owning my own bookkeeping business in just a few months. I was making $0 of course when I launched the business and I ended up making just over $30,000 my first full year in business, I’ll leave a link for his program below in the Article, definitely check out his program if you’re interested in starting your own bookkeeping business. I also did a full review of Bookkeeper Launch in this Article right here that I highly recommend you read, I have a lot of good feedback from that Article and it’s helped a lot of people make a very educated decision when deciding on the course.
If you don’t take Bookkeeper Launch, I highly recommend that you take some sort of course or have some sort of structured approach to starting your bookkeeping business because really not only do you need to know the bookkeeping knowledge, you need to know the software knowledge and the marketing as well, and Bookkeeper Launch does all three. One of the reasons that I love online businesses is the insane profitability.
When I was doing full-time bookkeeping my overhead was so low, which means I paid an actual boatload in taxes and really still to this day my biggest business expenses are taxes and just furthering my education and investing in myself and the future of my business and other programs and mentorships. Depending on how you structure your bookkeeping biz if you have people working underneath you, or if you’re doing all the bookkeeping yourself, your profit margin could be as high as 70, 75 or even 80% margin, that’s net. This is so crazy, like there’s just not a lot of expenses. And lastly startup costs.
So like I mentioned earlier when you’re starting your own bookkeeping business, a YouTube how to video is not going to cut it. So I would add Bookkeeper Launch or an equivalent course on bookkeeping to the startup cost of starting your own bookkeeping business. In addition to that, you most likely will need a little bit of equipment. I personally started my full-time job as a bookkeeping business owner with Bookkeeper Launch, and a seven year old laptop. That’s it. Eventually I did get other things from my office like a desk and a chair, but you really don’t need a bunch of fancy stuff. You don’t need an official office to even really get started with this business, you can very easily bootstrap this business from the beginning and grow that way.
When you make your own account in QuickBooks Online, you’ll register as an accountant and QBO gives accountants free versions of QuickBooks Online. So even that doesn’t cost you anything, you really only need some sort of program, or course to get you started, I recommend Bookkeeper Launch and some sort of device whether that be a laptop or a desktop computer.
Virtual Assistant Business
My next best online business to start in 2021 is starting a virtual assistant business, or a VA business. Like I mentioned earlier there are so many online businesses that are starting and growing right now, so the demand for virtual assistants is going up as well. You might be wondering, okay, what do virtual assistants do? That sounds very broad and it is. I recommend niching down and focusing on one skill or one need that you specifically feel. Lemme give you some examples.
Maybe that is copywriting, or creating social media posts, doing design work, email campaigns, client onboarding or off-boarding video or audio editing. The list of possible skills are endless. I had a wonderful VA work with me in 2020 as I launched and grew my YouTube channel. And what she did was she repurposed my YouTube videos and created social media posts about the content that I had already made. She posted them to Instagram and Facebook and really all I had to do was tweak and approve them.
Now I’ve transitioned to a VA who helps me edit all my YouTube videos so that I can really focus on my zone of genius which is coaching and creating content. I mentioned earlier that there is a growing demand for VAs and a way to get around the growing competition is to niche down small businesses like myself, solopreneurs who are wearing all the hats and doing all the things, have very specific jobs in mind that we want to outsource to virtual assistants. What I want you to do is pinpoint a specific industry and think about the business owner in that industry.
Let’s take bookkeeping just as an example. A bookkeeping business owner is going to be highly analytical and they do well in the analytics and the data already. They’re most likely not going to want to spend time designing their website, or creating social media posts for their marketing. Again, they’re highly analytical, they want to spend their time doing what they do best which is the numbers. On the other hand, a design company is most likely going to struggle when it comes to systems, procedures, and analytics, they are not gonna wanna spend their time diving into data.
So they may need help setting up communication procedures and systems and nurturing their email lists, things like that. Think about what the business owner does well already and then fill the needs that they most likely have in their business. I still believe that their demand outweighs the competition right now for VAs, but niching down and getting really specific on what you do is gonna give you a huge leg up and help you grow your clientele really, really fast.
