Finding the Right Online Business Model

When you think about Internet businesses, what comes to mind?

Maybe you think about Amazon.com. Amazon, more than just about any other business on the Internet, shows the true potential of the Information age. Its rapid growth and amazing success is what every eCommerce site since has aimed for.

Maybe you think more about a site like this one. Maybe you think about Internet business in terms of context ads and referral programs. Without a doubt, this is a viable way to do business online, as well.

Whether you already have an Internet-based small business or whether you’re thinking of starting one, it can be worth taking a minute to think about your overall strategy for making money and ask the question…

“what is my business model?”

Here are five common models for Internet-based small businesses:

The Ecommerce Site

This is the real-world retail business translated to the Internet. In a commerce model, you sell things and ship them to your customers.

The Content Site

Probably the easiest type of Internet business to start, a content site works like advertising on network television or in magazines. You put content up on your site and then serve ads or referrals to specific businesses, who then pay you for those leads or your ad space.

The Portfolio Site

The portfolio site doesn’t sell anything directly. Instead, this kind of website offers information about your products or services. This type of site serves to enhance an offline business.

The Community Site

A community site is the equivalent of a bulletin board at your local grocery store. Community sites are wonderful at building traffic. Most often, they revolve around a specific group or special interest.

The Hybrid Site

Most Internet-based small businesses don’t strictly adhere to just one model. A handyman site, for example, might provide plenty of content and offer context advertising, while at the same time promote the services of the handyman for a particular geographic region. That same site might have an “ask the handyman” forum, too, that fosters a sense of community.

Finding the right model, or the right balance between models, is a key to the success of your Internet business.