ith much of the world having undergone some major lifestyle changes during the past two years, it has become increasingly important to find supplementary income streams that you can control. The federal minimum wage in the United States has been $7.25 since 2009, and it is simply no longer feasible for everyone to be able to draw a liveable wage from working full-time. This has created a lot of demand for side hustles, and some of the other easiest businesses to start from scratch.
As we can see from the graph above, more people are searching for side hustle ideas than ever before. But starting a new business is challenging, and the majority of them will fail long before they manage to get off the ground. That being said, some businesses have a better chance at survival than others.
In this article, we've assembled some of the easiest businesses to start in 2021. These businesses are all similar in that they don't require a lot of capital to get started, they don't incur many overhead expenses, and they can turn a profit quickly. Basically, anyone can start an online business from this list, provided they take the right approach with the right attitude.
Without any further delay, here are ten of the easiest businesses to start in 2021.
#1 - Consulting
A consultancy service is one of the easiest businesses to start because you may already have the tools. If you are knowledgeable about a subject or have an in-demand skillset, then you can sell your advice to businesses and entrepreneurs who need it. And you don't have to be a bonified expert either. You just need to know more than the person hiring you, and you need to know how to present yourself.
Consultants can either work off a flat rate or set up performance-based compensation. There are hundreds of niches that you can become an expert in (copywriting, web design, digital marketing, etc) that can pay you a healthy income. And you likely won't need to learn a completely new subject, since you can just brush up on the skills and knowledge you already have, and focus them on a smaller, clearly defined subject, like Shopify store consulting.
#2 - Dropshipping
When done correctly, dropshipping can be one of the easiest businesses to start if you are looking to sell physical products online.
Over the past 5 years, dropshipping has become one of the leading ways for beginners to make money online. Dropshipping's popularity can be attributed to the fact that the start-up costs are low, and successful stores can be scaled up to hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars in yearly revenue.
Dropshipping is basically a business model in which you just need to set up an online store and fill it with other people's products. Rather than purchasing the inventory ahead of time, you only purchase the items you need, and only after your customers have paid for them. Once you've made the sale, you simply give your supplier your customer's address, and they ship the order to them directly.
Dropshipping allows you to reduce the risk in your business tremendously. By only ordering products that have already been sold, you are keeping your investment low (no inventory). You don't need to invest in research & development, since the product already exists. Your only real responsibilities are to find customers and process transactions.
However, one of the main challenges with dropshipping is that most dropshippers are all using the same sourcing platform — AliExpress — which is rife with cheap products and aggressive shipping delays.
One way to outperform the competition is to source higher-quality products with faster shipping.
For instance, if you are selling in the USA, you should choose US-based dropshipping suppliers instead of those in China. Choosing local suppliers can set you up for financial success. In addition to charging more for the added quality, you will also save money by not shipping items from overseas, and processing less returns and charebacks than you would have.
If you want to start US-dropshipping for free, you can sign up for our free plan. DropCommerce offers tens of thousands of products from verified US and Canadian suppliers. Most of them ship domestically within 4-7 business days, giving you an edge that most competitors just can't compete with.
#3 - Online tutoring
Tutoring online is quickly becoming one of the easiest businesses to start for knowledgeable tutor-preneurs. Whether you are teaching a subject (like Calculus) or a hobby (like guitar), you can easily make money tutoring on a freelancing platform. These platforms make it easy to find customers from around the world, and to reach out to them with a few button clicks.
Some of the best online teaching platforms are:
- Learn to Be
It's not uncommon for tutors to make $30, $50, or even $100 per hour, depending on the subject. Especially once you become well-known for certain expertise, and your clients can refer you to other clients.
#4 - Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest businesses to start, and as a result, it is also one of the most saturated. But, that isn't to say you can't still find a way to generate a solid stream of revenue through it.
Affiliate marketing is a business model where you create. a source of traffic (like a blog, Youtube channel, podcast, etc.) and monetize it by sending your followers to relevant products and services. Every time one of your followers purchases the product or service through one of your custom affiliate links, the order is tracked, and you will receive a portion of the revenue you generate.
In practice, you can start a Youtube channel on a subject you're interested in, review a related product, and link to the product's website with your affiliate links in the video's description. These videos can be a source of income for decades since they will be accessible 24/7 to people all around the world.
Aside from a Youtube channel, you can start a blog on a certain subject like longboarding. You'll then create articles targeting keywords such as "best longboarding shoes", "best longboarding wheels", or "best drop deck longboards". Each one of these keywords is perfect for an article where you market products through affiliate programs like the Amazon Associates Program.
