Universities and colleges across the U.S.
Small Business Ideas
Our massive list of the best, new small business ideas is designed to inspire you to come up with your own ideas and start a side-hustle that is sustainable and profitable.
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Please provide a short title and summary (plus your twitter handle) that explains how and why the idea would work. We'll post it to the list and share it with the world (along with a bit of twitter love for you).
Browse our list of ideas
Sell edible biodegradable plastics
Why on Earth would you want to eat a plastic grocery bag? The answer is, you wouldn't.
But wildlife on both land and sea don't know this and get killed ingesting plastic.
What we need are bags that degrade very quickly and can be safely eaten.
Create a cheap, environmentally friendly plastic grocery bag from natural oils and resins - like EnviGreen in India:
Consumers are more environmentally conscious; so start inventing and selling edible plastics today.
Affiliate Fundraiser App for Non-Profits
Online affiliate programs allow publishers to add links to their content that drive traffic to a merchant who shares a percent of any profits generated by that traffic. It doesn't cost the buyer a thing either.
Create an app that grabs affiliate commission from users' traffic and goes to a charity or organisation of their choice.
Donors would create an account, specify which charities they would like to support and then shop normally. Your app would automatically grab affiliate commissions and disburse them to the charity.
Your company would take a small commission for promoting the charities and managing their payments.
Ride sharing marketplace app
Design an app that tracks users' trips each day (ostensibly to and from work). Then, once it has matched a person's trips with people who do much the same trip each day it allows them to request lifts from each other.
The app charges people half the petrol for the distance of the trip so you get a free trip if you drive two people, and make money for more people.
Payments are made via the app. It simply transfers funds to your account from theirs (and vice versa) - depending on who's driving. Top-up funds by in-app purchases of credit or request a payment if you've earned cash.
It's like Uber for ride sharing!
Save on bills service
We all hate paying bills, right? Electricity, water, rates, cable, and a host of other bills keep coming in every month. Companies and individuals would love to save money where they can, and that's where you come in.
Offer a free service that negotiates better deals from providers. Analyze clients' usage and payment plans to see where and how they can save money, like billcutterz.
Grow quickly by offering to only take commission if you manage to save money for your clients - so that there is no risk to them.
Pop-up ad agency using bikes
Get billboards and other ads into hard to reach places using a team of cyclists. Find advertisers who want to reach out to consumers at beach parties, parks and other places that would otherwise be difficult for traditional advertisers.
In particular, local advertisers might relish the chance to have a bike drawn billboard ridden around town. Public service messages may also play a big role in your business.
Buy a few bikes. Hitch them to billboard trailers. Start selling ad space.
Pokemon Go levelled up characters
Heard about Pokemon Go? It's an augmented reality game that hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people are playing. With that much interest, there is plenty of opportunity to offer paid services or free, advertising supported information.
Niantic, the game's developers, have reported generating over $200 million in micro payments for in-game items so far. But, for players, earning these items can be time-consuming.
Create, buy and sell beginner accounts that give people the option of buying a levelled up character who comes with valuable items, such as lucky eggs & lure modules to save them time.
Niche online marketplace
Certain niches are well suited to the online world. Dating sites & freelancing are two examples of common online marketplaces, but there are plenty more that haven't been saturated.
We recently covered a university startup called Ag for Hire that connects skilled, seasonal labourers with the farmers who need them - it helps workers find jobs and helps farmers eliminate unharvested crops.
Search for other undiscovered niche demand/supply relationships and start one for free. Charge for premium services and advertising once it is established.
Sugar free mixers
We all have a fairly high sugar intake. Most products we eat or drink have huge amounts of sugar that we don't get to see... but it's there. Many mixers, like tonic water, appear to be quite plain whereas they can actually contain up to four teaspoons of sugar in a small can.
Consumers are starting to catch on to this and are looking for low or sugar free alternatives (that taste natural).
Create and market a line of mixer drinks for pubs and bars to sell to patrons who want to add something extra to their drinks and cocktails - without it going straight to their hips and waistlines. A healthy alternative to "party the night away".
'How to save money' app or website
More and more people are looking for ways to save money - either at home or in their business. In fact, it's easy to see just how many people are interested by looking at Google's search volumes for terms like 'how to save money':
These are fairly big markets with relatively low competition - because the majority of searchers are trying to find ways to save money, not spend it.
But, if you can create an app or website that offers a mix of real-world money saving advice along with lists of the biggest discounts and savings, you'll have a loyal following, low advertising costs and plenty of potentially profitable affiliate partnerships.
Paintball tick and flea bath
Many herd animals are susceptible to diseases spread by ticks, flies and fleas, so being able to provide them with some protection without having to tranquilize them would be of fantastic use to many farmers and wildlife agencies.
