Finding a way to stand out from the competition is one of the major obstacles of beginning your own business. You may be certain that there is a significant demand for your product if it is well-known and easily accessible. However, a competitive market and bigger, more seasoned companies come along with strong demand.
On the other hand, you might have an entirely unique product that no other business is offering. It’s simple to stand out here, but how can you be certain that there is a strong enough market for the product to support your company?
It’s difficult to strike a balance between these factors, but it’s simpler if you start with a novel business concept.
Unique enterprises in more specialized industries typically face less rivalry, but the competition they do face guarantees that your items will find a market. When it comes to differentiating yourself from your rivals, starting from a place of originality can make all the difference for a new company.
Here are a handful of our favorite original company concepts if you’re looking for one:
1. Own a food truck
If you love cooking, you may have fantasized about one day opening your very own restaurant. But did you know that since 2016, growth in the mobile food industry has been outpacing the growth of traditional restaurants?
In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many restaurants struggled to keep their doors open, food trucks were experiencing a time of unprecedented growth. That makes the current moment perfect for newer brands looking to get a foothold in the industry.
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of developing their own unique menus, a food truck business offers the same business opportunity at a fraction of the price of opening a traditional restaurant. They also offer the advantage of mobility, meaning you can bring your restaurant to events and locations where you know there will be a lot of foot traffic and hungry customers.
Plus with food trucks, it’s easy to tie in multiple revenue streams, since the trucks themselves can double as a promotional tool for your other products. Take Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, for example. It sells its products both out of a food truck and via its own website.
Multiple revenue streams can go a long way in making sure your business is sustainable, and food trucks offer a ton of ways to do this.
2. Become a virtual interior designer
Home decor became hugely profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic, with quarantined shoppers looking to spend more time redecorating. Since 2021, the industry has been growing, and it’s expected to continue to grow through to 2026.
With the advent of augmented reality, online shoppers are now able to actually see how furniture and other home decor products will look in their home. This has given rise to a new type of business: the virtual interior designer.
Virtual interior design is still a relatively new industry, making it prime territory for new brands. There are even online services, like RoomPlays, that match virtual interior designers with clients looking for their services.
3. Start a dog-walking and pet-sitting business
If you love dogs, chances are you’d leap at the opportunity to spend as much time with them as possible. Starting a dog-walking business is a great way to get some exercise, build personal relationships with clients, and make all kinds of four-legged friends.
A dog-walking business is especially reliant on good customer service, so if you’re a people person (and a dog person), dog-walking is a great business opportunity.
Dog-walking businesses are highly localized, so the types of service you offer depend on where you’re located. Take Salty Paws, for example. Aside from offering traditional dog-walking and pet-sitting services for pet owners, it also offers adventure walks to locations all along New Hampshire’s seacoast.
4. Become a virtual teacher
More colleges, universities, and even elementary schools are offering online courses than ever before. With people becoming more accustomed to learning online, there’s a growing market for remote teaching, a trend that’s expected to continue.
Online courses can teach just about everything a person might want to learn—from cooking to playing the piano, so it’s an industry that offers a ton of niching possibilities. A growing industry with a ton of niches is perfect for new merchants looking to establish themselves.
In terms of revenue streams—you could sell access to recorded lessons, sell tickets to live-streaming sessions, and even sell relevant, accompanying products in an online store.
Or you might prefer a more hands-off approach. For example, Helm Publishing offers open-book, self-study courses with accompanying tests and textbooks so customers can learn at their own pace and test themselves when they’re ready.
Not sure what to teach? People tend to turn to Google when they want to know how to do something, so a good way to get your foot in the door of the industry is to perform some keyword research and see what types of lessons searchers would like to learn.
5. Virtual assistant for other businesses
Virtual assistants are contracted workers who can provide a wide range of services, from accounting to content marketing to personal tasks, like planning trips and managing schedules. You could assist virtually as a full-time job or a side business.
With so many businesses shifting their focus to online operations, the demand for remote workers is growing. Since businesses can hire virtual assistants from anywhere in the world, being a virtual assistant doesn’t restrict you to any specific location.
6. Become a social media influencer
Nearly everyone is on social media in one form or another, which might be why influencer marketing is growing in nearly every industry. Regardless of what they’re selling, businesses need customers, and that’s where influencers come in.
A social media influencer in someone who specializes in growing their social media following in a particular niche. Influencers have a certain authority over their audience, so when they partner with brands, audiences tend to take those brands seriously.
A lot of brands rely on influencers to promote their products. It’s especially important for businesses that sell a niche product, where it might be harder to find customers with a broader content marketing strategy.
But what’s great about becoming an influencer is that the audience you’re building is your own, meaning you can create additional revenue streams by selling your own products. Take apparel brand Unxpectd, which uses its massive TikTok following to direct web traffic to its clothing line and promote its latest product releases.
