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Profitable Online Business Ideas You Can Start in China

Most Profitable Online Business Ideas You Can Start in China

Here are some most profitable online business ideas in China to inspire your entrepreneurial passion.

Starting a business in China can be fun and much easier. You can quickly start an online business and run it with very little cost.


Chinese Web Design Business

Chinese Web Design Business

Every business owner wants a fully localized, fast and strong Chinese website when the business is expanding to China.

However, most Chinese websites that made for China market could not work, at all.

Which means predictable further losses and waste in Chinese Digital marketing investment in the near future.

A poorly designed website kills the credibility of the new business.

You can launch a Chinese web design service to create attractive, easy-to-use and China ready websites for overseas small businesses.


Chinese Social Media Consultant

online business ideas in China: Chinese social media consultant

Chinese Social media marketing is an integral part of business operations in China.

​While very limited large companies hire their full-time staff to run their WeChat, Weibo, Baidu accounts, most foreign businesses would outsource this important job to digital marketing or social media marketing agencies.

China’s social media landscape is way too much different from western world.

Every foreign business needs a totally different social media strategy and this is your job.

Many business owners realize this and the number of inquiries on WeChat marketing and Social Media marketing is increasing every month.

You can work as a consultant to help the clients determine the best tactics, and content plan for their target audience.

Or, you can ​be more involved to do the copywriting jobs too.

  • Phil, my business partner in France, started a digital marketing agency five years ago. He  focuses his business on Chinese social media marketing and Chinese online reputation management.


Business Coaching

online business ideas in China: business coaching

If you possess rich business experience and special knowledge, why not creating a coaching business to help more entrepreneurs to be successful?

Use your brain and skills to help new startup executives get off to a good start, and help experienced entrepreneurs keep up with demand.

  • Chao’s China business coaching successfully helped interior designers, architectural designers, restaurant owners, tour guide, app developers, real estate agents, overseas study consultant, copywriters, etc.

I’ve coached hundreds of business owners, startup executives, and freelancers how to start  new businesses, and scale their existing business through my executive coaching.

Online coaching is super fast to get started with your online business and you can charge premium price for your quality work.

First, you will need to write some premium content to build your authority in the niche market.

The best way to bring in clients for this business is to attract them by your quality content and word of mouth.


Run Your Web Store

Online business ideas in China: Run your web store

Build your web store and sell overseas products to Chinese consumers.

China has the most advanced technology that favors online businesses and trading platforms.

Source your products from overseas, and find out what Chinese consumers love and when they will buy from your website.

A key for success is that you need make sure your website is fully localized and adapted to the China market.

Also you need to understand the cross-border eCommerce strategy and policies.

Here are 31 questions to make sure whether you are ready for selling online to China.


Source from China and Sell to the World

Online business ideas in China: Source from China

In China, you can find many low cost products and sell them to the market you are familiar with.

Finding good suppliers is always tricky.

Hire a China sourcing agent and make this job easier.

But different sourcing agents bring different results.


Sell Software / Apps

Online business ideas in China: sell software and apps

Almost every programmer is dreaming to get some, even a small share of the huge Chinese market.

Most Chinese companies, either big or small, want better software and IT services.

They will resort to external resources to solve their technology challenges.

For some specialized niche markets, you can make a fortune from Chinese buyers who needs professional services.

The biggest challenge in China is localization and pricing.

  • Many Chinese consumers and businesses are not willing to pay high prices for software while Chinese local developers sell software at rock bottom prices.
  • However, highly specialized industrial/commercial software is recalling selling well in China even with the same global pricing.
  • New generation of young Chinese people is more willing to pay for online services.


Online Teaching

online business ideas in China: Online Teaching

Furthermore, the education market is a golden mine in China, and a prime area is left for foreign business.

Remote online teaching ​can be a brilliant idea to start your online business in China, without your physical presence in the Middle Kingdom.

