It seems that there’s no shortage of good online business ideas. The truth is, the internet has made it easy to create a business. With just a website, you can reach anyone in any location in the world. Target the right people with the right offering, and you would be making your own money in no time. Other benefits of running an online business include cost savings, increased flexibility, and less paper waste.
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So if you’re quietly contemplating the idea of starting something of your own, here’s a list of the best small online business ideas that are within the reach of almost anyone who’s willing to take the plunge. From social media manager, to public speaking coach, to interior design consultant, the options are endless.
36 Best Online Business Ideas for 2021
Here is the list of the top business ideas to get you started instantly. The best part is that all of these ideas have money-making potential, meaning you don’t need to validate them before you start. If you are looking for the best online business to start, this is the only list you will need.
Most Popular Online Business Ideas
1. Open a T-Shirt Online Shop
Platforms like Printful and Shopify have made it insanely simple to start an online t-shirt business for anyone with a speck of imagination and an eye for design. But it doesn’t need to be an online t-shirt shop; you can set up an ecommerce shop selling anything. The key here is to learn about print on demand, which forms the base for such businesses.
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2. Dropshipping Business
Oberlo is a dropshipping marketplace – we had to mention dropshipping at some point!
Dropshipping is the easiest option to start an ecommerce business without having to buy any products in advance. Use Oberlo to find thousands of products from suppliers to sell online. Then sell to customers across the world while building and promoting your own brand, all without needing to invest in warehousing or manufacturing costs. You don’t need to pay for inventory until it’s sold to an actual customer. From online boutique to jewelry store to women’s clothing store to one-product store, dropshipping works for most online store ideas.Check out our guide to starting a dropshipping business to learn more about this great opportunity.
3. Kickstarter/Indiegogo Advisor
Grabbing the attention of curious browsers on the most popular crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is a tough job. If you’re inventive and know how to tap into human emotion, then this is a niche worth exploring. Many aspiring entrepreneurs look for personalized advice to carry their campaigns to the finish line, so try offering action-oriented eBooks or online courses targeted at this particular audience.
4. SEO Expert
One of the online world’s hottest professions at the moment, this business is a gold mine for the tech-savvy entrepreneurs. While everyone’s slightly obsessed with getting their sites SEO optimized, not many people can actually wrap their heads around this topic. If you decide to go into this field, you can think about offering link building, content creation, ecommerce SEO optimization, and similar one-off packages.
5. Selling Online Courses
Derek Halpern has built a really strong personal brand. He’s the founder of a software and business training company called Social Triggers and makes a LOT of money teaching people how to sell what they know best. And what he knows best is how to sell. If you’ve got some serious expertise, start making money out of it by selling online courses or simply teaching online.
6. Bug Testing
Bug testing is a service that no software company can ignore. If you can build a platform to crowdsource expert skills and resources to tackle this area, then you have solid chances of turning a profit. One of the most unique online business ideas, providing bug testing resources can be a lucrative way to boost your income. To learn more about this model, look into BugFinders and CrowdSourceTesting.
7. Video Producer
YouTube is the second largest site in the world, so there’s no surprise that video is becoming one of the main communication mediums for businesses of all types and sizes. If you have video filming or editing knowledge, it won’t take you long to build your clientele. Everything from video production workshops and video editing services to soundtrack libraries and DIY tutorials can appeal to the business world. Producing a video might be one of the most attractive online business ideas with lots of creativity and challenges.
8. Graphic Designer
Graphic designers are always in demand from small businesses to large multinationals. Starting a graphic design business can allow you to tap into this great opportunity. Showcasing your experience with your past portfolio can help you gain customers without aggressive outreach.
9. Website Developer
In the same vein as graphic design, website development is in constant demand as businesses are always trying to upgrade and improve their websites to get more sales. This means that you can work on new and existing websites concurrently, and get to try new things all the time. If being constantly challenged is what you are looking for, website development could be the best online business for you.