Use paint balls filled with tick and flea bath and douse the animals to give them long lasting protection from a range of diseases - sell both equipment and a paintballing service.
Considering that tranquillizing wild animals in order to check their health can often end up killing them - gruesomely; paintball is actually far more humane and less stressful on the animals.
Sales data driven product comparison reviews
Being able to show that one product actually sold more than its competitor is a fairly powerful piece of data to share with potential buyers - and it's easy to do.
Here's a sales graph comparing three best-selling books using data from RankTracer Enterprise:
By tracking lots of different products you could build up a brilliant site full of interesting comparison reviews, including the extra dimension of added sales graphs and analytics, to help readers choose which product to buy.
It would be easy to make money with Amazon affiliate links to the reviewed products.
Combined gym and dating app
Combine a common activity, like going to the gym, with a dating app so that people can take small personal training classes together and meet interesting new people at the same time.
The app could let you specify the type of class you're interested in, along with the type of person, to match both at the same time. The next time you go to gym class it could be with the love of your life.
What's nice is that the "date" is low stress because you are both doing exercise, so if you don't hit it off at least you can still get fit.
Train drug and disease sniffing rats
Becoming a rat trainer is probably not something that every little girl or boy dreams of. But, if you're good with animals then rats might just be your ticket to the big time.
Rats are extremely intelligent and have an incredible sense of smell. This means that, like dogs, they can be trained to detect signs of disease, drugs, explosives, and other toxins and chemicals. But, they require far less investment per trained animal compared to dogs, meaning that there is opportunity.
Train your rats to detect TB (and possibly cancer) and lease them to hospitals. Train 'em to smell drugs and lease them to port and air authorities.
Upcycle cardboard into 'cats love boxes' toy
Cats love boxes. We all know this. Almost any cat lover will tell you that the expensive scratching posts they bought for their cats were duly ignored in favor of sitting in the packaging it came in.
Packaging contributes a huge amount of waste material from landfills, so why not put together a hamper of different cardboard box sizes (packaged in the biggest box) and sell this as a cat toy.
Not only will you save tonnes of waste each year, but you'll provide a cheap, hilarious toy for cats and their owners to enjoy together. Not to mention all the funny YouTube videos you could use as marketing for your products.
There's an awesome new design out of the Netherlands that lets you quickly fill up a bag with air, tie it at one end and, hey presto, you have a comfy place to lie around and hang out with friends.
This is so convenient and user friendly that people are going to want it for everything from concerts, to hanging around at varsity, to trips to the beach.
While LamZak has pioneered it, there's no reason you can't get your own start locally and capture a bit of market share. Sell your products online as it folds up into a compact, lightweight bag that is cheap to ship.
Cancel unwanted subscriptions app
How many of us have joined a gym, eventually stopped going, but continued to pay the subscription fee for months, if not years?
I've done it, and there are millions of people out there who are wasting money on unwanted subscriptions every day. That's a big market for a clever little app that scans your bank bills, finds monthly subscriptions or direct debits, and cancels them (if they prove to be unwanted).
Unfortunately, you've already got competition in the form of Truebill:
But, there's room for more than one fish in this sea. Pity I only found this now. It would have saved me a packet on gym, cable, and other bills that went unnoticed for way too long.
Rapid response, prison yard protection drones
Prison inmates are using their contacts on the outside to drop drugs and weapons into prison yards, making it almost impossible for guards to stem the flow of illicit goods.
One way to handle this is to fight fire with fire. Create solar powered induction panels that allow rapid response drones to perch on top of guard towers. These can respond quickly to take down drones that fly into prison airspace.
How do they do a takedown?
I would attach fine, strong filaments to the bottom of the defence drones. They fly over the target drone and the filaments get pulled out and twisted into its rotors , bringing it down.
Automatic LED walking/hiking shoes for night-time
Walking or hiking at night can be fraught with peril - especially when camping in the wilderness. Kids can often be scared to move around at night too. Wouldn't it be easier to have shoes that lit up when you put them on, and switch off when you remove 'em?
Slippers for kids have been done (like these unicorns):
and adults too:
But what about hiking boots or trail runners? Incorporate existing lighting technology into these and market to serious campers and night time joggers/walkers.
Anti-monster spray bottles for kids
Parents of young kids might really value a "magic spray" that rids their kids' bedrooms of ghouls, ghosts, and monsters. It's a nice little present that could also make bedtime a lot more easy to handle.
Design funny and entertaining stickers for your spray bottles and make those available directly to parents who want to make their own home-made monster spray without having to buy the whole bottle.
Do a creative enough job and you could even create a range of "must have monsters" that you can spray for.
Smart, touch-screen mirrors
Wouldn't it be great to be able to keep track of the time while straightening your hair? Or, catch the latest news and sports headlines while in the shower?
