50+ Small Business Ideas
Following the global pandemic and mass shift to remote work, the way we work has changed. While the last year has presented unprecedented challenges for many, it has also revealed a huge opportunity for entrepreneurship. It's easier than ever to start a business.
Whether you're starting a side gig to generate a second income or going full steam ahead with a new full-time venture, we've put together a list of 50 small business ideas which you can start today in the UK.Whatever business you're thinking of starting, try to be realistic about your own skill set and abilities. If you have a skill that might make one of these ideas more successful, that type of business is likely better for you and your talents.
Most businesses fail in their first year, so ensure you built a business plan that can analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your idea and map out a roadmap to success.
So, with so many ideas to get through, let's get started with our list of 50 small businesses you can set up here in the UK.
SECTION 1: Digital Businesses
When it comes to profitable business ideas, those that allow you to minimise overheads are often best. Working from home on a digital business means you can maximise your profits and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.
The great thing about having an internet business is the entry costs are very low. All you need is a website and some products to sell. Of course, you'll also need to take online payments, but vendors such as Paypal can help you with that requirement for no set-up costs.
1: Web Design
Whether you know how to code already or you're willing to learn, becoming a web designer has never been easier. Use a website such as Code Academy to learn for free - then take your skills out into the world to sell clients new websites.
2: Online Survey Completions
Online surveys can be more lucrative than you'd think. With a huge rise in QA testing and user experience (UX) design, more companies than ever use paid surveys to gather opinions.
Have a skill for writing? If you studied English or any humanities subject, you might be able to become a digital copywriter. This is a field in which you'll be writing marketing 'copy' - such as blogs, articles and landing pages for websites. You will need to train to understand the industry, but it's an excellent business for those who love to write once you do.
4: Graphic Design
If you're a skilled artist and want to turn your hobby into a paying role, graphic design could be a good idea. You'll attract more clients if you can earn some form of digital certificate to show your authority - or just build a portfolio good enough to win customer trust. Either way, you'll be designing the visual elements of websites and social media and earning good money for it.
5: SEO Specialist
Search Engine Optimisation or 'SEO' is a unique part of marketing as it doesn't require any formal tuition. The field is all about learning how to influence Google rankings, so your client's businesses rank higher for specific search terms. Another great online business - but one that takes training and a list of recommendations to really win any customers.
6: Shopify Selling
The world of ecommerce has changed forever, thanks to Shopify. With Shopify, you can set up and start selling in less than a day - making it easier than ever to start your own online sales business. Whether you're going to buy stock and hold it in your house, a warehouse or 'drop ship' by working with manufacturers directly, you'll be able to sell more efficiently than ever with a Shopify site.
7: Social Media Management
Do you love all things social media? Are you an Instagram master and a Facebook wizard? You could earn great money managing other business' social media profiles; this includes creating content, responding to messages and scheduling posts.
8: Online Counselling
Are you interested in mental health? You can take a counselling course online and set yourself up as a counsellor through a video service such as Zoom or Google Meet. It's a great way to not only generate income but make a positive impact on your clients' well-being.
9: Online Tutoring
Whether you have a degree in teaching or not, you can become an online teacher with virtually any skill you already have. Whether you set up an online teaching site and sell hours to clients or you build your own course on a site like Udemy or Skillshare, you can become an online tutor who teaches without ever having to meet face to face.
10: Data Entry
It may not have a high skill ceiling, but as a beginner looking to get into online work, you can often find data entry positions that mainly involve using Excel or Sheets. Because of its low barrier for entry, this is usually a competitive role, and you may struggle to find the right position at first.
SECTION 2: Fitness & Wellbeing Businesses
11: Meal Prep Service
Meal preparations services are popular in the fitness world, as they allow people to focus on training but have healthy meals to hand. If you enjoy cooking, you can become a meal prep business by gaining the right kitchen qualifications and then selling healthy food in bulk to gym enthusiasts.
12: Fitness Instruction
You'll need to pay for a personal training qualification, but becoming a fitness instructor isn't as challenging as you might think. Instead, you can do the course in a few months and, if you're relatively fit and healthy, you'll be able to quickly attract clients and start earning - though you also need to be good at marketing yourself to make it work.
13: Massage Therapy
Massage therapists are on the rise as the practice of home massage becomes more common - but you'll need a qualification or a great reputation as it's a fairly competitive industry and will require self-marketing. Specialising in a niche like Sports massage or Shiatsu will help differentiate you from the competition.
