100 business ideas you can start today - Entrepreneur Handbook
Starting a business is tough, it’s a long hard slog, and statistically, you’re destined to fail. But getting a business off the ground is only a problem you’ll face if you can come up with a business idea, to begin with. I ran my own company for about two years, but it took us three weeks and a lot of ‘meetings’ at pubs to eventually come up with something we wanted to do.
Whether you want to make some money on the side, run something when the kids are at school or create the next Facebook, here’s a humongous list of business ideas broken up into four key areas:
Starting a business is tough, it’s a long hard slog, and statistically, you’re destined to fail. But getting a business off the ground is only a problem you’ll face if you can come up with a business idea, to begin with. I ran my own company for about two years, but it took us three weeks and a lot of ‘meetings’ at pubs to eventually come up with something we wanted to do.
Whether you want to make some money on the side, run something when the kids are at school or create the next Facebook, here’s a humongous list of business ideas broken up into four key areas:
Home business ideas
Best small business ideas
New business ideas for 2019/2020
To make things a little easier to get going, for each entry I’ve covered the business idea/model, what you’ll need to start and where you should focus to market/grow your new business.
Home business ideas
Blogging is one of the first business models to arise from the invention of the internet. Blogs are online magazines in a niche that people read for advice, information and resources. Examples of popular blogs include Techcrunch which started as a hobby and turned into a business that was acquired for around $25m; Buzzfeed for trending millennial news/topics and Entrepreneur Handbook for advice on starting, managing and running a business in the UK (we couldn’t resist).
Over 4.4 million blog posts are published every day, and this is growing, due to an increase in amateur bloggers and the entire publishing industry shifting towards a purely online model. Given this, the blogging space is extremely competitive, but there is still room for new entries.
To get started blogging, you’ll need to decide on what niche you’re going to cover (popular areas include business, beauty, lifestyle and finance, although there are many more). You’ll also need to have a good understanding of search engine marketing, design, content marketing, writing, editing and use of most major digital marketing mechanisms (social, email and notifications).
Next, you’ll need to purchase your domain name, set up hosting and create a blog style website using a website builder or WordPress (you can also use platforms like YouTube or Vimeo if your video blogging). Make sure your website is mobile-friendly (responsive design); over 50% of your readership will view your blog using mobile devices. Then set up Google Analytics to view readership statistic and make sure your GDPR compliant (blogs by default have massive exposure when it comes to processing and storing personal data).
Now, you’ll need to +put together a content plan (use keyword planner for basic keyword research). Developing a strong content plan will be key to your success and take at least 2 to 3 weeks. Now its time to create your social profiles, newsletter templates /captures and put together an ongoing marketing plan to grow and retain your audience through these channels.
Blogs are still primarily monetised through display advertising, the simplest way to get started with this is to apply to join Adsense (pays per click and per thousand visitor impressions) and place relevant ads in best performing positions on your blog (in content, header, footer and sidebar). Blogs that focus on a field or niche where the content aligns with specific products/services are also able to effectively monetise through affiliate marketing (marketing a sperate companies’ product and taking a commission of any sales). For blogs relevant to B2B, you can also explore lead generation (collecting details/interest from readers to buy a particular product/service, then selling that lead to a direct supplier or third-party provider).
Blogging as we’ve mentioned is an extremely competitive game, but new blogs are started every day that end up becoming successful and profitable, it’s not a quick way to make money online, but it’s relatively low cost to start and grow business.
2. Buy and sell on eBay
eBay is a marketplace auction where you can buy and sell virtually any new or second hands goods you could think of. Many fortunes have been made and continue to be made by savvy buyers and sellers on eBay (check out the Red Paperclip story it’s amazing).
Buying and selling on eBay is an art form, there are many bargains and undervalued items you can find, correctly re-list on the platform and make a profit. You can also buy from other platforms (i.e. Alibaba) and resell on eBay to make a killing. Alternatively, if you lack the funds needed to buy inventory upfront, dropshipping on eBay could be the better solution as you won’t need to purchase or hold stock.
To get started on eBay you’ll need to set up an eBay business account and PayPal business account (you’ll need to go through verification which can take time). Then you need to define what niche of products you’re going to buy and sell through your eBay shop. At this point, it’s all about hunting for deals on and off the platform to then resell for a profit. The market can quickly change so you’ll need to constantly adjust for most niches what your buying and selling to stay profitable.
When it comes to selling, presentation of eBay listings is critical to sale volume and price. Make sure to have high-quality photos and provide a clear item description (condition, delivery times, and so forth). In many cases, the correct presentation can increase the final auction price by up to 20%. You also need to make sure your items are categorised correctly and have the right title, so buyers can find your item through eBay and be incentivised to click through to your product listing. Start small, buy products then repackage them or enhance them and sell them for profit. eBay is crowded with sellers and becoming a successful eBay merchant can be a long hard slog. Statistically like most businesses your destined to fail but there’s also the potential of going on to build an extremely profitable business, if you can persevere and make smart decisions.
A third of workers in the UK now work on a freelance or contractual basis, meaning they work on an hourly or project fee basis providing their services (time and expertise) to other businesses in exchange for a fee.
Becoming a freelancer requires you to have a specialist skill that is in demand and monetizable. Examples of skills in demand that command high fees include web development, graphic design, copywriting, software development, business development and virtual assistance (you can do pretty much anything from logo design to writing press releases).
From there you register on UpWork and PeoplePerHour, then take on as many freelance gigs as you can get your hands on. To establish your profile and get work you should get a strong portfolio in place and acquire a decent number of positive reviews (you can price yourself cheaply on quick pre-set jobs to get this in place).
4. Become a YouTube star/vlogger
Popular YouTube stars make a ridiculous amount of money in advertising revenue. One viral video can lead to YouTubers becoming overnight stars and racking up huge amounts of revenue (YouTube averages pay-outs of £1,750 per 1 million views).
To get started, you’ll need to decide on the type of video content you’re going to produce, some of the most popular niches include health, lifestyle, fashion and beauty. Next, you’ll need to create your YouTube account and get to grips with understanding the platform (how to write titles, what contents popular and how you can grow).
It’s important to note that although some YouTubers become stars overnight, for the majority it takes years of hard work creating and publishing innovative content to build a serious subscriber base that brings in consistent advertising revenue.
Many brands have also started paying YouTube stars (influencers) directly for promoting products/services, and this is another revenue source you can grow once you have a large enough subscriber base (reach).
The process of dropshipping is where you list supplier products on your online store or selling platform without purchasing the stock upfront. With this supplier you have an agreement that when you a customer orders you will purchase the product from the supplier and the supplier agrees to deliver the product to the customer (also usually deal with any returns). Similar to affiliate but the user can stay on your website. You’re still selling products without the inventory requirements but you control the buying process.
This method of eCommerce, means you don’t have any storage or warehouse needs and your cash isn’t tied up in stock sitting around (which is typically a big cause of cashflow problems for retail businesses). Dropshipping works at a lower profit margin than buying stock upfront, 20-30% profit margin being normal, whereas with buying stock from a wholesaler a margin of 60-70% would be common (the margin is lower but the risk is much less).
Starting a successful drop shopping business is all about selecting the right products at the right margin from reliable suppliers , focus on a specific niche or look for trends you can capitalize on to make a profit (i.e. Fidget spinners would be a good example of this). From here you’ll need to setup an online store and open accounts of the relevant selling platforms (i.e. Ebay).
In terms of marketing you can reach customers through the standard digital marketing (social media marketing, email marketing, paid search marketing…). If your using a platform like Ebay, for marketing make sure your listing stands out with professional photos, good descriptions and good reviews.
On a final note finding the right drop shipping supplier/s is critical, you need to make sure there reliable and that the delivery times are within reason, you don’t want customers cancelling orders before they arrive (many drop shippers are based in China, the lead time to produce and ship a product can mean it can take several months to reach a customer in some cases).
6. Make and flip apps
If you’re a great app developer, you can churn them out and stick them on AppTopia to sell. Many companies and individuals want to start an app-based business or create a new application for their existing business, in these cases it’s easier for them to just to buy a readymade application close to or exactly the app they were looking to develop (rather than develop it themselves or outsource/manage the application build).
Popular apps for sale span areas including games, productivity and business management (a notepad app made close to £1,000,000 in one week in the early days of the App Store). To get going, you’ll need to be an expert developer able to create robust code, also be comfortable with IOS and Android development languages. You’ll also need relevant development software (i.e. Sublime), an ergonomic high-powered computer setup (to mitigate the health risk from the long hours you’ll be working) and an email address.
In terms of marketing, you can use SellMyApp and Fliptopia to list your applications for sale, make sure to assess what’s popular/pricing before building an application to make sure you make a healthy return.
7. Sell stock photography & video
Most websites use stock images, essentially photos they buy online from platforms such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock Photos and others to use on their websites and in marketing material. There are also many free stock photo websites out there, but they often lack the range of quality of photos on the paid stock photo sites (which is why businesses generally opt for paid stock photos for marketing material/websites).