The technology to make touch-screen mirrors already exists, but no-one has jumped on that bandwagon. Although, one inventive guy made his own smart mirror prototype using a two-way mirror, display panel, controller and a few other bits and bobs.
While that particular mirror can't be controlled with touch, there's no reason your 2.0 version shouldn't be.
Up-cycle light fixtures
It's amazing how many used products and packaging can be turned into awesome, creatively designed light fixtures. Everything from wine bottles to old bowls can be cut, painted, glued and repurposed into chandeliers, lamp shades and even candle holders.
What's more, these types of light fightings go very well with many types of interior decor - especially industrial and modern looks.
Source old products, like wine bottles, for free from places that would otherwise have to spend time and energy taking them to the dump. Find creative ways to convert them into beautiful, high quality fittings and sell them online via your own store, or other platforms like Amazon and Etsy.
Custom big game drinks coasters
There are big games almost every day - from super bowl to Ryder cup golf, tennis, rugby, soccer, athletics, you name it. Big sporting events are big bucks for pubs and bars, so why not help them make the most of it?
Design custom drinks coasters that use the big game to get patrons involved. You could have coasters that enforce a drink penalty if a certain player fumbles, and allows a drink nomination if they score. Something like this (but on coasters):
Build relationships with bars and pubs and they'll be ordering stacks of custom coasters before each big game because they know it makes for great entertainment - and bigger profits.
Sell floating house plants and bonsai
How awesome would it be to have a bonsai slowly rotating as it floats gracefully above it's bowl? Sounds like science fiction? It's actually super easy to do and looks very striking:
Design some tasteful magnetic bonsai bowls. Wrap the root mass of the tree in a metallic cover and make sure you get the weights and balance right (this is the tricky part), so you get something like this:
Once you have some floating plants, start up a website and sell 'em online, or locally.
Treasure hunt adventure holiday tour operator
There is a growing global demand for adventures out of the ordinary. Set up a tour operator business that takes tourists around all the best attractions in your region, or country. You could offer several holiday packages ranging from backpacker style to five stars - all doing the same epic adventure.
To market your new holiday concept, offer a great prize or prizes for the holidaymakers that collect all the clues or solve the puzzle.
Get the local hospitality industry and tourism board to buy into the idea too. Think along the lines of a famous pub putting up a clue (they'd love the extra foot traffic this would bring).
Hidden sculpture candles
The humble candle has been around for quite a long time in its standard form. Sure, there are scented candles and plenty of different shapes, colors and sizes, but the time is right for an update to candle 2.0.
Create boutique candles that reveal a sculpture as they burn down. There's a great example of a dinosaur egg candle that burns down to reveal a baby dinosaur sitting in its egg:
Come up with your own ideas. Be creative. Come in at under $45 per unit cost. Then market and sell 'em via your local stores, and online. This is something that would do great on a platform like Etsy.
Professional skills investor for startups
Across the world there are entrepreneurs with great ideas who don't know how to get to market and build a profitable business. There is a huge demand in the startup space for people with time and the right skills. It could be Web design skills. Marketing skills. Business planning. Operational support. Whatever people need.
Attend local entrepreneur mixers and events and negotiate deals to work with startups to help bring them to market. Unless they're funded, it's unlikely you'll get much of a salary, but you should get an equity share, which will have value if the company succeeds.
Your success will be determined by how well you can identify and back winners.
Online drone repair and maintenance service
Something like 45 000 drones were registered within two days of the Federal Drone Registration site going live. Potentially, another 400 000 more drones would have been sold over the holiday season, 2015 - 2016.
That is a lot of drones that are going to be flown into trees, buildings, power lines, people, and even other drones.
Set up a professional online repair service for drones. Customers can mail their drones to you, have them repaired, and sent back in the post (or potentially delivered back to them via drone - Amazon style).
Solar powered parking lots for city commuters
No one enjoys sitting in traffic jams. What if you could park your car in a secure, shaded lot on the outskirts of town and catch electric shuttles (that run continuously) into work?
Buy a patch of land near a main highway. Set up a solar farm with panels that act as parking lot shade. Use the energy to power a fleet of electric shuttles.
Shopping malls & offices are already using solar parking on a smaller scale:
The beauty is that people will spend less on fuel and city parking, and traffic congestion will ease up significantly. Plus, you'll probably get tax and other benefits for reducing emissions and taking cars off the roads.
Sell solar powered air purifiers
Consider the problem of smog:
Luckily, all you need in order to take a lot of harmful stuff out of air is to suck it through water. This could be powered by wind or solar (on the roof), before being fed into the building's air system. It would also be a great way to combat pollution in cities.
People in countries like China are already prepared to pay $20 for a bottle of fresh Canadian air, so there is a "clean air" market:
Loading icons ad agency
Advertisers are hungry for decent exposure and there is something we look at every single day that is just begging for a paid ad makeover - the loading bar.
