At Rootstrap, we’re proud to call ourselves a mobile app development company – but truthfully, that’s only half of what we do. While our primary service offering is mobile app and digital development, what truly sets us apart is our aptitude and experience for new business development.
In our Roadmapping workshops, we’ve worked with literally hundreds of startups bringing new products to market. We help these clients drill down into their core value proposition, understand their target customer, analyze their place in the existing market, and create a product and business primed to succeed in the marketplace. Accordingly, we’ve seen more than our fair share of startup business ideas – and we’ve gotten a sense for what separates good startup business ideas from bad ones.
If you’re considering starting your own business, the only people who can really tell you if your idea is good or bad are your customers. After all, if enough customers pay you money to keep you profitable, your business idea is good no matter what it is – but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few startup business ideas we recommend in 2018.
Startup Company Ideas 2018
If you want to start a company in 2018, we have some paradoxical advice for you: start small. While multi-billion dollar, pie-in-the-sky ideas are attractive, they’re often not the best place to start for getting a profitable business up and running. If you really want to start a company, try to find startup ideas you could implement on an extremely small timetable and budget. The faster you can start serving customers, the more likely you’ll actually be able to build that multi-billion dollar business. Trust us.
Another principle to keep in mind when looking for startup ideas is to define as specific a niche as possible. Where many entrepreneurs falter is in trying to serve a customer base that’s too broad. While this may seem like it opens up a bigger market, the truth is that failing to define a specific core customer demographic just means you won’t effectively reach anyone. The best way to start a new business is to target a very specific, narrow group of people with a product or service that’s perfectly suited to what they need. Then, once you build an initial customer base, you can expand your product offerings and target more people.
So how do you start a company in 2018? While you may want to dream up the next Facebook, you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. Simple, dependable business models often offer a great opportunity for startup companies. Even tried-and-true businesses like cleaning services can offer highly profitable opportunities.
If you want to start a successful company, we recommend focusing on what you know. Take skills you already have and market them as a suite of services to form a service company. Or, start a consulting company based on your experience or knowledge of an industry. If you have any hobbies, those can turn into profitable businesses as well – for example, if you enjoy making candles, a great website design can turn something you do for fun into a luxury item that you can sell for a serious profit.
Tech Startup Ideas
Tech businesses are our bread and butter, and there’s never been a better time to launch a tech startup. While some tech-based startups can be capital intensive, it’s also possible to find a cheap tech startup idea and launch your business with virtually no capital investment. It all depends on what kind of business you start.
If you need to create a digital product from scratch, that will require programming. If you already know how to code, you can do this work yourself, but most entrepreneurs will need to hire outside help for programming. If you’re really strapped for cash, it can make sense to outsource to an offshore provider. This will cut costs dramatically. That said, offshore development companies do carry a risk of lower quality.
You’re always safer going with a US-based development company, as you’ll have a stronger assurance of the code quality. At Rootstrap, we offer nearshore development from our Uruguay headquarters. This allows us to offer a competitive hourly development rate without sacrificing quality. And as always, if you want to talk with us about developing your next project, just reach out at our contact page.
So what kind of tech business should you start? The tech sector is booming right now, and there are plenty of opportunities for you to launch a tech startup.
Chatbots are one of the fastest-growing digital products in the technology industry right now, and they provide a great opportunity for launching your own tech business. Increasingly, chatbots are becoming a requirement for company websites – which means there’s a growing demand for chatbot developers and providers. At Rootstrap, we’ve already developed several chatbots, and while the process can be difficult, they’re a powerful tool for engaging customers.
Another fast-growing sector in the tech industry is artificial and virtual reality. These technologies are poised to reshape the media landscape, and 2018 is an ideal time to launch a VR or AR startup business. Developing hardware is a more capital-intensive proposition, so we’d recommend launching a VR content startup – this is essentially a production company that makes VR content.
As with any startup business, the more niche you can get, the better. If you really want to succeed with a VR content studio, you need to get specific. Try thinking about an industry you already love and imagining ways that virtual reality content could make that industry better or provide a new dimension to the goods and services of the industry. In doing this, keep in mind that VR isn’t limited to expensive VR headsets – VR can be repurposed for smartphone viewers as well as desktop viewers.
So what niches could VR content fill? There are a number of options that make great opportunities for a VR content startup:
- Education: VR provides an immersive experience, which makes it an excellent tool for education. Whether targeted towards public schools, private companies, or general consumers, an educational VR content startup could be a very profitable company.
- Training: Hand in hand with education, VR training programs are poised for growth. These might be aimed at specific companies, industries, licensing programs, or at the general population to teach people everyday skills.
- Real Estate: VR walkthroughs are a powerful way to sell homes. Starting a VR production company geared towards real estate walkthroughs is a simple way to create a thriving business right in your hometown, and partnering with local real estate agents can generate cash flow almost immediately.
- Travel: Starting a VR travel company would require higher production costs, but could lead to an enduring brand. A VR travel blog would be a powerful model for starting a new business.
While this sector is growing fast, it’s still in its earliest stages of development, which means competition is relatively low. By investing in a 360º camera and some VR video production software, you can get a basic VR content studio off the ground and begin producing content, positioning you to take advantage of the rapidly-maturing VR industry.
Easy Startup Business Ideas
If you want to start a business as quickly and easily as possible, service-based businesses are a great option. The beauty of a service business is that you don’t have to invest capital in developing or manufacturing a product – you simply perform the service. Your only investment is your time.
