SME Pals is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Unusual work from home business ideas

5 Unusual Online Home Business Ideas

Selling online is getting easier and easier every day, from a technical point of view, because the technology to handle online transactions (like online shopping cart builders) is fast, easy to use, and cheap.

Start your own eCommerce store

That means that once you have found the perfect idea it won't take long to setup your own fantastic store. Even better, it's not even that hard to administer them and keep them operating smoothly. There are so many fantastic online, cloud based services that integrate with leading carts, that everything from stock control, to fulfillment and tax can be automated to a large degree.

But this begs the question, 'Why isn't everyone becoming a millionaire from their own eCommerce site?'

The answer is that there is a lot of competition in the online and home business market. Lowering the technical barriers to entry means that more people are able to enter the marketplace. This in turn means that it is much harder to cut through the clutter to find loyal, paying customers.

Start your home business with an idea that is unique, unusual and interesting to a defined target market.

Starting with a strong idea gives an immediate advantage over other more run-of-the-mill type home businesses. That's why we've put together this awesome list of ideas that will hopefully inspire you to get started on your own venture today.

1. Coffee Upcycling

Coffee is an abundant material with many uses beyond the most obvious. In fact, something like 70% of the nutrients in coffee remain even after they have been used to make a drinks. This is a lot of natural goodness going to waste.

One of the best ways to convert used grounds into something useful is to convert them into a medium to grow mushrooms. Companies that use coffee grounds to develop DIY mushroom kits are starting to take root in different parts of the world.

Look for opportunities to grow rarer, more expensive mushrooms and you might find a brilliant way to undercut competitors.

Most coffee shops would love to have a partner who can help them remove the huge amounts of waste grounds generated by their activities, and may even pay you a small amount as a waste removal service.

But that's not all there is to coffee upcycling. In fact, there's scope to use coffee as a main ingredient in a number of different products:

  • 3D printing materials (mix with resin)
  • Candles (mix with wax)
  • Firewood logs (mix with wax)
  • Body scrubs (mix with salts, and other ingredients)
  • Recycled coffee cups(coat with waterproof propolis)

In particular, there are plenty of expensive bath salts, scrubs and lotions that all use coffee.

Use coffee as an ingredient in beauty products

Develop a line of boutique coffee based health and beauty products. Market yourself by building relationships with women's (and men's) magazines, and get your products featured there. Attend plenty of trade shows and conventions, and sponsor give-aways on radio to build awareness for your products.

2. Design & Sell Custom Cards

Do you love drawing and designing? Do you have a wicked sense of humor? If yes, then it's likely that you can make a successful business out of designing and selling all sorts of cards and invites online.

To give you an idea of the potential market out there, here are some of Google's search statistics for a few relevant keywords for the U.S alone:

  • christmas cards: 74 000
  • bridal shower invitations: 40 500
  • greeting cards: 33 100
  • happy birthday cards: 27 100

So, every month there is a market of several hundred thousand people searching for cards that you could be selling. What's more, marketing and advertising this type of business is packed full of possibilities, because you can offer plenty of free stuff to get people sharing your designs.

There's a fantastic example of just this type of startup, called Strange Fox:

Free quote based wallpapers and designs

Strange Fox gives away beautiful, free quote based wallpapers that are designed to fit PCs, tablets (both portrait and landscape views) and smartphones. And, if you want to get that design on a birthday card, greeting card, or wedding invite, you can buy it from their store and have them delivered straight to your front door.

Great way to do business, right?

Give away cool stuff for free so that people love your site and get to know your designs, before buying them.

3. Drone Tech Blogger

Drones are taking off (pardon the pun) in a big way. So there is going to be a huge demand for information about drone products and accessories, from consumers. Not only that, but drone software and technology updates for manufacturers and other industry players will also experience an upswing in demand.

Finally, reporters will also be looking for news and information sources from experts and influencers in the industry in order to cover this booming tech.

Just about everyone will interact with drones in one way or another in the not too distant future, so why not get in on the action right now? If you love playing with new technology and gadgets then starting an industry blog covering everything about drones could be your ticket to tech-nerd paradise.

Already, the phrase drone has over a quarter of a million searches per month in the U.S. and that is growing quickly.

Marketing a tech blog will require you to establish relationships with industry players as early as possible.

Building strong relationships now, means you have access to a constant flow of new and interesting news and information as the industry grows and evolves.

If you can establish yourself as the go-to resources for all things drone early on, you stand a good chance of capturing the lion's share of the market. And, there is plenty of scope to make huge amounts of cash using affiliate relationships to sell drones and drone accessories to your avid fans and readers.

4. Design & Sell Floating House Plants

This is one of those ideas that is probably best explained using a video. There's a Japanese company that has perfected the technique of creating floating bonsai:

Just because one company has already done it, doesn't mean that you should sit back and let them slowly take over the world's market.

I'll bet there is very little competition in your area, in this specific niche, right?

Starting this business is going to require a bit of trial and error type experimentation. But, clearly it's possible, so there's no reason you can't get this working in your garage. Once you have a formula for a design that is stable and works, decide on which type of plants would sell best in your local market.

Because you have to deliver the product from the point of manufacture (initially, your garage), it's probably not feasible to market this nationally as delivery costs will decimate your profits. But, there is every chance you might consider franchising the production and distribution out to partners in other areas once you are established.