Regardless of whether you are waiting for a game to load, or a piece of software to install, it is possible to animate that loading bar, to show something more interesting. Imagine a frosty cold glass of your favourite beverage filling up, instead of a blue line:
Make deals with brands to 'sponsor' games/software developers in return for loading bar animation ads that show each time it loads. Take a percentage commission for putting deals together.
Robotic sports coaches & trainers
Robots are getting better and better at doing human tasks. In fact, there is already a robot that will beat you at rock-paper-scissors 100% of the time:
But, that's not all they can do.
They can now play sports, and they're getting pretty good at it. We're nearly at the point where we could use existing technologies to provide some serious training partners for professional sports people.
Table tennis (ping pong) is a great example:
Hip, stylish accessories for shoes
People spend a lot of money pimping out their rides. Why should shoes be any different? After all, shoes are a big part of any fashion statement.
Design and sell a range of hip accessories that can change the look and feel of a single pair of shoes. This will mean people can dress up or down but only spend big bucks on a single pair of nice shoes.
You can do everything from clip in flowers, to lace in wings, to stick on decals, to outrageous bling:
There's lots of money to be made by starting the newest fashion craze. Have fun. Be creative.
Everyone loves a good cup of coffee to wake them up in the morning (generally before having to speak to anyone at the office). But why should coffee be the sole provider of pep?
Think about other common, household food and snacks that might benefit from a bit of extra zing. There's a company called Steem doing caffeinted peanut butter, for example:
Start an online store and sell a range of foodstuffs that come with a bit of added caffeine, so that people's lunchtime sandwich can also be their lunchtime pick-me-up.
New life skills app for kids
Kids are super comfortable with mobile devices, which makes tablets and smartphones a great medium to impart valuable skills.
Since most apps focus on education related topics like learning to read and write, why not make an app that offers fun eLearning content to teach kids valuable life skills? It could be anything, from learning to tie their shoe laces, to understanding weather, looking both ways before crossing a street, or knowing about dangerous or poisonous wildlife.
Teaching kids important life lessons might help them avoid potentially serious situations. Or hilarious ones, like this:
'Twisted' store for millenials
People, in particular younger generations, are looking for something different and unique that speaks to their particular lifestyles and sense of humour.
There are stacks and stacks of traditional products that could be "twisted" to appeal to a quirky new generation. Don't believe me? Check out this Zombie apocalypse garden gnome:
A good way to find or create new products would be to follow trends on sites like 9gag. Get it right and you could enjoy thousands of these:
Start afternoon or early evening classes in your neighborhood that caters to kids/teens and teaches them about running their own business. Offer them a fun and useful learning experience and parents will love it (not least because you are taking the kids off their hands for a while).
Many leading entrepreneurs think we should be doing this in schools, but you can get ahead of the curve by starting after-school classes now. Cameron Herold gave a TED talk on this very topic:
Appified pub quiz masters
Lots of local pubs and bars in your area may want to organize quiz nights to keep the locals entertained and coming back for more. But quizzes only work with interesting questions and great organization.
Fortunately, that's quick and easy to do these days because there are some fantastic apps available to manage quiz evenings - like the one shown in this video:
Get a couple of friends together. Practice your quizmaster skills, and then drive around town organizing quiz evenings. Patrons can pay a small entry fee that goes to you, and bar owners get the benefit of more paying customers.
Companies are always looking for great things to do at their end of year functions. Each year there is a swelling demand for fun activities and events to both entertain and build morale.
Train up a bunch of awesome Santa's, complete with elves, and get them to hand out free presents to staff. But it doesn't have to stop there...
Get other companies to sponsor free gifts. This could act as marketing for them (i.e. stationary companies could give free pens and pencils). Offer a range of gift packages that companies can choose from to give to their staff.
Then expand into other events. Birthday parties. Bachelor and hen parties. Valentine's days. Pretty soon you'll be operating every day of the year.
Check out how this farmer is using Shep, the world's first drone sheepdog:
But are sheepdog's the only thing drones could be used for? Absolutely not.
How great would it be to have a drone scarecrow. Instead of being stationary, silent and ineffective your drone could periodically leap into action and make a noise and flash some lights before settling down onto it's induction charging platform. What about scaring birds off runways using drones that look like eagles or other predators?
Use your imagination to come up with cool new uses, buy some drones, give them the functionality they need and go market 'em.
There's a strong trend towards healthier eating and living these days, with consumers becoming more concious about ensuring their food is healthy.
But, it's hard to exert any control over what goes on 'behind the scenes' before the food arrives at your local grocery store.
That's a gap you can exploit.