Becoming a stock photographer is relatively simple to start; you’ll a decent DSLR camera and experience in photography. From there it’s all about identifying popular photos themes (finance, productivity, work from home…) and taking/editing high-quality photos, then creating and uploading them to selling accounts on the platforms mentioned. You’ll get paid royalties for licensing or for one-off purchases depending on the platform (they will charge a commission).
If stuck for what to start photographing, there is a big demand for stock photos and images of people performing various actions (I.e. young professional typing on a computer). You can get access to local models through platforms like bidvine (or through direct contact on Instagram, which is usually cheaper/quicker) and then take hundreds of photos of models performing different actions. Additionally, you can also create video content, drone flyover shots of major cities are popular for many companies to use in the background on their landing pages.
Overall being a successful stock image photographer comes down to creating in-demand professional photos at volume.
8. eBook writer
Fancy yourself the next Emily Bronte? Why not write and publish a novel or non-fiction book (in an area you have specialist knowledge in).
It’s never been easier to write, publish and distribute your writings, eBooks allow you to access a large potential audience through platforms such as Kindle (without the need for a traditional publisher and printing costs).
As with any book to start you need to decide on the premise of what your writing, structure the proposed text, edit and then publish (always good to get a second opinion before publishing or use a professional editor). To distribute your eBook, you can use your own website and list your eBook for sale on platforms such as Lulu, Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and many more.
In terms of marketing, if you list on eBook on the platforms above, it’s important to get as many positive reviews as possible to get up the rankings in your particular book field to maximise sales (and convince people to purchase your eBook). You can do this initially by asking your friends and family to buy and review your book.
Next focus on reaching out to online publications offering free copies of your book for them to review and provide much-needed content marketing to drive in their audience (you can also offer to write features and link to the book). Writing and publishing an eBook is relatively easy, the key is to write a great book and put significant efforts into marketing, once you have traction from marketing, the popularity and sales of your eBook will snowball.
9. Make and sell stuff
Handcrafted goods have become extremely popular in the last few years (from customised dog coats to engraved rings and beyond) and the demand for bespoke handmade goods shows no signs of slowing down.
Starting a handcrafted goods business is all about skill and choosing a trendy/in demand range of products you can produce (you’ll need to carefully workout product cost, hours and materials). If you already have a handcrafting skill or know how to make a particular product you can get started straight away. If you don’t there are plenty of skills, you can learn enabling you to make crafted products. For instance; you could learn jewellery making, book making or leatherworking to create a range of different handmade products.
Selling handcrafted products has never been easier, you can use platforms like Etsy or NOT ON THE HIGH STREET to reach consumers (each platform charges commission on goods sold, worth noting that the Etsy is the lowest). You can also setup you’re an online store using software like Magento or if you’re not technically minded Shopify .
The handcrafted market is competitive, to stand out you’ll need to create a really attractive brand and ensure that your product images and descriptions are excellent. From there in terms of customer acquisition on the crafting platforms it’s all about getting positive reviews to get boosted up the rankings for particular searches. For your own store social media is a great place to promote and specifically these types of products do very well of visual platforms (i.e. Pinterest, Instagram…).
If you’re looking to expand your revenue beyond products, you can also sell workshops teaching people one to one or in groups how to make different products or particular hand crafting skill. Many handcrafting specialists are making £200-300 a day running such courses, for workshop customers list yourself on craftcourses.com.
10. Ticket reseller
Sell tickets for shows and concerts, either directly for the venue as a reseller or buy them yourself and sell them at a premium nearer the time. It’s important to know it is illegal to resell tickets for sporting events unless you have express permission from the said sporting club/organisation to do so. However, it is perfectly legal to resell tickets for other events such as concerts and gigs.
The days of street touts selling tickets have largely gone as resale has mostly moved online. To get started you’ll need to create accounts on Viagogo, Biletto and other secondary ticket market sites. To make this business work will require buying many tickets, meaning you’ll need a fair amount of capital available to buy and hold tickets until it comes time to resell at a mark-up. Secondary ticket sellers can make anything from 30% to 500% profit margin if an event is popular/sold-out (particularly festival tickets sell close to the event opening time for a high return).
From here it’s a matter of manually buying tickets for events manually or using software to do so (many sites crash due to certain demand for tickets, so being quick to buy is critical). To succeed in this business, you need to have a good understanding of what events to buy tickets for and when to sell, to make sure you make a return.
Webinars are live video sessions where a specific topic is covered by expert/s, and the audience can interact/ask questions. Effectively they are a form of online training, webinars have boomed in popularity in recent years particularly in the technology, marketing and finance areas (complex subjects and products). Webinars are an excellent way to market products and services.
To start building a webinar business, you’ll need to decide on the webinar software you’re going to use. You’ll also need expertise in a particular area that is popular, prepare course/programme materials and have enough reach via paid advertising or existing marketing channels to get participants to sign up to your webinar.
Typically, webinars are used to establish you as a thought leader in a particular field and then monetised through selling your services directly (educational courses, consulting) or through affiliate products. For example; promoting a relevant accounting software package alongside a webinar on small business accounts.
12. Buy and sell domains
A domain name is a website name (i.e. entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk). Since the early days of the internet, clever domain buyers have bought up common term top-level domains (.com, .net, org are a few examples) and made a fortune by reselling them at a later point (i.e. cars.com). It’s important to note you can also specialise in popular country-level domains where there is demand (.co.uk, .US, .IO are all popular).
Many new top-level domain names have been released in recent years (.inc, .dev and .is are a few), meaning there is now a new opportunity to purchase popular common term domains and sell them for a profit.
There is no setup cost with this business; you just require access to a computer and plenty of time to research, find and purchase domains. To get started, you’ll need to set up multiple accounts at domain name registrars and auction sites (Namecheap, SEDO, Godaddy…), these platforms allow you to find domains and purchase them. From there it’s about searching for new domains that have yet to purchased or domain names that are about to expire, and you believe it can be sold at a profit (you’d be surprised how many domains are lost due to people forgetting to renew a domain). You can also use auctions to buy domains at a reasonable price and then sell on if you believe a profit can be made.
Next, it’s time to find buyers for your domains. For instance; if you bought the domain name creative.com, you could create a list of potential buyers in the digital creative industry and reach out them to sell the domain directly or notify them of auction dates/details.
Be aware that even if available buying up a domain name that is a trademark company name, product or service, might mean you can be forced to sell that domain at low or no cost to the trademark owner if they desire (depending on the legal jurisdiction).
Variations of trademark terms/names can also be forced sold in this way/are sometimes illegal to purchase. These domains are generally bought with the idea being that these domains will capture traffic from popular domain name misspellings in most cases or misrepresent a different company as the same brand. Spotting a big domain and snapping it up for a small price can be the route to big money – good luck domain hunting!
13. Virtual assistant
The days of hiring a PA are in the past; virtual assistants are all the rave. Virtual assistants operate remotely and carry out all manner of digital tasks for their busy clients. This could include everything from carrying out online research, processing data, ordering equipment to much more.
If you’re passionate about being organised and are an experienced administrator, this is a great home-based business idea. To get started, you can list yourself on platforms such as Upwork for small projects, to find clients you can work with over the long term (these are the most profitable). Getting business through these platforms and increasing pricing needs positive reviews, so start offering your services below market rate to build up reviews and a great portfolio.
As you expand, you might also consider creating a virtual assistant agency, managing other assistants who can work with clients on your behalf. This business is highly scalable as it relies largely on labour and by its very nature, your team would likely be remote (reducing equipment and office space costs to almost nothing).
14. Affiliate marketer
Why sell your own products, when you can sell someone else’s (eliminating the hassle/risk of stock, delivery and payment). This is where affiliate marketing comes in; Affiliate marketing is the process of marketing another companies product/service and taking a cut if they sell a product/s based to a customer you’ve referred through marketing activity.
To get started is relatively simple, create a basic eCommerce website for a particular niche (i.e. health and tennis) find interesting products with affiliate schemes (either by directly approaching the supplier or through third party affiliate platforms), then list these products on your store. Then link all the ‘Buy’ buttons through to supplier website (using tracking links). Every time somebody buys, you get paid a commission of the sale. To get started quickly you can work with Amazon Affiliates who offer a huge range of products (there is little to no upfront cost, as you don’t need to purchase the product, you only handle sales).
Generating affiliate sales is all about marketing to the right audience, driving relevant traffic to the landing/product pages you have set up to sell. Also; If you’re running an online blog or another type of media site and you’ve managed to create a community of dedicated followers setting up paid access features is another great way to monetise, many online publishers and magazines are now pursuing this type of monetisation as advertising and affiliate revenues decline. You can even launch a paid access feature using website builders like NING, that offers you a platform to build your community and launch a paid access easily.
Copywriter use to mean someone who created content for advertising material. In recent years the meaning has largely changed to mean anyone who produces or writes content. Lots of blogs, websites and businesses need content written, there is a growing demand for experienced copywriters who can write engaging landing pages, long-form articles and much more.
