ideas for recession proof businesses

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9 Best Online Recession-Proof Businesses to Start in 2024

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In the evolving world of commerce, one thing is certain: economic downturns are inevitable. But while some businesses crumble under the weight of financial stress, others remain resilient.

These businesses are often referred to as recession proof businesses. They can maintain or even thrive during tough economic periods. With the rapid digitalization of business in recent years, the online marketplace has become a hotbed for such recession-proof businesses. 

This year, it’s more crucial than ever to consider the robustness of our business plans against economic instability. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start an online business, it’s important to consider a recession-proof one. 

In this blog post, we explore the top 9 online recession-proof business ideas you can start. From e-commerce to online consulting, these businesses offer not just potential financial stability but also flexible operation models that stand strong with the economic tides. 

Why Consider Online Businesses During a Recession? 

Why Consider Online Businesses During a Recession? 

Online businesses have several distinct advantages that make them particularly attractive, especially during times of economic uncertainty. The first is scalability. Online businesses have the potential to reach a global audience, providing opportunities for substantial growth that physical businesses, confined by location, may not enjoy. This allows businesses to scale up or down depending on market demands, offering an inherent flexibility that is crucial during a recession. 

Secondly, online businesses typically have lower overhead costs giving them more cash flow. There are no expenses for physical premises, utilities, or large staff contingents, making the financial risks considerably lower. This is an enormous advantage in a recession, as it allows businesses to operate and potentially profit, even in an economic downturn. 

Lastly, online businesses offer flexibility. They can operate around the clock and can be managed from anywhere in the world. In a recession, this flexibility can make the difference between sinking or swimming. By enabling entrepreneurs to adapt swiftly to changing circumstances, online businesses are often more resilient in the face of economic slumps.

Top 9 Online Recession Proof Businesses for 2024

Top 9 Online Recession Proof Businesses for 2023

E-commerce Store

Starting an e-commerce store and selling physical products through platforms like Shopify, Etsy, or Amazon often do well during a recession if you’re selling essential or affordable luxury goods. 

E-Commerce and online businesses have transformed the way we do business. There are an array of opportunities and recession-proof industries, especially those in evergreen markets (health, finance, relationships, hobbies), that often continue to do well. 

Lower Overhead Costs

During recessions, when brick-and-mortar establishments are often hit hardest, online businesses in these sectors often continue to thrive. Online businesses have the advantage of lower overhead costs compared to brick-and-mortar stores. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, which must pay for physical spaces, property management, utility services, and often more employees, online businesses can operate virtually, drastically reducing these costs. 

Greater Flexibility

They also have the flexibility to serve customers globally, which can lead to increased sales opportunities. This doesn’t mean running an online business is without its expenses or challenges, such as website maintenance, digital marketing, and shipping costs, but overall, these costs can be more manageable.

Ability to Pivot

Online businesses can pivot more easily based on market needs and changes. For example, if a specific product isn’t selling well, an online business can easily discontinue that product and introduce another without having to worry about physical inventory storage or display space.

E-commerce businesses, particularly those operating in evergreen markets, have a unique advantage. Their ability to adapt quickly, combined with lower operating costs and the consistent demand in these sectors, makes them well-positioned to weather economic downturns and continue to do well in recessions. It’s a testament to the strength and resilience of the digital economy during a recession.

content creation

Content Creation

With the increase in online consumption, there is a demand for content creators. This could include:

  • blogging,
  • YouTube channels,
  • podcasting,
  • or creating content for other businesses.

Online content consumption is soaring, and the demand for content creators is at an all-time high. As more individuals and businesses recognize the value of high-quality content in capturing and retaining an audience, the need for skilled content creators becomes a vital part of the new digital economy. 

Content has become an integral part of people’s daily lives. Whether it’s reading a blog post, watching a YouTube video, listening to a podcast, or scrolling through social media, content has become as indispensable as the air we breathe. 

Starting a blog about a niche you’re passionate and knowledgeable about can provide a stable income through avenues such as affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, or advertising revenue. 

The same goes for running a YouTube channel or a podcast. You could share educational content, engage in storytelling, offer reviews or commentary, or entertain with humor or drama. The key is to offer consistent, high-quality content that connects with your audience.

Content creation for other businesses, often known as content marketing, is another promising option. As more businesses recognize the power of content in driving customer engagement and brand loyalty, they are increasingly outsourcing their content needs.

As a content marketer, you can offer services such as blog post writing, video production, podcast creation, social media content creation, and more.

Advantages of Content Creation

One of the significant advantages of content creation as a business is its low entry barrier. With a computer, internet connection, and the right skills, anyone can start a content creation business. 