Another example of this is how I personally found my YouTube editor. I was having a one-to-one with another YouTuber who is much bigger than me and I asked her for some referrals. See how once you have one skill like video editing, it’s so easy to break into the world of YouTube where all of us need video editors and then you can get connected with other YouTubers who are all looking for the exact same thing. Moving on to flexibility.
So very similar to bookkeeping, the flexibility that you have in a VA business is really going to come down to the clear expectations and standards that you set for yourself and your clients. Are you project based? Is it more of a monthly service, or is it something that you can sit down and batch all in one sitting and then be done for the rest of the month? These are all really important questions to ask yourself as you structure your business.
Obviously it’s great to have the flexibility of being able to work anywhere with a wifi signal, but I also encourage you to have really strong healthy boundaries when it comes to you and your clients because you don’t wanna turn into this on call VA that’s constantly putting out fires for your clients 24/7. The skillset needed is really gonna come down to how much you want to learn, how specific you want to specialize, and how long you have to do all of that. Don’t be afraid to start small and then learn more and more as you go.
For example, you could start by just using Later and Canva to create and schedule social media posts for your clients. Then down the road you can start using Asana for organization and maybe Adobe for editing. Unlike bookkeeping, I think that as a VA you can learn VA skills from online free resources such as YouTube. In addition there’s so many great VA specific Facebook groups that you can join that that are just a huge wealth of information and knowledge.
Very similar to bookkeeping, the profitability of owning a VA business is going to be astronomical. Taxes are most likely going to be your biggest expense, in addition to that, you might have equipment expenses as well as subscriptions for apps and softwares, but nothing crazy, probably just like 10 to $20 a month per subscription when you first start out. Keep in mind that you will need a strong wifi signal as well as a reliable device and that really brings me to startup costs.
The barrier to entry, the startup costs that are holding people back is little to none when it comes to starting a VA business. This is again, even more so than bookkeeping, is business that you can bootstrap from the ground up, and honestly if you had to start a VA business on your phone I think it could be done.
Becoming a Financial Coach
My next best online businesses start in 2021 is becoming a financial coach. I mentioned that I taught high school before I started this business, and being a financial coach is hands down the best job that I have ever had. I truly believe that it is the best job in the world, and the best part is that the world desperately needs more financial coaches. Right now the financial coaching circles are very small, it’s a very tight knit community, which I love, but there’s so many more people that need help and there just simply aren’t enough financial coaches to go around.
So let’s talk competition. There are a lot of part-time and volunteer financial coaches that do it more as a side hustle or a hobby, but not as their full-time career. There’s not a lot of full-time financial coaches and there’s even fewer young full-time financial coaches. There is so much room for growth in this industry and I have personally never found competition to be a hindrance when doing financial coaching.
Very similar to bookkeeping, I don’t think I’ve ever had someone tell me that they’re gonna go with another financial coach, the competition just doesn’t really work that way, but the real competition when it comes to financial coaching is procrastination, lethargy, excuses, that’s the real competition in financial coaching. Moving on to flexibility. I’m sure you’re hearing the theme at this point that it really does depend on your business structure and the expectations that you set between you and your clients.
So for example, as of right now my clients, my financial coaching clients as well as my become a coach clients can message me on Voxer anytime 24/7 and I will get back to them within 24 hours. When we have kids, when our lives progress and it’s not just the two of us anymore, I will probably put much stiffer stipulations on this to give me even more flexibility and even more freedom. Maybe just messaging me between business hours and I have 48 hours to get back to them, or something along those lines.
On the other hand during certain parts of the year I’ll take Fridays and Mondays off my calendar, so my clients see those as blocked off and this gives us a lot of freedom and flexibility to travel and camp. So it really does just come down to what you want your business to look like.
Moving on to skillset. I personally believe that financial coaching has the most advanced skill sets necessary out of all the online businesses that I’m talking about today because not only do they have to have the numbers side of them, they have to be very analytical and at times void of emotion, they also have to have these very intricate interpersonal skills and really be good with people.
Another side of really knowing people and those interpersonal skills is your marketing. After all we’re selling a service to people that struggle with money. So our marketing and really our people skills have to be top notch, or it’s just not going to work. A lot of financial coaches quit because they can’t check all of these boxes. Even I wanted to quit when I was charging my clients $125 a month for coaching and that just wasn’t going to cut it.
