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Starting an online business

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Looking to start a business? If you want something with big potential that doesn’t take much startup capital, consider an online service of some type. A major shift toward purchasing both consumer and business-to-business services online has created a slew of opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs.

For one thing, Internet usage continues to soar. Going online is now a reflex action rather than a conscious decision. Some people spend most of their day online, switching between their PC, mobile device, tablet and TV. Connection speeds have increased sharply and businesses as well as consumers are doing more and more things online.

According to a new study by the research firm IBIS World, the biggest money-making opportunities are in the retail and service sectors. And here’s more good news: Many of the things once done only by the most tech-savvy big businesses are now within range of small operators with little or no tech expertise.

Here are some high-potential businesses that are easy to get into and are experiencing major changes of the kind that spell big opportunities.

• TV and home-theater installation. Few industries are as fragmented as this, or as easy to enter with little capital. Some 94 percent of U.S. households have a TV; 84 percent have a DVD player and about 25 percent now have a home theater. It’s now a $12 billion industry, although you’ll definitely need to keep up with fast-changing technology.

• Virtual data rooms. The VDR industry is growing quickly at about 16 percent annually since 2008, with revenue expected to reach $728 million in 2013. The proliferation of online document-sharing services has helped the industry flourish. With low barriers to entry, IBIS World expects this industry to expand at an annualized rate of 17 percent over the next five years.

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