Not sure where to start? Do some research on which categories are underserved. You can use tools like KwFinder to find the keywords with less competition in your niche. Start by selecting an Amazon category that you like and look for best-selling products. Next, search on KwFinder using the criteria “best [product type]”.
If the keyword you are targeting is competitive, look for trends based keywords. For example, if you are starting a blog 3 months before year-end, you can simply add the next year at the end of your keyword string (like "best laptops 2021) and get a jump on your future competitors.
Also, look for keyword strings with 3 to 4 words. These long-tail keywords are usually quicker to rank and begin generating revenue since they are more specific. We have a more detailed guide available here.
#5 - Sell online courses or custom services
Similar to online tutoring, you can teach others about skills or subjects you are well-versed in. However, instead of teaching students one-at-a-time, you can teach an unlimited amount through a self-directed online course or educational e-book.
This can be a very lucrative business model since distributing the course costs next-to-nothing, and each course can be sold an unlimited amount of times. In fact, many experts are making as much as $100,000 per year (or more) by selling online courses. If you're looking to get started, you can create a course on one of the following platforms:
If you have a creative service that doesn’t fit on one of the platforms above, you can always sell it as a custom gig on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.
#6 - Content writing
Another one of the easiest businesses to start is content writing. This also includes sub-categories like technical writing, copywriting, and more.
Many businesses rely on content writers to help them get their message across. Whether they are looking for blog articles to get users engaged, sales copy to help them sell products, or product descriptions for their online store, content writers are there to provide assistance.
If you're looking to get started, then guest blogging is always an option. You can find popular blogs that accept guest posts by doing some research online.
#7 - Social media management
Social media has exploded in recent years, but not every business owner has the skillset to take full advantage of it. If you are knowledgeable about social media, then this could be a great business opportunity for you.
Social media management is a business where you manage the social media accounts, and possibly social media marketing, for a business (or several). It is all about leveraging social proof and building brand awareness. More than 78% of online businesses use social media marketing to compete with their competitors, which means you have a giant market to serve.
In addition to paid ads, smart eCommerce brands hire social experts for promotion. On average, social media managers make $51,807 per year, which should be a liveable wage. You will be responsible for pushing cold campaigns, generating brand awareness, and building effective social media profiles.
#8 - Become a video editor
With more and more people starting a YouTube channel, video editing is becoming one of the easiest businesses to get started with. You can quickly learn to use software like Filmora or Wondershare, and practice by editing free videos online.
Once you get your skillset off the ground through video trimming and editing, you can reach out to YouTubers directly, or use a third-party platform like Upwork to find video editing gigs. An average video editor makes about $48,000+ per year. This will likely continue to grow since Youtube is seeing more and more channels being created every year.
Another option, if you want to go the video editing route, is to use an online video editor to streamline the process. An all-in-one platform merges video editing and content licensing, presenting a seamless solution. It enables you to locate fitting stock footage for your project, smoothly integrate it into your video, generate subtitles, and more. While it doesn't offer the extensive features of software such as Invideo, Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, it serves as an excellent choice for swiftly creating brief, impactful video content.
#9 - Graphic design
Becoming a graphic designer is as easy as any of the other ideas on this list. Unlike old times, you don’t have to search for icons and other elements for creating products like infographics or logos. You can take advantage of the many tools like Canva and kickstart your graphic design careers. Some of the best places to find work are Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and other public job boards.
For best results, you should create a site and set up a bare-bones portfolio for showcasing your skills. If you are creative enough, this can certainly be one of the easiest businesses to start on this list.
#10 - Develop (or white label) an application
If you are good at coding or are willing to learn, then you can become an app developer. You can build applications on eCommerce platforms like Shopify, or on consumer-facing app marketplaces like Apple's App Store.
But, for those of us who are not interested in learning to code, we also have the option of using a white labelling service. These services basically develop an app for you, under your branding, which you can then release to the public as a business. You can charge whatever you like, usually with a one-time-fee or subscription-based revenue mode.
Similar to an ebook or online course, these apps can continue to make you money for years after they have been published.
So, that was our take on the easiest business to start in 2021. Hopefully, you were able to find some value in it, and get an idea of what kind of business is right for you.
If you decide that you want to give dropshipping a try, then make sure to check out DropCommerce. DropCommerce is a dropshipping platform that can connect you with US product suppliers, so you don't have to ship cheap items all the way from China.
DropCommerce now has a free plan available should you want to get started, and the platform can be easily connected to your online store through one of our app integrations.
Best of luck, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!