To get started as a copywriter you’ll need good education (formal or not) in how to write in business English, have word processing/editing software (such Grammarly) and be one hell of a writer – able to focus for hours on end to produce engaging content for your clients. Also don’t forget to use a plagiarism checker once the content has been written, to make sure you are writing unique copy for clients (not paraphrased from the web or your own work).
The demand is so great for copywriters that in terms of marketing all you need to do is list your services for hire on platforms like UpWork (offer a lower market price to start getting work and reviews).
Once your reputation as a brilliant copywriter is established, business should flow in. Longer-term you can also reach out to marketing departments at small and large companies offering your copywriting services.
16. Transcription service
Transcription is where you take audio files, listen and convert them into written content. Businesses regularly use transcription services to convert audio and video to written content (for media businesses this is typically audio interviews).
You’ll need good hearing, access to decent headphones and the ability to touch type or type accurately at speed. To get started, you can find transcription jobs on platforms like Mechanical Turk by Amazon. Just listen to some audio and write every word down. There’s also a higher-priced market if you can translate foreign languages from audio to English.
As your business grows, you may choose to create a brand/website and launch your own transcription service, to market going forward you’ll need to invest in digital marketing particularly search orientated.
17. User testing
When you launch a new software/web product or service, it takes a shed load of time to iron out all the bugs and errors. To mitigate this problem and speed up the error/bug fixing process, companies spend a lot of money on user testing.
User testing is where you test software, websites or applications for bugs through general use or by carrying out specific actions (testing plan). A company commissioning user testing will generally give you access to and use of software to record/spot bugs/errors. User testing varies greatly in terms of complexity and the fee paid.
To get started, you can sign up as a tester for many third-party user testing platforms (UserTesting.com), set yourself up on the usual freelancer platforms or set up your own website promoting your user testing services. As you expand, it may be worth approaching businesses directly offering testing services.
Best small business ideas
18. Antique dealer
Antiques dealing is the process of buying and selling antique items (of value/age). Given the rich and ancient history of the UK, antiques are abundant throughout the country. Many fortunes are made and continue to be made by using specialist knowledge to buy bargain antiques at markets, auctions and shops, then selling on bought antiques at a much higher price through the same channels.
Starting an antique dealing business requires you have a good general knowledge of history/antiques and specialist knowledge of pricing, conditions and resale value in the items you plan to deal in (i.e. sterling silver jewellery, art deco lamps, Edwardian furniture…).
Initially, you can create a space in your home for storage/work. Then start scouting and purchasing antiques through online auctions and from boot sales. You can resell these items by putting them into the appropriate auctions, sell them to other antiques stores/dealers or sell direct via your eCommerce platform.
This is one business where you can start small and scale to a serious size. There’s also big international demand in UK auctions driving up pricing on many antique items significantly.
19. Market stall
Did you know you can rent a market stall at the world-famous Camden Market for as little as £15 a day? Upwards of 500,000, Londoners and tourists visit the market every week, that’s a lot of potential customers.
To open a market stall you need to decide on the types of products you’re going to sell, decide on the right market to start selling at (depending on our potential customer profile/size) and nail your F2F selling/presentation skills, things like boxes and labels can significantly increase sale price and volume also making you stand out against other market stalls).
Once you’ve got one market stall successful running, you can start hiring part-time workers to run a stall during the weekend and start expanding to multiple stalls or markets depending on demand. To retain customers, you might also consider investing in a building a brand and an eCommerce website (this is common for jewellery brands).
20. Equipment rental
Many times, businesses or individuals require equipment for one-off use or a limited period, in these cases, it’s almost always cheaper and more resource-efficient to rent equipment than purchase it outright. For example; To rent commercial carpet cleaning equipment would cost you approximately £25 for the day, whereas purchasing the equipment and chemicals outright would cost several hundred pounds. An example from the business perspective would be a company needing additional processing equipment to cater for a single large one-off order.
To start an equipment rental business, you’ll need to decide if you want to provide general equipment for individuals or cater for businesses/people in a specific niche, i.e. construction tools, cleaning equipment… You’ll need to establish a physical location where customers can collect and drop off equipment, as well as a website and appropriate payment systems. The outlay in most cases is not small for this business idea.
The beauty of this business is you can charge relatively high rental costs versus the cost to purchase the equipment, so the return of investment per piece of equipment should be high and payback relatively short (barring large specialised construction and other complex equipment). To market yourself, you can list your equipment rental business on local listing sites such as FridayAd, Gumtree, Yelp and Google.
The marketing for this type of business is all based on networking, you’ll need to build relationships with mid to high-level net worth individuals. A good place to start this networking would be to attend local events with your Chamber of Commerce or local business networking group.
Franchising is where you pay an upfront fee and an ongoing fee to use the trademark, systems and model of an existing successful business. In essence, it means if you’re stuck for a business idea or want an already successful brand/business model, you can buy it.
Popular franchises include McDonald’s, Pizza hut, Green thumb and many more. Smaller franchise examples include Greenthumb a lawn care and treatment business, who have franchises in different areas across the country.
To begin to explore franchising, you should take a look at the franchises available, then carry out market research to establish whether a particular franchise brand/business model would do well in your area. Make sure to check for existing versions of any franchise in your area; franchisees are unlikely to allow multiple franchises in the same market/location.
Once you’ve decided on the potential franchises you’d like to buy into; it’s now time to contact the companies and find out about the terms they offer alongside initial investment cost (paying particular attention to the ongoing fees). When you’ve chosen the franchise, you’d like to open it’s all about pouring money and resources into setting up (location, staff, equipment), this is the opposite of a low-cost business idea in most cases!
The beauty of franchising is that you are buying into an already successful brand/business model with a clear plan to scale. This said to be wary of businesses offering franchises where they have not proven the model to be successful themselves; there are cowboys in this market.
If you love cooking and can handle catering for the masses, a catering company is an excellent small business idea for you. You can work from home and start providing catering in the form of pre-defined buffets (with sandwiches and the such), then progress to more complex catering services (such as hog roasts and formal dinners).
If you start with simple catering options for clients, the upfront equipment costs are relatively low as you’ll have the majority of what you need at home. You may however need to hire help for events and acquire portable tables/buffet items.
As a food-based business make sure you have all the required licenses (like a hygiene certificate for your cooking premises) and the proper catering insurance (food poisoning is a real potential threat with this type of business).
23. Business development
If your comfortable cold calling or emailing businesses to sell products/services and feel comfortable closing sales with a reasonable amount of product knowledge, then working as a freelance developer might just be the perfect business for you.
The majority of small businesses suffer from poor sales due to lack of understanding of the sales and marketing process, being such a critical part of any healthy business there is a constant demand for anyone who can generate and close new clients/sales.
To get going you’ll need a decent phone contract (ideally a commercial number), email account and have a good understanding sales methodology (it’s worth checking out Straight Line Persuasion). You’ll also need to be comfortable using a CRM and marketing automation tools needed. The majority of business developers will charge based on a success fee (percentage of any sales), this means if you’re a good salesman with a great product/service, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can earn (remember to learn your product/service through and through).
To reach clients you literally have to do what your selling and reach out to local businesses via phone or email to setup meetings and sell them in. Typically, when you’re working on purely commission this is a very straight forward sell, as you only get paid if you deliver results for the client. In terms of inbound marketing to kick things off, you can list yourself on platforms like PeoplePerHour to get quick well-paid work.
24. Snack/coffee stall
Not many people go without a daily coffee or snack. With this business, you can buy a coffee stand for a few hundred pounds and set up in a local hotspot, they’re all over the major cities, and the mark-up on a cup of coffee is typically over 60%, not bad!
To get started, you’ll need the basic equipment and Barista training (coffee machine, filters, wholesale coffee, wholesale snacks, vehicle). This business can initially be very mobile. You can transport around a stand or even build out a coffee stall from the back of a van. In either instance, you’ll also need to get the relevant hygiene ratings, catering licenses and insurance (hot coffee burns are no joke).
There’s little to no upfront marketing cost on this business as its completely reliant on foot traffic, so you’ll want to scout and use several locations at different times throughout the week to pitch at and maximise sales (i.e. city centres, business parks, industrial estates…). Remember to focus on providing great coffee, tasty snacks and excellent customer service, to grow you’ll be very reliant on repeat customers (in London there are snack, and coffee stalls that have long queues at lunchtime and others do not work for a reason).
25. Car wash
A vehicle is one of the biggest purchases an individual or business will make, both those groups tend to care greatly about the presentation of those vehicles, and thus car washing services are always in sought out.
This type of business can be set up quickly and easily by agreeing with a local supermarket/ petrol station, to operate a car washing service on their forecourt or car park. You only need access to water, labour and some cleaning supplies (you’ll need to decide whether your cleaning interiors, exteriors or both). A basic car wash is a relatively low cost with cleaning fees per car varying between £5-15 on average; thus, this business lends itself to volume.
The key to success in the car wash business is time efficiency, in essence, how quickly can you wash a car and get onto the next customer (as labour/time is your primary cost). In terms of marketing, car washes are all about location – you need to make sure you’re located in a high trafficked area where vehicles stop.
