10 Profitable Business Ideas That Anyone Can Start

What would you do if you had one chance to start a business? And if it failed, your fate would be to work a 9-5 you hated, day in day out, forever?

Would you, A:

Jeopardize your future happiness and financial security by choosing an unproven business concept, hoping for the best?

Or B:

Search for a proven business idea, one that could provide financial security and give you the freedom to live your life your way?

I think the answer is obvious.

But if it’s so obvious, why do most people accept option A? 

Maybe they just don’t know option B exists, or they’ve been conditioned to believe it’s not possible for them.

Who’s to say for sure? But the truth is, the world is full of people living the A existence. 

Now, what if someone told you they knew of 10 profitable online business ideas that anyone can start, enabling you to live the B lifestyle?

Would you sit up and take notice as if your life depended on it? Of course, you would.

Well, my future entrepreneurial, living life on your terms, giving a big finger to the 9-5 existence friend, that’s what we have for you.

So read on and join those who are already living it.

1) Start a Blog 

First up, an online business you can start with no money–well, almost.

Blogging, yep, you’ve heard it before. But perhaps you always thought it was just for celebs, influencers, and those other people. Well, things have changed in the blogging world.

How it works: 

A blog is a topic-specific website containing content of a more personal nature, written to benefit the reader by providing helpful information. And, a blogger is a person who writes the content. 

An established business traditionally wrote a blog to build an audience to whom they then sold their products or services, but tradition has been dramatically turned on its head.

Now people start a blog without a business, then find ways of monetizing it by either adding third-party advertising or promoting their own range of products or services, physical or digital.

The benefits of a blog: 

It’s a business strategy that requires minimal investment. Getting website and hosting services are pretty common and easy to find these days.

Blogging is something you can do anywhere, anytime, with unlimited growth potential. 

Here are some ways to monetize your blog:

  • Use it for affiliate marketing
  • Develop a personal brand
  • Promote yourself as an expert
  • Use it to sell products
  • Adopt a paid subscription approach
  • Build an email list
  • Use a combination of all the above

Quick start tips: 

  1. Find your niche and topic – a profitable one 
  2. Pick a name and purchase your domain
  3. Choose your blogging platform 
  4. Buy a theme and/or design your blog layout
  5. Register with a web host
  6. Write and post consistently
  7. Monetize it

Your blog is a quid pro quo long-term business strategy. While you won’t become successful overnight. Once monetized, it will continue generating revenue for as long as you continue promoting it.

2) Launch an eCommerce Store 

Looking for an easy online business idea you can start with global growth and passive income possibilities? If your answer is yes, then an eCommerce store might be right for you. 

eCommerce is where you sell products or services on the internet. Customers buy what you’re offering through a phone, laptop, or tablet – a digital platform.

While Amazon is the largest eCommerce store, there are an estimated 24 million others online, with more popping up every day. And if it works for all of those 24 million others, it can work for you too! Let’s see how.

How it works:

eCommerce is a combination of 3 systems:

It starts with a web server that manages your online store (website) and processes any transactions (sales). A database keeps track of your stock, automatically updating as consumers buy your products. And dispatch, which is linked to a fulfillment center (storage & shipping), delivers your goods.

The benefits of eCommerce:

The main advantage of owning an eCommerce store is that you can sell anywhere, anytime, from your laptop. And this convenience works both ways, as consumers can buy products just as easily.

Here’s why eCommerce rocks:

  • Quick access to a market
  • Relatively low set up and running costs
  • You can identify and serve niche markets
  • Gain invaluable customer insights
  • You’re there when customers want to buy
  • You meet them where they want to buy

Quick eCommerce start tips: 

  1. Research profitable eCommerce business models
  2. Choose your niche
  3. Validate your target market and products
  4. Conduct customer and competitor research
  5. Register your eCommerce business 
  6. Buy your domain name 
  7. Find suppliers 
  8. Choose a platform, create your store
  9. Choose apps to help run your store
  10.  Promote your website using SEO, content marketing, email marketing, social media, and paid advertising

And with global consumers increasingly relying on online shopping, sales for 2020 at 4.1 trillion, and a forecast stating 95% of purchases will be made online by 2040, the opportunity for entrepreneurs is mind-boggling.