Set up a website that acts as a marketplace to buy fresh produce direct from the farmers who supply your city. Cut out the middle man and get townies to explore and choose their favourite farms (I know I'd buy at a farm like this):
Plus, farmers will love it because it gives them an exciting new channel to sell their produce.
Online media networking pro
Small businesses are beginning to feel squeezed out of free organic search traffic, as Google funnels conversions away for its own profit.
Because organic search revenue is declining, many entrepreneurs have started migrating back to more traditional outreach methods - nurturing relationships with influencers and the media.
Now is a great time to ride a growing wave of demand for contacts and connections in online media and publishing. Set up an online media relations agency that helps small businesses build relationships with the journalists and bloggers who can help build their brand and get valuable exposure.
You'll be far more popular than the marketing automation tools that offer cool features, but often fail to build meaningful human to human relationships.
Lifestyle technology consultant
Do you love gadgets, science and technology? Do you spend hours looking at the latest tech innovations and how they can improve our lives? If the answer is yes, then you might have what it takes to help people choose the best devices to suit their lifestyles.
Help people modernize their homes with connected devices, go off-grid with solar and wind power, recharge their devices by converting high frequency radio waves that are all around us, and much more.
Combine your love of technology with a profitable consulting practice and make a cut on the gadgets and technology you sell direct to your clients.
Twitter direct seller
Do you have a following on Twitter? Do you have access to cool, unique, cheap, or interesting products? If you have something to sell, then you'll be pleased to know that it is now possible to include 'Buy now' buttons directly into tweets.
The great thing is that it is super easy to do with Shopify eCommerce website builder. Any product listed on your store, that you tweet about, will automatically come with a Buy now button that makes it easy for followers to purchase directly from Twitter.
So, if the exciting world of eCommerce is calling, then lead the pack by becoming one of the world's first Twitter direct sellers.
I love a good cup of coffee as much as the next person. Most of us do. And that's why there is so much used coffee available as a reusable material. It's cheap, widely available and plentiful - in fact, some coffee shops will pay you to come and pick it up.
Now, you won't be the first person to recycle coffee into different things. Here' a great idea that's already out there:
Don't like mushrooms? How about using coffee based 3D printing materials?
Real time Twitter deals
It can be difficult to find great specials in a mall without visiting each and every store to see what they have.
Imagine if each of the stores could tweet real time specials to a single account, like @localmall, offering huge deals for a limited time. Customers watching their smartphones could be the first to reach a blowout sale.
Now imagine being the entrepreneur who goes to all the stores and explains how this works. Stores could sign up for free, and tweet to the mall's real-time deals account (which you provide), but subscribe for premier accounts that allow for images, more tweets, promoted tweets, etc.
All you have to do is set up the tweet management system and promote the concept (and give us 5% when you sell for millions ;).
Mobile corporate coffee barista
There are seven of us working in the office here and we go through a lot of coffee. A lot of coffee indeed. We worked out it would be cheaper to hire a barista to serve coffee than to continue buying two or three cups each per day from the nearby cafe.
We've since bought a machine, but really, coffee made by a decent barista is much nicer. Set up shop as a mobile coffee barista, perhaps like this:
You could get office workers to put in their orders ahead of time via an app, and fulfil those orders when you arrive. Then, on to the next office. Come back in the afternoon to give everyone a much needed boost.
Automatic electric car battery refill station
We all know one of the biggest hurdles that electric vehicles have to overcome is the availability of recharge stations, and the time it takes to fully recharge a battery.
Well, that's just stupid. A gas station for electric vehicles should simply swop out an empty battery for a charged one. This would mean car designers have to redesign their vehicles to allow batteries to be plug-n-play.
The battery station could run an automated inspection of the drained battery to ensure it is not damaged before allowing "the transaction". Customers would then essentially rent their car battery and only pay for charge they use.
The batteries would simply be swopped out, charged at the station, and swopped back into another vehicle when needed.
Public device (drone) charging stations
Mobile devices are already here. Unmanned drones are coming. All these devices need to be charged - especially drones - and this can be automated with magnetic induction charging stations.
Why not setup "charging stations" around the city that can charge any type of device in return for an automated payment?
Customers could pay credit into their account and register their devices online. Then, when the drone lands for a recharge (at any point around the city where you placed induction charging platforms), it can be tracked and payment deducted from the customer's balance.
Municipal drone services
Drones are getting a lot of press these days as new and innovative uses come to light. Why not get ahead of the trend by offering drone oriented services to your municipality? Think along the lines of monitoring traffic congestion and other types of transport related research that might otherwise be time-consuming and expensive.
what about crowd control at rallies, concerts and other events? Drones could be fitted with cameras and loudspeakers to help organizers monitor their events and improve crowd safety.
Every day drones are becoming more sophisticated and cheaper, so now is the time find a good supplier, learn how to use and operate the devices, and start marketing.