It’s also location-independent, allowing you to work from anywhere in the world, and its scalability makes it suitable for both individuals and teams.

Furthermore, content creation is not just recession-proof but also pandemic-proof, as demonstrated during the recent global health crisis. When many businesses were struggling to survive, content consumption skyrocketed due to lockdowns and social distancing measures, emphasizing the resilience of the content creation business.

Each platform has its unique characteristics, audience, and potential revenue streams. This puts content creation high on the list of recession-proof businesses to start in 2024.

online personal or life coach

Online Personal or Life Coach

The field of online personal or life coaching has emerged as an increasingly resilient profession, particularly in times of economic hardship. During recessions, as individuals grapple with increased stress, job loss, financial difficulties, and personal uncertainties, the demand for guidance, support, and direction can spike, making life or confidence coaching a critical service.

Life coaches play a crucial role in helping individuals navigate these challenges, offering advice on career transitions, financial planning, stress management, and personal development. They provide a valuable service, assisting clients in aligning their values, goals, and actions, fostering a sense of clarity, motivation, and empowerment during uncertain times.

The reach of a life coach extends beyond geographical limitations, enabling them to cater to clients worldwide. This expanded client base can lead to increased opportunities for income and business growth, even during an economic crisis or downturn.

Moreover, the shift towards remote work and virtual services has increased the acceptance and demand for online coaching services. It provides a level of convenience and accessibility for both the coach and the client, as sessions can be conducted from the comfort of their own homes.

Running an online coaching business also comes with lower overhead costs compared to many other businesses. Without the need for physical office space, utilities, and commuting expenses, online coaches can often operate more cost-effectively, a significant advantage during a recession.

Online personal or life coaching is a robust, recession-proof business. Its potential to offer critical support to individuals during difficult economic times, along with its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and global reach, makes it a resilient choice for entrepreneurs in 2024 and beyond.

affiliate marketing

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing stands as a potentially profitable, recession-proof online business strategy. This type of marketing hinges on promoting products or services of other businesses, earning a commission for each sale or lead generated through your unique referral link.

During times of economic downturn, affiliate marketing can prove to be particularly resilient. One reason lies in its innate flexibility. Affiliates can pivot effortlessly to promote different products or services depending on shifting market trends and consumer needs, offering a level of adaptability that’s essential during recessions.

The affiliate marketing business model also benefits from relatively low start-up and operating costs. Unlike traditional businesses, there’s no need to invest in inventory or deal with the complexities of order fulfillment. Your primary focus becomes creating compelling content, building an engaged audience, and marketing products or services that resonate with that audience.

Another factor that lends affiliate marketing its recession-proof status is its unlimited earning potential. There’s no cap on how much you can earn – your profits directly reflect the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and the commission structure of the affiliate program

This income is mostly passive as well, meaning you continue to earn from content you’ve created long after the work has been done.

Moreover, the scope of affiliate marketing is not restricted by geographic boundaries. This global reach allows affiliates to cater to a wide array of audiences and markets, further enhancing its potential profitability.

Digital Product Sales

Digital Product Sales

The digital product sales industry has demonstrated significant resilience and profitability, even amidst economic crisis. Selling digital products, which may encompass software, stock photos, artwork, design templates, or eBooks, can be a sustainable and lucrative online business model.

One compelling aspect of this business model is the minimal overhead costs. Digital products require no physical inventory, eliminating the need for storage or concerns about unsold stock. Once a digital product is created, it can be sold indefinitely, providing a continuous source of passive income.

During a recession, the demand for certain types of digital products may even rise. For instance, as more businesses move online or bolster their digital presence, the need for software solutions, design templates, and stock photos can increase significantly. Similarly, individuals seeking to enhance their skills or find entertainment during tough times might turn to digital products like MMR Products, or creating their own eBooks or online courses.

The scalability of selling digital products also contributes to its resilience during economic downturns. With the potential to reach a global audience, sellers can tap into various markets and customer bases, offering small business owners a degree of financial stability and growth potential that many other business models might not provide during a recession.

The flexibility in terms of product offering is another appealing feature. Depending on market trends and customer demands, small businesses can pivot easily, developing and offering new digital products that better align with their target audience’s needs.

Digital Marketing Services

Digital Marketing Services

Another recession-proof online business is to offer digital marketing services. It’s an area that has a lot of potential, especially during times of economic uncertainty. 

Offering services like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing online can create a resilient and profitable small business.

Digital marketing services are important for businesses that want to maintain and grow their online presence. This becomes even more crucial during a recession. As many businesses look to strengthen their digital footprint, the demand for expert digital marketing services will increase.

SEO services are a prime example. Businesses need to optimize their online content to improve their visibility in search engine results, increasing organic traffic, and potential customers. 