3) Become a Seller on Etsy

Started in Brooklyn, NYC in 2005, and now with 2.5 million sellers and over 39 million users, Etsy has established itself as the artists’ sales platform.

Etsy is an eCommerce website that enables creative entrepreneurs to sell their handmade, vintage, and craft wares. Items fall under broad categories such as clothing, jewelry, bags, toys, home decor, art, craft tools, supplies, and much more.

How it works:

You register your account, open your store, list your items, promote them, and start selling. 

Registering on Etsy is free; you then pay $0.20 to list an item and a 5% transaction fee on each sale. You can use Etsy shipping labels and benefit from their discounted shipping rates with USPS and FedEx, but you get to pack and send your products on your own.

The benefits of Etsy:

The main advantage for Etsy sellers is not having to create a website to sell online. And, it’s an affordable and accessible way to advertise your creative talents while starting a business from home.

Quick start tips:

  1. Create your Etsy account by clicking ”sell” on any of the Etsy.com landing pages
  2. Click ”open your Etsy shop”
  3. Select your language, country, currency, and click ”Save”
  4. Choose your shop name, click “Save”
  5. Build your shop
  6. Add your profile picture and bio 
  7. Introduce yourself to the Etsy community

Once your shop is open, you can download the Sell on Etsy app and manage it from there.

4) Sell on Amazon 

Jeff Bezos became the world’s wealthiest person by getting other people to do the work for him. Yep, Amazon’s entirely based on people just like you. Oh, and me! I’m a real-life Amazon seller. 

Seriously, it’s just an enormous eCommerce store with thousands of warehouses, allowing individual sellers to list and store their products. 

So, why all the noise?

Because it’s an online business idea that has the potential to make you rich–very, very rich.

How it works:

You apply to become an Amazon seller; once approved, you create a listing and sell your products in numerous countries via Amazon’s country-based websites. 

Amazon has FBA (fulfillment By Amazon), meaning you can ship your products directly to an Amazon center, storing them while awaiting sale. When your item sells, Amazon picks, packs, and ships your product to your customer.

Amazon, of course, has fees for everything. There is a pro sellers account fee, storage fee, labeling fee, pick and pack fee, shipment fee, and of course, a percentage that Amazon gets on every product you sell.

Hey, you didn’t think Jeff got rich just selling books, did you?

The benefits of Amazon:

Accounting for over 50% of all online sales, the potential for selling on Amazon is huge, but there are several more reasons:

  • It’s a global market that trusts the platform 
  • FBA is a brilliant way of doing business
  • You can list unlimited products 
  • It’s the world’s leading niche product platform
  • It works on autopilot, selling while you sleep

Quick Amazon start tips: 

  1. Learn how to research profitable niches on Amazon (ignore this at your peril)
  2. Register your account
  3. Find a supplier (Alibaba, if sourcing abroad)
  4. Order multiple samples
  5. Agree on an MOQ (minimum order quantity) price
  6. Have your products tested before final payment (It’s called an FRI – final random inspection – don’t skip it!)
  7. Ship to FBA
  8. Build and optimize your listing 
  9. Use professional images 

Can you become rich selling on Amazon? Yes. 

Does everyone? No. 

Have all the best opportunities gone? Probably. 

Is it still worth investing in? Absolutely.

5) Start Freelancing 

Suppose you’re looking for online business ideas without investment, where all you sell is yourself. In that case, freelancing could be for you. 

Freelancing is a simple business concept. You gain or have a skill that others need, then sell it to them. If that appeals to you, you have something in common with 36% of the current US workforce, and it’s growing in popularity by the day.

Anyone with the skills required and a solid work ethic can become a freelancer. So, if you’re a writer, web designer, translator, tutor, or consultant (more on those last two next), you could be in business.

How freelancing works:

A freelancer is everything an employee isn’t.

All this means is that you have to find your own work, choose who you work for, when you work, and set your own rates. The downside is you don’t receive benefits such as sick pay, holiday pay, or health insurance.

You can find work by advertising on relevant platforms. Employment can be on a contractual basis, retainer, or on the rare occasion, a full-time contract, but at a distance.

