8 Best Small Business Ideas To Start in 2023
1. Start a dropshipping business
Buy stock, store it, pick it, pack it, ship it. Managing inventory is a big commitment when you’re running a business.
Dropshipping is an easy, low cost, business idea to start and the first of our good business ideas. Dropshipping is a fulfillment model where a third-party supplier stores and ships inventory to customers on your behalf. It’s one of the best businesses to start because it’s low overhead, hands-off, and scalable.
You don’t need to handle any products yourself—you just need to make the sales and pass orders on to your supplier. In fact, it’s one of the quickest and cheapest businesses to start.
You can curate products from one or more suppliers into your own online store under a theme that focuses on a specific niche, like gear for yoga enthusiasts or water bowls for dog owners. When a customer buys a product from you, the order is sent to your supplier, who fulfills it on your behalf. However, you are still responsible for your own marketing and customer service.
There are both local and overseas suppliers you can work with, as long as you can establish a relationship with them built on trust—an unreliable supplier will reflect poorly on your brand.
Dropshipping is a great way to test product-market fit and launch a business before you invest in your own original products. Just be sure to always order a sample for yourself to make sure your supplier is reliable and that the quality of the products is fit for selling to your customers.
2. Launch your own book
A book is just another type of product when you think about it. As such, you can create one to serve a particular demand in the market.
Cookbooks, picture books, comic books, poetry books, photo books, coffee table books, and novels—if you’ve got the knowledge or creativity, there are a variety of original books you can bring to the market. The options are endless—that’s why it’s one of the best small business ideas to start.
Print-on-demand is a relatively safe way to test the waters and get started with self-publishing. It also gives you control over the quality and look of your book.
Lulu xPress and Blurb are popular platforms to create, order, and distribute your own books as physical and digital products. You could also sell it on third-party marketplaces like Amazon or Powell’s.
While you can order one book at a time, costs naturally go down when you buy in bulk. Consider pre-selling or crowdfunding your book idea to ensure there’s demand and guarantee a certain number of sales so you can feel confident making a bulk order.
Launching your own book can be a great way to monetize a blog if you have or are looking to start one.
3. Sell print-on-demand posters, greeting cards, and prints
If you’re artistically inclined or know your way around a camera, you can dropship using a print-on-demand business model to let others physically own a piece of your work. Just be sure you have the rights to the content you want to print or are using public domain assets you can freely monetize.
If you’ve already got an engaged online following—say you’re a cartoonist or an urban photographer—you’re in an especially good position to give this small business idea a try.
Depending on the printer you work with, you can turn your work into products such as posters or framed wall art, even greeting cards. There are plenty of low-cost digital templates and mockup generators like Placeit you can use to showcase your products without having to print out each item and conduct your own photo shoots.
4. Start a charitable business
Starting a non-profit organization isn’t the only path you can take to help fund a better world.
Having a mission to go along with a business and setting aside some profit for a cause gives social entrepreneurs a unique way to position their company in the market while addressing the issues they care about most.
While many social enterprises offer their own original products, you can also take any of the low-cost small-business ideas above and partner with a non-profit or execute that social good with your own hands, as long as you’re transparent about how it works.
As part of your marketing, you can share the impact that your customers are having by supporting your business, such as a blog post covering your work in the community or a real-time impact calculator on your website.
The Give & Grow Shopify app makes it easy to partner with charitable organizations and incorporate your mission into your business. You can set it up to donate a specific amount or a percentage of sales, or ask your customers to add a donation at checkout.
5. Create an online fashion boutique
If you love fashion and sharing your sense of style online, you can consider creating your own online fashion boutique. You don’t need to become a fashion designer—you can simply curate items from other vendors into your own online store (using the dropshipping model we discussed earlier).
Dresses, shoes, swimwear, accessories, and more—you can build your own fashion brand using one of several product-sourcing apps, model them on your own with product photos and social media posts, and build an online following as a trendsetter. Apps like MyOnlineFashionStore let you import various styles into your Shopify store.
6. Build an audience you can monetize
In today’s connected world, the ability to capture and keep the attention of others is an asset. It’s one that many businesses are even willing to pay for and one that many creators are able to convert into a business with multiple revenue streams.
Whether you choose to grow your following on YouTube, Instagram, or a blog (ideally a combination of different channels), you have many avenues for monetizing your audience:
- Sponsored posts on behalf of brands
- Becoming an influencer
- Selling physical or digital products (via any of the ideas on this list)
- A combination of the above (they’re not mutually exclusive)
Taking an audience-first approach to your small business idea means you’re playing the long game (it might be months until you’ve figured it out). But you don’t need millions of followers to do it—Instagrammer Kat Gaskin, for example, pulled off a $10,000 product launch with only 3,000 followers for her brand, The Content Planner.
7. Create a membership program
Online memberships are ideal for entrepreneurs with an established active and engaged community. They work much like a subscription-based business—customers make recurring payments in exchange for a virtual product or service.
Memberships are great for managing members-only access to content on a website, and even for physical businesses that offer guided sessions online. Yoga studios, gyms, clubs, and art schools are a few examples of businesses that can easily take advantage of this business model.
Since this content is behind a gate that only paying subscribers can access, you can also host exclusive livestreams in addition to (or instead of) downloadable content.
Regardless of the route you take, be sure to record in a quiet space so the audio is clear and distraction free.
It’s also a good idea to use email marketing to keep your members informed of new content. Emails, video teasers, and customer testimonials are great ways to build excitement for new launches.
And it’s easy to start your membership-based business with Shopify. Set up a new product just like you would for a physical product, but create a name and description that tells people about your membership services.
Make sure to unselect “This is a physical product” to remove shipping options at checkout. (Note: Some of the setup required might change depending on which apps you choose to use later in the process.)
If you want to offer different options for your memberships, create variants. You can set different prices for each option and limit the number of times available, if needed, by editing each option.
8. Test app development
Creating a million-dollar app or your own business is not easy. In fact, 99.5% of consumer apps fail. Most apps don’t have product-market fit. They need a ton of marketing, and they’re expensive to create.
So, why bother putting this on our small-business ideas list? Because consumer app development isn’t the only path for entrepreneurs. New apps for the Shopify App Store crop up daily, with a market of motivated businesses eager to find the tools they need.