Unique online business ideas (with real-life examples & why they work)
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to generate unique online business ideas.
There are tons of new online business ideas surrounding you every day. In fact, you might be surprised when you see how many people will pay for the oddball skills and interests you already have.
I’ll prove it.
Here are 3 successful yet unique online business ideas that you can use for inspiration to launch a successful online business of your own. I’m going to tell you what they are, how they make money, and what you can take away from each to serve as inspiration for your own business.
Online Business Idea #1: I Want to Draw a Cat for You
About the business:
The name pretty much sums up the business: This guy, Steve Gadlin, hand draws pictures of cats (fat, small, wearing hats, tap-dancing, etc), posts them online, and then sells them to people all over the world.
He came up with this idea just for fun. But what started as a hobby, quickly turned into a real business with real revenues, almost overnight.
Results: drawing cats = getting paid
He sold more than 18,794 of these simple drawings in 5 years, before closing the site down to start other wacky businesses.
Just before he closed up shop, his cat drawing was selling for as much $29.50 each. Turns out, those “silly” drawings generated some pretty serious revenues with hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.
He also managed to get a $25,000 investment out of billionaire Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank”, using this song-and-dance sales pitch:
All that from taking his vague idea for a fun business and seeing if anyone would pay him for it.
The takeaway: You can use the skills you already have (as weird as they may be) to start a new business.
Here’s a test that guarantees people will pay you for your idea:
It’s easy to sit around, come up with ideas, and imagine how much money we’re going to make. But if you want to make your dream a reality, you need to test it. Just one test can save you months or years of effort going down the wrong path.
Here’s how to test an idea in under 20 minutes to see if it’s worth pursuing:
- Find 1 person — JUST ONE! — who might be interested in your idea. You can reach out to this person via email or meet them face-to-face. If you’re not sure who’d be interested, ask ANYONE remotely close to the idea, even if it’s your parents. You’re not aiming for perfection right now, just people.
- “Test” for language using this script: “I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around [YOUR IDEA]. What’s the biggest problem around [YOUR IDEA]?”
- Write down the exact language they use. Did they really say, “I want a solution that’s easy, fast, and secure”? No, they did not. WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAY. “I hate how these jeans look on me” is a terrific response. Why? Because when you create your product/solutions for this need in the market, you need to consider what people actually want. NOT what you think they want, but what they actually say they need.
This exercise will help you determine what they would be willing to pay for. Who knows, you might be a dog-drawing superstar? But you have to test it to find out.
Online Business Idea #2: Fluent in 3 Months
A brief history of language “hacking”
Benny Lewis spent years struggling to learn a second language, and it was really frustrating for him. Despite taking language courses and trying to learn on his own, nothing seemed to stick.
Then, one day he came up with a strategy that helped him learn Spanish in 6 months. At first, he thought it was a fluke, but then he did the same thing, only faster, with Italian, French, German, Portuguese, and Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, Dutch, and Irish.
Now he teaches people how to do the same through his online courses and workshops.
Results: an entirely new world with new opportunities
Even though he’s not a credentialed expert, Benny has become a thought leader in the language learning space.
His site and advice have been featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, The Four Hour Workweek, Business Insider, and Forbes. He was even invited to give a TEDx talk on language hacking.
Remember, he started as someone who couldn’t even speak a second language. But now, he’s built a platform to make an amazing impact all over the world.
The takeaway: You don’t need any advanced degrees or “credentials” to start an online business. You just need to deliver results.
Think about it. If you’re in the market for a personal trainer, do you walk around saying “I really need someone who’s NASM and CPT certified”? Of course not!
You want someone who can help you lose those last 10 pounds or get back into your high school jeans. In other words, you want someone with proven results over the credentialed expert.
Online Business Idea 3: Charisma and Confidence Training
From vague idea to real online business:
Felicia always had a passion for communications, sales, client work, and writing, but she didn’t know how to combine these vague passions into a real business.
She started by working with women on their communication skills and writing, but quickly realized she had a knack for coaching. She eventually started teaching those skills online, and it turned out to be a really good way to make an income for her.
Result: earning more money, while working less
Felicia isn’t an “expert” in her field, she simply teaches people social skills and charisma from what she’s learned through years of personal trial and error. But she now earns up to $10,000 a month with her online business, while working only 30 hours a week.
The takeaway: You’re already good at something; you just have to find what it is.
It would have been easy for Felicia to give up because she didn’t know how to turn the things she really enjoyed and the things she was good at into a real business.
But she kept digging to find 1) what she LOVED to do and 2) what people would pay her for. You can do that too with any skills you have. See more on how she built her business here.
Even more unique online business ideas for your successful online business
Take a look at 30 more examples of successful online businesses in this free guide. You’ll quickly see that no matter how weird or “niche” your skills are, you can turn them into a successful online business today.