Everything begins with an idea. Brian Acton, a former employee at Yahoo, was annoyed with having advertisements on any webpage. He wanted to democratize phone-based communication.
Two years after he left Yahoo, what we saw was the birth of WhatsApp. To date, the company boasts its ‘no ads, no games, no gimmicks’ principle and yet earns millions.
In the same way, if you think you want to start your own business and be your boss, you have to find an idea or a plan that you can monetize.
However, finding a good online business idea is challenging. Profit, risk, workspace, or other equipment, everything depends a lot on what online business ideas you choose.
Here’s a list of online business ideas 2021 that will help you if you are looking for some direction:
Quick outline of profitable online businesses to start:
- Sell Handmade, Crafted Products with Minimal Upfront Investment
- All Things Green: Start an Eco-friendly Business
- Begin an Audience-driven Business
- Pets Are a Big Business: Selling Pet Products Can Be a Purrfect Idea
- Start a Printing Business with a Web-to-print Store
1. Sell Handmade, Crafted Products with Minimal Upfront Investment
There is no shortage of things to think about when it comes to DIY, handmade, and crafted goods. The best thing about these kinds of online business ideas is they require less equipment, and you can start it right away sitting at home.
Craft and handmade businesses are growing and competitive. Making money in this space requires you to choose products that are not just trending but are likely to be in demand for years to come. Here’s a list of unique online business ideas:
A. 🧼 Start a Soap Business
Offering a low entry barrier, soap making is a trending market with a lot of opportunities. The handmade soap market is likely to reach a CAGR of 5.0% by 2026.
If you are passionate about soap making, you can turn your hobby into a business. And if you have never tried making soap, there are plenty of tutorials that will teach you. Once you have a few must-have ingredients like a thermometer, blender, essential oils, molds, and such in place, you are good to go.
Since this is a competitive space, you can differentiate your business from the rest by selling unique shapes or themed soap. Following are examples of successful online businesses making and selling soaps.
Ideas in Action
LoveLee Soaps is a Florida-based company that makes food-shaped soaps. Macarons, candy, donuts, broccoli, French fries, cupcakes – they have all kinds of varieties.
(LoveLee’s Macaron Soap Set)
Bold colors and soaps in different shapes are other trends in soap making. Sunbasil Soap is one such soap brand. They have beautiful colored soaps that look like succulents, honeycomb, and pineapples.
(Owl-shaped Bath Soap by Sunbasil)
At the initial stage, you need not require a website. You can start selling on social media platforms. Packaging matters a lot in selling such kinds of products. Spend some time planning packaging designs for your soaps. Moreover, soaps are photogenic. Show off the colors and texture on your business account or website with high-quality photographs.
B. 👕An Evergreen Business Idea: Sell Custom T-shirts
In the fashion industry, trends will come and go. The skinny v/s baggy jeans debate will continue. But one thing that is not going out of fashion is t-shirts (and that’s undebatable).
The popularity of t-shirts and tremendous market growth has encouraged many entrepreneurs to start a custom t-shirt business. Reports expect the global custom t-shirt industry to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% from 2021 to 2028.
So, if you are looking for some successful online business ideas, selling custom t-shirts is a great start. For artists trying to monetize their designs, t-shirts serve as a good business idea.
Even if you do not have designs, you can find trending designs on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon Merch, and more. 99Designs, Fiverr, Dribbble, etc., are sites where you can hire designers.
Related Content: A Step-by-step Guide on Starting a T-shirt Printing Business
Getting Started: Print-on-demand v/s Dropshipping Business Model
Selling products like t-shirts means holding a large inventory, managing shipping, etc. That’s what you might be thinking now. However, you can save yourself the pain and risk of producing, supplying, and shipping with either print-on-demand or dropshipping.
Print-on-demand is the process of printing or creating customized designs for a product and selling it under your brand name.
This type of business model is an ideal solution for independent artists and small businesses. They do not have to worry about storage and supply chains.
With print-on-demand, you depend more on your printing partner and get less control over your brand. However, if you want something that gives you more freedom to customize your site and offer a unique shopping experience to your customers, dropshipping is a good option.
Both these models have their pros and cons. Choosing one depends on both your business requirements and budget. However, one thing is clear that you need not worry about the inventory or shipping logistics. Hence, you can focus more on how you will get shoppers to your store.
Attracting Customers to Your Newly Launched Store with Product Customization
Customization is when your customers can modify your offerings by adding text, images, and such. It is gaining a lot of traction in the market. Both start-ups and established businesses are leveraging it to attract shoppers and improve the shopping experience. For instance, global clothing brand Levi’s introduced customization of denim where shoppers can design jeans, jackets, and more.
