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Oct 21, 2020 | 09 min read

Business ideas you can start online with minimal investments

1. QuickRead

Starting a company can feel like a mountain of effort. But the amount of time, resources, and risk involved depend on the business idea you’re following.
In reality, contrary to common opinion, there are many options to start a company that lets you concentrate less on logistics and maintenance costs and more on getting started.
These low-investment startup concepts provide a perfect entry point for newcomers, bootstrappers, or someone with a busy life, enabling you to start up a side venture without having to abandon anything else.
You will need to come up with a solid concept, develop a brand, make a marketing campaign, and offer outstanding customer service. But you can circumvent certain conventional start-up costs, such as initial inventory, logistics, and retail space.

2. Partner of a dropshipper

Buy the order, store it, pick it up, bag it, ship it. Managing inventory can be a great commitment when you run a company.
Dropshipping is a model of distribution where a third party retailer stocks and delivers the product to consumers on your behalf. You just need to make purchases and send orders to your supplier; you don’t need to buy the goods yourself.
You can curate items from one or more vendors to your online shop under a theme that focuses on a particular market, such as tools for yoga lovers and water bowls for dog owners. When a customer requests a product from you, the order will be sent to your seller, who will deal with it on your behalf. However, you are also responsible for your own marketing and customer support practices.
There are also local and overseas vendors with which you can deal, as long as you can develop a trust-based partnership with them – an incompetent supplier may not represent your brand well.
Dropshipping is a low-investment way to assess product performance and start a company before you invest in your own original products. Just be sure to always order a sample for yourself to make sure the source is trustworthy and that the quality of the goods is appropriate for sale to the consumers.

3. Designing and distributing print-on-demand t-shirts

Another drop-on-demand model positions inventory, shipment, and distribution in the hands of a third-party provider. But unlike the dropshipping concept above, the emphasis here is on customizing these items with your own designs in order to make something unique.
T-shirts, jackets, phone covers, hoodies, dresses, tote bags, and more can become canvases for your imagination. For developers or references that resonate with pet owners, you can think up humorous slogans. If their is enthusiasm and pride within a community, you can start a potential t-shirt company.
You can find a designer to collaborate with using freelance sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, Dribble, or 99Designs, even if you’re not a designer.
For many print-on-demand services, you pay per-product, so the standard price per unit would be more costly than if you were to buy in bulk. But the benefit is that if any t-shirt design doesn’t sell, you haven’t paid for the item yet (only the design if you outsourced it).
You can also use t-shirt mockup templates for any new design, so you don’t really need to waste money on a complete photoshoot.
There are a number of print-on-demand platforms you can partner with, all of which can be incorporated for smooth order delivery for your Shopify store. However, to ensure that your customized goods look fine, make sure you always order a preview of your product (often sold at a discount).

4. Start a book of your own

When you think about it, a book is yet another type of product. And as such, to satisfy a specific need in the industry, you will build one.
Cookbooks, coloring books, graphic books, poem books, photo books, coffee table books, and novels. There are a number of original books you can put to the market whether you have the experience or imagination.
Print-on-demand publishing is a pretty stable way to test the waters and start self-publishing, thus allowing you power over the book’s content and appearance.
For this reason, Lulu Xpress and Blurb are popular websites that allow you to develop, order, and distribute your own books as digital and physical items.
Although you can purchase one book at a time, when you buy in bulk, prices automatically go down. To ensure that there is interest and to guarantee a certain number of buyers for bulk order, you should try pre-selling or crowdfunding your book idea.
Launching your own book can be a perfect way to monetize a blog whether you have one or if you’re planning to launch one.

5. Develop digital goods or courses

Digital products such as music, courses, and templates are unique in this list of ideas. They’re not physical goods, unlike the others. There are no recurrent production or delivery costs to think about, so the margins will stay high.
The key is to find out what makes a good digital product. What is valuable enough for individuals to be willing to pay to download it?
The responses range from original instrumental beats to stock images that can be licensed to other creators, to information products and templates to help people improve their talents in a specific area.
If you have a talent that can be translated into a digital commodity, you can think about turning it into a different revenue source.
Shopify provides a free digital distribution app that allows you to sell digital goods in your store as easily as physical items.

6. Offer print-on-demand signs, greeting cards, and printouts.

If you are artistically inclined or know your way around a camera, you can drop off using a print-on-demand products and business model to make someone physically own a piece of your work. Only make sure that you have the rights to the content that you intend to print unless you use public domain materials that you can easily monetize.
If you already have a dedicated online follow-up, say you’re a cartoonist or an urban photographer, you’re in a really good place to test out this business concept.
You can turn your work into items, such as posters or framed wall art, and greeting cards, depending on the printer you work with. There are several digital templates and mockup generators, such as Place.it, that you can use to display your items without having to print each piece and do your own photoshoots.

