For a certain breed of entrepreneurially-minded people, coming up with new business ideas is like a never-ending parlor game. They come to you at the grocery store, in the shower and over dinner. You start way too many sentences with the phrase, “I have a business idea”. You even get annoyed (like, really annoyed) when you see someone else having success with a business idea you’ve already thought of, but never managed to start.
The problem with business ideas is that you can think of hundreds of them, but choosing just one to focus on can be a real challenge. It’s like picking a name for a baby. There are many you might like, but after ruling out the ones fraught with perilous nickname potential, the ones that remind you of your ex (or worse yet, your spouse’s ex) and the ones that will sound silly 20 years from now, you’re left with fewer options than you thought.
If you’re not sure which type of business will suit you best, start by reading through this diverse list of small business ideas that spans across dozens of industries and see if anything gives you inspiration. Once you have the general topic area you want to build a business around while keeping your day job, evaluate which of these types of popular businesses will be best for your existing skills, strengths and lifestyle goals.
If you have a set of skills that are in high demand, such as web development, graphic design, writing, content marketing, or otherwise, choosing to go out on your own as a freelancer, consultant or building an agency are all great ways to build a service-based business around your interests. Leverage your existing professional network to land your first paying clients by tapping old co-workers, catching up with acquaintances, reconnecting with former classmates and ask if they know of anyone who could use your services. Nail your first projects, create a portfolio to highlight your best work and grow through referrals for as long as you can before turning to cold outreach.
If you’ve got an idea for a physical product you want to bring to life, whether it’s writing a book, manufacturing the next great iPhone accessory or something else entirely, at the end of the day physical products need to be shipped from door-to-door. After building your product, having an eCommerce website will be a must, so that you can market your products to an online audience. Partner with other companies that reach the audience you want to sell to by forging joint promotions, distribution agreements and marketing partnerships to keep growing from there.
From writing and selling eBooks to teaching online courses, making graphic design templates, running an online magazine, producing online workshops, training seminars and more, a digital product-based business can be attractive for many reasons. Once you create your product, it can live out in the marketplace for years—accruing more sales and boosting your bottom line without the need for major updates if you find the right niche and figure out the best marketing strategies for reaching your audience.
Choosing to start a blog and build your authority within your interest area can easily be one of the best investments in your future as an entrepreneur, even if it’s not your primary business model right away. Begin by writing about topics you have a passion for, start sharing with others in your community that have the same interests and spread out from there. Decide how you’re going to monetize the traffic coming to your blog, dial in your promotion tactics and you’ll be on the fast track to increasing your income with each visitor to your site-especially if you begin offering digital products to your new audience.
Podcasting can be a great way to make money once you build your listenership into the thousands per episode. Get started by recording a few episodes talking about different issues and challenges you’ve found within your interest area, capture some interviews with other experts in your field and begin promoting the first few episodes to other people you know that share your interest. Then you’ll be ready to approach sponsors and start selling advertising space on your podcast.