According to the Statista reports, U.S. retail ecommerce sales in the first quarter of 2018 alone is already at U.S. $123.7 billion. The convenience of shopping online attracts new customers daily, making it a market ripe with opportunity for growth.
Here are the best online business ideas from a variety of entrepreneurs, plus more tips from around the web.
1. Promote Products and Other Businesses Online
Jonathan Whitney, Bloggeroid
Blogs are a time-tested form of online business that can always be monetized through AdSense, affiliate links, advertising, and a number of other creative applications. There are two big reasons why a blog should be your first online business.
Blogging is not capital intensive, but there is a high potential for return. The best bloggers make six figures monthly. Even if you are just blogging as a hobby, it will teach you the basics that you need to know for an online business, such as web design, content creation, SEO, and advertising. These skills are essential for any other type of online business.
2. Create a Team of Outsourced Professionals and Accept Projects Online
Quiana Cordé, Founder/Head of Marketing & Design, Barazzo Bags
Some friends and I are interested in taking the plunge to turn vacation life into everyday life! The group of thing-doers, fun-havers, and goal-crushers are working remotely, and thriving entrepreneurs and consultants ready to blog, design and code from the beach!
- Travel Blogger
- Hotel Critic
- Travel Curator
- Licensee – license out your invention
3. Offer Online Mediation Services to Consumers
Royce Howard, CEO, 3rd Party Services
Third Party Services is the new consumer organization for 2018. We are a mediation company helping consumers who have a complaint against a business/company or apartments. Millions of complaints go to attorney generals every year. We hope to capitalize on advising consumers that we will do more than an attorney general who just sends them a form letter and tells them to hire an attorney or call the BBB. We will capitalize on calling an attorney by saving 50 percent to 75 percent, and focus on advising consumers that we will work their complaint to a resolution. Our process can be duplicated in every complaint a consumer may have.
4. Use the Web to Connect Your Customers
Greg Liberman, CEO, Puppyspot.com
Instead of matching potential couples online, we match puppies to potential owners by helping to eliminate the x-factors that are often associated with buying a puppy, whether online or offline. PuppySpot.com is committed to helping responsible breeders place healthy puppies into happy homes across the country.
5. Create a Dating App for Dog Lovers
Casey and Leigh Isaacson, Co-Founders, Dig – The Dog Person’s Dating App
Dig is a dating app designed specifically around man and woman’s best friend. The app combines two accelerating trends. While more people turn to dating apps every year, more singles are also getting pets. Research shows that since 2006, pet ownership for single men has increased by 28 percent and 22 percent for single women.
The app itself allows for a number of options when making decisions on both human and dog compatibility. When users log into Dig, they can decide if they want to find someone currently with or without a dog, and the app even filters by dog size. Once two people “dig” each other, Dig helps you find a date idea. A “dog-friendly locations near you” search feature is built into the messaging area.
6. Import Products to Sell Online
Adhip Ray, Founder, WinSavvy
Buying products from China and selling them in the USA isn’t as hard as it sounds. Even a teenager could do it! Will Mitchell of StartupBros.com did it and made a successful living out of it too! And doing it is as simple as:
- Step 1 – finding cheap goods in China that are in demand in the USA
- Step 2 – finding a seller who will export the goods to you
You will learn how to market goods and which products you shouldn’t buy through trial and error. But make no mistake: this is an opportunity to make huge bucks with very little risk or investment.
7. Provide Online Access to Higher Quality Products
Billy Gordon, Owner, Small Pet Select
The reason we started Small Pet Select is because we thought we could provide small animal owners with better quality hay products than what was being sold in the pet stores. If you give your pets higher quality hay, you are likely to have a happier, healthier pet, less likely to have to visit the veterinarian or your pet dying unnecessarily. Customers order online and we ship the highest quality hay direct to our customers door!
8. Sell on Etsy to Attract Customers Around the World
Deb Babcock, Blue Sky Pottery
I’ve been a seller on Etsy since 2006 and have sold over 10,000 pieces of handmade pottery through that site. In 2014, I opened a second Etsy shop to sell my watercolor paintings. It’s a little slower, but a great way to get your art out there. I live in a little tiny town up in the mountains of Colorado, so the online presence has been a wonderful way to be able to create my art in this environment and then sell it all over the world.
9. Start a Homeowner Referral Network
Debra M. Cohen, Home Remedies
A great online business for people who want to work from home, earn a great income, and need a flexible schedule is a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business. HRNs pre-screen and refer painters, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and more to local homeowners. The HRN owner earns a commission for any work secured. Homeowners can go online and request a contractor and they are custom matched with a contractor from my network. I started my HRN business 20 years ago on a part-time basis, and it has grown into a cottage industry with more than 300 businesses like mine operating nationwide.
10. Create a High-Ticket Drop Shipping Business
Anton Kraly, Founder, Drop Ship Lifestyle
When done correctly, high-ticket drop shipping is the perfect lifestyle business and a great way to make a living online. You can sell products online, make a healthy profit, and never have to carry inventory—and the ceiling is higher than you’ve ever imagined. This means you don’t need to invest in inventory—you simply act as the middleman and make profits from each sale. You still have to build a website and drive customers to it, but with how easy Shopify makes creating a website, it’s basically pretty much hands off. You can automate almost everything and be making sales while you’re traveling the world or hanging out with your kids.
