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 brings more independence, greater job satisfaction, and potentially uncapped earning potential.
40 Startup Ideas
Even startup ideas that seemingly come out of left field can yield incredible success. Read through this list of startup ideas for instant inspiration and get your creative gears turning. The ideas range from travel-oriented, to writing, and food-based ideas, so you’re bound to find one that works for you.
1. Organize Specialty Travel Tours
Make a specialized travel tour company to cater to individual lifestyle preferences. A tour startup made for solo travelers, a food-based tour geared towards certain diet preferences, or even an age-based tour company could gain traction across various demographics.
2. 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.
3. Become a Destination Wedding Planner
Take the stress out of wedding planning for couples and travel to exciting places around the globe. If you love exploring, are great under pressure, and don’t mind working long hours, this could be the startup idea for you.
4. Make Local Guides
Whether or not you 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.
5. Create a Local Grocery Delivery Service
A grocery delivery startup can come with minimal setup costs, as all you need is a vehicle and a cell phone to really get started. Help senior citizens or people that 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.
6. Start an Event Planning Company
Get in touch with your local community by creating an event planning service in your area. Careful research and networking will be key to success, but you can also start an event planning business remotely for ultimate flexibility.
7. 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, build it out with highly sought after amenities, and consider local impact.
8. Start a Meal Prep Business
As proof that we’re busier now than ever before, a whopping 1.9 billion Americans order restaurant takeout for meals. Capitalize on these numbers and start a meal prep service to make people’s lives easier and cater to specialized diets (keto, vegan, Whole30) to appease distinct lifestyles.
9. 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.
10. Capitalize on Plant-Based Foods
The plant-based market is exploding, with the sale of plant-based foods growing to over $3.7 billion in 2018. Creating a vegan supermarket or making meat-free versions of traditional foods could be the ticket to success for aspiring entrepreneurs.
11. Start a Dropshipping Business
The ecommerce business model of dropshipping 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.
12. Curate Subscription Boxes
Subscription boxes became a $10 billion business in 2018 and the industry is still set to grow. Pick a niche, and then curate a collection of specialized goods to deliver unique experiences to the modern consumer. Some subscription boxes focus on makeup while others focus on sustainability, find the right starting point for you and run with it.
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 like 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 nearly 85 million U.S. households have at least one animal companion. Look into developing toys, accessories, or even clothing for furry friends.
15. Sell Phone Accessories or Do Repairs
The mobile phone accessories market is on a path to grow to $107.3 billion by 2022. Although it’s a fairly saturated market, there’s still an opportunity for a creative mind to make one-of-a-kind smartphone add-ons. You can also offer services repairing phones on the go so you can help people get their phones working again.
16. Create Custom Clothing
If you have an eye for fashion, 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.
17. Sell Vintage Goods Online
With a $17 billion annual revenue, the used-merchandise industry is profitable and is only set to grow as consumers become disinterested in fast fashion. Consider selling thrifted, vintage, or upcycled items on an ecommerce platform or an app like Poshmark.
18. 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.
19. Become an Ebook Writer
If you’ve got a way with words, consider becoming a self-published author and selling ebooks on virtual platforms. With the ebook market currently valued at over $15 billion, writing and selling ebooks can be an easy way to become an internet entrepreneur.
20. Start Ghostwriting
Create content for busy professionals that 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.
21. 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.
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. Start by creating your own YouTube channel and consider breaking into wellness, business, or life coaching.
23. Start Flipping 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 easily 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 matter, consider getting into podcast production or hosting. The number of people that listen to podcasts has increased by 20 million in 2019, and it’s an easy way to connect to an audience. Learn about how to start a podcast here.
26. Be a Social Media Influencer
Influencer marketing is projected to be a $10 billion industry by 2020. 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. If you don’t have marketing experience, taking an online course could help get your foot in the door.
29. Develop an App
If you’ve got a unique idea and the necessary technical skills, creating an app could be your goldmine. 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 an 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 last decade, so take the opportunity to help others find love. With various dating sites targeted to everyone from sea captains to farmers, there exists 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. Plus you get to make people happy for a living!
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 the exercise enthusiasts.
37. 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 ecofriendly products could be a great startup idea filling a gap in the industry.
Learn more about how to start a makeup line here.
38. Ditch the Restaurant Dream for a Food Truck
Opening a food truck is a great startup idea for entrepreneurs with a background in cooking and a novel idea. It’s less to worry about than an entire restaurant and can be done with just one or two people. If you have a novel idea for a food truck, like one that only sells ice cream sandwiches or only sells french fries with crazy toppings, a food truck is the startup idea for you.
39. Start a Business for Organizing
Some people are natural-born organizers, their homes are tidy and everything has a place, others aren’t so lucky and have a harder time being organized. So if you have a knack for organizing, you could start a business offering those services to those who need it. Organizing kitchen pantries, closets, bookshelves, and more are all options you could offer customers at your new business.
40. Interior Design for Your Professionals
Plenty of young professionals want to make their apartments feel like a home but it can be hard to choose the right furniture and make it have a cohesive design when you’ve never bought furniture before and don’t know where to start. If you’ve got an eye for decorating you could 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 int heir budget and example images of what the room might look like when it’s finished.
How to Choose a Startup Idea
Before diving headfirst into the most appealing idea you see on this list, there is some work you should do. First, you should make sure there’s an actual demand for the startup ideas or business you want to start, where you want to start it. More than 40% of businesses fail because there isn’t an actual market need for their services or product, don’t become another business tat contributes to this statistic. Do your research and make sure there’s a need for the business you want to start.
One of the other tasks that should be top of mind for you when you’re at the early stages of a startup is writing a business plan. You’re going to need a plan to get funding and to help your business stay on track so the earlier you write it the better.
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.
Whether or not you choose from one of these startup business ideas, opportunities abound for motivated entrepreneurs to make money from any number of business ventures. Check out the infographic below for key takeaways from fearless founders who made it big with unconventional ideas.
- MarketWatch.com. “Lazy, Busy or Both? Americans Phoned in Nearly 2 Billion Takeout Orders Last Year“
- Bloomberg.com. “Big Money Joins Fight Against $1 Trillion in Wasted Food“
- GFI.org. “Plant-Based Market Overview“
- FuelbyMckinsey.com. “Sizing Up the Subscription E-Commerce Market: 2018 Update“
- III.org. “Fact + Statistics: Pet Statistics“
- Entrepreneur.com. “Reasons Why Mobile Phone Accessories Market is on a Growth Trajectory“
- Narts.org. “Industry Statistics & Trends“
- HexaResearch.com. “E-book Market Size and Forecast, by Genre (Fiction, Nonfiction and Education, Literature, Children’s Book, Comics and Graphic Novels), and Trend Analysis, 2014-2024“
- NYTimes.com. “Podcast Growth is Popping in the U.S., Survey Shows“
- AppInstitute.com. “What is a Social Media Influencer (and How Do I Become One?)“
- GlobeNewwire.com. “$44.7 Bn Virtual Reality Market – Global Forecast to 2024“
Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of JustBusiness and the editorial director at Fundera.
Sally joined Fundera in 2018 and has almost 15 years of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There, she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at AOL.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and ColoradoBiz magazines, as well as Yelp, SmallBizClub, and BizCrat.