If you are successful and are looking to scale while decreasing the cost, you can invest in an automated drive-through car wash (this will greatly reduce your labour needs).
26. Start an agency
If you’ve established yourself as a competent freelancer with a large customer base, it may be time to start thinking about building an agency.
An agency is a business entity with more than one person that can provide a range of services to clients. Typically agencies specialise in public relations, recruitment, design, SEO, paid search or web/app development.
To start an agency, you require a business space to operate from/meet clients (unless your team is remote), a team, a formal business structure such as a limited company, a clear brand and values, website and management structures/systems.
An agency business model allows you to scale from a single freelancer to a whole team who can service a much larger array of clients in a range of industries. Competition among agencies for business is fierce in most areas, you can use traditional freelancer platforms to source work, but the real money is in long term recurring clients/contracts (small and large businesses). To reach these customers, you’ll need to invest in targeted direct marketing, including e-mail marketing and have a convincing sales proposition and robust pipeline/CRM in place (to gain and manage clients effectively).
27. Debt collector
Average Household debt in the UK stands at over £59,000 with small business debt on average at over £30,000. A good proportion of these debts are serviced (meaning interest and repayments are made as agreed), a sizable number of debtors fail to meet repayment terms. At this point, if the debtor is unreachable or unsuccessful in resolving payment of the debt, the lender will typically apply to send in the debt collectors.
The role of debt collectors is to recover the amount owed to the lender from the debtor. The ideal result of this is the debtor will then pay the debt collectors in full, sometimes this may also mean agreeing and enforcing a payment plan if the debtor is unable to make full payment upfront. If the debtor is unable to pay in some cases, assets may be sized providing the debt collectors have the relevant paperwork (such as a county court judgement).
Debt collectors are typically paid via fixed service fee or from a % of the debt recovered (sometimes a mix of both payment types). To start a debt collecting agency, you need some basic understanding of the law and excellent interpersonal/communication skills (also some safety gear is advisable). Debt collecting businesses are also a popular franchise option (if you’re looking to take an already successful agencies business model, brand and systems).
Debt collection can be a very lucrative small business idea, but there is an element of safety/danger to consider, it’s common for debt collectors to receive verbal and physical threats from debtors who are unable to pay or don’t want to pay (it’s not for the faint of heart).
28. Bed and breakfast
If you have a family home and the kids have moved out, why not turn it into a B&B? With the explosion of platforms like Airbnb, it’s never been simpler to set up a room/s in your private home for use and cater for breakfast.
To start building your bed and breakfast empire, by default, you’ll need you’re a property. You’ll also need to get the appropriate insurance and list your property on third party platform such as Airbnb, Booking.com… (giving you exposure and taking care of initial marketing).
When listing your property make sure to pay special attention to the photos of your listing ensuring there professional, light and airy (some platforms will do this for you), also make sure to be friendly and as descriptive as possible of the accommodation your renting. You’ll want to have in place a welcome pack with all the appropriate information a guest will need (i.e. WIFI codes, fire exits…) and set clear expectations on the check-in and check-out times.
Next, you’ll need to decide what you’re going to charge, to do this you should look at other similar accommodations for rent in your area, find out the average and charge the lowest of the average initially (this is to drive people to stay at your place so that you can build positive reviews). Once you have enough positive reviews, you can start to increase pricing to or beyond the market average.
Third-party platforms do charge fees for their services in most cases; if you’d prefer not to pay this, you can also rent your room/s via your website (with this option customers might find it difficult to find you without some significant upfront marketing investment).
With fewer people owning cars (primarily due to the cost and hassle), the need for chauffer’s who can drive persons to and from there destinations has grown. This has been coupled with the explosion of taxi and ride apps including Uber and Lyft, meaning the demand for chauffeurs/drivers has never been more.
To start your chauffeur/driver service, you’ll need at least one very efficient vehicle (to minimise maintenance, depreciation and petrol/diesel/electric costs, i.e. Toyota Prius) and be an experienced driver. From here you can register as a contractor for a company such as Uber (working for yourself, with Uber taking a cut) or register as a local taxi firm (you’ll need a taxi license).
With apps such as Uber, the customer acquisition element they take care of in exchange for a fee, for a taxi firm you’ll need to drive around looking for customers (stations, business parks…), list in local directories (developing good reviews) and provide a phone line for people to book through. Overall to build a successful local taxi driving business, you’ll need to provide a great customer experience drive safely and be at a competitive price point.
30. Lemonade company
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and sell them to supermarkets! I’m not joking, a friend of mine runs WeMadeDrinks, a drinks company which started as a lemonade company at university. The demand for soft drinks continues to rise, as companies like Coca-Cola make a killing (low sugar healthy soft drinks are a current trend you could tap into).
To get started you’ll need lemons, also a production facility, bottling equipment (asset finance is an option if you want to spread the cost) and much more alongside the relevant licenses whether you’re using a home or commercial premises to produce the lemonade/alternate soft drink.
You also need to build an attractive brand, website and marketing materials. You can sell directly into supermarkets (though the margins may be low and its time consuming to get such contracts) or you can start simply with a mobile lemonade stand you can take to festivals, community events and high traffic locations (Innocent tested their first smoothies at a festival).
31. Pet grooming
The amount British consumers will spend on their pets is mind boggling. Particularly when it comes to pampering in the form of grooming, there has been a surge in the amount of people who want to get their pets groomed, particularly dogs.
Grooming an animal generally involves cutting their hair, providing a professional wash, cutting nails and providing a massage. You will need a commercial premise from the start with this business, with facilities on site (dog baths, hoses and other equipment).
To market yourself you can rely on passing trade (make sure to pick a good foot traffic location), you can also advertise yourself on Gumtree and other directories where there are categories for these types of services.
32. Removals company
Moving to a new house or office is one of the most stressful and laborious tasks anyone can undertake, in many cases due to the sheer volume of things to pack and move, the majority of people/businesses will hire professional movers.
To start a removals company, you’ll need a decent-sized truck or van and a clean driving license, and professional driving experience will also help (from a safety perspective given the amount you’ll be driving). Fuel will be a big part of your costs; you should consider investing in an electric van or truck, which although expensive upfront cost a fraction of what it costs to run a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle. You’ll also need access to packing supplies and at least one other person to help you move large quantities of goods or heavy objects.
Given that businesses and individuals only move on average every seven years, this business in the short term is very much about constantly acquiring new customers. To market your removal business, you can list yourself in local directories and partner with estate agents to offer your services to their clients.
33. Holiday rentals
If you have a spare room or are going away on holiday, you can rent out your entire property/ a single room as a short-term rental. You can rent this space on platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com to instantly access a large market of short term renters (holidaymakers and business people) and its relatively easy to set up an account (they’ll even insure your property for up to $1m in damages).
To get started, you need to create an account and list your property/room for rental and the periods it’s available. You’ll need to provide a detailed subscription, photos and set pricing (look at other properties similar in the local area to get an average price).
Getting bookings on short-term rental platforms is all about photos and reviews. So, make sure you have professional photos of your property (some platforms will do this for you) and set your price at the lower end of average to get bookings/ those all-important positive reviews (you can increase the pricing later on to market average or beyond based on occupancy).
Bear in mind short term rental platforms do charge commission, if you don’t want to pay these fees, you can also set up a website and booking system (using WordPress or another CMS), a little bit more complex but no booking fee. In terms of marketing for your booking website, you’ll want to focus on gaining relevant search ranking through content or using PPC to target searches, for terms relevant (i.e. London holidays homes).
34. Flyering agency
Despite the explosion of online marketing, flyering and many other methods of offline marketing are still just as effective if not more effective than the digital alternatives (both in terms of cost and ROI). Flyering in particularly is a great way for businesses to reach large quantities of potential customers quickly, whether by having people handing out flyers on the high street or by targeting residential locations (this is quite common in the food delivery business).
To start a flyering agency you’ll need an economic and high-quality printer, printing supplies (paper, card, ink…) and a basic to good skill level in graphic design for creating flyers, you’ll also need contractors to deliver large quantities of flyers (students are a good bet this kind of work as they generally need flexible hours). You can run this business from your home and market yourself by flyering local businesses to start (as a demonstration of how effective it can be).
Companies always need people to flyer in public places or via letterbox drops. A lot of professional flyering agencies charge massive amounts from this simple to execute marketing method, undercut them and you’ll win lots of business (it comes a lot down to price in the flyering game).
Printing via home/standard business printers is often expensive, lacks quality and is slow when it comes to large volumes of printed materials (business cards, leaflets, posters…). This is why commercial printers exist, allowing individuals and businesses to order high quality, efficient and low-cost printing at quantity.
To start a printing business, you’re going to need to have a space for printing and know how to operate a commercial printer. If your delivering printing directly to clients you can run this business from home, however, if you want a place where you can meet clients – you’re going to need a shop or office with a receptionist.
To market this business, its best to target local small businesses as they tend to have ongoing commercial printing needs throughout the year. If you want to expand and target the larger UK market, you’re going to need a decent eCommerce platform, order management system and payment gateways setup.