11. Invest in Artisanal Products to Sell Online
Daniel Ndukwu, Founder and CEO, KyLeads
Have you ever fallen in love with a brand that has unwavering dedication to its products? You’re not the only one. Smaller brands with an emphasis on quality are all the rage in luxury goods. The draw is a compelling story. Hardgraft.com and Fitzy.ca are two examples.
To pull it off, you need three things:
- A dialed-in target audience. These are people who’ll pay a premium for your service no matter their income.
- A quality product. You’re not going to sell cheap leather for a 10-times markup. Choose the best and be the best.
- A compelling story. The quality of your products will only take you so far. People only pay premium prices when the brand represents who they are or who they want to be. You embody their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
12. Adapt Your Ecommerce Business to Accept Cryptocurrencies for Payment
Chady Tawil, CEO, Mozaico
There are thousands of people with cryptocurrencies but nowhere to use them. Currency as we know it is becoming obsolete, so stay ahead of the game and accept crypto. Regardless of the recent slump in the market, plenty of faith remains in this new system, which will see the entire destruction of the financial system as we know it. Accepting crypto is your USP—a perfect differentiator for an ecommerce business.
13. Sell Used Clothes Online
Jared Shaner, Chief Revenue Officer, Trellis
My favorite online business idea is from a current client who is looking to create an online marketplace for new and/or gently used consignment items. It stems from the concept created by folks such as Thredup, which allows consumers to gain some monetary return when they are done with their clothing that in many cases, was quite expensive when first purchased.
The ease and convenience of having a prepaid shipping bag sent to your home, which you can stuff and send back to be sold online, is a trend I see catching fire in the next couple years. I would not be surprised to see a number of other players in this space emerge. It’s a novel alternative to donating a $200 shirt, for instance, when someone might be willing to give you $50 online for it.
14. Create an Online Research Service
Toby Balsiger, PR & Communications, WebsiteTigers
Here’s my online business idea: A website where you can enter the name of your online date and the business will research the person for you. So let’s say you find someone on a site like Match.com who you want to set up a date with, but you want to learn more about them first. You can submit the name into this website and the business will research all of the social profiles and anything else they can find online about the potential match for a flat fee. There would also be an option for a background check. The site has one more feature to leave a review for the person after you meet them.
Let’s say you go out with someone on a date who seems creepy, so you end it early. Then when you get home, you leave a review saying the person was creepy, and didn’t look at all like his or her profile picture. This would help other people who might be considering dating them!
15. Introduce an Airbnb for Boats
Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO & Co-Founder, Boatsetter
Boatsetter boats can be rented with a captain or without (so no experience is required), and the fleet ranges from yachts to sailboats to pontoon boats. Boat owners and boat captains are able to earn income through the online platform. Boat sharing creates a unique, private boating experience for everything from sunset cruises and snorkeling excursions to fishing charters or parties at the sandbar. You can own the experience, not the boat!
16. Start an Online Marketplace for Artisan, Handmade Goods with a Charitable Twist!
Jason Weisbrot, Co-Founder, Arteeni
Arteeni is an online gallery and marketplace for American artisans selling handmade and unique items. We curate both the artisans and their products to make sure we have the best quality items on the site. Products include fine art, jewelry, handbags, home goods, small batch foods, and much more. Also, a portion of each sale is donated to a charity chosen by the customer from our curated list, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, and the Alzheimer’s Association, among others.
17. Create Educational Material You Can Sell Online
Caitlin Pyle, Creator, Proofread Anywhere
The best online business idea is turning your genius, or your own personal know-how, into very sellable, super-valuable, high quality ebooks, online courses, and tutorials that will help people enhance or change their lives. I love this strategy because it is mutually beneficial. You get to share what you love and earn money from it, and others get to learn and benefit from it in the same way you have. Selling your know-how can really pay off, even if your know-how is super nerdy and small. I created an online course that teaches people how to start a business proofreading transcripts for court reporters.
Lives have been changed in the process, including mine! The course has earned me over $166,000 in profit since its launch in February.
18. Run a Website Hub for Business Insurance Agencies and Their Clients
Maxime Rieman, Director of Product Marketing, CoverWallet
CoverWallet’s focus is on simplifying insurance for small businesses. We’ve done this by providing educational content and tools as well as a platform to buy and manage insurance policies online.
The reason this is a great online business idea is because, while hundreds of thousands of people start their search for business insurance online, the majority still deal with a brick-and-mortar agent to buy and manage their policy. This takes a lot of time and can be a hassle (in both managing the physical paperwork as well as working around an agent’s schedule). CoverWallet’s platform lets you see average pricing, notifies you when you need to renew a policy or certificate, and lets you see all key policy info online—meaning no delays when you’re trying to close a new job.
