Planning to open an online business and looking for ideas?
Finding really good ideas could be a bit challenging because business trends change all the time. An idea everybody talked about just several years ago could be practically useless in 2021.
But this guide has only fresh online business ideas. We went through numerous studies, online learning stats, trends, and news, and found 10 ideas worth your attention:
- Freelance brand designer
- Dropshipping store
- DIY products shop
- Healthy snack food store
- Meal planner and nutrition coach
- Career coaching services
- Online tutoring service
- Shopify theme development service
- Affiliate marketing
- Virtual assistant
Let’s get to them.
1. Freelance Brand Designer
Are you a creative person? Do you have a knack for web design? If your answers are “yes,” then consider this online business idea. A brand designer is someone who designs a visual identity of a brand, including its logo, color palette, and fonts.
Brand designers are in significant demand right now. In 2020, 4.35 million new businesses were started in the U.S. alone, each requiring a brand designer to create its visual identity. With starting an online business being as easy as ever, many new entrepreneurs will require branding services.
Besides high demand, the potential to earn money is also pretty great. Beginner brand designers (graphic designers, logo designers, etc.) charge from $15 per hour, but those with experience can earn up to $100 per hour.
A quick look at Upwork, one of the world’s largest freelance platforms, also reveals that the average rate brand designers charge is about $35 per hour (see below). That’s a pretty good compensation, especially for those who like graphic design.
Also, you can start providing your design services on freelance platforms (this eliminates important tasks like link building and some marketing because clients can find you there. But creating a dedicated website for your business is definitely a better idea if you’re in it for the long haul.
2. Dropshipping Store
Dropshipping often gets a bad rap because of the high failure rate. But if we look at the reasons why these stores fail, the explanation is very simple. Most lack focus, choose wrong niches, provide bad customer support, or never differentiate their businesses.
So if you take care of these issues, your dropshipping store might become a big success story. That’s why people starting their journey in this business need to have a good understanding of what didn’t work for others in their markets and niches.
But some universal best practices include:
- Investments. Have at least $300 to be able to get a good domain, design branding elements, and market your business properly
- Customer support. Consider using live chat to serve more customers, as 92% of customers report being satisfied with this support tool
- Brand differentiation. Differentiate your business with nice branding and unique products (that involves making unique prints for clothing products, for example)
- Business process automation. Automate as many business processes as possible (accounting, shipping, order tracking, etc.) with dedicated apps from the Shopify App Store
- Marketing and customer engagement. Take advantage of the numerous marketing apps; for example, an email marketing and an Shopify SMS app would be a good start to build lists of subscribers and nurture them with marketing messages.
If this business idea sounds interesting, this list of the best dropshipping apps for Shopify is a good first step to choose a platform with suppliers and products.
3. DIY Products Shop
Are you into DIY and crafts? If yes, then you can turn your passion into a business. Online stores with DIY products are all over the place, in addition to large marketplaces like Etsy. So you can create a collection of products and sell via a Shopify store, for example.
Some of the most common DIY products sold online are:
- Pet toys
- Kids’ toys
- Flower pots
- Pillow covers
- Soap and bath products
- Posters and other wall art
The list goes on and on, and each category has thousands of success stories, proving it is a viable business option.
If you need an example of such a story, take a look at P. F. Candle, a candle store started by one person. Now, the store sells a range of DIY product categories and ships worldwide.
Author’s screenshot. Source: PF Candle
You can, of course, try a popular DIY idea like candles, but it’s best to go with products you’re really passionate about, be it something as simple as dinner napkins or something more complicated like paintings. Being a creator of your products will help write great product descriptions and promote your brand in an awesome way.
Being passionate is critical; as Mark Cuban himself said, “Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.”
4. Healthy Snack Food Store
Healthy foods are booming as a trend. Dietitians claim that plant-based diets, gut-friendly and gluten-free products, non-alcoholic drinks, and naturally sweetened foods will remain trendy in 2021 and quite possibly beyond.
That’s why selling them is a great business idea. Although it involves challenges like high overhead costs and food preparation, you can make a lot of money if you cover all bases and prepare accordingly.
Some of the healthy food options to consider selling:
- Roasted nuts
- Cotton candy
If you need an example of a successful business selling healthy snacks, check out Partake Foods. This store was started by a couple who decided to make their own products after encountering a shortage of healthy snacks for their daughter who suffered from food allergies.
Partake Foods homepage. Author’s screenshot. Source: partakefoods.com
If you’d like to open an online store, you don’t need to come up with your own products, of course. You can build a relationship with a local producer and grow your Shopify sales by using their products on your website.