A printing business apart from the initial outlay is very cheap to run, cost coming down to the longevity of the machines, the ink you use and other printing material costs.
36. Design agency
One of the hardest things in the world of business is finding high-quality designers. We burnt through about five design teams at my old startup before we found somebody awesome. If you have a knack for web or marketing design, then get yourself a Behance profile and start raving about how awesome you are, soon enough you’ll get requests.
To start a design agency, you’ll need a decent portfolio in place (and you’ll probably want to incorporate). You’ll also want a fantastically designed website and to specialise in a particular discipline of design (unless you want to be a full-service design agency, covering UX, UI, app design, web design, marketing materials, branded stationary…). You’ll also need to build a sales pipeline management system and create a pitch, briefs and standardised reports.
To market this business initially you can directly reach out via phone, post or telephone to local businesses offering your services (there’s a great demand for design work as most small to medium businesses don’t have in-house design team). You can also employ local PPC and should list your business on Bing, Google and all the major listing sites.
37. Furniture refinishing
Many people are reluctant to give up on old furniture even when it’s wearing especially if its an expensive armchair or sofa. Furniture refinishers solve this problem by replacing fabrics, fixing broken legs and generally giving furniture a new lease of life.
To start a furniture refinishing business, you’ll need experience in carpentry, fabrics, interior design and access to a workshop with a large range of tools. It’s worth investing in a website from the get-go with this business, as the primary way furniture refinishers are found is through search and directory listings.
To market this business, you’ll want to focus on local search advertising and content marketing to ensure your ranking for relevant keywords (i.e. furniture refinishing London).
38. Training company
If you have in-depth knowledge of a particular subject, you can provide offline and online training to companies whose staff require training or development. Each year businesses in the UK invest nearly £3 billion into training. This is because training is critical to creating productive employees and retaining them.
To get started with a training company you’ll need to decide a training niche (i.e. sales, marketing, or finance), develop a brand, website and set default training programmes (that be adapted to client needs) you can provide to businesses. You’ll also need to create learning material to accompany programmes, and if you want to create a digital course, you’ll need to structure this and create video versions of your programmes (Linda an online training provider sold to Linked for over £1 billion).
A training business comes down to your level of expertise and ability to sell in clients (this business idea effectively requires HR mixed in with business development). To market, you should identify out to companies who need your training services (i.e. a telecoms company that needs sales training to increase revenue), then identify decision-makers (HR and other Directors) in these businesses to approach and offer your training programmes.
For growth, long term training companies rely heavily on repeat business/recurring clients, so make sure the training value you offer exceeds expectations. To diversify your revenue and scale further, you could also develop your own learning platform and sell subscriptions to your training programmes.
If your passionate about looking after children, then you should consider starting a childcare business looking after other people’s children while they’re at work. With more and more families having two working parents there’s a booming demand for childcare.
This is the perfect business for stay at home parents, as you can run it from your own home (with some minor adjustments for child safety and proper hygiene) or you can work from people’s homes if preferred (though this will limit you to one or a few clients).
To get started you’ll need to be or become a registered childminder and have an up to date DBS check (formerly CRB). You’ll also need to create a schedule, series of activities and provision of catering (be careful of food allergies). In terms of marketing your childcare business, you should outreach to local pre and primary schools to advertise your services to parents and you can also partner with local nurseries to deal with their overflow.
To expand your childcare services once established, you may also consider opening up a day nursery for children of different ages. You’ll be expected to provide a basic educational programme, refreshments and fun activities in most cases (there’s also a trend for outdoor nurseries that run activities with children in the countryside or woods).
40. Chocolate/cake/baking retailer
Are you the sort of person that watched the Great British Bake Off and thought “I could win this”? If yes, get on it, and create a storefront to sell your awesome creations.
At a basic level, you’ll need to be talented at a specific type of cooking (i.e. baking, chocolatier or cake making) and have all the kitchen equipment needed to produce at commercial scale (i.e. mixers, ovens…). You can start out of your kitchen at home (you’ll need to have a certified and hygiene rated kitchen) and sell your creations at local farmers markets, online and at fates.
Marketing this business initially is mostly about footfall at markets, from there you’ll want to invest in a shop in a good location (worth noting that custom wedding cakes fetch and premium).
41. Laundry service
Ever get tired of doing your laundry? You’re not alone, and this leads to many people choosing to have their laundry done by professionals (either because they lack the time to do it themselves or simply don’t want to).
To start a laundry service, you need is to buy or get access to a low cost and large capacity laundry machine, learn the basics about detergents and how to correctly wash clothes without damaging them.
To market your laundry business, start by creating and posting flyers to residential properties. Ideally you should initially target flats, as many flat blocks in built areas don’t have washing machines themselves, you could also partner with laundrettes to offer their existing customer base a ‘delivery option’, simple! You can also take out advertising in the in the local newspaper.
42. Security firm
In the entertainment and property industries, security is a necessity to protect assets, people and make sure business continues without interruption. Beyond electronic and digital security systems, there is still a need for security personnel who can respond to dynamic situations and provide a level of security machines cannot.
For example; doormen for nightclubs and other venues are a necessity to provide safety for the venue, customers and staff (you’d be amazed how much money a contractor can make from working a nightclub door for a single night.)
To start building your security empire, you’ll need to some experience in physical security (self-defence, security routines…). To cover multiple shift patterns and businesses you’ll also need several team members, uniforms and equipment such as flashlights (the cost of setup is mainly labour).
To start getting clients, you can directly approach local bars, clubs and vacant property owners offering your security services. You can also list your security services on local directories and national ones such as Yelp.
Self-employment business ideas
43. Business consultant
Consultants are in demand across all aspects of business. Consultants typically work on a project by project basis providing expert advice to their clients on particular subjects they specialise in. The most common types of business consultants include marketing, finance and management (with further specializations in these areas such as business intelligence or search engine optimisation). Most consultants charge an hourly or day rate (day rates can range from £100 -2000 a day depending on the area and the demand/amount of expertise a consultant has).
The beauty of consultancy is you can work from your own home or onsite for clients where needed. To get started you’ll need to be an authority in a particular subject matter where there is a demand for outside advice.
Consultants are almost entirely reliant on networking or directory listings for business, in many cases beyond the marketing it comes down to how well you can sell yourself to potential client (how much perceived value you can offer in return for your fee).
44. Market research service
Starting a business is tough, especially in established markets. Businesses often struggle to understand their customers, market, and how their company, products and services are viewed. This is where market research becomes critical allowing businesses to make key decisions off verified customer/market data.
Market research firms research on behalf of other businesses, this can involve quantitative and qualitative market research techniques such as carrying out surveys, reviewing competitors, market analysis and much more.
To get started as a market research firm, you’ll need to have a background in market research itself or business intelligence, understand the core different types of research and have prepared formats to carry out said research for different clients and their objectives (you’ll also need to understand how to write reports summarising the finding from market to present a client).
This type of business can be started from home, and as its all serviced based, there is little to no startup cost beyond software, data collection and analysis tools. To market this business, you can reach out to local businesses to offer your services and list your market research services on freelancer sites.
45. IT support
As the world becomes more technology focused, many people have struggled to keep up, this is a problem as information technology (IT) equipment consistently breaks down and needs fixing.
Thus, there is a constant demand from private individuals and businesses for IT saavy professionals who can fix broken computers, repair networking issues, replace damaged hardware, advise on IT procurement and generally get things working again. IT support businesses are largely knowledge-based endeavours that will require you to have a good understanding of different operating systems, security systems (including anti-virus) and hardware (computers and laptops).
The majority of IT problems in the home and business environments are the result of software issues or errors (due to accidental damage or attack by a virus or third party). This software focus means you’ll only need a small amount of specialist equipment to get going. Most local IT support contractors operate out of their own homes and in the case of software/virus issues go to a client’s property to fix the problem.
To expand an IT support business, you can also offer training packages to people who want to feel more comfortable using their computers or software (or companies who require employees to learn certain computing skills i.e. network maintenance, database management…).
Despite being information technology based, this business can be built entirely on traditional local marketing (flyers, networking…). Growth is reliant on repeat customers in this area, so make sure your provide an excellent level of customer service that keeps customers coming back to you.
46. Fundraiser (Introducer)
Get paid a cut to help companies raise finance from a business angel or venture capital fund. Services like AIN make a killing on this. There’s a massive market for it and the contacts you’d build will be literally worth their weight in gold. Many fundraisers specialise in specific verticals such as MarTech, Fintech and GeoTech.
Fundraising comes down to contacts and networking. You’ll need access to key decision makers in investment funds and private investors, coupled with access to a regular source of deal flow (startups) you can refer to investors. The key to this business is identifying and referring the right startups/investment opportunities to the right investors.
If you’re not FCA regulated, you’ll need to very clear you are only making an introduction and not promoting an investment. You’ll also need to get in place clear agreements with any startup your fundraising for to make sure you get paid. Typically commission rates for introducing an investment that completes tends to be between 3% and 5%, depending on deal size.
