Small Business Ideas

Coming up with a great idea for a side-hustle or small business can be hard. One of the best ways to create something new and unique is to explore a bunch of different ideas in order to let your brain make new connections and find something that is both exciting and possible for you to launch. That's why we've put together this huge list of interesting and original ideas with a focus on low startup costs and potential to make money quickly.

Smart LockBox for Deliveries (with App)

With more and more people becoming involved in order fulfilment here's going to be a need to ensure that deliveries are completely safe and untouched (i.e. being guaranteed no-one has touched sensitive legal or banking documents, or sneezed on your food).

Design and market a smart lockbox that will only open with a code given to the customer upon purchase (and comes with an app linking order numbers to codes). When your package arrives, tap or scan in the code to unlock.

Scan a code to open the smart lockbox

This ensures that even if a delivery gets misplaced no-one has access to it until it arrives at your door.

Holiday Travel Plan App

Making holiday travel plans can be hard - especially if you don't know the country, their facilities, where the best places are, or how to get around.

Create an app that allows tourists to choose the places they want to visit, specify how long they're staying, the ambience (i.e. romantic, adventure, etc), and what their budget is. Use that data to help them book and plan their entire trip from one place.

Holiday plans app. Pic by Chris Ford

Offer this time and money saving app for free. Make money off affiliate relationships with hotels, airlines, tour operators, and everyone else who will want to advertise on your platform.

Hyper-Niche Price Comparison Site

A lot of price comparison sites are automated systems that don't offer much in the way of real, human insight. Instead, focus on a small niche. Create genuine price histories and comparison charts (like this one showing a comparison of the top gaming laptops)

Price history comparison chart

Using price histories as part of your comparison, it is possible to show shoppers whether or not the 30% discount they are being offered right now is better or worse than yesterday - and whether or not they should wait for a better deal, or look at another product.

Second-Hand Equipment Rental Store

We all have stuff we don't really need all the time, or use anymore. Often it simply piles up in the garage. Wouldn't it be great to be able to generate a bit of passive income from it instead?

Set up a rental store that takes people's old equipment (i.e. tools, furniture, electronics, etc) and turns it into revenue for them by renting it out very cheaply.

Equipment by Martin Cathrae

People who need equipment benefit because they don't have to buy. You startup cheaply because you don't have to purchase any stock. Suppliers benefit by making money from their old, unused stuff. Make extra money on delivering and picking up equipment, insuring items, and offering extra services that go with the equipment.

Uber EATS Drone/Driverless Delivery Service

Drones, delivery robots and driver-less vehicles are going to be commonplace within a few years. There's definitely scope to get in front of the curve and establish yourself as a player that leverages these new technologies right now.

Delivery robot

Signing up to leverage a platform like Uber EATS can bring in a significant amount customers almost instantly and means that you'll have a strong source of sustainable revenue from day one.

This will allow you to build a formidable last mile delivery business that can undercut competitors by either flying above traffic, or avoiding human labour costs (i.e. drivers) altogether.

Daily Commute Uber Driver

Earning a few extra dollars with a side-hustle is popular these days. New tech opens up new opportunities to make extra money and Uber is a great example of this.

Register as an Uber driver and pick up or drop off people in line with the trips you would normally do each day - i.e. your daily commute from home to work (probably shared by stacks of people willing to pay for it).

After a while, you can purchase additional vehicles and hire new drivers - or possibly strike out on your own as a daily commute service.

Cold Water Saving Showers

Currently, the majority of water saving devices in the U.S. allow cold water to escape and shut off when the hot water arrives - preventing the loss of water heat energy, but not water itself. It's incredibly wasteful - especially in areas like California that are water stressed.

Design & sell a device that redirects (or saves) cold water until the hot water arrives. Saved cold water can then be used to cool the hot shower water.

An Australian product called Cullector already does this - perhaps they need a distributor in your region?

Cullector saves cold shower water

Odd Job Uber-Like App

How many times have you wished someone could come and clean up the kitchen, or do the laundry? We all have odd jobs we hate to do - which means there's a big demand. A big gap in the market for an app that can get these jobs done quickly.

Odd jobs Uber like app. Pic by Hernán Piñera

Create an app that allows users to specify what odd jobs needs doing (i.e. laundry, ironing, etc). Once a job is posted, workers nearby can respond to take care of it.

Like Uber, the app should allow employers to rate workers (and vice versa) on the job they did - building up a solid ratings system that can control quality, with payments handled via the app (based on set hourly rates).

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.

Sell edible plastic grocery bags

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.

Support charities with affiliate comissions

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.

Ride sharing marketplace app

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.

Start a save money on bills service

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.

Pop up ad agency using bikes

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.

Make money selling Pokemon go services & 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.

Create and market sugar free mixers. Pic by Robert S. Donovan

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':

Competition for money saving services is low

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:

Product sales comparison graph for best selling books

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.

Create an app that combines gym classes with dating. Pic by Jeffrey

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.