14: Online Diet Coaching
Losing weight or building muscle can both require an understanding of healthy eating. An online diet coach can design meal plans, publish recipes and help guide people towards healthier lifestyles.
15: Health Supplement Selling
From CBD to protein powder, there's a massive boom in UK fitness products as we all head back to the gym following lockdown. As we mentioned above, you can use Shopify to get your business up and running and sell these popular products to people across the country.
SECTION 3: 'Hands on' Businesses
16: Upcycled Furniture
If you've got an eye for it, upcycling furniture can be a lucrative business idea. You could trawl local marketplace listings and secondhand shops to buy old furniture, then strip it down and repaint it to create something modern. Many people even create trendy furniture pieces using old pallets or raw-edge wood.
17: Handyman Services
If you've got any building talent, you can become a handyman fairly easily - all you'll need is an adequate toolbox and an honest understanding of what sort of work you can and can't do. You don't need any formal skills to become a handyman, but courses are available if you want to enrich your skills.
18: Dog Walking
Love dogs? Who doesn't? You could make a living and get to hang out with man's best friend every day if you can successfully start and maintain a dog walking business. All you'll need is insurance and a penchant for marketing - as it's a competitive industry. Try specialising in certain breeds to stand out from the crowd.
19: Pet Sitting
Like the above but more involved, pet sitting often requires you to stay overnight in someone's home to look after them. You'll need to show responsibility and maturity - as people are trusting you with their most precious companions.
20: Vintage Clothing Seller
We've listed this in the 'hands on' section because vintage clothing requires physical dedication to source the right brands and manage stock properly. Due to the nature of the clothes, you must be a skilled fashion spotter who knows how to refurbish older garments and keep them in good condition for reselling.
Outside of the winter months, many people want the services of a gardener. Perhaps just mowing the lawn but also garden clearance and tree cutting. Start-up costs are low as it's mainly you that's undertaking the work. Autumn is also a good time for clearing up leaves and pruning all the plants that have died for the winter.
Get new customers by calling door to door or do a leaflet drop in your local area. It's people who have larger houses that are more likely to require these services.
22: Man With Van
You can be a man (or woman) with a van easily - all you need is to own your own van that is large enough for people to hire you. You'll be transporting goods, assisting with house moves and carrying out any errands where a van is required.
23: Cleaning Business
Whether you're planning to go commercial or domestic, you can launch a cleaning business with no qualifications required. All you'll need is the right equipment and a reputation that will allow you to attract bookings. As a clearing, you must carry out risk assessments for any hazardous chemicals that you use, and you should also have insurance.
24: Laundry/Ironing Services
Ironing is, for many high-earners, a chore they simply cannot justify the time for, making it a lucrative opportunity for a budding entrepreneur. You could also extend this to laundry, but this will require space and additional machinery to do at scale.
A classic side-job, babysitting can be a full-time profession if handled correctly. Baby sitters do not need any formal qualifications but should pass a DBS check to ensure they're safe to work with children. Once you begin building a client base, you could turn the business into a larger venture by employing other sitters.
SECTION 4: Hospitality/Face-to-Face Businesses
26: Courier Business
A business that exploded in popularity over the COVID-19 lockdown, being a courier can be a demanding but profitable job. You can deliver parcels yourself or work for major carriers such as DHL, FedEx or Hermes. You'll likely trade as a self-employed courier, and your main outlay is the cost of the van. You'll then need to get contacts from the major couriers or market yourself and deliver locally.
27: Coffee Shop
Love coffee? Why not start your own coffee shop to rival Costa Coffee or Starbucks. A great way to begin is to have a small portable van that makes coffee on the go. You could position this at railway stations (with permission) or a busy office space to draw the attention of busy workers. To run a proper coffee shop, of course, demands a great location.
If you go down this route, ensure it's in a busy area of a town. Set up costs can be small (especially for a portable service) or far more significant for a regular style outlet.
28: Car Washing
Many people choose to set upcar washing businesses in old garages and entrances to car parks. The set-up costs are low because you just need to rent the space and get access to water and purchase the washing detergents. You may also need a licence to operate from the council, but general overheads, such as staff, are usually low.
29: Catering Businesses
You could operate a small catering business from home or small premises. Many people look for catering for private events such as birthdays. You'll need a health and safety certificate and hygiene certificates to begin provided by the local authority.
30: Fast Food Delivery/ Restaurant
There are many opportunities to provide fast food in an outlet in a high street or off the high street for people wanting food late in the evenings or delivered to their home. The competition is tough, but even in the worst economic climates, people still order pizzas or opt for fish and chips as the cost is comparable to most pre-prepared food.