​Do not only limit your business on English teaching, there are many areas you can offer online tutoring services:

  • Overseas test preparation: SAT, GMAT
  • Art lessons
  • A new language: Spanish, French, Italian, …
  • Digital marketing skills
  • Marketing training
  • Writing skills
  • other professional skills


Sell Online Courses

online business ideas in China: Selling Online Courses

A more rewarding and low risk model is selling online courses.

This is one of my favorite online business ideas.

A well established online education business can scale incredibly.

Find a proper niche market that you are good at and you could be able to reach out to millions of people., is an online business school offering courses for Chinese cross-border freelancers and small online business startup owners.

Selling online courses requires a lot of work to be done in advance, but needs less maintenance work over time.


Business Consulting

online business ideas in China: business consulting

Consulting can be very profitable if you are really good in some thing that people need.

And consulting can be done through skype/phone​ only, if you want.

I offer my China business consulting to overseas SMEs and freelancers expanding their businesses to China.

We help them gauge the direction and business scalability through proper China business planning and China market entry strategy.

There are plenty of consulting business opportunities for you in China, since it is now the most fast developing and dynamic economy in the world and many people needs experts to solve their specific problems in various areas.

Many people started their consulting business for the China market, some are helping foreign businesses enter into the China market, while some others are helping Chinese business go global.

  • Paul, my Flemish friend from South Africa, is building the bridge between Africa and China.

Did I Miss Any Better Online Business Ideas ?

Share in the comments if I’m missing any awesome profitable and feasible online business ideas that you can start!

Share your website or anything relevant if you’ve already gotten it started.

Want to find a profitable niche business idea in China this week? Read my free online guide Find a Profitable Niche Market in China today!


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Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners

Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners


I prepared a short list of potentially profitable business opportunities in China for foreigners in the coming years.

You can take it as a reference in choosing your own niche markets.

Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners

Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners

1. Online Shops, Trading Platforms 

Selling To China, Online Now!

China’s e-commerce has recently surpassed the US’s in size of annual revenue.

It’s no surprise that more and more foreign companies are targeting this highly lucrative and rapidly growing market.

Choose a right niche market in China,

Then, you can open a web store or a platform to make some good money.

For Online business in China, You can get the most advanced technology and convenient support.

Your Opportunities

  • Build your web store and sell overseas products to Chinese consumers. China has the most advanced technology that favors online businesses and trading platforms. Source your products from overseas, find out what Chinese consumers love and when they will buy from your website.
  • Act as a China Sourcing Agent : source products from China and sell them to the global customers. You can find most low cost products in China, leaving you with profitable margin to build your online business.
  • Design and develop your own products, and build up your own brand backed with strong manufacturing capabilities in China.

Key to Success

The Chinese Internet landscape is different from that in the West.

You will need


2. Online Business / Services


How to Start Your Online Business in China?

Many Chinese starting to offer online services, since Chinese consumers/companies are more willing to pay for service than before.

It is especially easy for foreign small startups and freelancers to offer some special and unique values in the China market,

and it would be easy if you are creative.

Your Opportunities

You can

It is a light asset business model.

The key is to Find Your Profitable Niche in China, and make full use of your skills, knowledge and resources.

You can start right now without spending a lot of time and money in obtaining licenses or certifications.

Key to Success

3. Chinese Online Marketing


Start your business to serve those businesses expanding their businesses into the China market.

Most foreign companies, big or small, will invest in Chinese online marketing to get traffic and leads.

Your Opportunities

It is also a light asset business model.

The key is to find a local Chinese online marketing agency to handle all the detailed work, you can focus on getting clients,

Key to Success


4. Education


The education market is a golden mine in China, and a prime area is left for foreign business.

All Chinese parents are willing to spend a lot on education for their children.

Private schools are expanding, and Chinese are also more willing to pay for their own self-improvements.

Various Potential Profitable Markets

  • English
  • Art
  • Music
  • Science
  • Foreign Tests
  • Technology


Teaching English in China

Foreign English teachers are given work in various institutions in China:

  • Kindergartens
  • Boarding Schools
  • Summer Camps
  • Universities
  • Private schools

Foreign English teachers earn more than average local English teachers.

