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Coming up with brilliant startup ideas may feel tricky to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially when it may seem that everyone’s already swooped up every good idea for a business. Still, it’s entirely possible to become successful by improving on existing products or putting a unique spin on an old idea.
The benefits of self-employment can make the effort of launching a startup worth it. In addition to the freedom that comes from being your own boss, starting a business can bring greater job satisfaction and higher earning potential.
40 startup ideas
Even startup ideas that seemingly come out of left field can yield incredible success. Read through this list for instant inspiration and get your creative gears turning.
1. Create educational content or activities
Parents are always looking for tools and activities to keep their kids entertained and engaged. Printable activity guides for different age groups, home-school lesson plans or even virtual nature walks or story time could all be viable startup ideas.
2. Offer virtual team-building
Companies need new ways to boost morale and build camaraderie among remote and hybrid teams. Enter the virtual team-builder. Cheesemongers, mixologists, chefs, magicians, artists, historians, master gardeners — almost anyone can create and offer bonding experiences for virtual companies.
3. Start a meal-prep business
By 2026, more than 217 million people in the U.S. will use online food delivery services. Tap into that market and start a meal-prep service to make people’s lives easier and cater to specialized diets (keto, vegan, Whole30).
4. Create a food waste solution
Creating a startup focused on reducing food waste could not only earn you some serious funding, but also positively change the food system and help save grocery stores and restaurants money.
5. Capitalize on plant-based foods
The U.S. plant-based market is exploding, with sales of plant-based foods doubling in recent years to $7.4 billion in 2021. Creating a vegan supermarket or making meat-free versions of traditional foods could be the ticket to success for aspiring entrepreneurs.
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6. Start a drop-shipping business
The e-commerce business model of drop-shipping is especially attractive because it doesn’t require you to purchase inventory upfront. Selling higher-end products with low shipping costs could become profitable quickly if you do thorough competition research.
7. Curate subscription boxes
Subscription boxes are a $22.7 billion dollar business globally, and the industry is still set to grow. Pick a niche, and then curate a collection of specialized goods to deliver unique experiences to consumers. Some subscription boxes focus on makeup; others focus on sustainability. Find the right starting point for you and run with it.
8. Create an airport-centric app
Creating an all-in-one app that allows travelers to navigate unfamiliar airports with real-time information is a relatively untapped startup idea. Though various travel applications exist, an app that shows amenities, TSA line wait times, ground transportation options and airport maps could be useful to passengers.
9. Become a destination wedding planner
The coronavirus pandemic added an extra layer of stress to destination weddings, creating added demand for wedding planners who can help manage wedding and travel logistics, including local guidelines and testing requirements. If you love exploring, are great under pressure and don’t mind working long hours, this could be the startup idea for you.
10. Make local guides
Even if you don’t consider yourself a local expert, creating local guides can get you familiar with your surroundings and help tourists enjoy off-the-beaten-path experiences in your area. Make themed guides, highlight attractions and partner with local businesses for advertising opportunities.
11. Create a local grocery delivery service
A grocery delivery startup can come with minimal setup costs — you only need a vehicle and a cell phone to get started. Help older people or others who are too busy to shop by offering this community-friendly service. You can even approach grocery stores in your area to see if they're willing to partner with you to get the service off the ground.
12. Start a virtual event planning company
Virtual event planning is a new booming business as in-person gatherings go online or take a hybrid approach. A skilled planner who can ensure all attendees are engaged, regardless of location, will be in high demand for years to come.
13. Sell zero-waste products
Starting a zero-waste company is more than just a trendy thing to do; it can be an ethical, environmentally conscious decision. Selling sustainable products such as reusable bags, bamboo toothbrushes or products with zero-waste packaging could appeal to a growing number of sustainability-focused consumers.
14. Make products for pets
Create innovative pet products to take advantage of the fact that 70% of U.S. households (about 90.5 million families) have at least one animal companion. Look into developing toys, accessories or even clothing for furry friends.
15. Create custom clothing
Selling custom clothing or offering a tailoring service could be your winning startup idea. The custom clothing industry is gaining popularity and offers room for long-term growth.
16. Sell vintage clothing online
Demand for sustainable fashion has helped propel second-hand clothing into a $36 billion industry in the U.S. with projections to double in the next five years. Consider selling thrifted, vintage or upcycled clothing on social media, an ecommerce platform or an app such as ThredUp or Poshmark.
17. Begin niche blogging
Find a niche (think e-sports or urban farming) and create engaging content around it. You can earn money through advertising, affiliate links and even product sales once you build an audience.
18. Become an e-book writer
If you’ve got a way with words, consider becoming a self-published author and selling e-books on virtual platforms.
19. Start ghostwriting
Create content for busy professionals who don’t have the time or the skill to write themselves. If you don’t mind not attaching your name to your writing, ghostwriting is a great way to earn money with little to no startup costs attached.
20. Become a resume writer
Everyone needs a resume, but few people are skilled at or enjoy writing their own. If you’ve got writing experience and are looking to launch a startup with no setup costs, creating a resume-writing service could be the path for you.