Baby boomer tech advisor
There are a lot of baby boomers, and many of them are making the leap to utilize new technologies - with varying degrees of success.
But, this is an important demographic with relatively high levels of disposable income who have a problem that you can solve. They need help learning about their new gadgets, the cloud, apps, and all the other trappings of the modern world.
Offer a service that specifically helps this group leverage the latest technology to improve their lives. You might even consider some sort of subscription service that offers on-demand answers to common tech issues.
Appify hard to reach data
Building mobile apps is all the rage, and yes, there is lots and lots of competition in that field - precisely because it is so quick and easy to develop apps these days.
But, you can make difference by creating an app that takes existing data that is either not easy to access, or not widely known, and put it into an app that can really help people. If you can get your hands on useful info, then your app could be a huge success.
Think along the lines of an app that tells people where traffic is congested, or where the surf is great, or where weather conditions are right for [insert activity] - or whatever you can imagine.
"Good idea" retailer
The Internet is stuffed full of great or innovative ideas from people all around the world. The problem is that most of these ideas never get turned into a great product and sold for profit.
Take a look at how to crack a nut with a spring:
It's cool idea and would make for a nice little gift. Lots of people would buy one, given the chance.
Trawl the Internet for cool product ideas that aren't necessarily widespread, and start selling online via your own store, eBay, online classifieds, or even a physical shop or craft market stall.
Boutique event organizer
Organize a semi-regular up-scale event showcasing local foods, wines and scenic places to people who want a unique experience. Think along the lines of setting up a huge banquet table under the shade of a tree on a local farm and providing a fantastic outdoor wine & dinner event for up to, say, 100 people at a time.
A great example is Outlandish kitchen:
Change each event to offer something new and build relationships with the people who attend so that it becomes an occasion they look forward to. Do a good job and you'll quickly grow a loyal following who are prepared to pay a premium for the experience you offer.
International 'feel at home' store
Most western countries have fairly diverse and cosmopolitan cities that attract workers and visitors from all over the world.
Many of these highly skilled, highly paid professionals long for things (mainly comfort foods) from their home countries.
A good example is the large South African community living in London (most of whom work in finance and accounting - highly lucrative positions) who love biltong (a type of jerky):
Start an online store and market 'feel at home' products directly to foreign citizens living in your town, region or state.
Affiliate based service provider
Almost every modern business, no matter what industry it is in, has a specific set of requirements that can be met using a variety of online technologies - in particular, online and cloud based services.
If you have experience in accounting/book-keeping, for example, you might set up a service that helps other businesses integrate their accounts with one of the leading cloud based accounting solutions, like Quickbooks online.
There are many different types of services you could offer, depending on your experience. All you need do is find a good affiliate marketer in your niche.
And, instead of charging high fees for the work you do, undercut competitors by taking commission on affiliate relations instead.
Out of hours online outsourcing
You're probably accustomed to interacting with outsourced support and other call centre type services based in India, right?
But the world is evolving rapidly, and there is a very good chance that (no matter where you live), there is a company somewhere else that needs to employ someone like you.
Many foreign companies desperately need skills and expertise (like English) that are fairly commonplace in the West. Turn this to your advantage by helping them meet the needs of their business while they sleep (during office hours, your time).
The hardest part about this is approaching new companies and convincing them to take you on. But, as soon as you have a few contracts, there's plenty of room to grow by employing a few people to work with you.
Local events app
Create an app that allows people to find out what dining, entertainment and fun events are on in their city or town.
For this to work you would need to build relationships with local nightclubs, restaurants, theatres, and any other local hospitality based businesses.
Once there are enough people using your app, you can start charging companies for exposure on your platform, and use franchise agreements to spread to other towns and cities. Be careful, apps like Gravy are already growing fast in this niche:
Ever tried to sell something online through a site like Gumtree? It can be a real test of patience and ultimately a significant drain on your time.
That's why, at least for bigger items with a bit of value, it is much easier for people to give your new startup a mandate to sell their stuff only in return for a commission - say, 10%.
You help people by selling their second hand goods, converting unwanted items into cash, and saving them time and effort.
In return, you get stock to sell without having to warehouse and deliver it. All you need do is advertise and sell it, and collect the commission.
Hot towel shave barbershop
For most men, getting a haircut is a grudge purchase - a regular imposition that we are all subjected to in order to stay looking professional (or stylishly ungroomed, whatever).
The point is that there is a definite gap in the market for a haircut combined with a relaxing, old time hot towel shave.
Incorporating a hot towel shave turns an inconvenience into a relaxing experience. I know, I recently tried one and am an immediate convert.
Here's your chance to offer a great service that keeps men coming back every 4 - 6 weeks.
"Free pets" pet store
I got a tiny djungarian hamster as a present from my girlfriend. She got it for me because the pet store owner gave it to her for free, because he had too many.
