“If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” –Bill Gates
In 2022, this statement carries even more weight in Uganda. Businesses have gone so digital that anyone with a computer can start a business from anywhere nowadays.
Uganda has been slow to embrace online business, but this is fast changing. Although the possibility of running a business online may sound attractive, success lies in identifying the right business for you.
This simple guide shows you the top 20 online business ideas from which you can adopt.
Why you should start an online business
People in Uganda start-up online businesses for several reasons. Below are a few reasons why you should start one.
Earn extra income
Online business is one of the few things you can adopt as a side hustle to get you that extra cash. If you play your cards right, often you can make enough to quit your day job.
Low setup fees
The beauty of online business is the absence of store costs. Since it is online, you need not worry about finding the right space, paying rent, etc. It is, therefore becomes very easy and cheap to start.
The flexibility that online business grants you is unmatched. Static work hours rules do not apply to you. You only work as and when you need to. This flexibility also makes it possible to execute, even while holding a regular day job.
The internet has opened businesses to the world. When you run a business online, your audience is not limited to only Kampala or Ugandans. You can serve customers across the region and beyond.
The business you decide to engage in should depend on two significant factors.
Your expertise and passion; It is essential to sell a service or offering you know. This way, you can better serve customers and offer help when they have questions. It also reduces the likelihood that you will quit when things get tough.
Time investment: Some online businesses are more demanding than others. Ideally, it is best to go for one that works for your schedule and then grow it as time goes by.
Profitable ideas for an online business in Uganda
1. Graphic design
With businesses moving their operations online, there’s an increased need for graphics. If you are a graphics designer familiar with programs like Photoshop, and Illustrator, you can make a killing by selling your design work and services online.
You need to set up a website and social media pages and have an attractive portfolio to draw clients. Potential clients need proof that you can do the job well, so samples of your work and customer reviews will help your credibility.
With graphics design, you can choose to run your business as a freelancer or sell your work on content platforms like ArtWeb.
2. Social media marketing
Wouldn’t it be great to get paid to be on social media all day? More businesses are joining social media by the day. If you have the skills to manage social media platforms, it can be a great way to make money online.
You will need skills like photography, video editing, copywriting, etc. Market your social media services, get a few clients, and start working.
You stand better chances if you have some experience, some customer testimonials, and of course, tangible results.
3. Blogging/ Writing
Content creation has become an immensely sought-after skill. Businesses want to be found online. If you have the skills and experience in writing SEO- optimized content, you can offer your services to businesses at a fee. You can do this as a freelancer or create an online content agency. You will often get paid according to your experience and quality of work.
4. Affiliate marketing
Under the affiliate business model, you earn a commission for marketing another person’s product on your website.
When you sign up for an affiliate program, you get a link you use on your site. When someone clicks and buys through your link, you earn a commission. The more valuable the product is the higher your commission.
Pro tip: only work with products that are related to your niche. Otherwise, you come off as spam, and people will be less inclined to trust your opinions or recommendations.
Note that some affiliate programs are not as lucrative. Therefore, you must take your time to identify programs with the most value.
5. App development
The digital era has created a massive demand for software products. If coding and other software skills are your things, you might want to turn that into an online business.
Different companies need specialized apps but do not have the internal resources to develop them. So, set up your app development business online and do the work for them at a handsome fee. Your experience is critical to getting clients.
6. Website development
Every business now needs a website. If you have the coding skills to build websites, luck is on your side. Companies are willing to pay up to UGX 2,000,000 for a well-designed responsive website.
You must be very creative, create a stellar portfolio, and offer excellent customer service to get those clients in. Initially, you might depend heavily on customer testimonials and referrals.
7. Selling physical products
Nowadays, people often look online for products they want to buy, more so on social media. Therefore, having your products visible online positions you to tap into this crowd and generate sales. Products you can sell online include:
Pick a niche, find the products you want to sell, and start your online business. The critical elements for success with this model are customer service and delivery. If you can offer your customers a pleasant experience, they will likely recommend you, thus bringing in more clients.
Also, note that competition is high in Uganda for these businesses, so you need to differentiate yours.
8. Business consultancy
If you are a skilled and qualified expert in a specific field, you may consider offering remote consultancy services. The options here are endless. A few you might consider:
Market entry strategies
Running a consultancy business online in Uganda requires you to have a stellar track record and certified qualifications to get companies to trust you.