An English tutoring service in China requires small capital to start and run, and it might be a good choice for you.

Online Mandarin Courses

  • Offer online mandarin courses to Mandarin learners from around the world.
  • Provide online Mandarins tutoring services
  • Provide Mandarin learning strategies and practical training techniques

Online Education in China

Online education is more scalable,

and it is booming now in China.

Selling online courses and online coaching is one of the great business opportunities in China.

It will be a great opportunity in the next 20 years.

Chao Magic English School ( offers online course on effective English learning method, consultation and coaching services.  (Chao Magic English: Best Way to Teach English Online in China )

Your Opportunities

  • Offer after-school private tutoring services.
  • Starting your own evening English Classes for business people.
  • Teaching English online in China targeting on millions of Chinese students, kids, and businessmen aiming to improve their English.
  • Inspired by the best way to learn Chinese, 1 on 1 Chinese tutoring is another business opportunity.

Key to Success

5. Tourism


Nowadays Chinese tourists are traveling everywhere.

Most middle class Chinese choose overseas destinations instead of overcrowded, traditional domestic destinations, especially in public holidays.

Chinese international travel will become a major source of growth for travel providers in destination countries.

Hotel, restaurants, air flights, car rentals, travel shops, tour guides and many other travel relevant market niches will benefit from this.

Your Opportunities

The travel and tourism sector in China is still relatively undeveloped, it offers some of the best opportunities in the consumer industry. Companies entering now will be able to set standards and guide consumers in their shopping behavior.

  • Overseas medical tourism
  • Overseas summer camp
  • Business tours
  • Theme tours
  • Invest in hotels in China
  • Promote your hotels to China travelers
  • Online booking services

Key to Success

6. Import and Export


You can either source from China and sell in the other part of the world, or sell products to Chinese big buyers.

Your Opportunities

  • Chao represents some biggest tree nuts buyers in China, most of them from LinAn, buying hundreds of containers every year for macadamias, pecans, walnuts, almonds.
  • It is not that difficult to find a factory in China to OEM your products and you can start building your own brands. Chao had successfully help foreign business owners to find Kitchenware, Wigs, Baby Shoes, Home Appliances.
  • Chinese meat processing factories bought a huge volume of beef/pork from overseas.

Key to Success


7. Healthcare


Chinese consumers are more health-conscious than in the past.

China Healthcare Market is still in an early stage, and Chinese people are expecting more diversified products and services.

The mainstream public healthcare system in China can not satisfy the needs of Chinese patients.

Many good nutritional supplements are not produced in China.

Your Opportunities

  • Foreign hospitals, clinics
  • high-end Medical second opinion
  • Aging market needs a lot of awesome products
  • Medical equipment
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Anti-pollution products
  • Overseas medical tourism

Key to Success

Healthcare is a minefield of regulation, corruption and/or other assorted difficulties.

8. Pharmaceutical


Everybody knows It is a very profitable business.

However, you should be ready to go through all the obstacles before acquiring a license.

You can access to a more broader market when you become a real local player.

9. Cosmetics, Skincare


Everybody wants to stay young and be beautiful.

Chinese consumers, especially women, spent tons of money on cosmetics and skincare products.

Take advantage of it.

10. Entertainment


China is the second-largest movie box office market in the world

11. Food / Wine


Everyone loves and needs food, and Chinese consumers are looking for better and safer food.

It is amazing!

All kinds of foreign food /wines in the China market sell well if they are allowed to be sold.

All our clients are fighting through the local requirements to get their food product into China.

Wine is especially popular in the large cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou).

There is a great potential for wines given the increasing disposable income of local people.

Key to Success

12. Agriculture


China is facing continual food-safety crises and it will be a long-lasting challenge for Chinese.

New technology is encouraged in this field, especially on value added products.

China has relaxed its land-ownership rights for farmers.

We can expect quite some changes in the next decade.

Farmers will be able to trade their lands, which will give way to larger farms and provides a boost in rural communities’ economies.

Your Opportunities

  • horticulture
  • green houses
  • professional lighting equipment
  • productivity enhancing services including education and technology.