19. Make an App That Compares Product Prices Within Your Area
Alexander Ruggie, Public Relations Director, 911 Restoration
My online business idea is proximity pricing. It works like a map app, but instead of just showing you the businesses around you, it will show you their products too. So if you want to know where the closest, cheapest Snickers bar is, you can two-finger tap your way there and find it within walking distance for $0.75. But you may be able to find it within 10 miles for $0.25 if you’re willing to drive.
This would all be accomplished by a cloud-based barcode/QR code reader stream that coalesces all of this data for the users to tap into through GPS data and preferences, the seller and user ratings, and finally reliability reviews and the like.
20. Start a 24-Hour Online Consignment Store
Lisa Batra, Founder and CEO, My Kid’s Threads, LLC
My favorite online business idea is a service that solves a problem, gives back to the environment, and can financially assist any charity across the U.S. I started My Kid’s Threads, an online consignment service that features amazing, high-end designer children’s clothing for purchase or consignment, after working 15 years in ecommerce for Fortune 500 companies. Busy families love the convenience of shopping online, saving money, and giving back to charities or earning some cash for their kids’ outgrown clothing.
21. Create a Global Search Directory for Crowdfunding Websites
Jay Berkman, The JLC Group
The idea is simple: a global search directory that lists the nearly 2,000 crowdfunding sites as well as the hundreds of third-party sites that are designed to help those seeking to raise money (for business startups, charitable causes, political campaigns, etc.).
22. Run an Online Styling Website That Also Allows Tipping of Stylists
Emmanuel Ley, FashionStork.com
We just implemented the idea of allowing online customers to tip the staff. I don’t brag much, but I’m super proud of this. We style men monthly, and because the items are selected by a stylist who reads their profiles, we designed our interface to allow gratuities while telling a bit about the stylist. We believe we are starting something major companies will be doing in the years to come.
23. Offer a Free “Try-Before-You-Buy” Service for Your Online Products
Slisha Kankariya, Co-Founder, Four Mine Co LLC
Bridging the gap between online and offline shopping and getting people over the uncertainties of online shopping is key in converting customers. In order to do this, online retailers must create a flawless shopping experience that caters to the needs of their customers. Four Mine is an online jeweler specializing in diamond engagement rings and wedding bands. We offer a free try-before-you-buy replica ring service. Our high-quality diamond simulant and metal alloy rings look and feel as close to the real ring as possible. Consumers can try their favorite three styles at home, with no obligation to purchase. This inspires consumer confidence and comfort with our brand, the quality of our rings, and builds a lasting relationship!
24. Turn Your Hobby Into a Business
George Meszaros, Success Harbor
Why not turn your hobby into an online business? You can monetize most hobbies in multiple ways. You can create a blog about your hobby where you sell advertising. Or you could write a book, create an online course, or provide training online. You could also set up an ecommerce site where you sell your products. If you are ready to get started, check out our guide to start a small business.
25. Create an App and Run a Mobile Car Wash
Jeff Lee, Founder, eGobie
eGobie handles one of life’s more important, albeit time-consuming daily errands. The company specializes in mobile car wash/detailing services and mobile oil change service. With the use of a smartphone app, customers can order these services with a few clicks of a button. Customers can register for a free account, log in, tell eGobie what service they would like to receive, when to receive it, and where to receive it.
26. Create a Shopping Concierge for Items Only Available in the U.S.
Big Apple Buddy will ship any item from the U.S. to anywhere in the world—in the most personal, transparent, and fastest way possible. There are many items, such as tech gadgets or fashion brands, that are only available in the U.S. I have used this service myself many times to get items shipped to Italy (such as the newest Jawbone UP3 fitness tracker). They are always very responsive and great!
Instagram is more than just social relationships. Businesses thrive on Instagram because they manage to personalize their marketing strategies that appeal to their target market’s social needs. But with enough followers, Instagram can also be a platform for starting your own business. Know how to start an Instagram business and make money off it in this article.
While remote virtual assistants are usually individual freelance workers, there are also online businesses that venture into organizing a group with these skills. Administrative assistants on site can be costly compared to freelancers, which is why it’s gaining popularity. If you’re wondering how you can start your own virtual assistant business, read this article.
A translation service is a great way to use your own multilingual skills. You can also hire remotely to offer more language options. Take advantage of globalization the best way by learning how to cater to international business’ needs to translate their documents without the high fees. This article will show you how to start an online translation service.
We live in an age where people are becoming more and more dependent on their mobile phones. From scheduling their day to getting services on demand, apps have made mobile phones virtually a need more than a luxury. One significant development in this technology is how mobile apps are becoming easier to develop when it used to be only a specialized skill. This article discusses the steps on starting and running a mobile app business worthy of investing in.
It’s said you can learn almost everything online these days, but it’s still useful to interact with someone as you’re learning. Be it academic subjects or playing of musical instruments, if you have these skills, you can start teaching them online. Each 30- to 45-minute class can earn you around ten dollars, depending on the subject matter. Read this article and find out everything you need to know about starting your online tutoring business.
All you need is an app and a vehicle to start getting online requests for grocery deliveries. You can connect with your local grocery stores and begin building a client list each time they send you to deliver. Check out this article and learn how to get started.
Over to You
A big thank you to everyone who participated! We’d love to hear from you, too. What’s your favorite online business idea? Let us know in the comments below!