You will, therefore, need as many customer testimonials as possible. Furthermore, invest in a quality website and branding to increase your credibility.
9. Online IT/ Technical service provider
Almost every company uses technology. However, not all of them have the needed resources to hire an in-house IT expert. So, if you have IT skills, this is an opportunity for you to make money remotely. You can create an IT consultancy and maintenance firm and remotely handle IT support for companies. You can choose to work as a freelancer or gather a team(recommended).
10. Craft retailer
If you have some art and craft skills, you can make money selling them online. Crafts could include pottery, handmade jewelry, apparel design, etc. Since Ugandan customers are increasingly looking for unique pieces, they are most likely to be interested. Your main task will be to differentiate your business and set the right prices. It is also essential to massively promote your business, especially on social media. You may sell your products yourself or use third-party marketplaces like Jumia.
11. Market research
Market research data is a significant driver for many projects in today’s business world. However, such information is often time-consuming, and companies do not have adequate resources to do it in-house.
With your research skills and time, you can gather and provide this information for them at a handsome fee. Additionally, you may also create a database and charge users for access to it.
To be successful, you must provide in-depth, comprehensive work that anyone cannot easily find.
12. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is growing more lucrative. Currently, marketers are shifting focus to micro-influencers. These are influencers with 1-100k highly engaged followers.
The trend means if you have a sizeable social media following, you can easily make money promoting brands on your page. You no longer need to have a Kim Kardashian-like status.
The model can also help you develop your marketing skills over time.
13. Virtual assistant
If you are organized and have internet access, a virtual assistant business could be for you.
A lot of business executives and small firms need help running their day-to-day administrative tasks. However, they often do not require an in-house employee.
You can choose to run your virtual assistant business as a freelancer or assemble a team of other assistants to handle multiple clients at a time.
14. Online tutoring & coaching
People need coaches, training programs, and online tutors. It could be professionals seeking to upgrade their skills or acquire new information. Sometimes parents look for online teachers to give their children extra classes.
Whatever your area of expertise, there is room to share your knowledge at a fee. Initially, this may be slow, and you’ll have to depend on referrals until you create a reputable brand. However, when you do, the returns are worth it.
15. Career services
Job hunting can be quite tasking. As such, many people are willing to pay for insider information and insights to help them get their desired jobs and further their careers. Your services can include resume writing, and career coaching, among others. However, you need to heavily market your business and also create a portfolio of happy clients.
16. Translation services
If you are multilingual, you could start a language or translation business. International companies are always looking for individuals like you to translate documents, and marketing information. You can start this as a freelancer or even hire a team of translators covering different languages.
17. Online recruiting
You could start a business to help employers find the right candidates for job openings. It is like a recruitment agency, but online. With this model, you earn commissions when positions get filled with the desired candidate.
18. Mobile services
Services you can sell online include cleaning services, mowing, fumigation, massages, etc.
Gone are the days when you must go door to door or put endless posters to advertise your services. More people now use the internet to search for service providers.
You can run your services business online, market your content, and get more customers. Under this model, you take orders online, then deliver the services based on appointments.
19. Video creation and marketing
Video marketing is on the rise. Since it is so time-consuming, companies often outsource this activity. If making videos is your specialty, this can be a very profitable business to start. You only need the right video content tools and an internet connection. Online, clients can pay $1000 or more for 2-minute videos, depending on the style.
20. E-commerce store
An online store is relatively easy and cheap to set up than a traditional brick-and-mortar store. You can create your products and sell them on sites like Jumia, Masikini, etc.
Alternatively, you can sell other people’s products on these sites, also known as dropshipping. The most critical task is marketing your business. It can be easy or more challenging, depending on your niche. Thankfully, there is lots of information available to help you out.
Ecommerce stores also allow you to focus on a particular niche and thus reach the right customers. To start, you only need an eCommerce website with an integrated cart. If you are dropshipping, you will probably need a dropshipping company like Wholesale2B, Oberlo, etc.
Since much of the population now has access to the internet, starting an online business in Uganda currently presents countless opportunities.
This article presents just a few easy-to-start ideas you can use. You need to identify what niche you are interested in and what business models you can apply to begin your operations. Good luck.