13. Logistics


Good supply chain management is urgently needed for many sectors in China.

You can find various niche markets in this area and it is very close to money return considering the booming e-tailing in China.

14. Wealth Management


High-net-worth individuals in China still has limited access to investment skills.

They are eager to broaden their investment portfolios.

Banking and wealth management have now become one of the biggest areas of foreign direct investment in China.

Your Opportunities

  • Financial services on banking, insurance, funds management, securities, securitisation and futures.
  • Overseas property sales

Key to Success

15. IT Services/Software


Most Chinese companies, either big or small,  want better software and IT services.

They will resort to external resources to solve their technology challenges.

For some specialized niche markets, you can make a fortune from Chinese buyers who needs professional services.

The biggest challenge in China is localization and pricing.

Normally Chinese local developers sell software at rock bottom prices.

Because many Chinese consumers and businesses are not willing to pay high prices for software.

However, highly specialized industrial/commercial software is recalling selling well in China even with the same global pricing.

Key to Success


16. Clean Technology / Ecological


China has its pollution problems as we all know.

The air pollution and Deterioration of drinking water quality continue to be major problems in China.

China government is investing in the development of new green technologies to battle against pollution.

The green technology is a strategic industry in China and offers subsidies and incentives to foreign companies with the right solution.

Your Opportunities

    • Clean energy,
    • Anti-pollution products,
    • Afforestation projects,
    • Garden landscape engineering,
    • Waste water management
    • Water filtration systems.


Key to Success

It is challenging to get through some policy and connection problems before you can break into the China market.


17. Electronic Products and Accessories


Electronic products and accessories are generally cheap in China.

A mature profitable business model is to source electronic products and accessories like memory cards, batteries, USB cords and sell to the rest of the world.

How to Find Your Perfect Business Opportunities in China?

Follow my 7-Step Formula in Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Profitable Niche Market in China to uncover your profitable business opportunities in China.

Furthermore, I’m sure you will get inspired by 101 China Business Ideas.

If you have some idea, you would need a right China Market Entry Strategy.

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101 China Business Ideas

Alex, a car dealer in LA, USA, asked me whether I could provide a longer list of specific China business ideas, after reading Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners.

Alex told me that he want to build some new business and China is his new target.

OK, here we go, let’s name it “101 China Business Ideas” first, though we might not finish it today.

Please let me know your best business ideas in China market and we can include it in this list if it is interesting and practical.

101 China Business Ideas

101 China Business Ideas

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Chao Magic English: Best Way to Teach English Online in China

Why Teach English Online in China? Teaching English online has a few advantages over traditional classroom teaching. It’s flexible, efficient, and it’s also becoming a new trend for English learning China. How to Teach English Online in China? Most Chinese students can not speak or write good English, even after more than 10 years in […]
To access this post, you must purchase SinoStep Membership.
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From $5/hour Job on Upwork to My Million Dollar Cross-border Consulting Business

I had been working on upwork since 2011, starting from $5/hour job as my entry strategy, and now I am ranking among the very few top earners from China.

In the past 5 years. I was invited to more than 10 countries, including USA, France, Belgium, Mexico, Thailand, for business travels and it is amazing and I really enjoyed working in this way,

After I earned around $100,000 from Upwork, my own consulting business is established and I am not dependent on freelancers’ marketplace.

From time to time I can still get pocket money for some interesting projects from marketplaces like Upwork.

I got many interviews from website, magazines, companies when more people in China knew my stories.

I was also invited to Zhihu, the Largest Chinese Knowledge Sharing Platform, yes, similar to Quora, to run a column on Freelancers and Startups.

Last November, I was invited to share my insights into the freelance business and advice for Chinese cross-border freelancers on Road of Chinese Freelancers: Online Roundtable Meeting at Zhihu.

My First Job on Upwork

It took me years to get my first job upwork.

I am not kidding.

First, it is quite difficult for non-English speakers to understand the game rules.

Second, I also doubt whether it could be a goldmine in freelancers’ market place while zhubajie, China’s biggest freelancers’ marketplace gave me very poor impression since most people can not earn a decent living from it.

