The pandemic has ushered in the age of complete digitization, as we know it. As the entire world adapts to these changing times and evolves to keep up with the online first era, ways of doing business have pivoted drastically as well.
The silver lining here is that this global change has given rise to abundant online business opportunities for anyone who wants to start out - even if you’re sitting at home. And we have got some ideas for you!
Online home business ideas to get you going on your entrepreneurial journey
To make things simpler, we have categorised the following business ideas into buckets so that it is simpler for you to find what fuels you the most!
Make your own or sell popular products
Supply homemade skincare products
Your kitchen is filled with raw produce that would make for excellent ingredients for skincare products. Utilize the same to create and package your own brand of personal care products that are highly valued and appreciated in the market today.
Skincare products without preservatives, parabens, and harmful chemicals are widely used by the youth and they are constantly on the lookout for the same. Make sure you market your brand and products well on social media so gain the required traction from your target audience.
It is important to be mindful of laws and regulations while getting started. For example, as per the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940, you need a license for manufacturing and marketing cosmetic products in India. You can view the act here, but also remember to check out other such important legal requirements.
Sell handloom or handicraft products
Each city of India is known for its handicrafts and handloom products. Jaipur, for instance, is known for Gota Patti, Zari, and Kinari handicrafts, Varanasi is known for silk and brocade sarees, Surat is home to Chikankari fabrics, and so on.
Depending on which part of the country you are based in, you can set up a small online store that supplies traditional handicraft or handloom items to other parts of the country where demand for them is huge and customers are willing to pay a higher premium to get their hands on such valuable items.
Find out about zoning regulations, licenses and registration requirements and permits you may need to sell specific items. It is also a good idea to get acquainted with IRS regulations as most handloom and handicraft businesses are run on personal levels.
Provide tiffin or catering services from home
Tiffin and catering services are quite the rage today as more and more people are working from home and are ordering home cooked meals throughout the day. You could start small and keep a fixed menu for each day and ask your customers to pre order their meals.
You can even run your business via WhatsApp by promoting it to your contacts and collecting orders via the same. Make sure you highlight that your food is completely homemade, to attract daily customers, especially the elderly and students living away from home.
Depending on the food items you want to sell, and the scale at which you need to, you may need to get a food and safety license from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
But it only applies to businesses making more than INR 12 lakh. You will need to register your business and obtain a Business License, along with a No Objection Certificate from the society/ complex you operate out of. Learn more about licenses here.
Sell home embroidered garments
Embroidery is an underrated Indian art form that not many are skilled with. Those who aren’t, appreciate it the most and are likely to pay for it without thinking twice. If you happen to be well versed with embroidery, you can make and sell home embroidered clothes online.
There’s no investment required from your end, apart from your valuable time and the rewards can be beyond exceptional. Embroidered bags, purses, shirts, scarves, and handkerchiefs are popularly scouted for in the market today, and if people can order such items online, nothing like it!
Sell homegrown herbs and spices online
If you have and maintain a home garden, you could sell some of your homegrown herbs and spices on your online store. Most people living in the cities don’t get their hands on fresh herbs and spices and hence are willing to pay heavily to get them online.
Alternatively, you can also source this fresh produce and sell it on your online store. Either way, you will be serving a huge target market that is always on the lookout for fresh homegrown herbs and spices used in Indian delicacies, or even for medicine.
But before you do, we recommend going through the regulations set up by the National Medicinal Plants Board. If the herb or spice you want to sell falls under the category of medicine, you may have to take a permit before you take orders. You can read all about it here.
Sell sarees and other traditional Indian wear
When it comes to Indian wear, people only want the most traditional and authentic designs. If you have any eye for traditional Indian designs, patterns, and fabrics, you can easily start selling these online. Moreover, people really appreciate the knowledge that you will be able to share with them.
Make sure your knowledge reflects in your marketing efforts - whether they are word of mouth, via WhatsApp, or on Instagram. If you have the resources to either hire a tailor or take up tailoring work, you can even start producing them at home and start taking custom orders that you can charge much higher for.
Sell traditional Indian snacks and pickles
Be it khakhra, bhujia, banana chips, murukku, or sev - Indian snacks are replaceable in any Indian household. You could either source or produce these items and start selling them online, starting with your friends and family. Since pickles can be made easily at home in large quantities, you can utilize your own kitchen to make large batches of a variety of different pickles and start selling online.
When it comes to snacks and pickles, once you gain a customer who is happy with your products, you’ve pretty much got them hooked for life. So try to gain loyal customers for each of your item categories.