To start building your network you’ll need to attend investment/startup events (conferences are the richest for both) and begin reaching out/networking with both investors and startups (you can use AngelList, Linkedin and Crunchbase to identify and connect).
47. PR (public relations) services
PR is a relationships game, if you’re good at PR you’re likely chummy with journalists in all sorts of publications. For example; if you’re friends with someone at the Financial Times, you can introduce them to your clients to get featured in the newspaper.
A huge proportion of UK PR’s operate as freelancers either working directly with clients or on behalf of larger PR agencies. Fees are usually paid on a project or success basis, with larger PR firms this tends to work on a monthly retainer.
Starting as a freelance PR requires very little beyond access to businesses and journalists, alongside some understanding of how to present businesses/pitch journalists.
48. House sitting
House sitting is where you live in and look after a property for the owners when they are away on holiday, for work or the property is owned but not in use (i.e. in-between tenants). The primary reasons for house sitting are that the property will be protected from a security perspective (from thieves and squatters) and is maintained to a high standard.
The house-sitting business model has boomed in the UK in recent years as more and more people have accumulated a 2nd home they don’t live in that ends up being unoccupied for periods of time due to the aforementioned reason. This is a purely serviced-based business idea that has no real requirements beyond reliability, some understanding on security and basic property maintenance.
This business works in both the residential and commercial markets, with demand from private homeowners and businesses alike. On the upper side of the market it’s a pretty awesome business, get paid to hang out in a mansion while the owners are on holiday… a fully stocked fridge and a king-size bed, happy days! To market this business, you should reach out to family, friends and social network, beyond that its about word of mouth and digital marketing if desired (i.e. PPC).
As the saying goes there are two things you can always rely on “death and taxes”. The latter is usually the bane of most people’s existence and is of major importance to business.
Almost all small businesses are required to pay business taxes, to this end they must consistently record financial dealings, submit annual abbreviated accounts (self-assessment for freelancers), corporate tax returns, file/pay VAT bills and manage many other financial reporting/tax obligations.
The majority of small businesses can’t afford to have an accountant in-house so turn to local accountants or small accounting firms to help make sure their filing is correct and their tax is as efficient as possible.
To start an accounting business, you’ll need to have basic accounting qualifications (College or University) and be registered with the Institute of Financial accountants. The setup cost for an accountant is minimal as it’s serviced-based. In essence you’ll need a place to work from (home or small office), a good filing system, accounting software, a decent computer and security software to protect client private financial data.
Local accountants can earn anywhere between £50,000 and £150,000 a year. The beauty of this business is that every business needs an accountant. For marketing you can send letters to other local businesses, attend networking events and join local business groups (i.e. British Chambers of Commerce) to meet new accounting clients. You can also work remotely for companies who are not in your local area.
50. Financial adviser
Very similar to an accountant but a little broader and generally focused on personal finance in most cases. The majority of the middle-class people with expendable income that could be investing lack an understanding of the basic investment vehicles that are open to them (alongside the relatively risk and potential upside of each). This leads to many such people putting all their money into savings accounts and very low risk/return investments (such as premium bonds). Though low risk is a necessary part of any diversified portfolio, to maximise return in most cases mixing in a number of medium and high-risk investments is necessary.
The role of a financial adviser is to assess people’s income, outgoings and other assets and then provide them with options as to how they could invest any excess capital to make a return (the same logic largely applies to commercial clients as well). To get started as a financial adviser you’ll need a strong understanding of finance and investments, great communication skills and an ability to manage and deliver on client expectations.
Financial advisers are required to be registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Advisers are generally paid a consulting fee, ongoing maintenance fee and/or success fee depending on the yield of investment advice. Advisers in some cases also manage investments on the client’s behalf.
51. Cleaning company
This is arguably one of the easiest businesses to start, and the upfront capital costs are low (you’ll need basic cleaning supplies and equipment to start).
As a cleaning business, you have two markets to choose from, you can either choose to serve the residential or commercial market (meaning you can clean people’s homes/property or offices/business premises).
The quickest and cheapest way to reach new potential cleaning clients is through traditional direct marketing. Start by finding a leaflet template on Microsoft publisher (or other design software) and amend the template/branding to your business. Then start direct marketing and go to door-to-door distributing the flyers offering your cleaning services (you can also create posters and ask local businesses to put these up in their windows).
Though this business idea is easy to start and scale, competition is intense in the cleaning market. You’ll need to make sure that your brand stands out and your pricing is competitive for your local area (you can find this out by doing some competitor analysis).
Painting and decorating are essential services most homeowners, renters and business owners will require at multiple points throughout their lifetimes. Although very time consuming (as its all labour) it’s a very simple business idea and is typically quite well paid although competitive market (due to the low barriers to entry).
To get going you need paint brushes, sheets, rollers and basic decorating materials. You’ll also need a reliable form of transport to easily reach homes and businesses. Additionally, it’s advisable to look at tradesman insurance and other forms of business insurance to ensure your protected in case of doing damage/harm to a property, yourself or a client (i.e. leaving a paint brush around as a trip hazard can be costly).
With painting and decorating it’s very simple to reach new clients, by listing yourself on sites like Checkatrade, myBuilder and rated people (sites are paid via commission on each job or through a listing fee). To get work (request for quotes) through these platforms it’s advisable to build up a number of good reviews, as positive feedback and price are the major factors potential clients will use to decide when hiring a painter or decorator.
53. Pet sitting
There are close to 51 million household pets in the UK. So, what happens when a pet owner needs to go away on holiday or for work? This is where the Pet sitting business comes in, providing accommodation, feeding, walking and in some cases grooming services for pets.
The business model for petting sitting is quite simple, you collect peoples pet/s from their home or they will drop them off to you. Then you look after the pet/s at your home or property for the agreed period (typically charging a day rate, paid upfront).
In terms of setup this business idea might be a little more costly than you think, depending on the animals you’ll be sitting (cats and dogs being the most common). You’ll need a range of cages, food, leads, toys, beds and more. You’ll also need to develop a daily schedule for feeding, affection time and walking where necessary.
In some cases, you may need to have a license, particularly if you’re doing this on a commercial scale as with a cattery or kennels. A good understanding of animal husbandry is a must and the specific. You should also have a good vet on speed dial to cover any pet health needs and make sure you have the correct insurance in place.
You can market your pet sitting services through social media, local advertising (flyers, letterbox drops, etc.) and partnerships with other animal companies (i.e. Pet shops, Vet’s.).
Architect firms are paid on a project by project basis. This means that they typically keep a very small core team onboard at any one time (avoiding paying for excess salaries when projects are not underway). This model has lead to the industry heavily relying on contractors (freelance architects) to come and work on a project by project basis.
To start you’ll need a degree level qualification in architecture and have specialised in one of the key aspects involved (3d building render, drawing, site inspection, material assessment). Typically, as a service-based business you’ll been paid on an hourly basis and in some cases you may have retainers for longer term projects. You can market yourself by creating a list of local and national architecture firms, emailing them your portfolio and a list of the services you can offer.
You can also choose to work directly with a client by offering your services on freelancer sites such as Upwork to work with small home and business owners owners on individual projects varying in scale (full houses, conservatories, office refurbishment…).
55. Private Solicitor (Lawyer)
Legal advice is highly sought from a contract, criminal, family, intellectual property and general commercial perspective in the UK. If you’re a licensed solicitor (Lawyer is the American term for a solicitor) in most fields of law then your services are in demand. Many solicitors choose to work with large law firms based in major cities, but a good proportion also choose to work for themselves.
Typically, private solicitors will charge an hourly rate ranging from £80 anywhere up to £2000 depending on the type of law they practice and client base.
To start as a private solicitor, you’ll need to licensed to practice law and a be member of the Law society. You’ll need to invest in a website, business phone and business cards to start. Depending on your area of law you will also want to create basic legal documents that can be amended for the majority of client needs.
To find clients as a private solicitor you can offer free consultations in your local area for businesses and private clients. You can also advertise yourself on freelancer platforms providing an hourly rate or provide standard packages for specific work such as completing terms and conditions, creating investment contracts, contract review by pages or filing a trademark. For local businesses make sure your listed in local service directories.
Some people just love teaching, they really enjoy helping others learn. If that’s you and you have a good level of education, then you should be making money as a tutor.
You can tutor students in a group, one to one and even remotely via the internet. There are even apps like Tutorme that can help you monetise your tutoring. Besides apps, there are online platforms like Preply, where you can teach online on your schedule from anywhere! It offers a stable base of students from all over the world, secure payments and constant customer care. Plus, you set your own hourly rate and can change it at any time!
If you want to find local tutoring clients you can strike up partnerships with the local schools, colleges and universities in your area (or at the least ask them to post your flyer to their noticeboards). As with any business it helps to specialise on what you provide to stand out and present yourself as an expert in a certain area (i.e. maths tutor, Key stage 2 tutors, English tutor, GCSE tutor, business tutor, A-level tutor…).
57. Delivery company (Man with a van)
The classic man with a van scenario. There’s always a steady demand for moving objects from location A to location B. Particularly with the boom of eCommerce, the number of heavier packages and objects that need individual delivery or courier services has increased sharply.