After I registered my accounts on odesk/elance/freelancer etc. I set my hourly rate to be USD30 in the very beginning, sent some proposals, there were some replies, but the competition was so fierce and I could not get any job.

I don’t think I have very special skills at that time, so it was quite hard to persuade clients to click the “hire” button.

I am starting on sending proposals to English-Chinese translation jobs and website design jobs.

My competitors are everywhere, especially from India, Philippines.

It is ridiculous for an Indian guy to take English-Chinese translation jobs from western clients at a low price and then outsource to a Chinese freelance translator at an even lower price.

I don’t want to play such games.

But I really want to know how those successful freelancers can earn so much.

I changed my mind.

First I should learn how it works. Then I can make a living from it.

I chose the most simple and easy strategy

Lower my price!!!

My first job on odesk, I just took this snapshot from upwork this morning to write this part.

Yes, I started the job from USD5/hour from a German client.

It was really a very happy experience since it works for me for the first week when I adopted the new strategy.

It gave me great confidence and I was willing to devote more time on odesk.

Second Job, Third, and More… and My Hourly Rate Increases

When you got the first job, you are among the top10%

About 90% of upwork freelancers never earned a penny from the platform.

You are truly started from this moment.

It is happy to see my second job coming in, and third, and more jobs.

And I set a pricing strategy for myself.

Increase your hourly rate every month, if not every week.

And this is what I did, exactly.

I charged USD20/hour from Nov. 2011.

I charged USD35/hour from the end of 2012.

I charged USD55/hour from Mar. 2014.

Now I set the price to be USD300/hour.

Planning My Consulting Business

When your hourly rate increases, you can work less and earn more if you balance the work and life.

Before you can lead a decent freelancing life.

It is imperative to use your brain to think and plan in the early stage.

I started to build my own Consulting business from Day One when I got my first job on upwork.

It seems very promising since we can see so many potential clients out there.

I know it is a bouncy bumpy road, but it is worth trying.

I built a website based on WordPress and started writing blogs first.

Initial Questions

Every day I am asking myself the following questions.

  • What are their problems to solve?
  • Why do they have these problems?
  • How can I help them?
  • What should I prepare?
  • How to persuade them to trust me?
  • What are the fun parts?

Research & Learn, Not Just Work

To be honest, it is quite busy when I started accepting more and more jobs from upwork.

When you are charging the hourly rate at about USD25–35/hour, an affordable rate for many clients, you don’t need to worry too many new jobs if you have an established profile.

  • Make an attractive profile

Make your profile attractive to potential clients.

List your successful cases you are proud of.

Make your profile easy to read.

  • Think as your Customers

You can win the heart of the customer when you think in their way.

Elaborate your skills and how you solve problems of others.

  • Standing out from the Crowd

Remember, only 10% freelancers got their jobs on marketplaces.

Study those successful ones and average ones, compare the differences.

Improve your profile all the time, and ask people to read and get their feedback.

  • Try to get your first job as soon as possible

Only when you get your first job, you can start your real journey.

Be serious with every proposal you sent for the first job.

You can tell them your situation and even consider to give some discount.

Even if it is a simple job, it is a good start.


Tips to Be Better

When you get more and more jobs.

Think how you can make better, here are some useful tips

  • Never Stop Learning, Find Your Potential

Try different possibilities and meet with different clients.

Accept challenges.

You can learn a lot from the real work, even something you had never tried before.

Find the most needed skills and learn them.

  • Find your niche market

After various trials and tests, you will find what you would love to work on, and where is your market.

  • Craft your English writing

Most freelance work needs remote communication.

Both English writing and speaking skills are very important, especially writing.

Learning how to make your English writing persuasive.

Write better proposals, profiles, emails, reports, message communications, etc.

It is not an easy job, but worth your time.

Your persuasive words are your weapons and your best salesman.

Actually, I am also helping my overseas clients in Chinese copywriting: 10 Fundamental Rules For Writing Killer Chinese Web Copy, and helping Chinese customers to make better English web copies.


