Updated 22.02.2023

Top 10 Online Business Ideas and Opportunities in South Africa 2023

As the number of internet users continues to grow, there are more opportunities than ever for South Africans to make money from online businesses.

Many South Africans are choosing to start their own business, whether full-time or part-time business model, they are using the internet to make an income.  With the support of their friends and family, they are turning their small business ideas into a booming reality.

To start a business after working hours is now a common trend. With a side business, you can test the waters before you commit to it completely. There are several business opportunities in South Africa to explore.  If you find the right online business idea, you can some serious money, allowing you to make the positive lifestyle changes you and your family deserve.

Top 10 Online Business Opportunities in 2023

Here are the top ten online business opportunities and ideas that you can start right away in South Africa:

# Become a virtual assistant

Thanks to technology, you don’t need to report to an office to do a job. Many people are taking advantage of this by starting a home-based business. It cuts down on transport costs and allows a degree of flexibility a conventional job won’t.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners utilise the services of virtual assistants as they don’t require full-time employees. Virtual assistants can do a variety of jobs, such as scheduling appointments, opening and responding to emails and research. You might need to report to the business premises sometimes to collect documents for filing or typing, but you’ll do most of your work from home.

virtual assistant

Employers pay a virtual personal assistant by the hour and can save on labour costs. It allows the employer to utilise the time and skills of other employees for other core business functions.

Advertise your services on social media and freelancing platforms to find work. Freelancing sites allow employers to rate your performance, so doing good work builds your reputation and makes you an attractive prospect.

ALSO LEARN: Top 7 Best Small Business Funding Resources in South Africa

# Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is growing at rapid speeds in South Africa. An affiliate marketer makes money by finding potential customers online for an affiliate program, usually a product or service. If the customer decides to buy that product or service via the affiliate link, the marketer will make a commission from each sale. This can be an effective marketing strategy for service providers.

services of a pet sitter

As more South Africans are coming online, they are spending more time searching the web for reviews and information about products and services. If you are able to provide some value in helping other people in coming to a buying decision, they are more likely to visit your site and make the purchase via your affiliate link – resulting in commission to you!

You can also use your social media accounts to help drive sales to products and services via influencer marketing. You should only link to items that you genuinely think are valuable / useful otherwise you are at risk of damaging your personal reputation.

# Go with graphic design

Now that just about everything is digital, the demand for graphic designers is growing. Few large companies utilise the services of a full-time graphic designer. Even these organisations hire freelance graphic designers who work part-time. Small businesses do the same but on a smaller scale.

To start a graphic design business, it’s best to obtain a qualification first. There are several online courses you can choose from, depending on your preference and budget. A graphic designer needs to have a creative streak as well as sound computer skills.

You need to be familiar with the relevant software so that you can do the layout and design of adverts, magazines, reports and logos. To distinguish yourself from other graphic designers, you should offer a unique style that is captivating and memorable.

You can advertise your services on freelance platforms. Start with small projects to prepare yourself for larger ones. This is also the ideal business opportunity to start off after hours until you build up a client base and enough work to go full-time.

# Keep it clean

There is a growing demand for house cleaning services. Some people don’t want to employ a domestic helper who comes in a few days a week. Instead, they prefer to hire a cleaning service that comes in weekly, fortnightly or monthly and cleans the house from top to bottom.

To offer a quality, efficient service, you’ll need a capable team of workers. At first, you’ll need to do a lot of the work yourself to save costs. This is an excellent business opportunity for you to enter into with friends or family members.

House cleaning is hard work, and every member of the team must pull their weight. Otherwise, you won’t be able to deliver the services you promise. People are very particular about their houses and quick to complain if they don’t feel your work is up to scratch. You cannot afford to get negative online reviews.

Save money by buying cleaning products in bulk. You’ll also have transport so that you can travel to clients’ homes with your equipment without relying on public transport, which will often make you late.

# Let your fingers do the talking: freelance writing

The language of business in South Africa is English. This is despite the fact that it is one of the minority languages in the country. It comes as no surprise that many business owners with incredible products and services struggle to sell them due to a lack of English skills. Even people who speak English as their first language don’t necessarily have a flair for creative and business writing.

become freelance writer

If you think you’ve got the writing skills that business owners need, you can set up a freelance writing business. There is a growing market for online content writing. Companies run websites that need blogposts. They also need product descriptions, landing pages, emails and newsletters.

Writing of a poor standard reflects poorly on a business. However, few small companies can afford the services of a full-time writer. Instead, they prefer to use freelancers. The advantage of being a freelance writer is that you can work as much or as little as you like. You’ll be required to write about a wide range of topics in persuasive language aimed at getting the attention of prospective customers.