10. App Development
Apps are an amazing lucrative market, so it is not surprising that more and more companies are investing in them. This means that there is a growing need for app developers to create their applications. Offering app development is a great opportunity as you can work on vastly different applications on a daily basis.
11. Theme Designer
Just like a website developer, a theme designer is working with websites but in a different way. Choosing theme designer as your side hustle idea means building new website themes for business to use for their website. This could mean researching popular themes, identifying their shortcomings, and creating a theme that solves these pain points while remaining true to the popularity of the previous theme. If you are an expert in a certain industry, creating themes for this industry could see you reap much success.
If you are gifted with more than one language but have no interest in teaching others, try translating. Many companies need their website and collateral translated when they move into a different market. You can help them achieve it, while also keeping active in more than one language. Keep in mind the most common way of billing is cost per word, so price wisely to make smart money from this great online business idea.
13. Social Media Manager
Social media is an integral part of any business but it’s time-consuming and ever-changing – so really quite difficult to keep up with and, more importantly, capitalize on. Many business owners are willing to outsource this time-intensive task, so it’s a great opportunity for social media fanatics. Bundle together a few interesting offers, such as “Startup social media kit” or “Small Business Social Media Starter Kit” that encompass everything from social media graphics to analytics reports and the seamless experience will bring you more clients than you expect.
14. Remote Customer Service Agent
If you enjoy helping people but don’t want to be stuck in a call center or office all day, become a remote customer service agent and help people from the comfort of your own home. Choose between helping people via chat, email, phone, video, or other ways and save the day for people every day. This may not make you your first million, but it feels great to help people.
15. Virtual Assistant
This is one of the best online business ideas to pursue from home. As a virtual assistant, you would be answering emails, writing content, and doing other tasks on behalf of businesses The role can mean anything from a data entry person to a researcher, so, be open to trying new things and uncover new skills while getting paid.
16. Remote Sales Team
As more and more companies take on the lean, mean approach to business, outsourcing cold calling and telesales functions becomes a sort of standard in the startup and small business environment. Whether you want to sell highly-targeted sales pitches or customer data, such as phone numbers and email addresses, the potential is vast.
17. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is where a person promotes a product that another merchant sells. Using advertising, social media, blogging and more, an affiliate marketer can attract customers to their landing page. When customers click a link to buy the product they will then be brought to the merchant’s store to buy the product. As an internet business idea, this is great for anyone no matter their previous experience. Check out our guide, Affiliate Marketing: Everything You Need to Know in 2021, to learn more about this business model.
18. Lead Generation Service Provider
Most businesses are chasing customers and looking for ways to increase conversion rates. This means investing in activities like lead generation that could be time-consuming. Because of this, many companies outsource the task to a lead generation service provider. If you are good on the phone and enjoy researching and doing outreach to strangers, then this is your calling!
19. Become an Influencer
An influencer is someone with a large follower base on social media who is seen as an expert in a particular area, like makeup or fitness. These people keep busy by posting regularly about their lives and promote products which they feel are good to possess. What is great about this internet business idea is that you can get paid to promote a business to your following, similar to affiliate marketing. Influencer marketing is a huge online business trend right now that you can capitalize on. Try your hand at Vlogging and starting a Podcast, which are under-utilized channels of communication for influencers right now.
20. Handmade Goods Shop
It can take you less than a day to build a storefront to showcase your work and connect with customers on platforms like Amazon and Etsy. If you’re into crafts and DIY, it’s definitely a viable business option to consider. You can make the goods yourself or source them from suppliers in Hong Kong and China. If you’re in a country that has ePacket shipping, sourcing products is likely to be a better and more cost-effective option.
21. Become a Private Chef
If cooking is one of your personal passions, there are dozens of opportunities to turn it into a decent business venture. You can start by setting up a catering website, experimenting with pop-up food stalls and local food markets, or joining platforms that encourage cooking enthusiasts to squeeze some money out of their passion. And if you’re not camera-shy, you can teach people how to cook special meals by selling online classes.