7. Selling a Service

For services-based firms, your inventory and the greatest investment are “time.” In your day, you have just a small supply of hours. However, if you have skills that are in demand, it makes it easier to get up and going.
An organization can be developed around their talents by artists, designers, engineers, photographers, house cleaners, exercise trainers, and more.
With some of the other ideas above, they may also extend their company and build additional revenue sources by “selling” their services through physical or digital products.
For example, a photographer may run a local event when selling prints online through their Instagram account. A copywriter will sell a high-converting revenue copy swipe file for copywriting. Another stream of revenue that is not specifically related to your time can be generated by pairing your service-based organization with tangible goods.
You can use Shopify’s BookThatApp or Book an Appointment app to help customers conveniently plan a lesson, consultation, or purchase tickets through your store for a class with you.
Via a freelance platform like Upwork, you can even sell your services to improve your odds of being spotted by people who need your expertise.

8. Creating a fashion boutique online

You can start making your own online fashion boutique if you enjoy fashion and sharing your sense of style online. You don’t have to become a fashion designer anymore. You can easily curate products in your own online shop from other manufacturers (using the dropshipping model we discussed earlier).
You can create your own fashion brand from dresses, shoes, swimwear, accessories, and more using one of the many Shopify product sourcing applications, model them in your own product images and social media updates, and create a trend-setter online following.

9. Selling handmade and homemade products

If you’re a manufacturer — whether you’re DIY soap, candles, sauces, or pottery — you’re in a great spot to pursue an online market concept because product creation and production are practically in your possession.
Unlike all of the other ideas on this page, you may need to include packaging and inventory control, but you can start with a basic per-order basis or with a small batch before you start making steady sales.
In reality, many of Shopify’s creators have started a part-time home-based business, selling from their homes to Etsy or to friends and relatives, becoming full-time company owners after creating demand for their goods.
Just be aware of any regulations in your product category, particularly for something that customers consume, inhale, or place on their face.

10. Grow an audience that you can monetize in many ways

In today’s interconnected society, the opportunity to attract and hold the interest of others is an advantage. It is one that many companies are now willing to pay for, and one that many developers are able to turn to a multi-purpose revenue stream enterprise.
If you want to expand your follow-up on Twitter, Instagram, or a blog (ideally a mix of different channels), there are several ways to monetize your audience:
Do a sponsored post on behalf of the labels
Become an affiliate
Sell physical or digital goods (through some of the ideas on this list)
A mixture of the above (they are not mutually exclusive)
Having an audience-first approach to beginning a company means you’re playing a long game (it may be months before you’ve worked it out). But you don’t need millions of followers to do that — Instagrammer Kat Gaskin, for example, pulled off a $10k product launch with just 3,000 followers.

11. Three tips on picking a business idea

The business ideas we’ve discussed might be easier to manage when it comes to logistics, but it doesn’t make them convenient. There are at least three things that you should bear in mind when you weigh your options, no matter what you plan to begin with.

Focusing on a niche would make marketing simpler

As with every company, marketing is the secret to your success. It’s not enough to realize that there’s an appetite for your products — you need to find out how to reach out to customers who are more likely to purchase them. You need to get the right visitors to discover your items.
Fortunately, marketing is much simpler when you appeal to a particular demographic or personality (e.g. vegans, game lovers, photographers in your city). You can create social media content that resonates with these users, or you can run advertisements that target their interests. Taking this approach actually lets you project a cohesive brand and you’re going to get a more precise understanding of who you’re referring about.
Think about how you can zero in on a particular audience for your goods and how they can be supported by the company you create. If you already have a large audience (a blog, a YouTube channel, or an Instagram account), you may also be able to find a way to base your company on the current audience.

Pricing is more than profit

Price your goods too low and shoppers will think they are of low quality. Price them too high, and some of your customers may be scared off. In any case, you’ll need to find a sweet spot that also lets you factor in the cost of buying customers and providing discounts, particularly if you’re planning to pay for ads.
For many of the business ideas we’re going to discuss in this article, you might not be shipping your inventory, but you do need to cover shipping costs. Remember the shipping costs and how variable they would be in the different countries you choose to represent.
Many online retailers are trying to make their shipping costs into their selling price so that they can provide free shipping, or at least a competitive flat rate. Others concentrate on enticing shoppers to add more products to their cart with conditional free shipping (e.g. free shipping on orders over $50) to increase their profits.

Test, learn, and develop while you’re going

The pursuit of excellence can be one of the greatest obstacles to get a company up and running. Bear in mind that there’s nothing set in stone.
Items can be exchanged in and out fairly easily (especially if you’re not stuck in stock). Your store could be revamped. You can change your rates. You could turn to a better supplier. And you can justify all of these decisions on the basis of hundreds of signals you have at your disposal (traffic, how much time people spend on your platform, ratings, abandoned carts, etc.).
If your idea just doesn’t work out the way you’ve expected, think about how you can recycle before you leave.
There are parts of your company that you can still save if you try a new product or strategy. The brand you’re investing time in the building, and the followers you’re amassing on social media, or in your email list, could be assets you reinvest in your next business idea.

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