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How to Start an Online Business from Scratch: A 5-Step, No-Nonsense Guide

How to Start an Online Business from Scratch: 5 Straightforward Steps

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of how to start an online business from scratch, let’s clear the air. This guide is not a get-rich-quick scheme, nor is it riddled with scammy tactics. Instead, it’s a comprehensive, five-step success blueprint based on real-life experience and proven strategies that work in 2024 and beyond, especially in the AI era.

If you’re serious about starting an online business from scratch and are willing to put in the time and effort, this guide will set you on the path to financial freedom within 6 to 12 months. Not only will you receive a detailed roadmap, but you’ll also have access to free support along the way to ensure you stay on track.

We strongly recommend that you check out our guide on how to take advantage of AI in today’s passive income economy.

Step 1: Choose Your Niche

The first step to start an online business from scratch is to determine what you’re going to sell or provide. Instead of focusing on passion or market demand, ask yourself this simple question: What problem have you solved in your own life?

Many people face similar challenges, and they’re willing to pay for a solution. Whether you’ve successfully lost weight, cured an illness with natural remedies, or found a way to boost productivity, you can package that experience and sell it as a product or service.

If you haven’t encountered any significant problems in your life, it might be time to step outside your comfort zone, gain more life experience, and then return to the idea of starting an online business from scratch.

Step 2: Create Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Once you’ve identified the problem you’ve solved, it’s time to create your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is where you package the solution into an easy-to-test and quickly-launchable product.

Your MVP doesn’t need to be an extensive book, a lengthy course, or a complex software. It can be as simple as a template, a 30-minute tutorial, or a concise PDF. The key is to provide value and solve the problem effectively.

Example of an MVP

A great example of an MVP is the free resource “Scaling Your Solopreneur Business,” created in partnership with Hopspot. This guide covers essential topics for one-person businesses, such as:

  • Developing a successful solopreneur mindset
  • Building important partnerships
  • Documenting your journey
  • Acquiring crucial skills
  • Utilizing a business growth checklist

This resource serves as an excellent example of how an MVP can provide value to your target audience while promoting your brand.

Creating Your MVP in the AI Era

In the AI era, creating an MVP has become more efficient than ever. With the right tools and knowledge, you can create an MVP in a matter of hours or even less. AI can automate a significant portion of the technical and practical processes, saving you valuable time and resources.

To harness the power of AI in creating your MVP, consider exploring AI agents and automated AI-powered systems for content creation and research. These tools can revolutionize the way you start an online business from scratch.

Step 3: Choose Your Path to Sell Your MVP

When it comes to selling your MVP, you have two options: the short, expensive path or the longer, less expensive path. While both paths require investment, the longer path is the one that will help you build a stable, sustainable online business.

The Short, Expensive Path

The short path involves promoting your product through paid advertising. While this can generate quick results, it can also be costly, especially for beginners who may end up wasting money without seeing a significant return on investment.

Moreover, relying solely on paid advertising means that your business is only generating sales when ads are running. This approach fails to create a stable, passive income stream, which should be the goal when you start an online business from scratch.

The Longer, Less Expensive Path

The longer path requires consistency, time, and effort, but it’s the surest way to build a stable online business that generates passive income. Instead of paying for ads, you’ll invest your energy into creating valuable content and promoting your product organically.

While this path may take 6 to 12 months to yield significant results, it’s an investment you won’t regret. By following this approach, you’ll create a business that generates income even while you sleep, providing a reliable foundation for your financial future.

Step 4: Select Your Platforms and Create Content

To start an online business from scratch successfully, focus on two platforms that best fit your niche. Some popular options include YouTube, Medium, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. To help you choose the most suitable platforms, consult the resource provided in the description below.

Once you’ve selected your platforms, start creating valuable content for your target audience. Remember, in the AI era, you can create one piece of content and repurpose it across different platforms, saving you time and effort.

Content Repurposing with AI

For example, if you create a video for your YouTube channel, you can use AI to transcribe the script and turn it into a Medium post, a blog article, or even a series of tweets. By focusing on content repurposing, you can maximize your reach and impact without spending countless hours creating new content from scratch.

Promoting Your Product Within Your Content

As you provide free value to your audience through your content, make sure to mention your product in a natural, contextual way. This indirect promotion strategy allows you to showcase your expertise and guide interested readers to your premium offerings.

For instance, within a blog post or video about a specific topic, you can include a sentence like, “For a more in-depth exploration and additional examples, consider my course on [topic].” This subtle promotion helps your audience discover your products without feeling like they’re being sold to aggressively.

Step 5: Implement Email Marketing

Email marketing is a crucial aspect of building a stable online business. As you create content and provide value to your audience, make sure to start collecting email addresses. This allows you to build a list of engaged subscribers who are interested in your niche and products.

To entice people to join your email list, create a lead magnet – a free, valuable resource that complements your main product. This can be a mini-course, an eBook, a template, or any other useful tool that your target audience would find helpful.