You will need to register with the FSSAI food if you wish to sell homemade food online in India. In case you are doing it on a small scale, a simple FSSAI registration will be enough. But if you’re a larger establishment, or have a turnover of over INR 12 lakhs, you will require a license. Learn more about it here.
Sell traditional Indian jewelry
Traditional Indian jewelry is back in demand and not easily found in retail stores. If you happen to be interested in the domain, you can easily start sourcing ethnic jewelry items that are not found on normal store shelves and making them available on your online store.
The catch is to be as descriptive as possible in what the jewelry piece symbolizes, how it has been crafted, where it has been sourced from, etc. to create hype about your pieces.
While artificial jewellery does not require any form of registration of business - unless you build up to a bigger establishment, selling fine jewellery like that in gold, will require you to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards. You can learn more about the jewellers registration scheme here.
Sell Do It Yourself (DIY) products
Do it yourself magazines, photo frames, satin scrunchies, fabric headbands, tie dye shirts, etc. are wildly popular on social platforms such as Instagram. You can create small kits that also give instructions on how people can put these little items together.
You can even conduct workshops on how people can find inspiration for do it yourself products all around them and teach them a few skills.
Digital products and services
For all the ideas that follow, we do recommend having some prior experience or knowledge of what you’re offering before you even begin. Remember the idea is to not just earn money out of an online business, but effective value to your audience.
Organize Urdu, Hindi, or Sanskrit online learning courses
Urdu, Hindi, and Sanskrit teachers and tutors are in great demand today, more so because they are not available easily, especially online. Therefore, you can easily set up your online tuition classes for these languages from your home and reach your target audience, no matter which part of the country they are situated in.
The only thing you need to focus on is promoting and marketing your classes right. Make sure you make use of social media to spread the word and get students to sign up. Promise a tangible result such as fluency in Hindi within 4 weeks.
Offer content marketing services online
If you are a professional writer, you can extend your services to various brands, agencies, or production houses from the comfort of your home. You can create a simple website that showcases all your past work and how your potential clients can reach you.
Since freelance content marketers are in huge demand these days, you have a sure shot at gaining enough work to get started. This is a zero investment business idea that you can run and scale easily from your home.
Organize live painting and drawing classes (or sell them online)
If you are passionate about art and skilled in drawing, painting, and sketching, you can organize live online art classes inviting students from all across the country to either learn the same professionally or as a hobby.
There aren’t many online courses that specialize in traditional Indian paintings and folk art. Starting live classes where you demonstrate Madhubani painting, Kalamkari painting, miniature and mural art, etc. is a massive opportunity for a successful home business.
PS. You can also sell paintings and drawings online if you’re someone who’s passionate about it.
Start online cooking or baking classes
With the pandemic hitting the world, people have started focusing on cooking and baking at home more than ever before. You can leverage the sentiment to set up your online cooking and baking classes that anyone can attend from the comfort of their homes.
Try to focus more on everyday Indian dishes that your students can make easily and also quick snack recipes that they can put together while working from home.
Offer website design or development services
If you are a graphic designer or website developer, you can take up projects from home for brands of your choice. Setting up your online presence is key, and once you start receiving requests, it is entirely up to you to take up projects that excite and interest you the most.
Don’t forget to link your past projects on social media handles for any potential client to view and evaluate.
Offer online makeup classes
With salon services getting hit, people are increasingly relying on online tutorials and courses to get their makeup done. Therefore, whether it is for professional use or as part of a hobby, people want to learn how to perfect the art of makeup at home.
Such classes require zero investment from your end apart from the products (which you would already be using) and have abundant scope to scale and become a full fledged business in no time.
Provide career counseling services
With schools and colleges going completely online, students are left to adapt to a huge change, while continuing to focus on their studies and career goals. In the midst of it all, career counseling might take a backseat.
You can ensure that students looking for help in that direction can avail it online from you. If you have worked in the education space, starting your career counseling services is a great idea to motivate young kids and help them carve their careers in the post pandemic world.
Start a financial consultancy business
There are never enough financial consultants out there to guide people on their taxes, investment portfolios, savings options, and so on. If you are a finance professional, looking to start a home based business, set up a consultancy wherein you offer your advice to clients while working at your own time and from your own home.
No investment needed from your end. All you need to do is leverage your professional contacts to get a few initial clients and then rely on them to slowly spread the word.
Organize live tailoring classes
Tailoring is a skill that most people, especially homemakers, would love to develop, but don’t know how to go about it. You can start with extremely basic tailoring courses for just about anybody - even school children and then also create some for experts.