To start a delivery company, you’ll need a driving license and a large multi-purpose vehicle (i.e. Van or Truck). You’ll also need straps and sheets to secure and protect more delicate objects from damage while in transit. To market your new business, you can reach out to local businesses who deal in physical products and need delivery services, find out what they’re paying for current delivery services and undercut. If you want to start on a smaller scale, you can also do delivery for companies like Amazon as a subcontractor for FLEX. It’s also worth listing your services on Gumtree and targeting sellers of larger items on eBay offering your delivery services.
58. Carpet cleaning
Every few years carpets and rugs go beyond the help of a good hoover, this is where the need for a professional carpet cleaning service comes in. Though people can rent a carpet cleaner to do the work themselves, the majority turn to a professional carpet cleaning business to solve the problem.
As a service carpet cleaning is relatively easy to start, there are however higher equipment costs than most previously mentioned small business ideas. You’ll need a range of carpet cleaning machines and chemicals on an ongoing basis (though you can find decent second-hand equipment on Ebay).
In terms of potential customers, you either go after the residential market (private homeowners or renters) or to businesses, the former is by far the largest market for a carpet cleaning business.
59. Dog walking
Dogs need a good deal of exercise per day to remain happy and healthy. Everybody loves dogs but the majority of us have no time or energy to walk our dog/s after a busy day at the office.
To get started with a dog walking business you’ll need a good level of physical health, understanding of dog behaviour/training and a master harness (for multiple dogs). You may also need a dog walking license, depending on the region your in.
To market your dog walking services you can advertise on sites like Gumtree or register as a provider on sites like BorrowMyDoggy (yes, it’s real).
60. CV (Curriculum Vitae)/cover letter writer
Getting a job for most people is an important part life but it can be extremely difficult. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that the majority of people don’t know or are unsure about how to write and structure their CV/cover letter. Even those who have a fairly good idea of how to write a CV often seek a second opinion and feedback to improve their odds of getting their CV noticed to secure that all important job interview.
As such there is a growing requirement for experienced writers who know how to create, structure and enhance CV’s and cover letters. To get started you’ll need to have a background in business English, impeccable grammar/spelling and an understand as to what company recruiters are looking for. The startup costs with this business idea are relatively low, as you can work from home and only really need basic word processing and editing software (some design understanding/software will also help as there is a visual element to this role).
Marketing can be a little tricky with this business as you need to reach people when their applying for jobs, with this information being private it can difficult to identify or reach these people. The best methods for promotion would be to use local professional networking events and advertising yourself your CV writing services through schools and colleges.
61. Private investigator
Become Sherlock Holmes and solve crime for a living. The reality is slightly less exciting, but there is a market for private investigators in the UK, often dealing with spousals disputes, tracking missing persons and in some cases investigating crimes.
To become a private investigator, you’ll need to be licensed and generally have experience or background in law enforcement. This is very much a service-based business idea with little upfront setup cost (you may need some equipment for sound recording, video and photography). This business can be set up at home but its arguably better to have an office where clients can meet you to discuss their investigation needs privately.
To market your services, you should list yourself in local directories, build a website and invest some time in digital marketing (either PPC or content marketing). This business also scales quickly on word of mouth and recommendations. As you expand, you can approach large businesses and carry out corporate investigation work, i.e. thorough background checking employees.
Proofreaders read and edit written content to make sure there are no mistakes in terms of grammar, spelling and typography. The amount of content (particularly digital) being written and published each year is growing exponentially (this includes blogs, eBooks, landing pages or other forms of content). This has led to a significant and growing demand for proofreaders.
To get started proofreading you’ll need a great understanding of English literature and language (English is the primary business language globally, but you can focus on other languages). You’ll also need an eye for detail and ability to read/skim written content for errors at speed. Beyond this you’ll word processing and editing software (Hemningway or Grammarly).
To get start getting work proofreading, you can list your services on platforms such as UpWork or ClickWorker. You can also reach out to local businesses via email or post to offer your services (make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors on your communications).
63. Window cleaning
Window cleaning has been essential since the invention of glass (no one likes dirty windows and they prevent light getting in). The amount of windows/glass used in building construction both in residential and commercial properties has increased significantly, resulting in the demand for window cleaning services being much higher than previously.
To get started with a window cleaning business, you’ll need to pick up the basics of cleaning windows and get some standard window cleaning supplies and equipment. It’s arguably one of the simplest business ideas to start. Due to the low barriers for entry, the market is competitive for window cleaning, so make sure to get your pricing right and put together a number of standard packages.
To market your window cleaning services print flyers and target your local community (private individuals and business). You can also list your services on sites like FantasticCleaners and remember to list yourself and ask your clients for reviews on Google and Yelp (with contact details).
Nightclubs, weddings, events… the list of potential clients for photography services is huge. If you have a decent DSLR camera and an eye for a great photo, this could be perfect business for you.
To get started you’ll need some experience of how to take photos and have atleast semi-professional camera equipment/editing software. You can market through social media, let your work speak for itself… oh and ask for clients to recommend you to their friends, family and colleagues.
If you have access to a space that can be used as a photography studio, you can also offer profile shots for professionals. For a 15-minute photo photoshoot you can charge anything from £50 to £300, depending your area and marketing access.
65. Personal chef
The working week has increased significantly over the last few decades, this has led to many busy professionals not being able to find the time to shop for and prepare healthy/delicious meals.
Thus, there is a steady and growing demand for personal chefs of all levels who can prepare and deliver meals to clients (in some cases in a clients home).
To get your personal chef business started you’ll need to be an experienced cook and have at least a basic level of catering qualification. From an equipment perspective, you’ll need an industrial ewtup in your home kitchen and portable cooking equipment to take to client’s locations (i.e. a decent set of knives, pans…). As with any food-based business make sure you get the correct licenses for hygiene and cooking and the right insurance in place.
If you want to expand your services you can also cater for important home events (i.e. parties, weddings) or offer a live in chef service (from the super wealthy there is a demand for live in chefs, meaning there’s somebody on hand to cook morning, noon and night).
66. Disk jockey (DJ)
The entertainment industry is a behemoth, and the demand for disk jockeys to play music for private events such as weddings, parties and corporate events are significant.
To get started as a DJ, you’ll need a passion for music, an understanding of how to read a crowd and a decent music collection (or Spotify playlists, depending on the type of event). You’ll also need basic DJ equipment such as decks, mixers, PA, lights and a vinyl collection. You’ll also need transport to carry your equipment and yourself to client locations.
To start acquiring clients you can partner with venues, events companies, wedding planners etc to provide DJ services. This type of business relies on recommendations and word of mouth to expand beyond your initial client base.
67. Personal stylist
The idle super rich among us make great use of personal stylists. The job of a personal stylist is to advise persons on colours, clothing, fashion trends and ultimately on what a client should wear each season or for a particular event.
To get started as a personal stylist, you’ll need a background/expertise in fashion, makeup and an impeccable eye for superficial detail (also keep up with the latest trends). Beyond that this business comes down to personal networking, you’ll need to find events where you can meet and develop relationships with super-wealthy potential clients. You can also develop inbound marketing with this business by starting a YouTube channel providing authority advice on style, build your followers and then let clients come to you.
Eating healthy has never been more difficult, as the working week has increased more and more people are struggling to find time to shop, cook or acquire the knowledge needed to help them keep a healthy level of nutrition (just look at the enormous increase in obesity in the UK to see the impact of poor nutirition).
Nutritionists work with individuals to devise meal/nutritional plans so they can lead healthy lives. The dieting and nutrition industry is big business with a growing demand for nutritionists as a service.
To get started, you’ll need an office client can visit, be a certified nutritionist, have basic plans for nutrition that can be adapted to each client and a business website/phone number. To market your nutrition business, you can advertise your services through local publications, partner with local gyms and trying leafletting busy urban areas.
You can also expand revenue by providing a healthy meal service, so clients don’t have to worry about purchasing healthy food/finding the time to cook it. Alternatively, you can partner with other organisations to provide this service and take a commission.
69. House staging
Selling a house is something the average homeowner does every 7 years and is extremely important as the price a seller can get for their home typically dictates the amount they can spend on the next property. Thus, maximising the value of a home sale is of upmost importance to any seller, it’s been proven that correctly staging a house can increase the sale price by as much as 5% and will generally lead to a far quicker sale.
Staging a house is all about interior design, basically going into a home and rearranging furniture, decorating and generally re-designing the property interior to make it as a appealing as possible to the ideal groups of potential buyers.
Often home stagers will keep or rent a range of furniture in storage they bring into a home to create the desired visual effect (whether you do this is highly dependent on client budgets). To get started you’ll need an understanding of interior design and how different aspects/looks can increase the value of a property.
In terms of marketing you can use websites such as Zoopla or rightmove to find private sellers and contact them via other channels (i.e. letters, leaflets or social media). You can also cycle or drive around your local area and put leaflets in the houses that have signs listing them as a private sale. As build up your reputation you can also start pitching to work with local estate agents which will open you up to a much larger client base.