With customization, you can enable your customers to add a personal touch to their products. And as you cater to the specific preference of customers, you will come across as a more authentic brand.
Brush Your Ideas has everything you need to give your customers a perfect experience with a product customization tool. It comes with diverse features like ready-to-use clipart, add edit text, quote and number, upload image from personal device, templates, add or change background or colors, and more.
(Product Design Tool by Brush Your Ideas)
Additionally, with a 3D preview, they can get a clear idea of what they are buying. This will reduce product return, and you enjoy the loyalty of satisfied customers.
You can easily integrate it into your online store, and our tool gives you the total freedom you need as a store owner. With custom UI, you can control where your end-users can make the changes, plus manage pricing in real-time. Find out how the product designer tool can work for your online store.
Ideas in Action
Below are some examples of successful online businesses selling custom t-shirts. Let’s learn what they are doing best.
Seanese’s Target Market
Sean McElwee is the owner of this t-shirt company. He is also one of the stars of an Emmy-winning show Born This Way. Sean, with his brand, is trying to spread positivity around Down syndrome. He designs every shirt with a special message that helps make a difference.
(Seanese’s T-shirts for People with Down Syndrome and Those Who Love Them)
DesignAShirt’s Design Studio
Started in the early 80s, DesignAShirt was just a whim when the brand owner John Anon printed t-shirts for an upcoming football match. Later, he turned it into a full-fledged business. Seeing the surge in online sales, the owner decided to integrate a design tool where customers can create designs.
(DesignAShirt’s Design Studio to Customize T-shirts)
Shelfies’ Simple and Easy to Use Website
Shelfies is Canada’s most popular clothing brand. It has a specific niche – all-over-prints. You will find some cool, quirky, and funny prints there. Their product line includes sweaters, tees, hoodies, onesies, socks, leggings, and more. If you look at their store design, it is simple with a lot of white space that helps highlight products. The website is easy to navigate, and you can find anything you are looking for with the search feature.
(Shelfies’ All-over-print T-shirts)
C. 🕯️ Jump onto The Craze for Candles
Candles are one of the hottest trends nowadays. Even celebrities are trying their hands at it. During the lockdown, both Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner added new candles to their existing beauty brands.
Market research expects the candle industry to grow to $6.64 billion by 2027. Hence, candle-making and selling seem to be a profitable online business idea.
Like soap making, candle making is a scalable craft to learn, and there is no shortage of resources to learn about it. Once you have all the required ingredients in place, all you need is a business account on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebooks to start selling. You can even consider places like Etsy, Amazon, etc.
The market is saturated. So, how will you get the attention of your potential customers? The ingredients are more or less going to remain the same. But one way to stand out is to choose a target market. Be very specific about the audience you want to target. That will help you make decisions like choosing a theme for your brand, packaging, marketing message, etc.
Idea in Action
Frostbeard Studio targets a very specific audience, i.e., book lovers. Their candles are inspired by stories, characters, and all things nerdy. Even the names of the products are full of literary references and smell just like an old book.
(Soy Candle by Frostbeard: Gatsby’s mansion and the symbolic green color – only literature lovers will get this!)
D. 🍕 Become a Foodprenture: Sell Food or Beverages Online
Are you passionate about baking, or do you grow berries in your backyard? The best online business to start is a food business.
The food and beverage eCommerce market is growing. According to reports, the market will likely reach $66.95 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 21%.
Breaking into this growing industry begins by finding your niche. Currently, food trends include fresh ready-to-eat meals, no and low alcohol beverages, sourdough, vegan products, and such.
For beginners, choose products that let you start your food business with minimum equipment and fewer legal restrictions. For example, cookies, candies, tea or coffee, canned products, packaged snacks, etc.
Idea in Action
The secret success ingredient in starting your own food business is solving your potential customers’ problems. For instance, JK Gourmet was started with an aim to provide grain-free products for those who are suffering from colitis and other forms of bowel disease.
The biggest challenge in this industry is customers’ buying indecision since they cannot try-before-buy. And that’s where food package design, website product page, photography, and good copy helps.
E. 💍 Create Your Jewelry Line
Jewelry is one such online business idea that is steadily climbing in value with each passing year. But the market is completely saturated. If you want to tap into this space, consider finding a niche product or bringing in something different or valuable in the traditional types of jewelry.
