21 winning business ideas for 2021

If you're considering starting a new business but need some inspiration around what service or product to focus on, here's our list of business ideas that you might be able to launch with success during 2021.

Covid-19 has rewritten the rules of starting a business. Online shopping, home delivery and video chat over broadband have opened up new business opportunities. If you’re stuck for inspiration in 2021, Start Up Loans has rounded up 21 business ideas for you to consider.


The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and the way we live. Amid the gloom of businesses being affected, new start-up opportunities are emerging. Start-ups are taking advantage of growing Covid-19 related trends and changes in how customers are buying services and products.

Aspiring entrepreneurs working from home are making the most of online marketplaces to remotely offering services such as tutoring and fitness classes. At the same time, small businesses are poised to capitalise on any economic bounce-back once restrictions are lifted.

Read on to find 21 business ideas worth exploring for the year ahead.

Want to learn more about what it takes to launch a business?

Discover the personal aspects involved in starting a new business with our free Entrepreneurial behaviour course. As part of our Learn with Start Up Loans partnership with The Open University, our online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.


21 business ideas for 2021


1. Subscription recipe boxes

With many people missing eating out, look to bring the restaurant experience home – and cut down on food waste – by delivering recipe subscription boxes.

Identify a niche area, such as vegan pizza-making recipe boxes, and cater for a well-researched audience. Discover more about setting up your own business with our free Learn with Start Up Loans course Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality.


2. Letterbox subscriptions

It’s not just food – subscription box suppliers deliver beauty treats, flowers, coffee capsules and even dishwasher detergents. For example, two teenage entrepreneurs in Northamptonshire recently set up a children’s book subscription service, Happier Ever Chapter by Mbawa Books.

Brainstorm a niche market or product that customers regularly buy and that you could deliver.


3. Walk new four-legged friends

Before the pandemic, 24% of the UK adult population owned a dog, according to research by People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). The charity found that this number soared by around 200,000 in 2020 and now over 10.1 million dogs need daily exercise.

When new pet owners return to workplaces, there is likely to be an increased demand for dog walkers. Expect to charge between £5 and £20 per walk per dog.

Read our guide to discover how to set up a dog-walking business.


Young woman on a walk in the countryside with three small dogs on leads

Why not consider starting your own dog-walking business?


4. Offer a dog-sitting service

Dog owners who may not have left their dog home alone during lockdown may prefer constant company for their beloved pooch when businesses reopen.

As a dog day-care provider, you could charge around £25 to £40 per dog per day, and more if you offer to board for when families go on overseas holidays again.


5. Run an online fitness class

Why exercise on your own when others can join in and pay you for the pleasure? Whether you teach yoga, Zumba or high-intensity interval training (HIIT for short), hosting a virtual fitness workout – either a Zoom live stream or pre-recorded session – could turn you into the next Joe Wicks.


A woman doing aerobic exercises while staying at home

Online fitness classes have proved extremely popular during the coronavirus pandemic


6. Set up an online craft stall on Etsy

If you have a talent for making unique greetings cards, candles, jewellery or cushions, you could sell your handicrafts online on Etsy, Folksy or The British Craft House, which launched with the help of a Start Up Loan. Careful planning will pay off if you make festive items such as Christmas wreaths.

For more tips, read our guide to making the most of seasonal peaks.


7. Be an online children’s entertainer

Parents often take on the role of a cook, taxi driver, nurse and, more recently, teacher – and no doubt entertainer can be added to the list. If you’re a budding magician, can sing or dance, or enjoy playing the fool, why not amuse kids by catering for the growing online party trend. There are no set requirements for becoming a children’s entertainer, but you may require a DBS check.


8. Grow your own gardening business

From planting bulbs to use in floral arrangements to propagating shrubs and growing herbs, green-fingered entrepreneurs can make the most of the nation’s new-found love of gardening.

Prefer to share your plant prowess? For a modest outlay, you could set up a YouTube channel, then film and publish ‘watch and learn’ videos. You earn money from ads that appear before and during videos on YouTube.