And I go into all of those details here on what not to base your prices on as a financial coach. So definitely, definitely check out that video if you’re looking for advice and tips on how to price your coaching services. All that to say financial coaching is such a new industry and there’s very seemingly low barriers to entry, but at the same time we’re seeing a very very high burnout rate.
And that’s exactly why I created my become a coach program, but we’ll get to that in a second. In addition to checking all of those boxes you also as a financial coach need to be practicing what you preach and this doesn’t mean that your finances need to be perfect, I’m not even sure what that would look like or what that means anyway, but you have to be practicing what you preach.
You can’t call your clients to a certain standard that you’re not personally willing to do. You have to put the work in first because you are your first client. When it comes to profitability, again, this is an online business profitability is going to be insane, but the thing about financial coaching and very similar to the bookkeeping business is that these two businesses are way more scalable than a VA business. Lemme give you some examples of what this looks like when it comes to financial coaching.
First, I highly recommend that you start with one-to-one coaching, as you grow your one-to-one coaching is going to get full. When that happens, you can then switch over to group coaching, or a membership or creating a course, and all of those things are going to be so much more scalable than just one-to-one coaching which is essentially trading time for money. These are all so much more scalable than that and you have the capacity then to take on even more clients and change even more lives.
Going even further a financial coach can have many different services when it comes to profitability, you could do workshops online or in-person, speaking gigs, challenges, one-to-one high ticket coaching, group coaching, courses, hybrids, YouTube AdSense, sponsorships, affiliate, marketing, retreats, conferences, et cetera. There’s so many different things that you can do and I just absolutely love the variety of financial coaching. Moving on to startup costs.
I mentioned earlier that there is seemingly low barriers to entry when it comes to becoming a financial coach and that is true, but emphasis on seemingly. This means that there’s no certification, there’s no special software that you have to learn, but if you want to do this in a smart and profitable way, I highly recommend investing in your future financial coaching business and avoid making all of the mistakes that I see coaches make over and over and over again.
In my become a coach program, I take teachers at heart and I help them start and grow their own financial coaching practice the right way so that it is profitable, sustainable, and they get to work with dream clients every single day just like I do. The process that I teach cannot be reverse engineered, you can’t just copy what I’m doing on YouTube and expect that to work for you. That’s not gonna give you five figure months, and copying other people is not what got me to five figure months.
I invested in my business and I trusted mentors and other coaches that are way ahead of where I am now. If you’re thinking, yes, I want to have a financial coaching business like that, I wanna invite you to my free 60 minute pricing workshop for financial coaches and the link is in the description bar below.
In this training, I walk you through step-by-step how to price your services and then sell with integrity and kindness. Pricing your services incorrectly is a surefire way to burn out and quit and I’ve seen this happen to coaches over and over again. There is absolutely no need for that because you can watch this training right now click the link below and you’ll have access to the free 60 minute pricing workshop for financial coaches.
My last online business that I absolutely love is the content creator. More and more platforms online are paying their creators for making high quality viral content. If you are more of a free spirit, if you’re more of a visionary, if you’ve been Reading this Article up to this point and you’re like, bookkeeping, organization, numbers, analytics, all of this sounds absolutely horrendous to me, then this business is for you. Let’s say that type A has never described you, but you still want an online business.
Content creation is a very broad umbrella that can have many lucrative income streams beneath it. Lemme give you some examples. This includes building and monetizing an audience through affiliate marketing, and actually in this Article right here I talk about my experience with affiliate marketing and how I monetize my audience here on YouTube when I had less than 200 subscribers and I made over $1,400 in my first 60 days here on YouTube. I’m telling you guys, this is 100% possible for you.
Other income streams include, YouTube or Google AdSense, sponsorships, brand deals, courses, paid products like Merch, Presets, or print-on-demand books that can be ordered on platforms like Amazon. Print-on-demand books have actually blown the lid off of publishing because now it’s possible to make money writing without having to print a hundred thousand books upfront in order for it to be profitable. How self publishing works is that you are responsible for creating the book and selling it.
