Although there’s been much uncertainty since the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, one thing is sure – the world is a different place. Consumers have adapted their habits over the past year and changed how they live, resulting in exciting opportunities for new business owners taking their first steps in innovation and entrepreneurship.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of new companies registered in the UK soared in the first quarter of 2021 (January to March), with a 14% increase in new businesses created compared to the same three-month period in 2020. Many more may be on the cards as trends that emerged throughout the pandemic present new prospects. Here we look at seven post-Covid business types to launch out of lockdown.
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Health and wellbeing
While lockdowns made lots of people feel lethargic, not everyone lost their get-up and go. In fact, with gyms closed around the country, fitness fans started exercising at home. TV’s ‘Body Coach’ Joe Wicks encouraged families to work out in their living rooms, and the sale of home gym equipment soared. The NHS Couch to 5K app also saw more than 858,000 downloads from March to June 2020 – a 92% increase compared to 2019.
There was a surge in sales of vitamin D supplements in the past year, as rumours spread that the sunshine vitamin could help prevent coronavirus. Post-Covid, setting up an e-commerce business selling vitamins and supplements and other health foods could be a winner, or why not consider being an online fitness instructor? And don’t dismiss the potentially lucrative idea of dropshipping gym and exercise equipment, accessories and clothing.
When it’s safe to do so, many employers will be encouraging their teams to return to the workplace. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has proved that work can also be done efficiently at home, even when the whole family are perched around a kitchen table. With long commutes a distant memory and people enjoying a new work-life balance, homes are increasingly being adapted to include space for a study or home office.
Enterprising entrepreneurs who can convert sheds, garages and attics themselves or project manage building work could benefit from this growing trend. Decorators and interior designers may be able to offer their services too, as can arty business owners who are skilled at designing motivational prints or pinboards to hang on walls and the all-important desk tidy. An e-commerce site selling home office wares and equipment is another potential goldmine.
A staggering 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, so there are now around 12 million dogs and the same number of cats living in homes across the country. After Covid-19, when new dog owners return to work or start travelling overseas, dog walkers and sitters are sure to see a spike in the number of enquiries.
As a nation of animal lovers – research suggests dog owners spend almost £100 a year on gifts for their pets – it’s a trend that could be profitable for entrepreneurs. Bakers could turn their hand to making tasty dog treats, and embroiderers simply need to stitch a pet name on a blanket or towel. If you make personalised birthday cards, don’t forget to include designs with dog breeds that proved popular during the pandemic.
Hobbies and pastimes
With many furloughed employees having more spare time, and individuals focusing more on their own wellbeing, people discovered different ways to fill their days by taking up a new hobby. There may be an opportunity to monetise your hobby and sell your wares to others.
Neilsen BookScan, the official book sales monitor, reported that the UK book market showed an estimated growth of 5.2% during 2020, so if you enjoy creative writing, maybe it’s time to write your first novel. Home baking saw a boom too – a YouGov survey revealed 53% of the nation baked during the first lockdown – so perhaps compiling a recipe book or making cakes is a good business option.
If you’ve been improving your photography techniques, and you’re confident enough to take wedding photos, post-Covid there will be lots of marriages and civil partnerships with everyone eager to pose. And crafters who have been making face masks: could you expand this to dressmaking or a clothes-altering business?
The Government’s Covid-19 travel restrictions have also affected people’s shopping habits. Advised to stay locally, consumers have shopped closer to home, visiting local shops and buying local produce. Communities’ eagerness to support smaller and independent businesses has been key to this continuing trend, as has the growing desire to live more sustainably.
It’s an encouraging trend for new business owners – potential customers will be on your doorstep. If you can sell goods made from local ingredients – perhaps honey from your own bees, cider from your apple trees or jumpers knitted using wool from local farms – even better. Successful entrepreneurs also know the importance of personalised customer service, especially if you rely on word-of-mouth recommendations.
The gardening trend that bloomed during the pandemic looks like it’s here to stay. According to research by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), almost three million new gardeners sprung up during 2020 as people used their outside space to unwind, enjoy time with family and grow their own vegetables. Being allowed to socialise outdoors saw an increase in demand for garden furniture, as well as patio heaters and hot tubs, and the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 was the biggest ever, with over one million people taking part.
Dropshipping rattan sofas or barbecues, especially with summer approaching, could be a new business option. Or perhaps green-fingered entrepreneurs could help with garden designing and planting. Creating personalised gift boxes containing seeds, twine, gloves and secateurs may also be a profitable idea.
Before lockdowns, the Generation X brigade thought of an ice lolly when someone mentioned the word Zoom. Now, however, only the video conferencing service comes to mind – in November 2020, the number of daily active UK users of Zoom reached approximately 1.7 million. With virtual chats, meetings and conferences becoming part and parcel of post-pandemic life, new technology trends are sure to continue, even with everyone desperate to meet up face-to-face.
Entrepreneurs starting up a new business should take advantage of customers’ acceptance of the new normal virtual world, where a teacher in Cornwall can easily teach history to a student based in the Scottish Highlands. The online opportunities are endless, from yoga classes and cooking demonstrations to basket weaving workshops and plumbing tutorials. Skilled PAs could consider becoming a virtual assistant too.
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:
- Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
- First steps in innovation and entrepreneurship
- Entrepreneurial behaviour
- Entrepreneurial impressions – reflection
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.