The Importance of Building an Email List

Building an email list is essential for two main reasons:

  1. Ownership: Unlike social media platforms, where your account can be banned or suspended at any time, your email list is an asset that you own and control. No one can take it away from you.
  2. Reach: With email, you can reach every single subscriber directly, without relying on algorithms or hoping that your content appears in their feed. This ensures that your audience receives your messages and stays engaged with your brand.

Once you’ve started building your email list, maintain an active relationship with your subscribers by sending weekly newsletters packed with valuable content. This keeps your audience engaged and reminds them of the free value they receive from you, making them more likely to invest in your paid products or services.

Growing Your Online Business

As you progress through steps 3, 4, and 5, you’ll naturally start to grow your online business. Keep providing value to your audience and focus on attracting people who are genuinely interested in your niche and offerings.

Remember, having 500 engaged followers who love your work is far better than having 1 million random followers spread across different niches. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to building a stable, profitable online business.

Scaling Your Business

After 4-6 months of consistently providing value and growing your audience, it’s time to scale your business and take your journey to start an online business from scratch to the next level. This may involve creating additional products, offering new services, building a website, developing tools, or expanding to new platforms, all of which are crucial steps when you start an online business from scratch.

One effective scaling strategy is to create a comprehensive package that combines a tool, a product, and community access (such as a Discord server or forum) for a monthly recurring fee. This model allows you to generate a stable, predictable income stream while providing ongoing value to your customers, ensuring the long-term success of your efforts to start an online business from scratch.

The Five Golden Rules of Online Business Success

To succeed in your journey to start an online business from scratch, follow these five golden rules:

  1. Honesty: Always be truthful in your marketing, testimonials, and reviews. Authenticity is key to building trust with your audience.
  2. Uniqueness: Embrace your unique perspective and voice. Don’t worry about others creating similar content or products; focus on delivering your message in your own way.
  3. Time Management: Set a specific time frame for your work and stick to it. Whether you have 2 hours or 4 hours a day to dedicate to your business, use that time wisely and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  4. Support: Seek out free support from communities and forums where you can connect with like-minded individuals. Having a support system can help you stay motivated and overcome challenges.
  5. AI Utilization: Leverage AI tools as your assistant in every step of your business. From content creation to research and automation, AI can save you countless hours and help you start an online business from scratch more efficiently.


Starting an online business from scratch in 2024 and beyond is an exciting opportunity, especially in the AI era. By following the five-step success blueprint outlined in this guide, you can build a stable, profitable business that generates passive income and sets you on the path to financial freedom.

Remember to focus on providing value to your audience, leveraging AI tools to streamline your processes, and staying true to the five golden rules of online business success. With consistency, effort, and a willingness to learn, you can start an online business from scratch and achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.


What is the easiest online business to start?

The easiest online business to start is one that leverages your existing skills and knowledge. Some popular options include:

  • Freelancing (writing, graphic design, web development, etc.)
  • Online coaching or consulting
  • Creating and selling digital products (eBooks, courses, templates)
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Drop-shipping

The key is to choose a niche that aligns with your expertise and interests, as this will make it easier to create valuable content and products for your target audience.

What kind of online business is most profitable?

The profitability of an online business depends on various factors, such as your niche, target audience, and marketing strategies. However, some of the most profitable online business models include:

  • SaaS (Software as a Service)
  • Online courses and coaching
  • E-commerce (particularly with private label or unique products)
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Subscription-based services

It’s essential to focus on providing value to your customers and building a loyal audience, as this will contribute to the long-term profitability of your online business.

Is there any online business that pays?

Yes, many online businesses generate income for their owners. Some examples include:

  • Freelancing platforms (Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer)
  • Online marketplaces (Etsy, Amazon, eBay)
  • Affiliate programs (Amazon Associates, ShareASale, ClickBank)
  • Ad-supported content platforms (YouTube, blogs with Google AdSense)
  • Online courses and coaching platforms (Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific)

The key to earning money with an online business is to provide value to your customers, build a strong brand, and consistently market your products or services.

Can I create an online store for free?

Yes, there are several platforms that allow you to create an online store for free, such as:

  • WooCommerce (a free WordPress plugin)
  • Shopify (offers a 14-day free trial)
  • BigCommerce (offers a 15-day free trial)
  • Square Online (offers a free plan with limited features)
  • Wix eCommerce (offers a limited free plan)

Keep in mind that while these platforms offer free plans, you may need to pay for additional features, plugins, or themes to fully customize your online store. Additionally, you’ll need to factor in costs for domain registration, hosting, and payment processing fees.

When starting an online store, it’s essential to research your target audience, choose the right products, and create a user-friendly, visually appealing website to attract and retain customers.

We strongly recommend that you check out our guide on how to take advantage of AI in today’s passive income economy.