You can also increase the revenue potential of your house staging business by working with a local photographer to professionally photograph the house (or even learn to take decent house photography yourself). Remember the higher the price tag for a house the bigger the budget they’ll have for staging as the difference you can make is much larger.
70. Personal trainer
Fitness is a key part of any person’s life, its crucial for health, longevity, and to look and feel better. Personal trainers work one-to-one or in a group with clients to help them meet their health and exercise goals through the coaching of exercise and in some cases nutritional advice. Thus, it’s probably no surprise that the personal training market in the UK will be worth over £670 million by 2020 (from £600 million in 2015).
Starting your own personal training business is fairly straight forward, you’ll need to have a good level of fitness, goal setting experience and understanding of exercise/ how to provide exercise training. You’ll need to find a space you can rent for sessions (or provide outdoor sessions at clients homes or public locations). Having a website and business phone number is also a must for this business. Finally, you’ll need to get certified and get public liability insurance coverage (as well as first aid training/certification).
From there, it’s all relationships game; personal training empires are built of word of mouth referrals from happy clients. To get started securing clients, you should consider partnering with a local gym to reach their clientele. Personal trainers can earn anywhere from £50 to £500 an hour.
In the age of digital, you can also now be a personal trainer virtually, working with and checking in on your clients via Skype and other platforms (though you will to establish yourself as a fitness thought leader online first, via content and video guides).
71. Car boot sales
Business conglomerates have been built off car boot sales; these markets allow you to find, buy and sell every type of 2nd and 1st hand item you could ever imagine. Car boot sellers will typically source goods from house clearances, car boot sales and wholesalers to resell these products at car boots at a margin.
To start your car boot sales business, you’ll need portable tables, an eye for presentation, a large vehicle (estate or van) and access to a steady stream of goods to sell. From there, it’s all about sales skills and communication (anything you don’t sell is going home or being sold at cost/or below). Many car boot sale businesses will focus on a particular niche and build up a loyal customer base who come back for items such as cameras, watches or furniture.
72. Tattoo artist
The cool thing about this industry is you can generally rent a space in a tattoo parlour, meaning you don’t need to shell out £££ for your own site and you can make use of their brand.
Tattooing is an art form, to get started you’ll require many years of education or tutoring and a good setup of tattoo machine (ink pen) and inks. You’ll also need to have a good understanding of the health and safety involved and make sure relevant insurance is in place.
Marketing a tattooing business largely relies on word of mouth marketing from previous clients but you can also use visual platforms like Instagram to build a following and gain more clients.
Hairdressing has been booming in recent years, particularly as the professional styling and cutting of hair has become more important/popular among men and women.
To establish a hairdressing business, you’ll need to have a strong technical knowledge of cutting/styling many different types of hair as well as all the appropriate tools of the trade (trimmers, scissors…). The lowest cost way to get started is running a home service where you visit clients to cut their hair, you can also rent space from a local hair salon or subcontract. Another business idea where it pays to understand the health/safety and get relevant insurance sorted.
From a marketing perspective this is another business that largely relies on word of mouth or passing high street foot traffic. From a digital perspective you can use social media (Instagram and Pinterest) to show recent work, collect client emails and keep up an emailing list of clients (for repeat business).
74. Motivational speaker
If you have a particularly inspiring story or are just amazing on stage, you can make a lot of money touring the speaker circuit. Conferences shell out thousands of pounds for 1-hour long sessions.
Motivational speakers come in all shapes and sizes but typically focus on areas including business, lifestyle and fitness. To get started as a motivational speaker you’ll need to decide on the niche you wish to speak about and build up base topics, speeches and presentations (that can be amended to event/client’s specific needs).
Next, you’ll want to build up a portfolio of public speaking work, ideally which includes professional photography and videography of speaking at events (you can build up this portfolio by offering your services for free initially).
You’ll also want to set up a professional website and list yourself with speaker agencies (such as the JLA). The motivational and public speaking circuit is competitive; it’s all about connections and exposure, networking and getting good visibility through speaker platforms to drive business.
75. Pilates/Yoga instructor
Pilates and Yoga are a form of exercise and meditation that many people actively practise across the world. Both disciplines often require holding various positions for lengthy periods and often focus on stretching and own body resistance.
To start your Yoga/Pilates business, you can rent out space from a local gym or hotel and offer classes or one-to-one sessions with your clients. You’ll need to be certified and understand how to teach a class (generally 5 – 15 in size). You’ll also need mats (unless clients bring their own).
To market this business, you should work with the space your renting to reach their existing client base (via commission structure) and particularly target the 25+ year old female demographic who make up the majority of the people who practice Pilates and Yoga.
76. Martial arts instructor
Self-defence and martial arts courses are always popular. Martial arts instructors provide expert instruction in one or several martial arts such as Karate, Kung Fu or Krav Maga.
To start martial arts instructing, you’ll need a high level of skill in a particular martial art, find a flexible space to rent and have the training pads/flooring necessary to martial arts training. You’ll also need to make sure you’re fully insured (high risk of injury/accident) and are certified to teach a martial art.
Marketing should be locally focused via newspapers, newsletters or by partnering with local schools, universities and colleges to teach students. It’s worth targeting a niche to set yourself apart; female defence training would be a particularly popular niche at the moment.
77. Dance instructor
Dance instructors run classes varying in size from 10 – 30 people on all forms of dance including ballet, salsa, tango, modern ballroom and more.
Starting as a dance instructor or a dance academy is relatively straightforward, you’ll need a background in a specific type of popular dance, to create a range of dance programmes for different levels of skill, then find a space you can rent out as needed (local community centres are a regular hub for dance classes). To market this business, you can advertise in the local paper, local magazines or through community groups.
It’s worth noting that dance classes are extremely popular among elderly couples (high level of expendable income and available time). To reach this group, you should look into partnering with nursing homes and your local church.
78. Personal shopper
Personal shoppers either work for a retail store or client directly. Their role is to advise clients on what to buy, also in some cases help them carry these goods around a store (typically department stores, i.e. Selfridges). Personal shoppers may also go out on a clients behalf and purchase goods for them based on a brief (typically focusing on fashion and jewellery purchases).
To start your personal shopping empire is relatively simple; it’s a purely service-based business relying on your knowledge of the latest goods that can be bought and what would work for different clients.
The market for this extends from the middle class to the upper class, from little old ladies who need help carrying bags to those who are too busy to shop for themselves. Marketing for personal shopping work is a relationships game, so get your party hat on and make some well to do friends. You can also partner with various well-known stores and suppliers to access their client base.
79. Tour guide
Tourism is big business in the UK if you’re based in a historical or major city there’s money to be made from providing guided tours of landmarks and historical sites. There’s even a market for social histories tours, i.e. Jack the Ripper tours in London.
To get started as a tour guide, you’ll need to have specialist knowledge of the area you plan to take tourists around and setup predefined routes/information to provide on the tour. You’ll also need to have a Blue Badge qualification and put in place the necessary public liability insurance. First aid training is also advisable so that you can provide necessary aid in the event someone becomes ill on one of your tours.
You can market your tourism business by working with the local tourist office or by simply having a sign and waiting in a popular tourist location for groups. Partnering with museums and other tourist relevant organisations is also an option. Digitally you can offer tours via platforms like Airbnb, where they offer these services when people book accommodation (walking/hiking tours are very popular on this platform, as always they do take a fee for any tours booked).
80. Event/Party planner
Party planning for events such as weddings and 60th birthdays are in demand. A party planner organises locations, catering, security and all other bits and bobs it takes to throw a great party or event (taking the stress and load of the hosts).
This business is predominantly service-based as you are the organiser, you will, however, need to source supplies for different events and parties (the client will pay for these, if you buy wholesale you can also make a margin on these supplies). To start with party planning, you’ll need to build relationships with all needed suppliers and put together basic formats/plans for typical events.
This business is primarily marketed through word of mouth referrals, so tap your local network for your first few jobs. From there, you can invest in digital marketing for local search traffic related to party planning and build up content to establish yourself as a go-to planner in the event/party planner in the local area.
81. Mystery shopper
Retailers care about what their customers think. However, it can be difficult for them to get feedback about the shopping experience in their stores from traditional market research (how many customers want to fill in questionnaires).
With a positive shopping experience being heavily linked to overall sales and customer loyalty, the phenomenon of mystery shopping came into existence to help retailers understand how customers view their shopping experience.
Mystery shopping is where a person or team of people are paid to visit a retailers shop, purchase goods, assess the interior and ask customer service people for help. During this process, they are assessing the shopping experience across several aspects, then providing a report to the retailer.
Setting up a mystery shopping company requires you to build relationships with local businesses, sell them in and then source/pay individuals to act as mystery shoppers. You effectively act as the middleman between the retailer and the mystery shopper, summarising information and providing valuable market research/insights on shopping experience to the retailer.
Students commonly take up mystery shopping jobs (although wider demographics made be required for some jobs), so try reaching out to advertise through your local universities or c
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