The trend of healthy eating is here to say. Yet with so much contradictory advice online about what is good for us and what is not, more and more people turn to professional nutritionists for specialist tips and guidance. You can easily find free online courses to learn the fundamentals of this profession and start offering personalized nutrition plans online.
23. Get Baking!
From freshly baked butter croissants to colorful macaroons and pillow-soft morning bagels – the world of the great bake-off is a rich and ever-growing place. The beautiful thing about the online world is that a great passion can be turned into a great business almost overnight. You can start an online bakery or move your existing bakeshop online. Platforms like Shopify make it easy to sell baked goods online.
24. Natural & Organic Beauty Shop
Online shoppers are getting more and more conscientious about their choices, and especially so when it comes to beauty products. Running a beauty shop that’s built on strong ethos and values that resonate with nature and animal lovers is one of the hottest online business ideas right now. Tropic Skin Care seems to be doing a great job connecting with these shoppers.
25. Women’s Sportswear
With LuluLemon spearheading the way, online sportswear shops for women are quickly climbing to the top of the most popular idea amongst ecommerce entrepreneurs. Since yoga pants are clearly here to stay, it’s safe to say that the athleisure trend is one of the best and, perhaps, the least explored niches in ecommerce right now.
26. 3D-Printed Products
One of the biggest technological breakthroughs of this age, 3D printing is dictating a new strategy in the ecommerce world. Some of the best selling 3D-printed products include jewelry, home accessories, bicycle parts, tech accessories and more. For some beautiful examples check out 3DigitalCooks, and DanitPeleg.
27. Ethical Fashion Brand
One thing is clear – clothes and accessories will always be one of the super-profitable online business ideas for an ecommerce site. However, with so many boutiques and fashion online stores in existence, rising above the noise is extremely difficult. Yet, one promising idea that savvy entrepreneurs have probably already noticed is the booming trend of “ethical fashion”. Brands, such as Pachacuti, People Tree, Sea Salt, and Matt & Nat have successfully crafted their brands around the concept of organic, ethical production of fashion items and are riding the trend to the top of the strongest brands list.
28. Mystery Objects Shop
If you have an eye for quirky stuff, maybe running a mystery object shop could help you combine the desire for unusual business ideas with a steady source of income.
Muddy Creatures are nailing the concept of a surprise purchase that taps into the explorer instinct many of us possess. There’s no exact science or skill fueling this business idea – let your imagination go wild…
29. Online Researcher
Although it sounds like a too-good-to-be-true idea, some people are successfully earning a living off their skill to find information online. From data research for infographics to market research for budding startups, talented researchers know that you can put a price tag on knowledge.
If you love reading, becoming a proofreader could be your calling. Have other people send you their manuscripts for books, research papers, or whatever else you are interested in reading about, and give them honest feedback before they publish their works of art. This job requires attention to detail and expertise in the area to ensure that everything is ready to print.
31. CV Writing
Banging out a winning CV is a mission impossible for many. If you’re good with words and know how to highlight people’s best qualities, CV writing could be a pretty sweet place to start a business. Additionally, you can sell slick CV templates that will help job hunters to get noticed faster and yield better results.
Giving speeches is a terrifying experience. Giving bad speeches… Well, no one wants to be in that situation. Wordsmiths have a hugely valuable skill to win people over using nothing else but the power of well-strung sentences. If you can write, cash in on this skill by crafting speeches that make birthdays, weddings, award ceremonies, or political debates a more memorable experience.
33. Self-Published Author
If you have the next Harry Potter manuscript sitting in your drawer and the publishing industry hasn’t been kind to you, try self-publishing. Using tools like Amazon’s direct publishing or working with dedicated consultants like I_Am. You not only get the satisfaction of pushing your work out there, but also an opportunity to earn residual income.Don’t think you can write a good novel? Then stick to what you know – self-help is a money-making genre!
If writing is your thing but you are lacking a topic to write about, become a ghostwriter for someone else. If normally requires you to write about someone or something in a lot of detail. It can take time and much research to finish this type of project so be sure to have a few months free to give to it.