Whether you need to invest in building an online store or not depends on the type of jewelry you are selling. You will need an online store if you choose to sell semi-precious, fine, or precious jewelry. A website will enable you to win customer trust and have a global audience.
Handpicked Related Content: A Complete Guide on How to Start a Jewelry Business
2. 🌳 All Things Green: Start an Eco-friendly Business
There is a new category of customer emerging – the green customer. Minimalist lifestyle, less packaging, less waste, more recycled products, etc., have become consumer’s goals.
The sales of sustainable products in the U.S. to value at between 142.3 and 150.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2021.
With consumers becoming increasingly environmentally aware, eco-friendly alternatives are likely to stay relevant. Following is a list of online business options for eco-friendly products.
Idea In Action
Reusable shopping bags
Cotton custom tote bags by LaFabrik, one of the most popular stores on Etsy.
Eco-friendly Water Bottles
LARQ reduces plastic waste with their self-cleaning water bottle.
Sustainable Workout Products
Eco-friendly yoga brand Yoloha sells sustainable and personalized yoga props, equipment, accessories, and more.
Another idea where online business opportunities are great is sustainable fashion. Brands like Swarovski, Levi’s, and more are redefining how clothes and accessories are made. Selling organic apparel is the easiest way to enter this space.
Organic Clothing Line
Starting an exclusive organic fashion store is a good business idea since the demand for organic clothing is on the rise. Just like any other business, starting an organic clothing line will require you to plan like a pro. Begin by defining your goals and how your brand can help make a greener world.
Studying industry trends and competitors will help in forming the purpose statement and vision. Finding the ideal sustainable materials is equally challenging. You need to decide on recycled fabrics like organic cotton, recycled polyester, bamboo, etc.
The success of starting an eco-friendly clothing business lies in how well you promote and communicate with your audience.
2 Must-have Things to Promote Customer Retention and Loyalty
Having the best product or service is enough to grab your potential customer’s attention. Customer loyalty stems from customer satisfaction and by creating better connections. Following are two essential things your online store needs.
A. Design Studio
Your customers will keep coming back to you if they are happy with the products they buy. Product customization boosts customer satisfaction by making them equal participants in the design process. Since they will be creating a product by themselves, they are more likely to be happy with the final product.
For instance, there are thousands of yoga mats in the market. But what makes Yoga Studio Store different is they let you create your own printed mat. And when you get to personalize, you will buy more and recommend it to others.
(Create Customized Yoga Mats by Yoga Studio Store)
Find out how product customization can work for your online store.
B. Brand Storytelling
A brand story recounts the series of events that sparked your company’s inception and expresses how that narrative still drives your mission today. Just like your favorite books and movies’ characters, if you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will remember who you are, develop empathy for you, and, ultimately, care about you. – HubSpot
With brand storytelling, you can articulate what your business stands for and make it easier for people to align themselves with your brand. Here is an example of an eco-friendly brand doing a good job with storytelling.
Patagonia is an outdoor clothing brand that is on a mission to promote a sustainable lifestyle. They have shared their values clearly in their mission statement. They say their reason for being is just to save the planet. They are even active in sharing updates that promote environmental activism.
(Patagonia Actively Sharing Environment-related Updates on Their Social Media Platforms)
This way, you can create a compelling narrative about your business to create an emotional connection with your target audience.
3. Begin an Audience-driven Business
If you are someone who does not want to be involved in products, this is a good option. From blogging to becoming a life coach, there are plenty of unique online business ideas to start. Let’s explore a few of them.
A. 📢 Grow and Monetize an Audience
Blogging, podcasts, YouTube, Instagram – everything falls under this category. It’s all about building a loyal audience and monetizing your content. However, the process is not easy. Gaining followers and slowly forming a faithful community takes both time and effort. But if you do it right, it’s a great online business to start and earn money gradually.
Love talking and making thought-provoking points? Podcasting is great
Starting a podcast is one of the best online business ideas right now. Choose a topic, name, and length, record and edit the audio, and host it. Premium content, sponsors, advertising, creating courses, etc., are some ways you can monetize your podcast.
John Lee Dumas is a founder & host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an award-winning podcast. He grew his podcast into a $2M/year business.
Passionate about blogging? Turn your blog into a full-fledged business.
Blogging presents great online business opportunities. If you start a blog today and market it well, multiple revenue streams can stem from blogging. You can later build your own online store, promote a product or service on your blog to earn a commission, start a YouTube channel, make detailed videos about the topics you write, and so on.