As an SEO specialist, your expertise can help businesses navigate through the fluctuating digital landscape, an invaluable service regardless of the economic climate.

PPC advertising and social media marketing services are also profitable ventures. During economic crisis, businesses need to effectively use their advertising budget to maximize their reach and conversion rates. Your expertise in managing PPC campaigns or developing engaging social media strategies can significantly impact these businesses’ success.

Online platforms such as Google Ads or HubSpot can serve as valuable tools for helping clients and managing your services. They provide an organized, efficient way to track campaigns, evaluate results, and maintain clear communication with your clients.

In essence, offering online digital marketing services can be a powerful, recession-proof business model. With its high demand, potential profitability, and ability to operate remotely, it’s a business well-suited for tough economic times.

Subscription Box Services

Subscription Box Services

Subscription Box Services represent an innovative and resilient business model for recession-proof online businesses. 

Subscription box services provide a unique customer experience, offering curated products delivered directly to the customer’s doorstep at regular intervals. 

This model can cater to a wide range of interests and needs – from beauty and grooming, fitness, and health, to books, food and beverage industry,, and hobbies. The element of surprise and anticipation that comes with each new box can add an element of joy and novelty, making these services particularly appealing.

During a recession, consumers might tighten their budgets to save money, but still seek affordable luxuries or value-for-money experiences. Subscription boxes can provide this by delivering curated, personalized items, often at a lower total cost than if the items were purchased individually. This perceived value can drive customer loyalty and steady revenue, even during tougher economic times.

The subscription model provides businesses with a predictable, recurring revenue stream, making financial planning and inventory management more manageable. While the initial customer acquisition cost can be higher for subscription services, the long-term customer value can offset this, contributing to the business’s sustainability.

The flexibility of this model allows businesses to pivot based on changing consumer preferences or economic conditions, further enhancing their resilience during a recession.

So, whether you’re passionate about books, organic food, beauty products, or any other niche, a subscription box service could be a great recession–proof business venture to consider.

Online Financial and Accounting Services

Online Financial and Accounting Services

The finance industry has also seen a shift towards the digital realm. From online banking and investment platforms to financial advising and planning services and bookkeeping services, the demand for these services remains high, regardless of the economy’s state. In many cases, economic recessions can actually increase the need for sound financial advice and services, making this an evergreen online market.

During an economic contraction, individuals and businesses alike face complex financial decisions and challenges. This is where online financial professionals and accounting services come into play, providing expertise in tax preparation, financial planning, bookkeeping, and other essential financial management aspects. 

This demand can increase during recessions as businesses strive to optimize their financial performance and individuals aim to navigate their personal finances effectively. 

Operating online offers increased convenience and accessibility for clients while allowing for a global reach. As such, online financial and accounting services can be a resilient, profitable business model even during periods of economic hardship and financial struggles.

You can set up your own business and offer tax preparation services working with clients and the internal revenue service, financial planning services, or accounting services online.

Online Health and Wellness

Online Health and Wellness

Without a doubt, the Online Health and Wellness sector is a substantial addition to the list of recession proof small businesses. It encompasses a broad range of products and services, including fitness equipment, nutritional supplements, telemedicine, and virtual therapy sessions offered through various platforms like Shopify, Amazon, or eBay.

These platforms allow recession proof businesses to reach a wide customer base, catering to the rising health consciousness and growing consumer demand for online healthcare services. Additionally, online stores specifically tailored for medical supplies have a significant role in ensuring availability and easy access to essential items, which becomes especially crucial during challenging economic times or public health emergencies.

The healthcare industry’s resilience during economic slumps is largely due to its inherent nature. Health and wellness are fundamental human needs, and these needs often become more pronounced during periods of stress or uncertainty. Consequently, the demand for health-related products and services from the healthcare industry generally remains stable, if not increases, during challenging times like an economic recession.

Online health consultants can provide valuable guidance, helping individuals navigate these challenges and maintain or improve their wellbeing.

Whether it’s through selling health and wellness products, providing telemedicine services, or offering health consulting, the online health and wellness industry stands as a robust, resilient healthcare sector capable of weathering most economic conditions while providing vital services.



There is a lot of uncertainty during challenging times like recessions. However, opportunities for a sustainable and profitable online recession proof businesses are still available. We’ve explored nine online business models that are particularly resilient during economic downturns. 

While these businesses hold potential, success depends on your dedication, strategic planning, and ability to provide value to your customers with your new business. With thorough research, a solid plan, and a commitment to excellence, you can succeed in the online business world, regardless of the economic climate. 

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I'm Celina. I help emerging entrepreneurs learn how to start a profitable online business and make money online.

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