BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

The internet has democratised business. Instead of needing thousands or millions of rands to open up a retail store, anyone with a computer and a little technical know-how, can start an online business (and make money), while hardly spending money in the process. Sound a little crazy? “Not when using effective strategies,” says Mel Ferguson, Business Development at online payment solution Payflex who shares his 5 top online businesses that can be started without any cash.

This involves having a website which sells products, while not physically stocking them.  Once you make a sale, you as the seller purchase the product from a wholesaler or manufacturer who then ships the item directly to your customer. “This means you can start a business without needing a fortune of capital to buy stock.  Plus, there’s no storage costs either,” says Mel. While this may mean you make less on the mark up price, the upside is that you have the money upfront, only paying the third party once the sale is made, which means you don’t have to lay out any cash of your own. “Drop shipping allows you to offer a wide selection of products while keeping your operating expenses low.  The only real expenses being marketing or advertising to attract your customer.  And with the advantage of leveraging social media platforms, this need not be a big amount,” says Mel.

This works by offering the products of an online retailer on your blog or website, using the traffic from your online platform to generate income for you.  You earn commission when users click on the link, so that your traffic is referred to the retailer or a sale occurs. Once the shopper clicks on the item on your site, they are taken to your affiliate partner’s website which manages payment and delivery.  You receive commission without laying out any cash.The only costs are for marketing such as on social media and emails.

If you have a passion for or expertise in a particular field, then creating content via a blogging platform could be just up your alley (and a great way to make money).  There are many blogging platforms like or which host your blog without any cost.  However, some of these platforms have restrictions regarding advertising, so it may be more worth your while to get a reasonably priced hosting for your own website. “Content can be anything from writing to photos to videos recorded on your cellphone. The important thing is to make it niche, interesting and relevant to your subject and audience,” says Mel. Once you have built up your base of regular blog readers you can then look to monetise your blog:

Have you ever gone to a website and adverts appear, usually on the left- or right-hand margins?  These adverts are run through the Google advertising network and every time someone clicks on an advert, you get a small commission. Some other ad networks include, powered by Bing and Yahoo, making the quality of advertising high. Chitika is a network which monetizes search traffic – visitors who arrive at a website by clicking on search results from the original site (such as you see on Social Media Examiner).

Recording a video for YouTube is easy with your cell phone.  Make sure content is interesting, valuable and relevant in order to grow a subscriber base. Once your subscribers hit 1000, with an amount of 4 000 hours watched in a 12-month period, you will start to get a percentage of the revenue from adverts appearing on your channel.

Ever wanted to be a Published author? Or If you are a specialist in a particular field, then you may want to consider writing an eBook.  Using a free eBook creator such as, you can insert your own images and content, creating a product which establishes yourself as an authority in the field, while building a vehicle to increase your income. Monetise the eBook by selling it on your own website or on a platform such as

Always remember when starting a business that “cashflow is king.” This means choosing a payment provider that settles you immediately and doesn’t charge fees for all sorts of payment activities. It’s also critical that your payment provider offers a stable and proven platform, so you don’t lose any of those hard-won sales, as well as top-notch customer service to solve any issues timeously. “Payflex ticks all the boxes and provides next day settlement, a stable and proven payment platform, world-class service, and a first-in-market 6-week free spending plan for your customers that will boost your sales by 20-30%. Whether you’re at the beginning stages of your online journey or looking for an additional revenue stream, creating an (online) business has never been easier.  And if you build this up into a fulltime gig,  you get to avoid being stuck in traffic, while making money 24/7 – whether you’re awake or asleep!” concludes Mel.