Oh Happy Day is an eCommerce store offering a large selection of party supplies. Its founder started their entrepreneurial journey with blogging and turned into a profitable business.
B. 👩🏫 Start Teaching and Develop an Online Course
Online courses present a good opportunity to start a successful business. With the e-learning market growing at the rate of 21% between 2021 and 2027, this is the right time to launch an online course.
Creating an online course doesn’t have to be challenging. Once you get the topic for your course, you have to decide on the right platform. You can have an email course, live training, or build a website and sell there.
A Related Read for You: All You Need to Know About Developing an e-learning App
Idea in Action
Debora Niemann’s passion lies in homesteading and sustainability. She is a speaker, author and runs this amazing website – Thrifty Homesteader. This passion led her to launch different courses to share her knowledge about the topic. Over 5,000 people have gone through her courses to date, and nearly 80 percent of her income comes from courses.
(Thrifty Homesteader’s Courses on Goat Breeding)
C. 👨💻 Offer Freelance Services
Freelancing, part-time jobs, contract-based jobs are becoming increasingly common. That’s the reason behind the rise of the gig economy. Roughly 36% of US workers are part of the gig economy, either through their primary or secondary jobs.
According to Upwork statistics, the number of independent workers is growing 3 times faster than the total US working population. This indicates a bright future for the gig economy. Here are the highest-paying jobs and skills by Upwork that you can consider.
Machine learning engineers
Help businesses automate routine tasks, change operational models, and maximize efficiency.
Data Science, Python/C++, R, and Java, distributed computing, applied math and algorithms
$80 to $125 per hour
As brands seek video content from employee training to marketing, video creating, and editing are growing in demand. As a video producer, you will manage and coordinate all aspects of video production.
Video production, graphic design, creative direction, scripting, video editing, and more
$40 to $85 per hour.
Every online business big or small needs an SEO strategy to improve page ranking and maximize traffic. As an SEO specialist, your job is going to be valuable in years to come.
Writing, web analytics, PPC, keyword knowledge, and more.
$20 to $75 per hour
Mobile App Developer
With more and more businesses looking to build an app, mobile app development services are going to be in high demand. You can work on a contract basis with agencies and brands to help them build a mobile app.
Programming skills, backend computing, UI/UX, business understanding, etc.
$40 to $100 per hour
4. 🐶 Pets Are a Big Business: Selling Pet Products Can Be a Purrfect Idea
People are adding furry companions to their families amid the pandemic. About 33% of Americans have considered getting a pet now that social distancing is the norm.
This has resulted in rapid growth in the pet grooming and animal service sector. According to industry statistics, the pet care market is likely to expand at 6.1% CAGR from 2021 to 2027.
Providing pet training services or selling pet products is one of the unique business ideas you can consider. In this section, we will discuss a few trending online business ideas you will see in the pet space.
A. Selling Pet Apparel
Pet apparel is another area that you can explore. Pet-parents are as serious about their pet’s wardrobe as their own. And there is no surprise why there are tons of online stores dealing with pet clothing.
You might question if pet clothing is profitable. It is a niche market. This means you have less competition and higher chances of building brand loyalty with stronger customer relationships. Additionally, the pet clothing market is growing at a 4.4% CAGR.
Ideas in Action
For The Furry is a lifestyle brand offering clothing and other accessories for dogs and cats. Its product line includes various products like collars, bandanas, bow ties, clothing, leash bags, toys, and more.
(Dog Clothing Collection by For The Furry)
If you want to set up an online store for pet clothing, consider offering customization. It will enable you to stand out from your competitors. Moreover, product customization can be the best conversation starter about your brand. When one pet owner designs a bow tie or a doggie tank, other pet owners will notice, and that’s how they will be intrigued to know more about your brand.
(Let Customers Design Their Products With Product Design Tool – Image Source)
PetHaus is a brand all about dog denim. What sets them apart from others is personalized clothing. You can add your dog’s name or a funny text to make their denim or bandanas extra special.
(Customized Dog Denim by Pethaus)
Brush Your Ideas is a one-stop solution for all your customization needs. You can easily integrate our product design tool with your online store and enable your customers to design your products. Let’s connect to see how a feature-rich product design software can make a difference to your business.
B. Pet Grooming Services
Pet owners are seeking out professionals who can groom their pets. If you are somebody who loves pets, then you can turn it into a business. There are various ways you can operate a pet-grooming business. You can either run a mobile business or partner with pet-related businesses and work with them.