35. Content Curation
The German Economist Schumpeter once said that there are “no original ideas”, only new combinations of old ones. Curation of curiosity-fueling content is an intriguing and little-known business model. One of the best success stories out there is Brainpickings – a platform that describes itself as “an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, philosophy, and more”. The subscription-based model and successful utilization of affiliate links have turned the blog into a self-sustaining business.
36. Foreign Language Teacher
Everyone knows that the quickest way to learn a new language is to mingle with native speakers. If you were lucky enough to be born in an English, French, Spanish (insert any of the world’s main languages) speaking country, then missing out on the opportunity to cash in on the skills you take for granted is exactly that – missing out! Use online communication tools, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, to connect with learners and leverage your privileges. Time is money, so package your hours into teaching sessions and you’re good to go.
How to Start an Online Business
Starting an online business, no matter how small you aim to have it can take time and money. It can also involve legal research and some accounting knowledge so you may find there is some upskilling involved in many different areas. Have no fear though because once you get the wheels moving on your adventure, starting an online venture will be fun and motivating. As a great source of income, side hustle opportunities are abundant as you don’t need to be located next to a customer in order to provide the goods or services to them.
The most important first step in how to start an online business is to:
1. Decide Your Business
This is the most important step as without it you don’t have a business. Check out our above list of the most popular online business ideas and choose which one suits you best.
2. Research Your Industry
Get to know what your industry is like. Maybe there is a pricing structure most of your competitor follow that will be good for you. Or maybe once you discover your competitors you will decide that your industry is over-saturated and you need to change your business idea slightly to compete.
3. Create Your Brand
With every good business comes a good brand and if you figure this out at the start you can become a more successful online business in the beginning. This includes having an amazing website, and social media (if your customers are there), killer logo creation, engaging in some PR, and some more outreach and marketing activities.
4. Begin Getting Customers
The final step to getting started is actually getting your first customer. Having great customers behind you means success for your business. To find these customers you should discover how to get in front of your audience, sending out the right message to entice customers, and devising a pricing structure that works for the majority of customers to effectively give customers what they need.
Online Business Ideas FAQs
- Where to search online for the best small business ideas?
You can search for the best small business ideas on entrepreneurial blogs like Oberlo, Shopify, or 99designs.com. Alternatively, you can use Google to provide insight by searching around topics that you are interested in.
- What to sell as your online business idea?
You can sell almost anything as your online business idea. If you want to sell clothing, you could consider dropshipping or print-on-demand. If you are an expert in a particular field you could sell your knowledge through consulting or courses. The sky's the limit when it comes to online business ideas.
Online business ideas are endless and all-inclusive. Most office-based jobs can now be done online through freelancing or remote working. The beauty of technology means that profitable online businesses will keep growing and growing, making the world a truly global marketplace. If you are considering moving away from the traditional career path and want to start your own business, read through our list of business ideas a few times and contemplate the many ways you can start a successful online business today.
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Summary: Best Online Business Ideas for 2021
- Start an online t-shirt business
- Launch a dropshipping website
- Offer advice on Indiegogo/Kickstarter
- Start an SEO business
- Sell online courses
- Offer software bug testing resources
- Launch a video production company
- Offer graphic design services
- Sell web development services
- Create apps for companies
- Build website themes
- Provide translation services
- Manage social media for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)
- Offer remote customer support services
- Provide virtual assistant services
- Become a remote sales agent
- Launch an affiliate marketing business
- Provide lead generation services
- Do influencer marketing
- Build a handmade goods store
- Become a private chef
- Offer nutrition consultancy
- Sell baked goods online
- Build a natural & organic beauty store
- Sell women’s sportswear online
- Offer 3D-printed products
- Create an ethical fashion brand
- Start a mystery objects shop
- Work as an online researcher
- Become a proofreader
- Offer CV writing services
- Become a speechwriter
- Self-publish books and e-books
- Ghostwrite content
- Curate interesting content
- Teach foreign languages
Which of these online business ideas are you going to try first? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to Learn More?
- Free Business Name Generator
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- What Should You Sell Online
Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!