To start a service startup, you’ll need to take an inventory of your marketable skills. What do you know how to do really well? What jobs have you had in the past, and what skills did you use in those jobs? Taking these skills, think about how you could translate them into a strong service offering. You might choose to focus narrowly on one particular service or offer a wider range of services for a specific industry.
From there, it’s all about getting customers. If you’re starting a local service business like a cleaning company, your personal network may be your best source for initial customers. If you plan to work online, sites like Upwork.com or Freelancer.com are great for getting started. Competition is steep, so you’ll likely need to charge low rates to compete at first. Over time, however, you can start to build your experience and charge a healthier rate.
Before you protest, we hear you – what if you don’t have any skills that you could market as a service business? Well, here’s the beauty of the internet: you can learn anything, and you can learn it cheap. Sites like Coursera and Udemy give you the power to earn the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree for a fraction of the cost and a vastly accelerated timeline. You won’t have the prestige of coming from an elite university, but in our experience, that matters less and less every year. At the end the day, if you can produce value for someone, it doesn’t matter where you went to school.
With an investment of less than $1,000, you can easily train yourself in marketable skills that allow you to jumpstart a profitable freelance service business. This is probably one of the easiest startup ideas out there and a great option if you want to get a business going ASAP.
New Business Startup Ideas
If you’re a little more ambitious, though, you may not simply be looking to get a business going that makes a profit – maybe you want to start something that changes the world, or conquer the industries of tomorrow. If that’s you, we admire your ambition – and with hard work, you can get there.
In our opinion, the best way to find new business ideas is to look to new industries. Sure, you know the lay of the land in 2018 – but what will today’s industries look like in 5 years? 10? What industries will still exist, which will die, and what new industries will gain prominence? Thinking from a larger perspective can help you identify opportunities for new business startup ideas.
So what do we recommend? Here are a few great places to look for new startup ideas in 2018:
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an industry poised for massive growth in the coming decade – and with that growth will come countless opportunities for new startup businesses. In addition to manufacturing IoT devices or creating software for these devices, we can expect plenty of cottage industries to spring up around the IoT. In our opinion, cybersecurity will be a major issue for the Internet of Things – starting an IoT cybersecurity agency would make for an excellent startup idea.
Blockchain technology could prove to be one of the most impactful developments of the 20th century, and it’s fertile ground for new business ideas. While the uptick in initial coin offerings (ICOs) is something of an epidemic and features plenty of shady businesses and scams, in the long run, we’re confident that blockchain is destined for massive growth. As with many new technologies, the opportunities for blockchain involve what it can do for other industries. For example, incorporating blockchain-based transactions into payment application, e-commerce stores, or even things like voting is fertile ground for new companies.
Good Startup Ideas
Time for the speed round. Here are 14 startup ideas, in no particular order:
- AirBnb for backyard pools
- Subscription-based box of curated, themed items
- Online learning platform for specific niche skills
- Rapid-response, online-only news network based entirely on a drone fleet
- Luxury cosmetic products marketed exclusively to men
- Performance marketing agency
- Interior design for millennials
- Virtual reality-based interior design company
- Marketing automation agency
- AI-based analysis of the emotions of pets
- Smart bathrooms
- Drone-based firefighting
- Drone delivery service
- Uber for haircutters and stylists
Small Business Startup Ideas
Still looking for ideas to start a small business? There’s one last realm we haven’t covered yet, and it’s one of the best options for new entrepreneurs looking to start a growing, profitable small business: e-commerce.
E-commerce startups are a great idea for starting a small business because they’re simple, they require minimal capital investment, and it’s possible to grow them through a more formulaic approach than many other businesses. With an e-commerce startup, it may take some time to find the ideal product niche and target customer set – but once you connect the right product with the right customers, it’s easy to create reliable growth for your business.
The best way to launch an e-commerce startup is to minimize capital investments as much as possible. Think lean, think small, and think agile – your goal at first is to find the right niche to start generating revenue, then expand. Accordingly, we recommend starting with a relatively small range of products at first. This will make it easier to test your ideas and fine-tune the business model. From there, you can grow your product offering and reach new demographics.
Shopify is the go-to platform for most e-commerce stores, and it’s what we’d recommend for most entrepreneurs. It’s simple, competitively priced, and provides the scale to go from a small e-commerce startup to a massive online store.
But you’ll need products to sell – and unless you have a lot of cash to spend on inventory and a big house to store it in, we feel that dropshipping is unequivocally the way to go. Dropshipping refers to a type of manufacturing where you pay a manufacturer to create a product only once a customer orders it. Instead of the traditional model, which involves buying products wholesale in bulk and selling them after the fact, dropshipping means you only pay for products on sales you’ve already made.
Dropship manufacturing is a vastly lower-risk method that requires much less capital, and while it’s usually somewhat more expensive than buying upfront, that’s less of an issue than ever. Manufacturing is cheap enough now that dropshipping is still profitable for almost any product, and the advantages of skipping upfront investment and negating the risk of holding inventory more than make up for any margins lost by dropshipping.
Companies like Oberlo allow you to dropship a huge array of products for competitive prices, and Oberlo integrates directly with your Shopify store. This makes it easy to set up an e-commerce store and start fulfilling sales literally within a few hours.
If you want to start an easy, low-risk small business, our advice would be to find a product and a niche you love, then set up a simple e-commerce store with dropship manufacturing. Growth hack by testing different marketing channels to see what generates the most return, then double down on the strategies that work. By finding your core customer demographic, reaching them where they want to be reached, and defining specific niche for your brand, you can build a healthy, profitable small business with e-commerce and dropshipping.