9. Test your tutoring skills

With school and university students anxious about grades, now is an ideal time to offer remote tutoring services. Whether you have chemistry expertise or English literature skills, GCSE tutors can expect to earn upwards of £35 per hour. Spread the word locally or use an online tutoring marketplace such as Tutorful or Superprof to find students.


10. Teach a foreign language

Few of us are booking holidays at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we’re not dreaming of travelling to faraway destinations or being fluent in, say, Spanish, Italian or Japanese.

Language-learning apps reported a 300% jump in new users during March 2020’s lockdown, so if you’ve got a good command of a foreign language, jump on the bandwagon and teach online. You could charge from £20 an hour for a beginner’s lesson.


11. Create a fun board game

Sales of board games and jigsaw puzzles soared by a staggering 240% during the first week of lockdown, and their popularity continues. Two dads living in Wales came up with the idea of Outsmarted!, a board game to reunite families virtually – it now has advance internet sales of nearly £1 million.

Think you have an innovative idea for a new business? Read our guide on how to evaluate your business idea.


12. Make a hobby profitable

Lockdowns have allowed us to indulge in our hobbies and try some new ones. So if you’ve recently discovered the joy of beekeeping or blanket weaving, why not continue doing what you love and earn some extra income?

If you’re not sure where to start, swot up by reading our guide on how to write a business plan.


13. Flaunt your interior design skills

Do guests always compliment you on your stylish home? If you have a talent for making curtains and cushions and an eye for matching colours, offer style advice and help others to turn a drab room into one that’s Instagram-worthy.


14. Draw on your artistic flair

Budding artists take note: a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters can charge anything up from £1,500 for a head and shoulders drawing, with renowned artists making in the region of £100,000. Paper and pencils may be all the investment required, but if you’re aiming high, consider renting a dedicated studio space.


15. Offer a memoir service

Everyone has a story to tell. As a good listener and creative writer, you could turn a person’s life journey into a treasured keepsake. It may be as simple as documenting photos and adding notes in a personalised album.


16. Self-publish your e-book

If you’ve longed to write a novel or a non-fiction book, consider publishing online – it may be easier than you think to earn money. It only takes five minutes to publish an e-book with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, and you can keep control of your rights and set your price. New authors often sell books for 99p initially then increase this amount as good reviews accumulate.


17. Find pre-loved items to upcycle

Whether it’s kitchen sideboards, vintage clothing or bikes, there is an increasing number of buyers for recycled items that have been carefully and creatively restored. Find free stuff online (perhaps via a local Facebook group), or look for communities with a swapping scheme.

For more advice, see our guide on how to sell products from home successfully.


18. Capture memories as a photographer

Many weddings and parties have been put on hold during the pandemic, so when lockdown restrictions ease, there’s sure to be lots of celebrations taking place. Photographers could be in high demand, so why not invest in a decent camera and start perfecting your technique now?

Find out why you’ll need public liability and professional indemnity insurance in our advice guide on how to start a photography business.


19. Build a business as a web developer

If you have an understanding of website technology, you could consider starting a business as a web developer. With up-and-coming entrepreneurs setting up new ventures and in need of a website to sell their wares, your programming skills could be much sought after. Freelance web developers with five years’ experience could earn between £35 and £70 an hour.


20. Get on your e-bike

E-bikes are currently the hottest thing on two wheels, with experts predicting there will be 10 million e-bike sales annually in Europe by 2025. Those with cycling foresight should consider the opportunities in this market, such as selling accessories, renting e-bikes or turning pedal-power bicycles into easy riders with the help of a converter kit.

Find out more about transforming ideas on our free Learn with Start Up Loans entrepreneurial behaviour course.


21. Support others as a mentor

Mentoring skills that you’ve acquired at work or on the sports field could be invaluable if you’d like to consider a new career as a professional business or lifestyle coach. If you’re always the first port of call when a friend or family member has a dilemma or are good at motivating others, then you can turn this into a rewarding business. Find out what other attributes are necessary on our free Exploring career mentoring and coaching course.


Learn with Start Up Loans and help your business get off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with The Open University on being an entrepreneur. Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, marketing, project management, management and leadership.


Disclaimer: While we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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