More people are deciding to work for themselves – throwing their energy into their own small business in a bid for greater flexibility and control over allocation of their time.
There are more than four million self-employed workers in the UK – a number that has grown steadily over the past two decades.
But if you’re thinking of going it alone, what are the best small business ideas that require minimal set-up costs and professional training? We’ve compiled 15 of the most popular:
If you’re an expert in a particular field – whether it’s maths, languages or playing the violin – you could make money teaching.
You don’t need any formal qualifications to be a tutor but some students (or their parents) may expect you to have a degree. Some previous experience of teaching is probably also useful.
Tutoring is now more accessible than ever with remote lessons via Zoom or the like widely accepted. You can also opt to go solo or join a tutoring platform. While you’ll probably have to pay to list online, taking this approach is likely to widen your client base.
2. Pet care
Animal lovers could consider setting up a pet-sitting business – whereby you spend time with clients’ pets while they’re at work or on holiday. This could be at their home or yours.
If you have the space at home for the right equipment you could invest in a grooming business – or, if not, the mobile equivalent. Dog walkers are also in high demand and, other than trust and reliability, don’t require any special credentials.
3. Home cleaning and gardening
Cleaning and gardening is flexible when it comes to earning extra cash. You might want to take your own cleaning supplies (which can be factored into the price) but equally, it’s acceptable to ask the client to provide them.
You can think about adding laundry or ironing services if it might boost your earnings. For gardening, diversification could mean design, landscaping or garden clearance.
4. Cake making
Talented at baking and decorating cakes? Or perhaps artisan sourdough is more up your street? It’s possible to turn skills like this into a successful business.
However, if you’re preparing food in your home to sell to the public you will need a food hygiene certificate and you’ll need to register with the environmental health department at your local council. Think about the best ways to market your new business through local press, for example, and on social media.
5. Personal training
Personal trainers are part workout and part motivational experts. It’s their job to develop workout plans to help clients either lose weight or meet other fitness goals.
Training and qualifications are necessary if you want to work in a gym or as a freelance PT – which will take time and money. But it could pay off, with trainers earning anything from £40 to £50 an hour or more depending on your location and target market. As well as 1-2-1 sessions, you could take group classes and bootcamps, too.
6. Personal assistant services
Workers who thrive on organisation and an Excel spreadsheet could flourish offering services to individuals or businesses and company execs.
Tasks might involve organising a diary or calendar, booking travel and other tickets and appointments, as well as other personal admin tasks which save the client precious time.
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7. Sewing and alterations
If you’re talented with a needle and thread, you could set up a business sewing and making alterations for the many who don’t have the skills.
While alterations alone could keep you busy, you might specialise in a particular area, such as handmade wedding and bridesmaid dresses or dance costumes.
You will need to invest in a high quality sewing machine and some basic materials and supplies. You could look to partner up with a local dry cleaner or laundry business as a way of broadening your client base.
8. Copywriter or editor
Most businesses have an online presence – but many won’t be au fait with blog writing, customer emails or website content. It will need to be written and edited by a professional.
If you have experience in writing, all you’ll need is a laptop and a good internet connection. Many writers and editors market their services on LinkedIn or other business social media groups. You could also directly contact businesses to offer your services.
9. Photographer or videographer
This is a great business for creatives with an eye for composition. You can be a generalist or choose to specialise – such as creating training videos for corporate clients, for example.
You’ll need to invest in some high-quality camera equipment and lighting accessories – or for a videography business, a good digital video camera, lights, microphones and bounce boards to achieve the best quality footage.
Those who are great with numbers could consider freelance bookkeeping. Bookkeepers sell their services to small businesses that need help managing their accounts, preparing payroll and gathering data for tax purposes.
You’ll need to be well-organised and fully understand the liabilities that can come with handling someone’s finances.
If you can create a successful blog and build up your subscriber numbers it is possible to monetise it. The most successful bloggers can make an annual salary out of it.
There are different ways to make money from a blog, such as through advertising, affiliate links or subscriptions. Research options and successful blogs and bloggers to find the best route.
If you’re fit, strong and patient, all you’ll need to set up a removals business is a van. However, this line of work is very physically demanding. You’ll also have to be comfortable driving long distances and with busy city driving – as well as parking.
You’ll need liability and van insurance to cover yourself for all eventualities.
13. Market stall
Market stalls can make serious money – if you’re in the right environment with the right products. Whether that’s a food or farmers’ market, antiques or craft fair, you’ll need to book and pay for your pitch, as well as make or source your stock.
14. Setting up a virtual shop
Buying and selling online is probably one of the easiest businesses to start. And finding a market niche should help your business succeed.
If you make your own items to sell you could use Etsy, which is an online marketplace for unique and individual, often handmade goods. Setting up an Etsy shop is straightforward although you’ll need to factor in the transaction fees with each sale.
15. Car cleaning and valeting
This type of business can be set up with very low overheads. You’ll need vehicle cleaning equipment – and your own transportation if you are going to offer a mobile service – but there won’t be many other costs.
Liability and legal expenses insurance are important in case of disputes over accidental damage to customers’ vehicles.
By Jo Thornhill