A good local SEO campaign is probably your best bet when it comes to driving interest. This would involve creating plenty of engaging visual content (something you should have plenty of) and sharing it via social media and a company blog.

5. Smart Accountant App

Lots of people, myself included, waste cash on things we don't even know about.

Almost everyone has, at some point, started a gym contract only to stop going a few months later, but continue to pay for months if not years. I'm fairly certain many gyms would close their doors if all their inactive clients were to cancel their subscriptions or debit orders.

What about unknown bank charges? Are you certain that the right money is being deducted from your accounts for the right things? Have you ever had a company double bill you? It happened to me, and I let it go on for a long time before I woke up.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if there was an app that would act as a smart, personal accountant?

The app would plug into your bank account (or you could simply scan in monthly statements). It would then look at all your income and outgoings and provide advice and reports on potential subscriptions you might want to cancel, double payments, wasteful expenditure, and a host of other money-saving tidbits.

In fact, the app might even be able to show you whether your bank is offering the best rates given your month to month usage. It would be like having the same financial advice the big corporations have, without having to pay thousands of dollars.

Even if you are not technical, or financially minded, don't despair. Partner with an app developer and find a local financial whiz to advise you. Then put together an app that can help save the average person time and money.

Marketing it should be easy. Give it away to journalists for free and let them report on how much money it saved them. Articles on personal finance from big media and news houses like WSJ and NYTimes will get you all the exposure you need.

There is, however, a bit of competition in the form of Truebill that specifically looks at recurring payments.

Truebill helps avoid unwanted recurring payments

Make sure your offering has more smart features and there's no reason you can leapfrog to the top of the personal finance industry.

Ok, so that's about it. I hope this article has given you both the inspiration and the information you need to start a fantastic new online business working from the comfort of home. Just remember to remember me when you make it big.

What other ideas do you think are worth adding to this list? Share your ideas, tips and startup advice in the comments.

Grow your business (Fill empty seats). Pic by Andrew

The SBA (Small Business Administration) is a United States government department tasked with supporting and nurtur

Tips and advice on ways to save money for small business

Save money with smart spending habits that will lower costs and ultimately lead to bigger profits and higher earnings for your small business.

A cash flow statement usually includes money flowing in and out of a company, but this article is full of ideas and tips to get more money flowing in.

Because cash is king for all entrepreneurs, SME/SMBs, and home based ventures, it is crucial that you can generate as much revenue as possible, as early as possible.

This article will look at a very simple sales forecast and provide plenty of great sales strategies, ideas and advice for you to incorporate into your own plans.

Successful online business without Google traffic

Organic search traffic from Google is so valuable that many businesses come to rely on it as their primary source of income.

And while it may seem that the sun will never set on high converting organic traffic from the search giant, you might want to think about what would happen to your enterprise if the flow dried up.

I've experienced both the frustration and despair of losing Google traffic to an unknown and unexplained penalty (only large, important businesses get the information they need to recover in a matter of days or weeks), but have also seen how other companies have thrived without Google entirely.

Inspirational entrepreneur quotes

Life as an entrepreneur can be extremely tough, which is why it is important to sometimes pause and listen to inspiring quotes that keep you going.

Tools and tips on how to source products online

Small retail businesses and eCommerce sites need to consistently choose the best products to sell in order to maximize their profits.

But trying to find this information is not always easy, and there are plenty of "silver bullet" sites (and con men) that will try to make a profit by advising you to stock products that give them commission.

It's far better to be able to do your own research into which products offer the best value for money for your own customers and clients. After all, you know your business best.

creating opportunities in life and business

Isn't it frustrating that some people just seem to have that entrepreneurial knack - business opportunities just seem to go their way again and again?

A list of high paying work from home jobs

Ever wondered just how much you can earn in a career working from home? The answer is millions of dollars - if you've got what it takes.

How Google hurts small business online

Think of the Internet economy as a farmer’s field full of little green plants. Each plant represents a business, and the stuff that makes them grow is traffic (just like rain makes real plants grow).

Now, imagine that in between the rain clouds and our fledgling plants, there is a huge funnel that collects the rain and pours it over the field. Let’s call this funnel Google.

Google’s job is to make sure that all the sprouts get a fair share of water (provided they are of good quality), and that any weeds that are harmful to the ecosystem aren’t watered. All day long Google funnels rain onto various different plants in order to help them grow.

Grumpy cat Internet sensation

In case you haven't already heard, there's a little kitty out there with feline dwarfism that earns more than you do.

Grumpy cat, according to Wikipedia, seems to be raking in millions of dollars, and this might strike you as odd given how difficult it is to start a successful enterprise these days.

Fiverr Gigs that help online businesses

Fiverr is an online marketplace offering a huge range of services (from the sublime to the ridiculous) that startups can utilize, for only five dollars.

If you're wondering what service could possibly offer any value for only $5, then you are in exactly the same boat I was.

Most of the services (called gigs) that are available on fiverr are probably not even worth the five bucks they charge. But, if you are willing to dig a bit deeper, there are a few gems that can save you a lot of time and money.

3 top tips to pitching big clients

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting between my startup and one of the largest logistics companies in the country - so that we could pitch our new service.

The size of this client would almost be sufficient to reach sustainability and profitability in one go. Obviously landing a whale in your first pitch as a new startup is the ultimate dream come true, but it can be hard to turn it into reality.

The meeting went ok, but there were some hard lessons learned about how to pitch big corporate clients that my partners and I took away from the experience.

Back to Top