Build Your Personal Brand

  • Use your real name

I don’t understand why some freelancers prefer uploading fake pictures to pretend as an attractive girl to win jobs.

It is not a dating business, but building your real startup business.

My advice is to use your real name with professional real pictures.

Don’t use cartoons, don’t use nicknames.

Trust is the top issue when talking about the business. Only when people trust you, they will hire.

  • Testimonials

Good testimonials are your best advertisements.

Be sure to win good ratings and recommendations.

I admit, not all clients are good, but most clients are kind and will give true opinions.

Build your solid online reputation and people will come for you.

  • Share your experiences and expertise

Don’t hide your expertise, write them down and share them.

It is awesome to know more friends and get more business opportunities after I began writing my blogs (both English and Chinese), attending conferences and roundtable meetings, accepting interviews and even writing eBooks and China business guides etc.


Running My Own Consulting Business

I’d say I gained many experiences from freelance marketplaces and it means like my startup boot camp.

I polished my writing and speaking skills, realized my potentials and found my own niche markets which I love.

  • Improve My Writing & Speaking

I improved my English through daily use.

I don’t need to pay a single penny to attend classes.

Speaking English over the phone or face to face meeting needs confidence for non-native English speakers.

We can solve it through working in English.

It also helps my Chinese Writing and Speaking.

Now I write every day and it becomes a habit.

  • My Potential

I found many interesting jobs and learned a lot.

I met up with many kind clients and experienced business consultants.

Working together with these smart guys also help you understand the essence of business.

I know I can do many things which I didn’t know before.

  • My Own Niche Markets

China market is so lucrative that more and more overseas companies are planning their China market entry.

However, many small to medium businesses and startups found it quite difficult to choose the right niche markets in China and could not make a suitable strategy facing the cultural and language barriers.

There are some but not many cross-border consulting firms working in this area.

And this is my chance.


  • My 9-Category China Market Entry Services

Now I am offering 9 categories of services to them after a complete analysis of my previous successful projects.

1. China Strategic Consulting

Help clients to develop optimal solutions for their China market entry and growth strategy.

2. Business Development & Sales Solutions

A big challenge for overseas companies in China is the implementation and localization, esp. in the early stage.

I provide business development service for the clients to do the initial big account sales and find potential longterm partners.

I also started a China Sales Starter (CSS) program to help overseas clients to have a quick solution to establish their local Sales team.

My clients can also get China Virtual Assistants to handle basic administrative, customer service, website management, writing and online marketing, trade & sourcing, and sales & research services.

 3. Chinese Content Marketing

Help Customers build their authority with right Chinese content through online reputation managementWeChat marketing, Chinese copywriting, China social media marketing and email marketing.

Customers place Chinese translation orders at and they find it quite easy to operate.

4. Get a Chinese Name
Get an exceptional Chinese Name for IndividualsCompany, Brand, or Products.

5. China Digital Marketing

Many customers are looking for Baidu PPC and Chinese SEO services too.

6. China eCommerce

7. Trade Service

8. China Corporate Service

9. Creative Design


Write Useful eBooks, Guides and Tips for My Customers

I am encouraged to share some stories, guides, and tips to my clients and they enjoyed the reading.

Coaching New Freelancers and Startups

In May, 2017, I started Chao Startup Club, a paid membership Q&A Community under my own name, focusing on startup and freelancing topics.

The idea of Chao Startup Club was inspired by a coder, who planned to start up his own business in the coming year.

I was asked to coach new freelancers and startups to start their own business with my experience.

Chao Startup Club: I Got 9 Chinese Paid Members in the First 24 Hours – Sinostep

My Club Member: From USD10/hour to USD32/hour at UpWork within 3 weeks.

Within only three weeks, I answered about 60 questions and successfully helped a club member win 2 new projects and increased her hourly rate from USD10/hour to USD32/hour at UpWork.

Be Confident and Start Your Smart Working Now!

Cheng Chao

Senior Partner

SinoStep – China Market Entry Strategy and Implementation Expert