But she had to pay for the cage, complete with slide, see-saw and en-suite running ball, plus food and a few other things.
It cost next to nothing to have plenty of pets for sale because small fluffy animals tend to breed very quickly, and eat super cheap seed.
So market yourself as a "free pet store" that gives pets away for free, but make money selling customers other necessary items, like cute little cages, feed, nesting material, etc.
New meme promoter
New memes pop onto the scene from time to time as they grab the attention of the big social networks and go viral. A good example is Grumpy cat:
Often, there is a substantial amount of money to be made by capitalizing on the popularity of these memes. And, the people responsible for setting new memes in motion aren't necessarily equipped to generate revenue from their new-found online popularity.
Identify and promote new memes, helping them to go viral and generate profits - taking a performance based cut for your efforts.
Extreme weather support specialist
In general, the weather is becoming more violent and more unpredictable as global warming changes things.
The U.S. is currently experiencing mind-numbing cold, while Australia burns up.
There is going to be an ever increasing demand for advice and support for people suffering as a result of climatic changes.
Start a consultancy offering advice and support for companies looking to maintain productivity during periods of bad weather, and/or start a blog offering advice and tips on how to deal with extreme hot/cold or dry/wet weather conditions.
Imagine your job was to go on holiday, take plenty of pics and clips, and write about all the great experiences you have... and get paid to do it.
Being a professional holidaymaker is not as far-fetched as it might sound. The travel and tourism industry is huge, and there is plenty of room for top-notch bloggers to write about their travels.
Johnny Ward earns millions while travelling:
Take plenty of photos and video clips to share socially, and build up your followers. Make money by promoting the tips, travel packages, and other tourism related products and services you encounter along the way.
Arts & crafts seller
Are you good at making stuff? Are you super creative?
If you have the hankering to make stuff and earn cash selling it, then making and selling homemade arts and crafts could be the right business for you.
The good thing about selling online is that you don't have to be a pro to setup an eCommerce site. In fact, as of 2014, a cutting edge eCommerce store only costs around $20 to start.
And, what's more, you have plenty of online retail channels that help to cast a wide net and reach a big enough audience to make decent profits. Simply integrate your store with online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.
Online wedding services
The wedding industry is huge, and many younger couples use the Internet to locate and choose wedding related products and services.
There are in excess of 1.2 million monthly searches for wedding dresses, with 663 000 coming from the United States alone.
If you're not into fashion, what about Web development? You could offer quick and easy websites for engaged couples to manage their wedding, post photos, and share their special day with the world.
Maybe Web design is not your thing. How about designing wedding invites instead? There are over 246 000 monthly searches for wedding invitations in the U.S alone.
Fiverr Gig master
You've heard of Fiverr, right? It's an online community of people who offer to do stuff for $5.
Now, it might seem like there is very little money to be made from doing things for $5, and most of what's on offer there probably isn't worth even that.
But, Fiverr is an excellent place to market yourself for free! Especially if you can set up a situation in which you get people using something that is going to make you more money down the line.
For example, you could offer your expert advice on something for $5, and use this opportunity to market your professional services at the normal rate.
Local accommodation reviewer
Do you live in a town that enjoys a bit of tourism?
If so, then there might be an opportunity for you to start a review blog that does write-ups of all the local B&B's, motels, hotels, inns, and other accommodations.
Start by creating plenty of great reviews, with lots of great content that is focused on your region. This will start bringing in Google traffic from people thinking of holidaying in that area.
Once you can show business owners that you can bring them more customers, they will be prepared to pay a small annual fee to stay "featured" on your reivew site.
Plus you can make money on advertising.
One meal specialty kitchen
Is there one meal that you make better than anyone else in the whole world - a meal so tasty that long lost relatives come to visit just for a taste?
Open up a kitchen that only serves that one meal so that people with a hankering for that signature dish:
This idea already works in my home town with a local restaurant that only serves steak and chips (with a selection of drinks, of course). The thing is, it's the best in town; so it's always full.
Start gently by selling your meal at local markets, and work your way up to a restaurant. Create a website that allows people to order your food online too.
Freelance copywriter for SMEs
Industry research suggests that websites are starting to grow at a faster rate as more and more companies realize the benefits of a content marketing strategy.
While the market is such that you will still struggle to command reasonable prices for your copywriting skills, there is definitely a gap for anyone looking to capture a decent share of the market early on.
Make sure that your value offering is one of quality. Your copywriting skills need to be able to drive results - i.e. sales and profits for clients.
The more you can point to past success, the higher the hourly rate you can command.
Pay per performance online marketer
There isn't a company created that doesn't want new customers, higher conversion rates, or higher profits per conversion at one point or another.
In the online world, many people miss out on lots of revenue because they aren't necessarily familiar with the various strategies to monetize Website traffic.
