There’s never been a better time to branch out and pursue the career you want, as your own boss.
There are record numbers of small business entrants across all sectors, particularly in the technical and professional sectors, as ambitious entrepreneurs invest in their own skills and ambitions. Here are 20 business ideas that you can set up with your money today:
1. Dog walking
With no experience needed, this is a job that is surprisingly lucrative; wouldn’t you want to spend a few pounds a week to prevent your pooch messing on the floor and give him some well-needed exercise? It’s also a job that can be done at most times of the day, at weekends, and with friends and family. You could advertise in your local newspaper or through social media.
2. Freelance writing
While print writing might be on the wane, there are rich pickings as a start up idea for blog and copy writers who can write well and quickly, perhaps as a part time business. Many sites are desperate to populate their web pages with content for SEO purposes, but don’t necessarily have the time to fill it themselves. You’ll need to know how to research efficiently and how to tailor your prose to fit in with the site’s tone of voice. Try specific freelance portals such as Upwork for writing.
…or indeed you could do something similar with design and development skills. If you have knowledge of coding and website creation, allied to the ability of making it look nice and contemporary, then you are gold dust – and well-paid gold dust at that. Build a site showing your qualifications and portfolio, and your specifications: UX, UI, programming, or whatever other skillset you boast.
If you’ve got experience in photography you’ll know that websites are desperate for attractive, interesting pictures to capture eyeballs and views, and not everyone wants to go through Shutterstock and other portals (although if you do upload your shots there and they’re of a good enough quality it could be a lucrative decision). You’ll find opportunities for site promotion, event coverage, charities, social media sites and other companies. Even newspapers might still be looking for talent, while wedding and event photographers will always be needed. Invest in building up a strong website and social media promotion to showcase your eye for a good photo.
5. Tutoring or lecturing
If you’ve left a previous job that required expertise, then why not continue to utilise these skills and pass them on to others – while making money from it? Universities, sixth form colleges and secondary schools are always on the lookout for subject specialists, either on a regular basis or as a one-off agreement on a specific topic.
As a lecturer your role will also include interviewing applicants and invigilating examinations, so it’s worth trying to link up with local schools or colleges to see if they can bring you in, or recommend you, when needed. Private tutors are also always in demand – with parents increasingly keen to ensure their children don’t get behind in class.
6. Decorator or painter
While there’s no need for qualifications as such, certifications in plastering, carpentry, and tiling through to a working knowledge of engineering and plumbing can all come in handy and impress potential clients. A strong reputation is vital. So learning to be realistic in your valuation of jobs and consistent in the quality of your work is paramount, especially in the early stages of your SME. As well as tools and vehicles, you might need assistants to help out with the bigger jobs, and they might need paying up-front. Your loan should also cover branding, a website and social media management.
7. Personal trainer
If you’ve worked at a gym and thought that you could do things better yourself, then you’ve already got a good business idea that’s almost fully-formed. In fact, going alone and travelling to client’s homes is often more convenient for them. That’s especially true if they’re disabled or elderly, where they might need exercise that doubles up as physiotherapy.
Alternatively, set up your own premises that will offer a more personalised, specialised service than the big chains can provide. Your loan could pay for equipment, branding and marketing to reach your audience. And don’t forget to record sessions – a YouTube training regime could help those who want a quick fitness fix at all hours of the day.
8. Life coach
This is a fairly loose term – and a massive, booming industry (about $1bn a year) – that actually incorporates aspects of several other jobs in this list. Many life coaches arrive at their coaching career late in life, having built up a reputation in another career or as an entrepreneur. Essentially, your job as a coach is to make people shape their future towards their dreams, no matter what they might be.
There’s a strong market for small businesses in going to people’s homes, and many will pay for the convenience of a stylist’s visit. Again, investment in equipment such as specific chairs and rental of premises (if you launch your own premises) might require borrowing. Use social media strongly and try to team up with local beauty therapists or similar.
According to the Money Advice Service, the average cost of sending a child under two to nursery for a week is £222.36 full time, or £116.25 part-time. Clearly these costs vary depending on location and need, but for any person passionate about setting up a business to look after our young people it’s a very rewarding idea. That said, this is a business that will need careful planning and up-front costs, not least finding premises and modifying them to make sure they are legally permissible for childcare.