The benefits of freelancing:

I’m a freelance writer, so I’ll tell you why I chose it; perhaps you’ll relate. 

Freedom. Not the drop-everything-and-live-in-a-beach-hut-kind, but hey, if that’s what you’re looking for, then you can do precisely that as long as you have an internet connection.

I’m talking about the freedom to build a business that’s solely reliant on you. 

That’s a rare thing, and it doesn’t suit everyone. It takes a lot of hard work, but freelancing can be the best job in the world if you stick to it.

Quick freelance start tips:  

  1. If you already have your skill, find a profitable niche and focus on it
  2. If not, find one you’re passionate about
  3. Get qualified
  4. Write your profile and bio
  5. Register on relevant platforms
  6. Build a small website
  7. Define your target clients
  8. Get all the legal stuff in order
  9. Always pitch yourself with your target clients in mind

The great news for budding freelancers is there are now numerous platforms you can advertise on; however if you do, you’re competing with thousands of others. My advice: Go in the opposite direction to the crowd by promoting via your own website. 

6) Become an Online Tutor 

A lot like freelancing, an online tutor has a skill they sell to a client, and it’s an online business idea you can start today. 

Of course, many online tutors are teachers who’ve chosen to step out of the physical working environment and into the virtual. But you don’t have to be a teacher; college students and other professions can tutor too. 

An online tutor’s premise is to provide extra help to someone using the skills they have from already experiencing the subject. The help can come in the form of deeper explanations and understanding, helping students prepare for exams, college-entrance tests, and more.

How becoming a tutor works: 

List yourself on a tutoring platform or build your own website and provide one-on-one lessons to a student using an interactive digital classroom.

In other words, your computer.

The benefits of online tutoring: 

You’re in high demand, so once you establish yourself, there’s a high chance you’ll have more work than you can handle.

But of course, there’s also the freedom aspect to online tutoring. For many, it’s an opportunity to leave the mundane 9-5 lifestyle and gain some control back. For others, it’s a way of supplementing their retirement.

Quick tutoring start tips:  

  • Get qualified
  • Choose an advertising platform 
  • Create a LinkedIn and Facebook profile 
  • Build a simple website
  • Brand yourself as a professional
  • Use a bio and profile photo that suits your intended audience

7) Start a Consultancy Business 

A consultant is much like a tutor, providing professional advice and opinions for a fee to individuals and organizations on a broad range of subjects based on their expertise. However, consultants can charge a considerably higher rate. 

The definitive difference between a good and a bad consultant is knowledge and a passion for helping others. So, if you have those attributes, why not charge for them?

How consulting works: 

As with most freelance occupations, you gain experience and expertise in a specific niche. Then you advertise yourself as the go-to authority by building a client profile, testimonials, and highlighting your service via your online platforms.

Clients generally hire per project and will pay either by the hour or by the project.

The benefits of consultancy:

Diversity is the reason many choose to become an online consultant due to the vast range of projects and the variety of clients available.

You can also gain experience across several sectors, countries, and industries, and, of course, the travel opportunities are endless.

To start a consultancy business:  

  1. Identify your area of expertise
  2. Set your goals
  3. Create a website
  4. Get qualified
  5. Choose your target market
  6. List your offerings
  7. Set your rates
  8. Network with people in your business
  9. Build a repeatable system to attract and close clients

8) Create a YouTube Channel 

If you’re looking for an online business idea you can start quickly, and you’re comfortable on camera, creating a YouTube channel could be the perfect fit.

How YouTube works:

On YouTube, you can upload and store videos. Those videos can then be promoted on other platforms such as social media, websites, and email. Once your video is uploaded, you can choose to screen it publicly or privately.

You can use YouTube to promote content to an audience targeted by their demographics or general interest in a topic.

Advertisers can also use YouTube to promote products, paying each time someone views their video.

The benefits of YouTube:

Every business, especially new ones, needs to identify its target audience. This will enable you to target and sell your products appropriately.

From this, you’ll also start to understand how to market yourself appropriately and in a way that’s affordable.

YouTube ticks all these boxes by enabling you to reach a global community fast and is an extremely cost-effective way of doing it.