Promoting your snacks will also be easy thanks to apps. For example, you can encourage trying out your products with automatic discounts and gifts. This way, you can get some word of mouth going and get more repeat business.
5. Meal Planner and Nutrition Coach
Over 60% of U.S. adults have a positive view of dietitians. Many use their services to lose weight, improve health, and feel better. That’s why becoming someone who helps people plan meals and coaches them on nutrition is an excellent business idea.
The beauty of this business is that you can work both part-time and full-time. And you can also consult people online via video, so you can do this business from home. This advantage makes nutritionists a good idea for the times of the pandemic.
Lauren Cornell Nutrition is a good example of such a business. This is a Los Angeles-based nutritionist who started her private practice in 2012, so you can check out her website for pointers and best practices.
Lauren Cornell Nutrition. Author’s screenshot. Source: laurencornellnutrition.com
Also, check out the requirements to become a nutrition specialist in your country or state. You will need to get a certification, or in some cases, a degree, to be able to offer such services.
In most countries, becoming a nutritionist requires a certificate, which can be obtained after taking an online class from a reputable body. As for the cost, one course can cost anywhere between $300 and $3,000 depending on length, expertise, and range of services.
6. Career Coach
Career counselling is one of the hottest online business opportunities at the moment. The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic made a lot of people question their career choices, so they will need professionals to advise them on future paths.
In fact, The Pulse of the American Worker Survey suggests that one in four Americans is considering quitting their job because of career advancement concerns and pandemic-related inconveniences.
On top of that, 49% of workers are concerned about their career growth, which can also make them quit their jobs after the threat of the pandemic has decreased, according to the same survey.
Author’s screenshot. Source: The Pulse of the American Worker Survey
So, as a career counselor, you should have a lot of opportunities to get clients and grow your business. To become such a professional, you’ll also need to get a certification. Thankfully, it’s not a problem: there’s a bunch of top courses and programs available online.
The best career counselor certifications are issued by The National Career Development Association (about $200 for the course). But there are other, less expensive programs, so you’ll definitely find one that fits your budget.
7. Online Tutoring Service
This business idea has become very popular due to the pandemic. With so many people staying at home and thinking about changing careers, online tutoring is seen as a good way to get new knowledge.
In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lists online tutoring as one of the examples of thriving businesses during the pandemic. Accordingly, private tutors have become a way to learn new skills for both children and adults.
If you have the knowledge you can share with others, consider becoming a private tutor. You can promote your services both through a personal website and online learning platforms, and get clients from all over the world.
8. Shopify Theme Development Service
Shopify themes are a way to customize online store design, and many businesses are looking for themes to give their websites a unique look. If you have some web development experience, you can become a Shopify theme creator and sell premium themes.
Creating a Shopify theme means following a straightforward work process. You’d have to research existing themes, find ways to improve them, and create custom themes based on your findings.
You can start theme research on the Shopify Theme Directory. As you’ll find out, it contains only 9 free themes, which is a ridiculously low number considering thousands of new Shopify stores that open every year.
Shopify theme directory. Author’s screenshot
The total number of themes in the official directory is 81 (as of August 2021), so it’s no surprise that many businesses choose to go to third parties to get them. You can become a source for quality themes, too, if you choose to go with this business idea.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing involves promoting a business or its products online and getting rewards for sales they make via your recommendations. Many businesses have affiliate programs to be able to promote their Shopify stores more effectively, so you should have many partners to consider.
To help you get a sense of how affiliate marketing works, let’s take a look at Lems Shoes’ affiliate program. Partners get an 8% commission for every order and nice conditions for customers to encourage buying.
Author’s screenshot. Source: Lems Shoes
Applying for an affiliate program is also super easy. You just need to fill out an online form in most cases, but some brands might have extra requirements. In any way, becoming an affiliate partner is something to consider for your future online business.
10. Virtual Assistant
Another good business idea that you can start solo. Many business owners require help with planning their day, doing various tasks, and other tasks related to running their companies. You can become an assistant, too, and run your business from home.
The average hourly rate of virtual assistants is a decent $16.19. That, compared with low entry requirements (you’ll need to take an online course and a certificate) makes virtual assistance a good business idea to try in 2021.
Online Business Ideas: The Bottom Line
If you’d like to open your business this year, there are many great ideas to consider. The 10 ideas in this article are some of the best, as supported by consumer research data, compensation, and business trends.
These ideas are great, but the best one for you is the one you’re passionate about. So, think about, choose wisely, launch your online business, and market it properly. Good luck!
Author: Karolis Civinskas
Karolis is a partnerships manager at Firepush. He’s responsible for building relationships with online communities and creating content that helps Shopify store owners advance their businesses. In addition to managing content relationships, Karolis enjoys photography, books and music.