Print-on-demand makes this so much easier because the book can be printed only after it has been purchased. No longer do you have to worry about printing several thousand copies of the books upfront and then storing them worrying about inventory, shipping, all of that has been completely done away with. Let’s talk about the competition in the content creator space. I’m not gonna lie to you, this industry is crowded. Even though it is new, the content creator space is saturated.
As with all the other online businesses niching down can really help you sidestep that saturation and find where you fit into the market. Hiring and working with a coach, doing lots and lots of market research and ultimately testing the market are all great ways to make sure that you settle on a profitable part of the market and that your time and money is not wasted. Even though it’s crowded, there are new people blowing up on YouTube all the time and there’s people that are starting to travel blog and they’re making it, they’re making their full time job traveling.
Oh, this one is so hard because I wanna tell you to go for it, I wanna tell you that you can do it, but I also don’t wanna sugar coat how hard this really is going to be for you in such a crowded space. I think the most responsible advice that I can give you is to pursue this, but don’t quit your day job. Don’t step out of that security, do this, but do it in the most risk averse way possible. I love, love, love the flexibility that the content creator has.
This is again for the free spirit, the visionary who wants to travel, who wants to have fun and do things that they enjoy and not necessarily have their paycheck directly tied to those activities. Lemme explain. Let’s say that you traveled to Australia for YouTube content. You love filming, and you outsource the editing. Meanwhile, you are earning passively while you are gone, number one through YouTube AdSense, depending on how big your channel is this could be a couple thousand a month to tens of thousands a month, but keep in mind, you have to have a thousand subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in order to be monetized so it does take time.
Number two could be course sales. You have a course on how to get monetized on YouTube, or how to start a blogging channel, or how to travel to remote places et cetera. Number three, let’s say you’re also earning Google AdSense because you pay someone to repurpose your blog content into a blog and you advertise on that. Number four, let’s say you’re earning affiliate income every month from what you use and advertise to your audience. And number five maybe you also have merch or a book that people can buy, that also happens passively in the background.
That’s five just like right off the top of my head, but there’s literally so many other passive income streams that can be built around creating content for people. My big point that I wanna make with content creation as a career is that it is a long game. You are not gonna start off making five figure months, this is a lot of planning and a lot of work in the making, but time and energy invested in setting up passive income streams will reap huge rewards down the road for you. That also covers profitability.
I would definitely give five out of five stars for profitability because of the passive income nature of content creation, plus it’s 100% scalable. Let’s talk about the skills needed as well as the startup costs. So there’s a lot of influencers out there today that got their big break from Vine back in the day, or from TikTok more recently, but just because you go viral once or go viral a couple of times does not mean that this is magically monetized for you, and it does not mean that you can make a career out of it. I’m a little biased I know, but I believe in the power of coaching.
So I personally, if I was gonna go down this path would hire a coach to help me understand monetization and how to monetize and grow an audience. I’ve talked about this in a few of my other Articles, but it is so much better to be consistent than it is to be lucky. If you have a coach, if you have the strategy and you’re working to be consistent on multiple platforms, when the luck comes when your big break comes, you’ll be ready, but don’t just sit around and wait and try to go viral.
Read More >>> How to make money online fast
That’s not a strategy don’t do that, it will end up greatly disappointing you. Startup costs. There is going to be such a huge range when it comes to startup costs for a content creator. I literally started my YouTube channel with a GoPro that we already have that I still use today and a microphone that I had purchased because I was guest starring on multiple podcasts. I literally just started with stuff that I already had and I think that’s the point here, start with what you have. Don’t go and invest thousands of dollars into the best equipment, and then you feel the pressure to really make something crazy happen.
Read More >>> Tech gadgets update news
Just start with what you have and grow from there. Make sure that you like it and make sure that it is profitable before you go and invest a lot of money into equipment. Remember, it’s just a hobby until you start making money from it. Those are my best online businesses to start in 2021. I’m curious to know what online business are you most likely to start? Is it one that I listed in this Article, or is it something else? Lemme know below in the comment section, as always if you guys got value out of this Article don’t forget to smash the like button as well as subscribe to my website and I’ll see you in the next one guys.