As well as writing there’s also a great demand for readers; people who can spot mistakes and eliminate them from both print and online copy, for anything from site content to research papers. A strong knowledge of grammar and spelling is obviously essential, as is an ability to craft and naturalise prose, as many of those looking for proofreaders may not be native English writers. If you’re a fast enough reader and writer you could earn £20-30 an hour – work that out over a week and it could be a side line that blossoms into a full business. Take it a stage further by offering to help people build CVs/cover letters and coaching students to improve essay writing skills
12. Blogger or vlogger
What do I do that’s worth writing about or recording, you may ask? That question was probably asked by Alfie Deyes, Pewdiepie, and these bloggers many moons ago, and now they’re dragging in huge amounts of money each month. The key is to be consistent in what you create; show enjoyment in the way you deliver it; and look for sponsorship from partners or via a prolific YouTube subscription base. The key purpose of the loan could pay for your website construction or camera technology, or help finance the time that you put in to establish your channels.
If you’re the friendly person that people approach when they need a birthday or anniversary cake rustled up, then it might be time take it up full time. This is a profession where presentation, networking and word of mouth are everything, alongside good products, of course. Therefore, taking the courses that you need to create stunning results in piping or pastry might put you to the top of the pack. You’ll need premises that are fit to be inspected for hygiene certificates, which will mean professional storage areas.
14. Tour guide
How much do you know about your town, city or area? Know the true places of interest that visitors would never get near, and are able to articulate and quickly answer questions on them? You have the core of a business, if you can differentiate yourself from others already doing the same. Try to use contacts to give your tour a little more value, such as snacks or drinks at local restaurants and bars of note and quirky extras that not everyone will know.
15. Business advisor
An experienced manager, finance director, accountant, or lawyer can certainly help other people build their own business, from an embryonic idea through to attracting funding to setting up the structure and paying taxes. A knowledge of multiple sectors (or at least a working knowledge) will be helpful for you and clients, and don’t forget that it’s not just advice; putting people in touch with strong contacts that can further their chances is vital. Word of mouth and good reviews will give you the best possible chance, especially if your clients’ businesses genuinely flourish.
16. Financial advisor
With interest rates at a crushing low, investors are looking for new areas to place their money. Your role as an advisor is not just to know the various markets and options, but the investor and their attitude towards risk. Therefore, people skills are as important as financial knowledge of worldwide markets, alongside an ability to create comprehensive reports on the potential growth or decline of funds.
17. Bed and breakfast
If you’re lucky enough to own a home with several bedrooms (or able to buy one), and of an age where you’re happy to stay and look after a business 24/7, then hosting others and making good money from it could be a good way to make a steady income. There’s no doubt that this is a big challenge and somewhat of a juggling act, because you’ll need to be good at running finances and arranging to clean rooms and deal with emergencies while remaining approachable. Research, and by extension the likely success of the venture, is everything if you want to be profitable.
18. Yoga or meditation instructor
The western world has slowly come around to the fact that yoga and meditation are beneficial for health and mental well-being. In fact, many successful people start their morning by stretching their bodies and concentrating their minds, preparing them for their day ahead. Some companies are even bringing instructors in for lunch and evening sessions because of the productivity benefits. If it’s something that interests you, then start by taking an accredited course and networking, and consider either visiting homes, renting premises, or setting up an online channel – or all three.
Artistic, creative people have never had so many avenues to sell their products. From painting to clothing to ornaments to gadgets, the internet has given us all a chance to make a living. You might run your shop with quite a broad spectrum of products from a wide range of sources, or you might be more of a niche seller. The key to this is promotion, through a strong website that ranks well in search engines and also possible investment in pay per click (PPC) advertising. Network at events, spend time gaining partnerships if they can be of benefit, and be prepared for both fallow months and times of great demand.
20. Removal company
To be a successful removal company you first need a van (or possibly vans), capable of safely storing objects of multiple sizes and weights. You need to be careful, physically fit and able to manipulate and move items from top floors of flats into a car down below. The main hallmarks of a good removals company are care and consideration, and realism – a single van might not be suitable for moving the possessions of a nine-bedroom mansion.
Also, being a good, punctual driver is a bonus!
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 opens in new window include:
- Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
- First steps in innovation and entrepreneurship opens in new window
- Entrepreneurial behaviour opens in new window
Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.
Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst 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.