The cost of ownership is higher than most startups as you'll need premises, cooking and heating equipment and staff. Other popular cuisines also include Chinese and Indian restaurants.
31: Sandwich Bar
Perhaps the most popular new business in recent times is the sandwich shop. The main ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and staff costs are slightly higher than the minimum wage. This type of business thrives when it's either in a high street or close to many companies where business people want something filling and easy to eat at their desks during their lunch hour.
32: Craft Beer Bottleshop
The UK is undergoing a 'craft beer revolution' at the moment - with many independent breweries setting up across the country. You can take advantage of this by setting up a small bottleshop - which sells refrigerated beers and can also include a 'tap' area to allow some pub-style drinking experiences for guests.
You can also try setting up your own beer brewery. Due to popularity, costs of brewing equipment have fallen, there are more budding beer experts than ever. It's the perfect opportunity to turn your passion into a profitable venture.
34: Takeaway Food
Takeaways exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown - with virtually all cuisines offered across the UK. You can set up your own takeaway either from home or from rented premises - but you'll need to work out a logistics system to go along with the food production.
35: Bed and Breakfast
Do you have a large home in a highly sought-after area? Rather than selling your house, why not transform it into a B&B? Coastal and countryside properties can become hospitality venues that welcome tourists from across the country. With websites such as Airbnb, it's super simple to set your property up as a destination.
SECTION 5: Professional Services
You may already possess a professional qualification in a field such as accountancy or marketing. You can use that qualification and turn it into an online business. For accountancy, you may need to start at the bottom by providing bookkeeping services to get business. Target local small businesses first, and then the word should soon spread. These types of firms are candidates to start initially from home.
37: Personal Assistant
Online personal assistants are growing in popularity. This is a great business idea for receptionists and secretaries skilled who are in personal assistant tasks but want to build a business of their own.
38: Marketing Consultant
If you have a degree in marketing or business, you may be able to become a consultant. You'll work with companies to design marketing plans that maximise their customer revenue and help grow the business in general.
39: Legal Consultant
A background in law can lead to an excellent business venture. Many areas such as data privacy, employee law and contractual law are all vital to businesses, and you can find your own niche as a freelance legal consultant.
40: HR Professional
If you've worked in HR, why not start your own freelance HR business? For many small businesses, a full HR team isn't possible, so they have to use a freelance consultant to help them make the right HR decisions.
SECTION 6: Creative Roles
41: CV Writer
If you've got a way with words, why not become a CV writer and help others find roles? You'll spend your days reviewing people's CVs and creating new ones - including cover letters. The power of persuasion is vital here.
42: Etsy Artist
Etsy is a marketplace designed for creators. Whether you want to create clothing, artwork, jewellery or anything else, it's the perfect place to start your store and grow your customer base as an artist.
If you've got the eye for it, photography is a great field. You don't need a photography qualification - but you will need to have a portfolio and a website, so you may need to work cheaply at first to attract clients.
Writers need editors - that's just a simple fact of life. For those with an eye for detail, becoming an editor for novelists or copywriters is a perfect freelance business. With high rates and no overheads, look no further for profitable business ideas in the UK.
Despite the rise of streaming platforms like Spotify, DJs are still fixtures at weddings and other events in the UK. A good DJ is all about cultivating a great atmosphere and mixing songs to suit the mood. IF you've got the right equipment, you can set up as a DJ with no qualifications.
Interested in appearances? There are a few choices when it comes to being a stylist - from being a beauty or hairstylist, to becoming a personal shopper/stylist. You could also explore being a fashion stylist, helping people decide on their wardrobes.
47: Makeup Artist
Skilled at make-up? Becoming a makeup artist has never been easier - with YouTube tutorials galore and quality products available affordably. A creative choice for those who want to set their own hours and style.
48: Tattoo Artist
Tattoo artists get to live a dream: designing, drawing and applying amazing art that will last forever. However, becoming a tattoo artist requires some in-house employment as an apprentice. Once qualified, you can start your own tattoo business and make your own name.
49: Motivational Speaker
Have an inspiring story from your past that people need to hear? You could become a motivational speaker by contacting event organisers and sharing your story. Watch TED talks and other similar events to understand what it takes to do it as a business.
50: Event Planner
Love to plan parties? You could become an event planner for everything from weddings to birthdays to corporate parties. This is a fun and creative role that involves planning visuals, choosing music and liaising with many different people to succeed.
We hope these business ideas have given you some ideas, and you can kick-off your own business soon.