7. Start a niche cleaning service business
It’s almost impossible to count the number of things that need to be cleaned regularly, but cleaning tends to be one of the most dreaded chores. When it comes to more complex cleaning of things like carpets, cars, or pets—sometimes it’s easier to delegate the task to a professional.
Cleaning services tend to stay in high demand, given people’s general aversion to cleaning combined with the requirement of doing it regularly. When you own a cleaning business, you’ll be building personal relationships with your customers that tend to be long-lasting.
With so many things that need cleaning, there’s a ton of potential for carving out your own unique niche. Take PramWash, a Singapore-based stroller-cleaning service provider.
Stroller cleaning might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a cleaning service, but by zeroing in on an important chore that not many people want to do themselves, PramWash has cornered a very lucrative market.
On top of stroller cleaning, it also offers other services for new parents—like in-home disinfection treatments that use only baby-safe cleaning products.
8. Start a local grocery delivery service
Everyone needs groceries, but not everyone has an equal degree of accessibility when it comes to shopping for them. Grocery delivery services let shoppers pick out items from the comfort of their homes and have them delivered.
While online shopping may be a globe-spanning exercise, grocery delivery often has to serve at a local level, since items like fresh meats and produce can spoil in shipping. That means that there are communities all over the world that have the potential to grow a niche grocery delivery business.
Retirement communities, college campuses, and densely populated areas tend to be perfect for starting a local business delivering groceries. Take, for example, Kiki’s Grocery Delivery Service, which provides fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and all kinds of canned goods to customers throughout the Vancouver area.
9. Start your own online zine and sell digital subscriptions
If you love writing, chances are you’ve thought about founding your own magazine. “Zines” are small-circulation magazines that typically focus on niche topics. Zines tend to have a more independent element, so the industry is more open to newcomers.
The subject of your zine can have endless possibilities. Chances are, you’ll be more successful covering a topic that you’re passionate about, so this is a small business idea where it helps to stick with your instincts.
Whether you’re an artist, designer, or writer—a zine can be a great way to showcase your talent and make money doing something you’re passionate about.
Selling digital subscriptions to your zine is easy when using Shopify’s Digital Downloads app. If you wanted to sell physical copies, you could use a self-publishing app, like Lulu Direct.
And although you’ll likely want to have control on the creative direction of the zine, you don’t necessarily need to write every article yourself. You could hire freelance remote employees to help with creating some of your content.
10. Use a CNC router to design, build, and sell your own one-of-a-kind products
A CNC machine (also called a CNC router) is a computer-operated cutting tool that’s able to carve complex shapes out of materials like wood, metals, plastic, and glass. Since it operates via computer, CNC machines are able to mass produce goods in a fraction of the time it would take a professional builder.
Small-scale CNC machines are becoming increasingly affordable, making it easier for small businesses to mass produce their own custom-designed products on a shoestring budget from their garages, basements, and bedrooms.
Demand for CNC products tends to be especially high on online marketplaces like Etsy and Facebook Marketplace since one-of-a-kind products tend to be highly sought after on these sites. This is also the reason audiences in the market for CNC products tend to be open to buying from newer brands, giving an advantage to small retailers.
There are a ton of products you could make with a CNC machine: home decor, cooking tools, toys and games, and a whole lot more. Oftentimes, it’s the uniqueness of the product itself that becomes the selling point.
Take Avocrafts, for instance. Its line of cedar coasters and placemats are cut from a combination of wood and resin in such a way that each individual piece has a unique pattern. Drawing on the demand for uniqueness, Avocrafts offers its customers a high-quality product that’s one-of-a-kind, but still easy to mass produce.
11. Provide freelance bookkeeping services for business owner
Being skilled at organizing financial information might not seem like the most glamorous specialty, but freelance small business accounting services are in high demand, especially for small business owners. Startup costs can add up fast, and having a solid financial foundation to build a business on is crucial, making bookkeeping a much-needed service for any full-time entrepreneur.
As with virtual assisting, bookkeeping is a great home business for people who want to stay mobile, since it’s easy to work remotely. A good bookkeeper should be organized, detail-oriented, and capable of multitasking since they’re likely to be working with multiple clients at any given time.
12. Launch a podcast and sell exclusive content
Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing forms of media. In 2018, 44% of Americans reported having listened to a podcast, a number that jumped to 57% in 2021.
With the number of podcasts set to rise, there’s about to be a lot of room for new podcasts to build an audience. Podcasting is inexpensive, easy to learn, and one of the few collaborative media projects that can be done simultaneously from several different locations, making it perfect for working remotely.
Monetizing podcasts is fairly easy as well. While podcast listeners might not want to pay for each podcast, a common online business model for podcasters is to offer a shorter, free version of the podcast alongside a longer, more in-depth paid version.
As you start to build an audience for your podcast, you could start monetizing by selling merch. Depending on the audience for your podcast, you could also sell accompanying products.
For example, if you have a cooking-themed podcast, you could sell recipe books or cooking supplies. As with being an influencer, podcasters tend to have a level of authority with their audience, making popular podcasts widely sought after by brands looking for partnerships.