Although rising costs and economic uncertainty might make budding business owners hesitant to take the next step, there is evidence to suggest that now could be the perfect time to get started.
The Centre for Economics Business Research forecasts opens in new window that the number of new businesses in the UK will increase by 342,000 in the next two years.
With falling inflation rates opens in new window and emerging technologies, 2024 could be the year to start your own business.
However, each start-up business owner is different – and you’ll need to invest time in developing a sound business plan opens in new window to help give your new venture the best start.
Thanks to emerging trends that new business owners could capitalise on – as well as universal reasons for striking out on your own opens in new window – 2024 could be the year your start-up dream comes to life.
2024 business trends
Here are five trends for 2024 that could help your start-up succeed or open up commercial opportunities through new ways of working in the year ahead.
According to a UK government study opens in new window, one in six UK businesses use artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as chatbots and generative text platforms to support various activities, such as writing, coding, and producing images.
AI and automation tools such as ChatGPT opens in new window, Google Bard opens in new window, and Zapier opens in new window can be invaluable to new business owners because they give access to expertise you might not have and can produce content and information quickly.
Some tools can also automate tasks, speeding up the process and helping you focus on the things you do best.
However, results produced by AI tools can be incorrect, and there are other commercial considerations, such as ownership and privacy issues opens in new window, that you may want to investigate.
Read our guide on the free AI tools that can help your business opens in new window.
More than half of UK consumers say that sustainability is important to society opens in new window, and 18% said that they make it a priority in their daily lives.
According to Deloitte opens in new window, 40% of consumers shop specifically from brands with environmentally sustainable practices and values.
Small businesses can use this drive for sustainability opens in new window as a selling point to attract new customers.
This could turn into increased sales, lead generation, and brand trust opens in new window.
While the economy hasn’t been growing rapidly, interest in green products, sustainability, and reducing energy usage opens in new window is still important as consumers and businesses look to reduce costs and lower their environmental impact.
This has led to trends in upcycling, repairs, restoration, and recycling services opens in new window – from furniture restoration to collecting commercial waste – and opened up a new avenue for new business ventures.
Soft skills upskilling
You can improve your start-up by investing in training courses opens in new window or guides to improve these soft skills, which might help give your business an edge.
Improving your people skills can make it easier to understand customer needs and provide a positive consumer experience opens in new window.
Alternatively, you could consider how to deliver soft skills training and support to other businesses, such as via coaching and training.
Discover how Start Up Loans can help you improve your business skills. opens in new window
New businesses often need extra financing to purchase equipment and inventory, pay suppliers, or expand their operations.
Many start-ups think their only choice for funding is to receive a business loan opens in new window from a high street bank or credit lender, but there are plenty of other options – and many more alternative routes to raising money for your new business than in previous decades.
You might secure a loan from an online lender, a crowdfunding site opens in new window, or a specialist lending platform such as Start Up Loans.
Learn more about our funding options opens in new window.
Prioritising customer experience
To turn one-time shoppers into repeat business opens in new window, you could prioritise the customer experience – with customer service continuing to be a key part of business operations.
One way to do this is by gathering feedback opens in new window throughout the purchasing process and identifying opportunities for improvement.
You might also provide incentives for customer input, with rewards programmes and prizes.
These actions might make your customers feel listened to and valued, making them more likely to return.
The good news is there are lots of free or cheap tools that help you get valuable feedback – from customer review sites to online surveys – that can help you get useful insights over the year ahead.
When is the right time to start my business?
While annual trends may open the door to new business opportunities, starting a business can happen at any time – though it pays to ensure you have the relevant skills opens in new window, support, and plans in place.
But how do you know when everything is in place and whether 2024 could be the year you get your business off the ground?
Here are some signs that 2024 is the right time to get started.
You know how to be your own boss
Starting your own business means managing yourself and staying on top of a range of tasks.
Before beginning your start-up journey, you need to be sure you have the determination and organisational skills to lead your project.
A strong support network, such as family or a mentor, can also help you manage your business.
You may have also developed self-motivation and organisational skills thanks to increased working from home where, as an employee, you have to operate your own virtual office.
You may be able to capitalise on that trend in 2024 and move from employee to business owner, operating initially from home.
You have a strong business idea
Every successful start-up begins with a business idea opens in new window.
This should be something you know a lot about and are passionate about, but it also needs to be profitable.
Customer demand and costs are the two biggest factors determining whether your start-up could make money.
To better understand if you have a strong business idea, you could look at existing businesses and estimate your start-up costs.
You can also use tools such as AI platforms opens in new window to generate ideas to consider, using trending technology to launch an AI-generated business idea in 2024.
You’ve conducted market research
Market research opens in new window can tell you if there is a demand for your product or services, which could help you refine your business so that it fills customers’ needs.
You can look up information about potential customers and your competitors opens in new window to discover where your business can fit in.
Access to information – from official filings with Companies House opens in new window to checking out the social media profiles of your competitors – makes this research easier to reach than previously.
You have a realistic business plan
A business plan explains your objectives opens in new window and how you might achieve them.
It might highlight potential problems, identify gaps in the market opens in new window, and provide information on securing a loan or investment.
You have adequate funding
The most common reason start-ups fail opens in new window is because they run out of cash or fail to raise new capital.
This often happens because they underestimate expenses or don’t take advantage of funding opportunities opens in new window.
It can be a good idea to consider a business loan opens in new window to help launch your business idea.
Start Up Loans is a government-backed programme that can provide business loans up to £25,000 to help you kickstart your small business.
Learn more about our business loans opens in new window.
You know how to promote your business
It can be difficult for your start-up to succeed if no one knows about it.
Luckily, there are more ways to market and promote opens in new window your business in 2024 than ever before.
You can use social media opens in new window, influencers, online networking resources, and traditional advertising campaigns opens in new window, such as flyers, billboards, and signs.
Look at emerging trends such as the rise of the metaverse and virtual reality to offer new, innovative promotional opportunities that capture customer imagination.
Some marketing methods will be more effective than others, so you need to know how to make the most of your time and resources.
Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.
- Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window
- First steps in innovation and entrepreneurship opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window
- Entrepreneurial behaviour opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window opens in new window 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.