# Keep the grass greener on the other side with a lawncare business

Homes, housing complexes and office parks have gardens that include areas of grass. Tending to a lawn is time-consuming and requires a degree of expertise.

You need to know how to use a lawnmower and a Weedeater properly. When the equipment is supplied, you’ll need to be familiar with the use of petrol and electric machines. There’s nothing worse than uneven edges and lawn that’s been hacked by an incorrectly set lawnmower.

lawncare business

Few people have time to look after their lawns at home, and businesses engage garden services to take care of the grass. You can enter this business as well. Homeowners are reluctant to allow teams of strangers from a garden service to access their property. They want to know and trust the person who works in their garden.

Start small by doing much of the work yourself in your immediate neighbourhood. As you develop a good reputation, you can expand your business. It’s easier if you supply your own equipment. Approach a bank or microlender with a sound business plan to secure financing to help you buy the equipment you need.

# Online coach / personal trainer

With the sedentary lifestyles we lead, many South Africans have become overweight and have started experiencing health complications as a result. One of the best treatments for a variety of obesity-related illnesses is exercise. The younger generation is more exercise conscious than their older relatives. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the gyms were shut and people took to training remotely via webcam and online classes.

freelancing as a personal trainer

A lot of people are relying on personal trainers to help them get and stay fit. They don’t know enough about what types of exercises they should be doing. That’s where you can put your fitness expertise to work.

You can find out online about certification as a personal trainer, which might be required before you can start your own business.

By becoming an online coach you can help make sure your clients are sticking to their fitness goals both in terms of diet and exercise.

# The rise of social media marketing

Most of today’s marketing takes place on social media. Companies use different platforms for advertising their goods and services. Social media marketing allows them to reach a wider target audience. Carefully worded adverts with quality images and videos drive sales in the online world.

social media marketing business

If you know a lot about social media and have some writing skills, you could consider starting a social media marketing business. Few small businesses can hire a full-time social media marketer. However, if they don’t make use of one, their marketing campaign might not be successful. Marketing is a strategic process that is as much of a science as it is an art.

Handing their marketing over to an expert is a wise move a business owner won’t regret. As a freelancer, you can charge an hourly rate. In return, you create social media posts on different platforms and post them online.

The advantage of working on social media is that you can post anywhere at any time. This fact makes it the ideal side hustle to work on after hours.

# Online property management

With the number of apartment buildings, townhouse and cluster complexes that exist in South Africa, there is ample opportunity for you to pursue property management. As a property manager, you take over some of a landlord’s responsibilities. This allows them to focus on finding and housing tenants.

property management business

As a property manager, you’ll need to play a part in collecting late rent, and you might even need to facilitate an eviction. You also need to be available to undertake minor maintenance or repairs. This could mean fixing them yourself or outsourcing the work to companies the landlord has pre-approved. The property manager also deals with tenant complaints before forwarding them to the landlord.

Hiring a property manager is ideal for owners who don’t live near the rental property and have limited time to deal with their tenants. You can negotiate your terms with the property owner. As a rule, you’re entitled to a percentage of the rent you’re responsible for collecting. In a complex, with a landlord that owns multiple units, you might be able to secure yourself rent-free accommodation.

# Selling products online

E-commerce in South Africa continues to grow at an increasing rate. You can benefit from this growth by selling products online, this could be your own handmade products or anything at all for that matter.

become a dog walkers
Image Source: Daily Gazette

However, people still choose to keep pets, such as dogs. These animals need frequent exercise. Living in a small garden limits their opportunity to do so. Most pet owners take their dogs out walking or running so that they and their four-legged friends can stay fit and healthy. What limits their ability to do so is time. With full-time jobs, pet owners find themselves unable to provide their dogs with the exercise they need.

This has resulted in a rising demand for dog walkers. They collect the dogs and take them out on a walk a few times a week. A lot of dog walkers take on multiple clients, taking all the dogs out together. Of course, this only works when all the dogs get along with each other and behave themselves!

Dog walking is popular among scholars and students looking to earn some extra cash. They can work flexible hours and still have time for their studies.

The bottom line

As demonstrated by this list, the focus of small business opportunities in South Africa is service-related. Whereas they were, in the past, reluctant to complain about poor service, South Africans are becoming more outspoken about it. They expect to get value for their hard-earned cash.

You might start a business offering similar services and prices to your competition. What will set you apart from everyone else is the quality of the service you deliver. Your work should be exceptional, and you should be able to adhere to times and deadlines. These are the two vital ingredients for small business success.

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