50 Online Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs
Ever feel like all the good business ideas are taken?
If you’ve been dragging your feet on embracing entrepreneurship because you don’t feel like you have a good enough idea to build a business on, have no fear. Running an online business is more about doing your research and putting the work in than having some great product idea that’s never been done before.
If you’re still stuck on the part where you figure out what to sell, we can help with that. Here’s a list of 50 online business ideas to get you past that first step of figuring out what to sell.
Physical Products You Can Sell Online
People increasingly prefer to purchase all the stuff they need (and want) online.
Why go to the mall, when you can do all your shopping in your pajamas from the couch? That desire means that just about anything you can think of that people want or need, you can sell online.
Flea markets and local events used to be the main places a person could sell their crafts. Today, thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy, many buyers and sellers of crafts now turn to the web first to make connections. Whatever type of crafts you have the skill to make, start selling them on your own online shop.
You can make handmade jewelry or find a source to buy jewelry from at a good price for resell. Either way, jewelry’s something people have bought and worn for centuries and there’s no reason to think they’ll stop now.
Wood both looks great and can be put to a large number of both practical and decorative purposes. If you make tables, doors, frames, chests, desks, or any other commonly needed wood item, you’re likely to find a market for your handiwork online.
People sometimes forget that one of the most successful online businesses ever, Amazon, started out as an online bookstore. No matter how many other forms of entertainment come onto the scene, people keep buying and reading books. How many old books do you (and your friends) have lying around? You can easily sell them online.
You don’t have to be an artist yourself to sell art online; you merely need a good eye for finding and buying other people’s art to sell. An online art business can net big profits if you have a good eye for spotting art people like.
Not only do people need clothes, but they’re often willing to pay a premium for clothes in just the right style. If you have skill at making stylish clothes or can find a supplier of popular brands and styles, an online clothes business could be a hit.
Hats aren’t a necessity like clothes are; yet people have long loved and bought hats in a wide array of styles. Why not get in on that business and sell some yourself?
Everyone owns at least a few t-shirts. Whether you sell t-shirts that have cool designs or clever slogans, or sell blank ones that people and businesses can add their own spin to, the market for t-shirts is big and people never seem to lose interest in them. There are tons of success stories from enterprising folks who make six-figure incomes from selling t-shirts online.
Soap is cheap to make, can be made in large batches, and you can sell it at a big markup. Homemade soaps with natural ingredients are especially popular these days, particularly as gifts and event favors. Experiment with different scents and styles and start selling them in an online store.
Like soaps, candles are something else that you can make yourself for relatively low cost and sell online at a nice markup. And like soap, you can play around with different scents to find the right ones to sell in your online shop.
This is another product that can be either homemade (think: homemade stuffed animals or old-fashioned wooden blocks), or can be sourced from a supplier and sold at a markup on your own site. Either way, you can always count on parents and loved ones to buy their kids toys, so it’s a solid business idea.
Puzzles are popular for all ages and have been for a long time. They’re a little more niche than something like toys or clothes, but that can be a good thing in positioning your online business.
Games are another reliable choice. From board games to card games to video games, people will always play games and you could easily base an online store off of selling popular games to people.
This is another niche option, but pillows can be big business. Just think about the variety of options that people consider: there are pillows that have a neat designs, some with a clever message sewed onto them, and others designed to provide some unique benefit for consumers’ necks or heads. Do some research and figure out if this could be the right niche for your business.
Quilts make people think of tradition and family and, as such, they’re something some people are willing to pay big bucks for, especially if you can make them in a way that invokes a tradition meaningful to them.
Almost everyone drinks either coffee or tea, which makes mugs a necessity for a good portion of the population. And lots of people like their mugs to show a little personality, which leaves a lot of room for entrepreneurs to develop unique ideas for selling mugs. You could sell mugs with a unique design, mugs with popular phrases on them, or customizable photo mugs that make great gifts.
17. Tote bags
Tote bags are practical and, as with mugs, an easy way for people to show some personality in their day to day. As with mugs, you can figure out something neat to print on them, or make them customizable for each customer.
18. Phone and Tablet Cases
Smartphones and tablets cost too much money for consumers to be okay with risking them every time they get a little clumsy and drop them. As such, phone and tablet cases are in high demand. Design some with celebrity photos or artwork on them, and you’ve got a smart business idea.
19. Computer bags
People need a way to carry their laptops from place to place safely (and also stylishly, if possible). Sell computer or messenger bags and you’ll tap into a decent-sized market.
20. Pet supplies
People spend a lot of money on pets. As in, over $60 billion a year at last count. Pet supplies are a big market to tap into and there are a several directions you can go in. Pet toys, treats, food, leashes, training materials, aquariums, cleaning supplies – go visit a pet store and see how many types of items you can consider.
Even with computers taking over a lot of the writing tasks we do, people still use notebooks and day planners frequently and for a wide variety of tasks. As such, they can make a good product for an online business.
Whether you write one yourself or sell cookbooks written by others, cookbooks are still a popular option for people who want some help putting together meals, snacks, smoothies, and desserts.
Everyone uses spices, but the people who love them really love them. That makes spices a good niche to consider, especially if you can find spices that are a little more rare or unusual to offer.
Like spices, tea connoisseurs are often willing to spend some money to try new teas and get tea types and blends that are just right. If you can find a good supplier, this is a worthwhile territory to consider.
High-end coffee is another good product niche to look into. As with tea and spices, the coffee lovers of the world are often willing to spend money on just the right flavors.
