10 Great Startup Ideas For 2021

Many people have always wanted to start their own business but have been too fearful. Most say they are scared of failure or they are unsure what to do first. The answer is to start slowly. Start by investigating, and validating, an idea. Or rather, a problem that needs to be solved.

Becoming an entrepreneur can be very gratifying.  Some of the most common reasons for wanting to become an entrepreneur are reported as:

  • I want to be my own boss
  • I want to follow my passion
  • I want more time to spend with family and friends

Whatever the reason, taking the plunge to launching a startup can be hard and a bit scary. The best way to ensure that the decision is a good one is to take some proven steps to ensure you start up on the right track. What kind of steps, you ask?

Before you start…

Look at the groups you are a part of, the things you are interested in (ie: photography, pets, students, new parents, tennis, fitness, or social justice issues like bullying, mental health, BLM) to see if people in those groups have unsolved problems relating to that group. Then interview members who can help you identify something that is not only an unmet need, but equally importantly, something that people would pay money to have resolved.

This is a great way to see if there is an obvious business idea that you can capitalize on. The idea has to be noteworthy (customers will pay for it), usable (customers can actually utilize it), valuable and feasible (you can create it).  Research also shows that your idea has to be 10x better than what currently exists. This helps ensure your customers will buy yours over the next best option.

Sometimes, the idea can be developed in a variety of ways. Best practice will tell you to test every hypothesis about your product or service and only move forward if the test confirms your hypothesis. If it doesn’t, you either need to iterate (ie change some of the features) or pivot (try something completely different).  Only when your test confirms your hypothesis do you keep proceeding. This takes a lot of the risk out of the process, as you never jump in with both feet with an untested product or service.

What kinds of startup ideas are on our list for 2021? In the current environment, there are a fair number of online options that can let you run a side hustle or start to build something that can be your primary source of income.

Startup ideas on our list for 2021:

  1. Shopify (and similar platforms) has taken some of the challenges out of selling or reselling products because it offers everything the ability to create a website and use their shopping cart solution to sell, ship, and manage products. It also manages payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement. Instead of having to pay for each of these components individually, you take all the risk away because their proven solutions are available on a subscription basis. It’s an online store that is yours, unlike Etsy, which is also good, but which is more of a marketplace where you sell alongside other online sellers. If your research indicated that there was a product that would provide solutions to unmet needs, this is a great way to start to sell it.
  2. Have you travelled to other places where they have products that are not yet in your country/city? Some of the best new business opportunities come from finding something elsewhere and either developing a competitive offering or licencing the original for your country or region. Talk to friends in other countries and ask about the favourite new thing they’ve bought or discovered recently. Would there be a market for it at home?
  3. What are you really good at? Can you use one of the new online course development platforms like Thinkific to create a course that others might pay to take? It could be guitar or the best way to do a puzzle or cooking or science or astronomy. People are always looking for new things to learn. You can generate revenue from what you know best.
  4. Childcare is always needed. Even looking after one or 2 children can be an great help to parents trying to balance WFH with managing childcare.
  5. Elder care is another huge and growing need. While some seniors need professional care with medical underpinnings, the vast majority of elder care simply involves things like doing errands, taking them to appointment, shopping, and companionship. It is most helpful to seniors to be able to stay in their own home environment as long as possible as it reduces confusion, and gives them comfort. Often family members are either unavailable or live too far away to deal with the small day to day needs so this is a great one.
  6. Most small companies or not-for-profit organizations don’t have the funds (or needs) to have full time staff handing things like article/landing page writing, blogging, newsletters, social media, product photography, etc. It is most cost effective to outsource those tasks and if you have skills in any of those areas, why shouldn’t they be outsourced to you? Depending on the needs of the company and the task, you can either structure payment on a monthly retainer basis or on a fee for service basis. This type of work is a great side hustle as you can take on as much or as little of it as you want and can often schedule the work to be done evenings and weekends for maximum flexibility.
  7. Do you have a vehicle? Having wheels opens up several types of employment. Many executives employ virtual assistants to do things like managing calendars, appointments and emails to making phone calls and travel arrangements, to managing events to personal errands. If you like your days to be different and varied, this is a good one for you. You could also drive for one of the ride sharing apps, or start a local courier service. Grocery shopping services are also an excellent service to start, especially for older clients.
  8. Does everyone always comment on your style, your clothes, your hair and your accessories? Perhaps personal styling is in your future. Offer to style a friend or 2 and post before and after pics to social media. Arrange relationships with your fave stores as many will kick back some of the total sale to you in addition to the client fee.
  9. How’s your nail game? Could you offer a mobile nail service? Or makeup? Or hair? It might take some people awhile to get used to going back into a salon surrounded by a lot of people so one on one service might be just the ticket.
  10. Are you a new parent? You may not have time to start a new business too but keep track of everything (product or service or app) you WISH you had in that first year. Those ideas may prove golden when you have a bit more time on your hands.

Following a startup program can help reduce the risk you face when building your own business but in the end, starting a business or a side hustle can give you flexibility, extra cash and some control over your life – if you choose the right idea.

With hard work, and by following best practices, you will soon be able to envision quitting your job so your side hustle becomes your full-time hustle!

Elisa Palter

About the Author

Elisa Palter

Elisa has co-founded and successfully exited 2 small businesses, written business cases for Harvard Business School, and was part of the team that founded a prestigious Liberal Arts College overseas. She assists select NFP organizations with their messaging and strategy, and coaches women who are looking to become entrepreneurs. Elisa is passionate about entrepreneurship and its ability to empower individuals, particularly women.

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