Some more benefits of creating a YouTube channel:

  • It has a global audience of 2.3 billion users
  • It’s extremely versatile: 79% of Internet users have a YouTube account
  • Your content keeps on running
  • You can use it to build profitable email lists
  • Audiences can share and promote your business for you 

Quick YouTube start tips: 

  1. Make your content searchable using relevant keywords
  2. Use consistent branding to create awareness
  3. Grab viewer attention with optimized thumbnails
  4. Include CTA’s (calls-to-action) to increase engagement rates
  5. Consistently engage with your YouTube community
  6. Cross-promote your YouTube channel on all your social media platforms
  7. Reformat and reuse existing content

9) Build a Dropshipping Business 

Dropshipping enables you to act as a middle person between consumers and the product itself.

You sell the product via your website and the manufacturer delivers it. The result is you don’t have to purchase, stock, or ship products.

How dropshipping works:

Let’s use the Shopify platform as an example.

You find a profitable niche, a suitable product, and a supplier using a supplier database.

In Shopify’s case, the Oberlo app is this database, connecting your website to thousands of suppliers. These suppliers are on a platform called AliExpress dropshipping.

You then agree on terms with a supplier and start promoting their products.

Once a customer buys something off the site, you fulfill the order using your app. The Oberlo app is automated, so all you do is click order, and you’re done. The product order is sent directly to AliExpress, and they ship directly to the customer.

The benefits of dropshipping:

The benefits are numerous, especially for budding entrepreneurs with limited capital and experience. And, dropshipping is accessible to everyone, anywhere, and you can test different business and product ideas without financial risk.

Some more reasons why you should consider dropshipping:  

  • Easy to start
  • You don’t need previous experience 
  • Low overhead costs
  • Location flexible 
  • An endless selection of product and market opportunities
  • Easy to test
  • Easy to scale

Quick dropshipping start tips: 

  1. Select a profitable niche
  2. Conduct competitor research
  3. Secure your supplier
  4. Build your eCommerce website
  5. Create a marketing plan
  6. Analyze and optimize

10) Sell on eBay 

Here’s an online business you can test from the comfort of your home while clearing it out at the same time!

eBay is a website where individuals and businesses can sell one-off items, or a production line of products, new and second-hand products, ranging from books to boats and hats to holidays.

How selling on eBay works: 

eBay is essentially an auction site.

You list a product, add photos and a description, set a minimum price and an end date, and people bid on your product. However, you can also use it as a sales channel with a fixed price per item. 

As eBay is global, you can sell locally and internationally, but unlike other sale platforms, there is no fulfillment center, so you’re responsible for the delivery or pick-up arrangements.

The benefits of eBay: 

You can start by selling stuff you no longer need, which is an excellent way of learning about the platform before actually investing money in stock. 

Other benefits are:

  • eBay says sellers connect with over 155 million buyers globally
  • There’s no limit on product sales
  • Your eBay store is brandable
  • eBay is very flexible for the seller 
  • There are numerous seller tools (apps) to help you succeed
  • Buyers trust eBay
  • It has lower sales fees than other platforms

Quick eBay start tips: 

  1. Use eBay’s templates to build your listings
  2. Review similar listings before pricing your products
  3. Use local pick-up for items sold near your home
  4. Learn about seller limits
  5. Don’t sell problematic items
  6. Only sell high-quality products
  7. Provide excellent customer service
  8. Improve your customer feedback score

Over to You

You read this post because you want the option B lifestyle, right? 

Perhaps you either didn’t know it existed, or were unsure of how to obtain it. But now you do. You no longer have to live the option A lifestyle.

My advice is to read through our list again and choose the one that suits who you are or want to become. Then research it like your future depends on it. But most of all, don’t wait, because the life you want to live is a reality.

And now’s the time to live it.

About the author

Terry O' Toole
+ posts
Terry O'Toole is a freelance writer, scuba instructor, and serial entrepreneur who spends most of his life sailing from one country to another, starting businesses as he goes. He has no plans to stop and believes we're here to live our dreams and fulfill our potential and tries to inspire and help others to believe it too. When not doing that, you'll find him kicking back on his boat, perfecting the art of Wu Wei.
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