This is another product that falls into the category of things everyone needs, but that people will often spend extra for if they want shoes that are especially stylish, comfortable, or well suited to particular tasks.
27. Kitchen utensils
From everyday kitchen utensils like serving spoons and spatulas, to more specialty items like lemon zesters and spiral slicers, kitchen supplies are big business. Dip your toes into this world and you could end up with a business that booms.
28. Gardening supplies
Gardening is a hobby many people love that requires a number of different supplies to do right. From crop cages to garden covers to fertilizers, there’s a lot you can sell that your average gardener will be quick to buy.
Purses are known for being a status symbol for many women. Whether you want to branch into the world of designer purses, or focus on the more practical and functional side of the market, there’s a real market out there for purses.
Digital Products You Can Sell Online
Everything on this list so far has required dealing with the complicated processes of creating or stocking items and shipping them. There’s definitely money to be made in selling physical items, but there’s often a much lower overhead on digital items that you only have to make once and can sell access to over and over again.
For those of you looking for a product with lower overhead, check out these digital product ideas you can sell online.
An ebook takes time to write, but if you manage to write ebooks that provide enough value to your audience, you can keep making money on the same product for as long as people have an interest in it.
Courses require a bit more ongoing work, but they also offer more value to your customers, so you can get away with charging more. Plus, they can help you attract customers more likely to purchase other related products, if you offer them.
32. How-to Videos
How-to videos give you the opportunity to walk people through how to do specific things that are hard to figure out without a visual. If you have information to provide that would make for a valuable video, then you may be able to sell how-to videos as a product on your business site.
33. Software products
A lot of the biggest businesses today got there by selling software. If you have an idea and the skills to create a new software product, that could be a great option for a new business. But even if you don’t, you could create a business based on selling other software products through affiliate links or partnerships with software companies.
We may only think of them a few times a year when we need to get a card for a birthday or anniversary, but there’s long been a big industry around greeting cards, and in recent years a portion of that industry has moved online. If you have the skills to write and design digital greeting cards, or can hire people with the skills you need, you can build a business around them.
Are you a musician? Selling your music online is one of the best ways to reach fans directly and make money off your art. A website to promote your tunes can help you achieve that.
Re-purpose those songs and any other playful or beautiful sounds you’re able to make into ringtones to make even more money off of them.
37. Work out videos
People need to stay fit and going to the gym often takes too much time. The interest in working out from home is growing, and if you know how to lead a work out (or can hire someone who does), you can tap into that market by selling workout videos on your site or offering a subscription model for access to them.
Services You Can Sell Online
If you have the skills and knowledge, you don’t need products. You can sell your services online.
A lot of successful small businesses are run by people who offer consulting and other services to people or businesses that need help. Here are a few service areas that are commonly offered by online businesses.
The types of writing you can offer in an online business vary. You can pitch stories to magazines, help do the writing needed for content marketing, or help companies write the copy for their websites, just to name a few options. If you build a portfolio website to promote your writing business and work to consistently deliver good work, being a writer online can lead to a successful business.
39. Web design
All businesses need websites (and a lot of people want them). That makes for a lot of opportunities for paid web design work. If you know how to build a website that looks good, is intuitive, and helps drive people to do what your clients want them to do, web design could be a profitable business for you.
40. Graphic design
In addition to websites, businesses have a ton of design needs, from logos to brochures to product labels. Someone with strong graphic design skills can expect to find plenty of work and opportunities online.
SEO has become one of the most important marketing techniques for businesses in the age of Google. If you take the time to learn the basics of good SEO, you can charge companies to help them improve their websites and increase their site rankings.
42. PPC consulting
While SEO is a long-term goal, getting your ads to show in relevant Google searches is a goal just about any business can achieve right now with some money and the right skill set to make it happen. If you know how to navigate the world of paid search, you can provide pay-per-click services to businesses for pay.
Students that need help with any number of subjects can benefit from online tutoring services. You can help people learn your native language or help students prep for the SATs, all for a reasonable fee.
44. Social media consulting
Lots of businesses know they should be on social media, but have a hard time figuring out how to do it well and commit enough time to it. The level of need is high, which makes social media consulting a lucrative field to base a new online business on.
Every business that publishes written content (which pretty much all of them do in some form) should hire editors to make sure the language and grammar is correct. If you have a good eye for grammar, you can turn your editing skills into an online business.
46. Virtual Assisting
A lot of the help that people used to hire secretaries and admins for can now be done over the web. You can start a business to help professionals organize their emails, screen their phone calls, and organize their digital documents.
47. Tech support
Tech problems are the worst – unless you have the skills needed to navigate them yourself, or know who to call that does. If you understand computers and common software solutions well enough to help people address the problems that come up, you can make money providing tech support services
In a world full of international businesses and people traversing borders for work and opportunity, there’s a lot of need for translation. If you know two languages fluently, you can start a business to help fill that need.
49. Pet sitting
When people with pets leave town, they want to know they’re leaving their animals in good hands. If you’re good with animals, you could start a pet sitting business in your home and promote it online.
50. Voiceover work
Do you have the kind of voice people comment on? Businesses often need narration for videos or presentations. If you have a strong speaking voice and the right recording supplies, you could build a business on providing the voiceover for projects.
Obviously not all of these job possibilities are for everyone and some of them require taking some time to learn a new skill. But if you see something on the list that feels like the right fit to you, then seize the moment and get started building your online business.
Building a successful online business starts with having a great website. HostGator can help you with that. All of our web hosting plans include a free website builder and integrate with the leading e-commerce platforms.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.