Start a consultancy company that identifies promising sites that are generating traffic but clearly not montetizing it correctly.
Offer to use your expertise to start earning them more money in return for a share of the profits. Be careful though. Blogs and sites that are generating plenty of traffic may be very upset if you inadvertently cause a Google penalty that leads to a drop in Web traffic.
Make sure you know what you're doing!
Small business operations support
There are lots of startups & SMEs in your city or town, right?
Many of them are working inefficiently, or being distracted by administrative or operational chores that are preventing them focusing on growth.
Set up a company that helps other people streamline their operations by using the best and latest technologies. Provide consulting and advice, and go onto their premises to show staff how to use new tools, products and services.
Potentially, there are multiple revenue streams because you could take a cut on product and services sales, earn consulting revenue, or even offer administrative support services on a subscription basis.
Christian singles community
There is a large demand for Christian singles services online - especially in the U.S.
Help people of similar beliefs and faith find each other through an online community website that encourages interaction through Christian oriented activities.
Like all community based websites, this one will take a bit of time to find its target audience. Be prepared to market and promote aggressively, and be flexible and open to change as you go.
Make money through advertising, paid events, and premium community memberships/services.
Online translation service
If you are bilingual (or even a polyglot), then you can offer online translation services for businesses that need to translate their content into multiple languages.
In particular, Google has said that for SEO purposes translations should not be automated because they do not produce content of the same quality a native human speaker could.
This means that there will be a strengthening demand for good translators to be able to accurately translate content between languages in a human readable manner.
Build up a regular client base to ensure on-going work.
Monthly beauty and cosmetics gift box
Ladies love trying out the latest beauty products, from mascara and eyeliner to shampoos, conditioners and fragrances - so why not deliver them direct?
Set up a monthly subscription service that delivers an exciting new selection of beauty and cosmetics products each month at low cost.
Arrange discounts on beauty products with leading brands (who are generally happy for the marketing), so that the cost of your gift box remains low.
Sign up lots of people online (and to your email marketing list) and make money advertising new products, and up-selling.
Healthy meals on wheels
With many people unable to devote as much time to cooking healthy, delicious meals as they would like, there is a gap in the market for a home-cooked, healthy, family food delivery service.
Create weekly menus for customers looking to eat healthy, balanced dinners (and possibly lunches, if there's a market).
Market yourself online with delicious recipes and dietary tips, but be sure to target a local market to ensure that plenty of potential customers find your site, and start ordering meals.
Get it right, and there is real potential to grow through franchising.
Mobile personal trainer
If you're knowledgeable about training, physical fitness, health and wellness, then you can make money by training people at their homes or places of work.
Carry your workout equipment in the trunk of your car, and sell "personalized training plans from the comfort of your own home". Here are some insane pushups you can share with hardcore clients:
In order to make this idea profitable, you are going to have to charge higher rates than local gyms. But, if you can sell your service on better quality training, privacy, and convenience, you will build up a loyal client base.
Local adventure tour guide
What great activities and facilities are available in and around your home town? Is there hiking, kayaking, white water rafting, zorbing, roller coasters, snow boarding, etc?
Research and identify all the fun, healthy and active adventure type activities that are available in your region and secure deals and discounts to pass on to your customers.
Market yourself online with plenty of great content - blog posts, photos, video clips.
Be aware that it is likely you will need some sort of tour guide qualification, licencing, and permits.
Specialist bachelor and bachelorette party planner
Woo hoo! Time to put your party skills to use by planning the perfect bachelor party for the guys, and the perfect night out for the girls.
Research and identify fantastic local venues and entertainment destinations to partner with, and secure great deals and discounts to offer your customers.
Organize personalized night outs based on what the customer wants, how many people in the party, and what their budget is like.
Market yourself online by creating plenty of free party plans, but upsell your customized service that will get the most bang for your customer's buck.
Comprehensive "Act of dog" family pet consultant
Ok, so Act of Dog is just a cool name for this type of business - a comprehensive consultant and service provider for families with dogs, or wanting to buy dogs.
Get in on the ground floor by advising people on the right breed for their properties and family life. Then sell them all the products they need to care for their pet (i.e. dog food, dog bed, bowls, supplements, etc).
Provide a lodging service so that they can go away on holiday happy in the knowledge that their pet is well looked after - so this doesn't happen:
Help people enjoy a beloved family pet from start to finish!
Local event cleanup service
Does your town or city host a lot of events? Are there convention centers, parks, playgrounds, fairgrounds, and other public spaces that need to be tidied up after concerts and conventions?
Start a cleanup service that comes in after an event and restores everything back to its original glory.
Market yourself by making connections with local event organizers and management of venues.
You will need a vehicle, and potentially come specialized cleaning equipment.