Thinking of starting an online business but not entirely sure what you want to do? The good news is, there are plenty of options. You can sell your own goods, curate items and create an online boutique, build an online app, or something totally different.
One thing’s for sure — the marketplace is ready for you. By 2040, an estimated 95 percent of purchases will be made online. And the best way to get ideas is to look at examples of successful online businesses.
Some of the most successful online businesses started when someone was trying to find a product to solve a specific problem but didn’t have any luck.
These problems may have seemed trivial, and in some cases, it seemed like there already should have been a solution. But the more these future founders searched, the more they realized how much the market could benefit from a solution to their problem.
Let their paths serve as inspiration as you explore your own business ideas and start building them into a profitable endeavor.
Oh My Dog Supply + Big Barker
When you can fulfill an unmet need in the marketplace, not only will your online business be successful, but you might even be able to spin off a second online business.
That was the case for Oh My Dog Supply, which originally started when Eric Shannon was looking for a comfortable dog bed for his 92-pound Labrador Retriever/Basenji mix who was suffering from hip dysplasia.
Finding a bed for a dog of that size proved to be a challenge. After spending hours researching where to find big dog beds, Shannon started his own company to sell high-quality dog products online.
Very quickly Oh My Dog Supply was inundated with requests to find dog beds that could fit Great Danes, Mastiffs, Golden Retrievers, and other large breed dogs. Shannon realized there was a need for therapeutic dog beds of this size so he started a second successful online business, Big Barker.
This company, which specializes solely in mattresses for large dogs, has 5-star reviews on Amazon and Google and has amassed a sizable social media following, including 63.7K Instagram followers.
Anyone who has bought a house will tell you that the home inspection is an unpleasant experience. They wait on pins and needles as the inspector determines if their potential home will need repairs before they can move in.
More often than not, the inspector will make a list of items that need fixing — repointing some masonry, repairing a garbage disposal, or recaulking a shower, for instance.
Both the buyer and seller want to get these things fixed so they can close the sale. But gathering estimates for repairs can take time. This is what gave Christian Adams the idea for Repair Pricer.
This online business lets Realtors, home inspectors, and home buyers upload an inspection report, and within 24 hours, they receive a repair estimate that’s 98 percent accurate for their zip code.
Once Realtors and home buyers get the estimate, they can use it, alongside the home inspection report, to negotiate with the seller to either perform the repairs or come down on the price.
Repair Pricer has an overall 5-star rating based on 93 reviews, and it’s garnered press mentions on Realtor.com, Culture Map, and Market Watch.
Even though a second language is part of the curriculum at most U.S. high schools, 90 percent of Americans don’t speak a foreign language. Karyn Koven, Ph.D., set out to change that with LanguageBird, an online language learning school that connects teachers and students using video and online portals.
LanguageBird offers 11 different languages — more than the standard French and Spanish that most high schools teach. Students can learn Arabic, Russian, and even American Sign Language in addition to more common languages like Italian and Japanese.
LanguageBird is fully accredited, which means that it can be used by students who need to travel frequently, like competitive sports players, but who also have to fulfill a language requirement.
And students are actually able to learn the language they choose. It’s a model that teaches them how to speak a foreign language with practice, not the standard classroom texts and exercises that leave students unable to use more than a few words and phrases.
These are just three examples of successful online businesses that can inspire your own endeavors. As you research ideas and determine whether they’re profitable, remember that if you find a problem that needs to be solved, chances are, other people are looking for a solution to the same problem and would be willing to pay for it.
Take the time to explore these ideas and see what you can come up with.