Last updated on September 11th, 2023 at 10:25 am
Wondering how to start an online business in South Africa?
In this article, I will walk you through all the steps you need to actualize your online dreams and start making money as soon as possible.
To make it even sweeter for you, I will throw in some of the best and most profitable online business ideas in South Africa.
And to make it more actionable for you, I will use examples on each step from the ideas I will give you.
Sounds interesting enough?
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Table of Contents
What’s an online business in South Africa?
I know what you are thinking;
Who doesn’t know what an online business is, but wait for a second.
Without a clear definition of what we are talking about, it is easier to be lost in the woods.
In fact, this is the exact reason why you’ve been kicking tires and not getting anywhere with your dreams.
And why you are here seeking to understand how to start an online business in South Africa.
As per the dictionary, an online business is any kind of business or transaction executed over the internet.
From this alone, you can a lot about online business;
First, you need a transaction.
This is where the business ideas come in.
The second part is about the internet. This is the medium upon which your transactions will be based upon.
And that is why you need a reliable internet connection to get your ambitions up.
Now, there is an invisible part that is so important to the online business venture.
Well, without it, I don’t care how great your business idea is, or how fast your internet connection is, you are bound to fail.
So what is it?
Well, it is about the target audience.
I will talk more about this later on, but for now, just know that without the right audience, your ideas are worthless.
Why online business in South Africa?
Why is everyone rushing to start an online business?
What is it about it that is so attractive?
To say the least, running an online business is the ultimate dream maker.
You will understand this if you have an offline business (that electronics shop, a grocery store, and such), also known as brick and mortar business.
See, with such a business, you are required to show up every day for at least 7 hours to make money.
Forget all that with an online business.
You will be open for business 24/7/365.
And yes, you can be making money while you.
How about expertise?
Well, you can start an online business and not do any work.
Yes, you can outsource all the work to be done by experts who understand more about the area.
And one more thing;
You don’t need any capital to start an online business in South Africa, well, not all of them though. Some businesses will require a minimal investment upfront.
Profitable business ideas in South Africa
Your online business is as good as the idea you are chasing.
This means that businesses are not the same. Some make money fast, while others take some time and a little effort for you to see the ROI (Return on Investment).
Question is, how do you know what business idea to pursue?
As Warren Buffett, the best investor of all time, once said, you learn through mistakes, but it doesn’t have to be your own.
By looking at what others are succeeding in, you start to see a pattern emerging. And you almost instantly know that there must be a reason why they are doing so.
Now, based on what everyone is succeeding on, here are some of the best online business ideas to start now in South Africa.
Blogging comes from a blog.
A blog is a website or a web page.
Blogging, therefore, is the art of posting articles or sharing opinions on a blog (website).
To start blogging in South Africa, you need two things;
- A website – To get a website, you need a domain name. Go here and read a guide on how to start a website in South Africa
- A topic – they call it a blogging niche. It is essentially the topic you will be writing about.
With all these sets, all you now need is smart work and consistency.
How to make money blogging in South Africa
The reason for starting an online business is to make money, right?
There are so many ways to make money through a website in South Africa, and here are some of them.
- Offering advertisements – you can sell ad spaces on your blog through AdSense or directly to companies
- Accept post sponsorships – here, people pay you to post articles on your website reviews – get paid to review products
- Consulting – you can offer your services to clients through a website
- Selling leads – you can collect leads and sell them to companies, see below for more on this.
There are more ways to make money blogging in South Africa.
Every business needs customers to survive.
Too bad it is a struggle for some companies to generate leads consistently, which is where you come in.
You can start a website targeting those people looking for moving services. Collect their details and sell them to moving companies.
It is a lucrative business because the leads can be generated automatically on your website.
And when you wake up, call the companies asking them who wants new customers.
As an affiliate marketer, your job will be to promote other people’s products and services.
And in return, they pay you in commissions, as a thank you for sending them paying customers.
Sign up for our affiliate marketing program and get a 10% commission on every customer you point our way.
You will get a unique affiliate link.
This is what will help us attribute the sales to you, and then getting paid eventually.
Once you have the link, start sharing everywhere you can, but remember to be strategic.
Social media consultancy
Your job here will be to help companies achieve their business goals through social media.
All you have to do is understand what they wish to achieve.
Once you have that, sit down and draw a plan on how to use social media to get that.
If their goal is to generate more revenue through social media, you can draw strategies like using Facebook ads to drive more sales.
Now, as for the money, you can agree on a retainer basis plus commissions, or one-off payment, whichever works best for you.
That is exactly what it sounds like.
You are someone’s assistant, but instead of sitting at the front desk, you are in your house.
Here, you will be helping busy entrepreneurs get some work done remotely.
And in return, you get paid per hour.
To get started, you need skills that people are willing to pay for. Such skills include social media management, content creation, and others.
Once you have the skills, the next step is looking for clients.
Now, these are some of the most profitable online business ideas in South Africa.
I say ‘some’ because the list is long, and couldn’t get all of them here without making this guide on how to start an online business in South Africa long and boring.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how to venture into these businesses.
How to start an online business in South Africa
Once you have an idea, here are steps you can take to turn it into a real business.
Step #1: Find an idea
Well, just adding this to make sure you get it.
A business idea is a must-have.
And as we mentioned, not all business ideas are the same; some make money fast, while others take time to generate results.
To find that better idea, look at the competition.
You don’t have to come up with a completely new idea no one has ever heard of.
In fact, if you find an idea and there is no one already doing it, ditch it like hot coal.
Competition is a sign there is a market and money to be made.
Step #2: Find the market/audience
I know you will be tempted to go directly to executing the idea.
Well, not so fast cowboy!
First, assess if there is a real demand for the product or service you want to start.
If you are starting a blog about online trading in South Africa, go online and see if anyone is looking for answers.
To do that, you can use tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest.
With no audience, you don’t have a business.
Step #3: Conduct competitive analysis
As mentioned, competition is a good thing when you want to start an online business in South Africa.
You get to prove that the idea is viable, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there, right?
Secondly, you get to learn from their mistakes.
If you are going after virtual assistants business in South Africa, you can look at what others are charging and their skills.
Also, they help you tailor your pitch to fit the target market.
On the other hand, for blogging, you can look at the keywords the competitors are ranking for, and then target them as well to rank alongside them.
Step #4: Have a business plan
Without a plan, you are planning to fail.
Yes, even an online business in South Africa requires a plan.
If you are going after blogging in South Africa, your plan should include things like a content plan (article ideas you will be publishing).
Step #5: Get a website and domain
An online business is conducted over the internet.
Depending on the business you are going after, you will need a website.
In this guide on how to start an online business in South Africa, a website is a must-have if you need the best and fast results.
A virtual assistant business will require a website where you showcase your skills to potential clients.
On the flip side, as an affiliate, you don’t need a website. But having one gives you the power to take control of your revenue.
You can implement conversion optimization strategies to increase the chances of your visitors clicking on the links, thus making you more money.
Truth is, you cannot do that if you don’t have your website.
Step #6: Go legal
If you take one thing from this guide on how to start an online business in South Africa, take this;
You will need to operate a legal online business.
So make sure you understand the law governing online businesses in South Africa.
This way you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law.
If you are starting an online store in South Africa, you will need licenses and permits.
Things like registering for taxes and other legalities.
Just take care of them before you proceed.
What to do next
As mentioned, you need;
You have everything you need to start an online business in South Africa.