21. Open a coworking space
Capitalize on the rising popularity of remote work by creating a modern coworking space that addresses pain points of entrepreneurs. Pick a convenient location and build it out with highly sought-after amenities.
22. Become an online coach
If you enjoy helping others achieve their goals and are a people person, this startup idea could be fulfilling for yourself and for your clientele. You can provide wellness, business or life coaching.
23. Flip failing websites
Buy an existing website, make improvements on it and sell it for a profit. You’ll need to understand the market well and have some web development skills, but this can be a profitable pursuit.
24. Become a web developer
The need for custom websites isn’t ever going away, and if you know your way around WordPress or know a programming language or two, you can start a profitable website development startup.
25. Start a podcast
If you’re deeply knowledgeable or passionate about a subject, consider getting into podcast production or hosting. Building an audience takes time, but once established, podcasters can earn money through affiliate marketing, donations and sponsorships.
26. Be a social media influencer
Once you find a niche and build a personal brand, amassing a large following on Instagram or YouTube can lead to a solid source of income through influencer marketing.
27. Create online courses
Obscure hobbies can lead to lucrative business ideas if you make them easy for others to learn. If you’d like to teach others but aren’t interested in the coaching route, creating an online course could lead to reliable passive income.
28. Become a marketing consultant
If you’ve got digital marketing chops, help small businesses reach their target audiences by providing SEO, social media or copywriting services.
29. Develop an app
If you’ve got a unique idea and the necessary technical skills, creating an app could be your gold mine. It’s also possible to build an app without extensive coding skills, and once it launches, it can bring in passive earnings.
30. Make a smart appliance
Smart accessories and home appliances are all the rage and becoming an important part of daily life for the average consumer. For inspiration, take note of daily tasks at home or at work that would be easier with a smart appliance.
31. Tap into virtual reality experiences
VR is the future, and the future is now. Create virtual reality experiences or accessories to tap into a global industry that’s projected to grow to a $44.7 billion market by 2024.
32. Make a niche dating site
The stigma around online dating has decreased over the past decade, so take the opportunity to help others find love. With various dating sites targeted to everyone from sea captains to farmers, there is market demand for specialty dating options.
33. Develop a chatbot
Create a chatbot — which uses artificial intelligence to communicate with people — to help businesses improve their communication. Chatbots have become more popular in recent years, and you can create one without knowing how to code.
34. Offer matchmaking skills
This is like creating a dating site but with a personal touch. If you have a knack for knowing what types of people and which personalities get along well, you might be the perfect person to start matchmaking. You can do this online or meet clients in person as well.
35. Be a virtual assistant
Being an online assistant for someone, or starting a company of virtual assistants, can be a huge success. Everyone could use a little extra help, and creating a startup focused around getting people that help for the administrative tasks in their lives, professional or personal, can be a huge moneymaker.
36. Reinvent exercising
If there's one thing people get bored with, it's doing the same type of exercise day in and day out to stay healthy. Plenty of people have turned the exercise industry on its head, with businesses like CrossFit and Peloton popping up. You can do the same if you have an idea for a new regimen or activity for exercise enthusiasts.
37. Create eco-friendly, health-friendly makeup and beauty products
As people become more aware of the impact their personal choices have on their health and on the environment, they're looking for more health and beauty products that are also eco-friendly. Creating safe and eco-friendly products could be a great startup idea.
38. Open a food truck or restaurant pop-up
Opening a food truck or restaurant pop-up is a great startup idea for entrepreneurs with a knack for cooking. Both options are easier to launch than a full-scale restaurant and allow you to get started with a smaller staff and menu. You can open a food truck that only sells french fries with crazy toppings, for example, or launch a breakfast sandwich pop-up in your neighborhood coffee shop.
39. Start an organization business
Shows like "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" and "The Home Edit" put professional organizing on the map, exposing millions to the magic of a tidy home. If you have a knack for making order out of chaotic spaces, you could start a business offering those services to those who need them. Organizing kitchen pantries, closets, bookshelves and more are all options you could offer customers at your new business.
40. Do interior design for young professionals
Have an eye for decorating? Start an interior design business, offering your services at an hourly rate virtually to young professionals looking for inspiration. It can be as simple as them uploading some images of their new space to your site and you sending back a few links with furniture in their budget and example images of what the room might look like when it's finished.
How to choose a startup idea
Do your homework before diving headfirst into a startup idea. First, make sure there's demand for the business you want to start, where you want to start it. More than 35% of businesses fail because there isn't a market need for their services or product.
You also need to write a business plan, which should include your company’s objective, sales plan, market analysis and financial projections. A good business plan can help to keep your business on track. Lenders will also want to see your business plan when considering you for a startup business loan. You should also consider the skills you already have and see how those align with any of the startup business ideas you might go with.
The bottom line
Whether you choose from one of these startup business ideas or come up with your own, opportunities abound for entrepreneurs motivated to make money and start an endeavor all their own.
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This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.