You could supply the materials required yourself or ask your students to purchase them. Make sure your courses are detailed and step by step and offer personalized help to each of your students.
Start mobile app and website development classes
Web and app development are one of the most coveted skills in the industry today. Sure, there are plenty of online classes available that people can sign up for in a second, but most of them lack personal attention and might be expensive for many.
You can start offering these services online at a nominal fee to get more students to sign up and give them individual attention so they can perfect their skills. While some might want to learn the skill professionally, some might do it as a hobby. You could create batches for either of these categories, so you can devise the curriculum accordingly.
Start chocolate making classes
Chocolate making is a popular small business category that is slowly exploding as more and more people start buying homemade chocolates for gifting on festivals such as Rakhi and Diwali.
The raw materials for these classes can be easily bought by students and the demonstration of the entire process can be done swiftly online. You can start chocolate making classes for various age groups so you can teach basis of their end goals. For children, it could be a hobby, for adults, it could be a professional purpose or leisure.
If you’re able to, you can also create homemade chocolate bundles that you can sell online as well. But for this, you will need to register with the FSSAI and also take permission from the complex you will be working out of.
Extend marriage bureau or matchmaking services
Given the current situation, people aren’t able to visit in person marriage bureaus to avail their services. You could consider starting your own online marriage bureau and matchmaking services in your community. These are in high demand as people are moving towards contemporary solutions as opposed to traditional ones.
Make sure you extend personalized services that set you apart from the giants in the industry and attract your target audience.
Start live classes targeted towards health and fitness
People are increasingly focused on taking care of their fitness and leading healthier lifestyles after the pandemic struck. Home based yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, Zumba courses, and other fitness classes are slowly gaining momentum as the next alternative to gym workouts.
You can create batches and start your own fitness classes depending on your area of expertise and invite your contacts to join to get started. Make sure you are consistent with your efforts and push your students to attend your classes regularly.
Customized print-on-demand products
Are you good with words (motivational, funny, sarcastic) or digital designs that may appeal to this generation?
You can actually start out your very own t-shirt, apparel, mugs or notebooks business online with the help of print on demand. All you need to do is identify what’s something that your audience would like to purchase, what you can bring to the table and how you’d like to sell the products online.
For example, there are a number of brands selling t-shirts online. Identify what your differentiator would be - is it custom graphics and illustrations, sarcastic quotes or quotes from books, and similar. The closer you are to knowing what appeals to your audience, the more successful your business will be in this case.
A dropshipping business is an online store that doesn’t keep any of the products they sell in inventory. They source items from a third party as and when an order is received and then ship them to the customer directly.
Therefore, starting a dropshipping business takes away all the operational and logistical challenges that otherwise come with running an eCommerce business. You can actually start out by selling a variety of products under different categories in one go, by sourcing them from different suppliers.
Or you could start with one niche and gradually expand as your business grows.
Once you figure out the category you want to operate in, the next steps are simple. Just set up an online storefront and partner with a supplier. To learn more about dropshipping in India, read this article.
Remember, even if you’re not holding any inventory, based on the products you decide to sell, you will have to follow the rules and regulations set by the government. This typically involves registering your startup, and knowing about the taxes you incur. You can read more about it here.
If you’re not someone who takes to digital, you may want to explore things you can do offline - but of course, sell online because that’s where your customers are. We have some ideas here too!
Offer daycare services
Most daycares haven’t opened up after the lockdowns, but parents still need to work and hence are constantly on the lookout for alternative daycare services around their homes. Starting one doesn’t take any investment - all you need to do is invest your time.
Depending upon the space you have available and the time you have on your hands, you can start offering your services to children near your residence.
Open a pet creche
A lot of us took to adopting or bringing home fur babies during the pandemic for a little company. But now that we’re heading back to work again, we need help taking care of them.
If you’re comfortable with animals and have some open space available for them, you can open a pet creche too. This may require you to take the permission of your complex, and invest in dog food and dog beds.
Time to set up your online home business
In today’s age of online first, setting up your online business and reaching your target audience isn’t going to be a mammoth task. The only challenge that you will need to overcome is staying consistent and willing to push through the initial few roadblocks.
Once you start getting the desired traction on social media, enough word of mouth referrals, a high customer satisfaction rate, and plenty of repeat customers, you are all set to think about slowly scaling your home business.
The key is to start small and focus on establishing a name for yourself before you plan on expanding. With a valuable and worthwhile idea in your arsenal coupled with sincere hard work, you can attain tremendous success with your online home business.
Want to get inspiration from the real doers in India and beyond to start your online business? Read some of their stories here.