There are plenty of advantages to being a business owner. First, owning a small business provides the opportunity to earn more money. Also, being a business owner means you are in control of everything. You decide when to work, where, and what to sell.

Meanwhile, the first step to becoming an entrepreneur is finding a small business idea that works for you. In this article, we go through small business ideas to serve as inspiration for beginners.

What is a small business, and why start it online?

Anyone can start an online business as long as you have a small business idea and a working internet connection in this age and time. Today, you have all the tools to set up your own business online.

Any business that functions on a small scale involves less investment and less human/machine labor to operate is a small business. Most entrepreneurs with huge companies and corporations started by running small businesses.

Meanwhile, social media and online technology make it easier than ever for anyone to start a small business. This includes entrepreneurs who run businesses as their full-time job and those who run them as a side hustle.

With a profitable B2B online business, you can:
  • Avoid expensive startup costs,
  • Choose your working hours
  • Work as little or as much as you want
  • Pick a niche that you are knowledgeable or passionate about
More importantly, starting an online business makes it easy to be your boss and earn money from anywhere.

Best small business ideas to start with little money

Before starting any business, it’s essential to decide on what to sell and analyze if it’s profitable or not. The last thing you want is to invest time and effort in a business that isn’t profitable.

Here are 21 low-cost small business ideas that picks you can consider for your entrepreneurial journey:

1. Start a dropshipping business

Dropshipping is a profitable business to start online, especially if you do not want to buy products in advance. Some entrepreneurs make up to $100,000 a year from drop shipping.1

How does it work?

Dropshipping involves sourcing from suppliers at wholesale prices and then selling them to consumers without stocking inventory. Many B2B e-commerce stores like make it easy for drop shippers to find suppliers and sell to consumers.

Dropshipping is also a low-risk and profitable small business because you do not need to incur running costs, unlike wholesalers. You can specialize in any product as a drop shipper, but it’s best to focus on products that sell well and are of high quality.

2. Develop and sell a niche product

Carving out a niche product for a specific target audience is another great small business idea. Instead of depending on suppliers and manufacturers for goods, you can develop your product.

Before racking your head for a product idea, it’s best to choose a specific niche first. For instance, if your interested niche is fashion, you can produce apparel, lip gloss, or skincare. If you’re more interested in art and creativity, you can offer notebooks, journals, and so on. Different niches have multiple product ideas, and it’s up to you to decide what you want to produce.

3. Design and sell print-on-demand t-shirts

Another profitable yet inexpensive small business idea is to offer customized t-shirts to customers. In 2020, the printing t-shirt market was valued at $4 billion.2

Print-on-demand t-shirts are an excellent dropshipping idea for entrepreneurs who want to enter the fashion or design industry. Also, you do not have to worry about inventory or stock as you only print on demand.

To start this small business, you will need to create t-shirt mockup designs (there are templates online) to allow customers to preview the design. Once a customer orders a shirt, you can leverage platforms like Printiful to create designs or outsource to a print-on-demand service. Also, the trick to being successful in this industry is to offer unique and cute designs that showcase people’s identities and personalities.

4. Sell print-on-demand posters, greeting cards, and prints

There is something very unique about custom-made and artistic products. Even though the world can now leverage technology to send their messages, most people still prefer sending customized greeting cards. A study showed that nine out of every ten households buy greeting cards each year.3

Also, many people love artistic posters, prints, and wall hangings which you can offer through print-in-demand services. If you are an artist, designer, writer, or have a thing for print-on-demand goods like posters and greeting cards, this is a small business idea to consider.

5. Sell handcrafted and homemade goods

While technology and computers have made production easy, it hasn’t stopped the demand for homemade products. In fact, the handmade and homemade craft market is fast evolving into a large industry.4 This is mainly because many consumers now prefer products made by an actual human. There’s the longing for a human touch, thus making it a good idea to sell unique and personal handcrafted goods.

Handcrafted goods may include crochet, beadwork, metalwork, handmade dresses, scented candles, pet toys, weaves, etc. It’s also a plus if you have the skills to make the goods yourself. However, if you can’t make the products yourself, you can always collaborate with people who do.

6. Sell sustainable products

As people become more aware of global warming and climate change, there has been more demand for sustainable products. The Economist Intelligence Unit also reported that there had been a 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods since 2016.5

If you are passionate about the environment and want to start a business, selling eco-friendly products is a good small business idea. Different product options include recycled fabric, reusable straws, eco-friendly shopping bags, stainless steel, etc. Investing in this market is also a great way to gain customer trust.

7. Start a pet business

The pet market is a booming industry that offers the possibility of financial success for those who get into it. According to the American Pet Products Association, US pet owners spent $103.6 billion on their pets in 2020.6 This isn’t a surprising statistic because pets have always played important roles in many people’s lives. They are like a part of the family, and it’s natural for pet owners to care for their companions.

Getting into the pet industry is especially a great opportunity if you are a pet person yourself. Whether you offer pet products, grooming materials, or pet food/treats, there’s always room to thrive in the industry.

8. Create an online fashion boutique

Running an online boutique is a great way to capitalize on your passion and skills if you have an eye for fashion. Statistica estimated that the apparel industry will likely generate more than $153 billion by 2024. 7

Meanwhile, the fashion industry is a massive market, so it’s always better to niche down when starting a small business. For instance, instead of focusing on everything fashion, you can niche down to female shoes or jewelry or vintage wear. You can choose a niche based on your passion or use tools like Google trends for market gaps and insights.

9. Start a beauty business

The beauty business has never been out of vogue for decades now. Many people are into beauty and skincare products, and anyone who can hack into the business will find it profitable.

And the best part of this small business?

There are a lot of niche ideas in the beauty industry. You can focus on makeup, skincare, haircare, jewelry, DIY products, and so on. Another great advantage of starting a beauty business is that it’s easy to showcase products online. You can share before and after pictures, beauty tips, and recommendations with your audience.

10. Sell phone accessories

Mobile devices have become an essential need that most people can’t live without. And, as long as people use phones, there will always be a demand for phone accessories. Starting a phone accessory business can be very profitable, and it doesn’t require a lot of starting capital. You can focus on different accessories like:
  • Phone cases
  • Speakers
  • Ring lights
  • Gimbal
  • Chargers
  • Memory cards
  • Earphones and so on.

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23 May 2022