The Grooming Shed takes care of all dog-related grooming such as bathing, ear cleaning, clipping, scissoring, etc. Its founder Gemma Casey, turned her love for dogs into a profitable business with this grooming website.
(Grooming Shed for all Dog Needs)
Note that such a type of business will need you to invest in creating a website. Pet grooming is all about building a loyal client base, and a website will enable you to reach a wider audience and show your credibility.
C. Beds, Kennels, Toys, and Such
Apart from clothing, pet owners also need supplies like leashes, bowls, toys, etc. The market is full of similar products, and it becomes difficult for owners to choose. For instance, the pet toy category alone includes different things like training toys, chew toys, fetchable toys, etc.
If you want to start a pet supplies business, it’s a good idea to narrow down on options. Thorough market research will help you know what’s trending. Here’s an example of a unique cat furniture brand.
CATSSUP offers an adaptive and easy-to-install cat furniture system that is ideal for small apartments. Its design comes in the form of cloud-shaped resting platforms and detachable scratching posts.
(Cloud-shaped Resting Platform by CATSSUP)
D. Food Products for Pets
The pet food market is showing a significant scope for growth. The increasing trend of adopting pets, and the demand for an increase in nutrient-based pet food, are the biggest drivers of the market.
This industry is already dominated by leading pet food suppliers like Nestlé Purina Petcare, Mars Petcare, etc. To distinguish yourself, you need to come up with a unique and interesting concept.
For example, The Farmer’s Dog delivers fresh, homemade pet food to pet owners. It does not include any ready-made powders and preservatives but only nutritious food with veggies and meat. Pet parents can not only order food but also learn the recipes the company provides. If customers want a customized meal, Farmer’s Dog provides it too.
(Dog Food Delivery by Farmer’s Dog)
5. 🤑 Start a Printing Business with a Web-to-print Store
One of the most trending business ideas that you can consider is starting your own printing business. The global printing industry is forecast to reach $821 billion by 2022.
The market is growing with package and label printing, 3D printing, digital printing, etc. Hence, companies like Shutterfly, Vistaprint, Print Place, etc., are becoming popular.
Some profitable and trending printing business ideas include custom mug printing, phone, and laptop case printing, notebooks, greeting cards, flyers, customized packaging, and more.
Handpicked Related Content: How to Start a Printing Business
Launch Your Store in No Time
A web-to-print store enables you to launch your printing business without the need to build a website from scratch. At Brush Your Ideas, we provide a ready-to-sell B2B & B2C Web-to-Print Storefront for both start-ups and established businesses.
With customizable themes, you can set up a store as per your business logic. You have the freedom to make changes and add custom styles to build your dream store. We even offer a product design tool that will fulfill all your customization needs.
In addition, with tools like print job manager, inventory manager, and more, you can streamline your print workflow. We know how crucial it is to rank on the first pages of the search engine. With our store, you can add various SEO tools to make your shop rank higher. Drop us a message, and we will get back to discuss how you can start a print eCommerce business as quickly as possible.
Another rising trend is subscription commerce, where you sell your print products to receive monthly or yearly recurring subscription revenue. Not just Spotify or Netflix, nowadays, many businesses are adapting to this model.
You can start a subscription-based printing business where you can offer gift boxes, stationery boxes, etc. My Paper Box is one of a kind personalized stationery subscription. Each month they send freshly designed theme stationery products inscribed with your name.
(Customized Stationery by My Paper Boat)
The brand offers two types of subscriptions: a standard box with customized note cards, envelopes, labels, and an added gift every four weeks. Second, a deluxe box including all of these plus an assortment of stationary like clips and sticky notes.
It’s Action Time
Well, that was an extensive list, including various types of business. Some like soaps and candles only need you to learn how to make them and start selling immediately on social media platforms. Contract-based jobs and skills are good options to earn a side income along with your job. And printing businesses like custom t-shirts, cards, glasses, etc., is a great first step in entering the eCommerce world.
Once you find out what you want to do, it’s time to turn it into action with the help of a reliable tech partner. Brush Your Ideas has over 14 years of experience offering web-to-print solutions to businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs like you.
Our fully functional product design tool comes with diverse features that help business owners and customers get the most out of the product customization trend. If you are planning to sell custom products online, our team is ready to help you build a successful business with our web-to-print tool.
We not just help businesses with technology solutions but also assist them in their marketing efforts. At every step of your entrepreneurial journey, you get the complete support of our team. We will always be there to help you just with troubleshooting but also craft your business’ future growth plan. We are super excited to help turn your idea into reality. Are you?
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