If you’re thinking about setting up your own small business then the first key decision that you’ll have to make is what type of business it will be.

Choosing the right business idea can be a very difficult prospect. You will undoubtedly want to do something that interests you, that maximises your knowledge and skills and of course, it will need to fit in with your budget and lifestyle. Finding a small business idea that meets all of these criteria can be a tall order and many people struggle to get past this first hurdle.

Don’t feel discouraged! We’re here to offer a helping hand and a few ideas to get you started…

Top business ideas for 2016

When you’re brainstorming ideas for your small business, a good place to start is to look at what the hottest new startups have been in 2016. By checking out what the most popular new businesses are currently, you can get a great idea of what types of small businesses are successful at the moment. Below are some of the key small business trends in the UK so far this year.

Online shops

With the low start-up costs and flexibility of being able to work from home, online shops have grown massively in popularity over the last few years. There are several companies out there who provide a great platform for online selling.

Hair and beauty

Britons are spending more than ever on hair and beauty. Whether it be manicures, make-overs, massages or more, now is the perfect time to find your own niche in the beauty market.

Food and drink

The rise of ‘the foodie’ has seen new small businesses in the food and drink industry pop up everywhere. Craft gin, subscription veg boxes and the like are hugely popular at the moment and so are the opportunities for any foodie entrepreneur in the making.

Box subscription services

Home delivered boxes are by no means limited to the food and drink industry. These days you can have subscriptions to beauty boxes, stationery boxes and even boxes of children’s toys. The choice is endless and the demand is growing.

Working from home business ideas

Working from home is no longer the distant dream that it used to be for most people. These days, more and more are looking for careers that have the flexibility to fit in with their increasingly hectic lifestyles. Often, that means being able to set up your office from home – or in fact from anywhere you feel like. If that sounds good to you, then take a look at the home business ideas below.

Freelancing

Whether it be writing, web design, marketing or make-up artistry… Freelancing gives you the opportunity to do whatever your particular passions and skills are – and from the comfort of your own home.

Childcare

Setting up a childcare business can be an especially attractive option for parents of young children. Once the necessary training and certification (link to https://www.gov.uk/register-childminder-childcare-provider/overview) is complete, a childcare business will give you the flexibilty of working from home whilst saving the cost childcare and getting to spend more time with your own children.

Coaching

Like freelancing, the options are almost limitless for a coaching business. Whatever your area of expertise is, perhaps a language, a musical instrument or a particular business skill, the chances are that there are people looking to learn. It may be that you set up coaching sessions from home or you could earn your income from online coaching and courses.

Selling homemade crafts

This is another great way to earn a living by doing something that you love. If you have a talent for creating, whether it be greeting cards, chutneys or knitted babywear, there is a huge market for high quality, homemade crafts. You can sell online, at craft fairs or through third party sellers.

Business ideas for students

With undergraduate tuition fees reaching as much as £9000 per year, more and more students are looking for ways to start earning before they graduate. If you’re a student with an entrepreneurial spirit then why not try one of these business ideas?

Organising student events

The ideal opportunity to benefit from the student ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle. Think club nights, film screenings, speed dating nights and more…

Essay and thesis proofreading

If you have the language skills and a great attention for detail then proofreading could be the ideal student business for you.

Pop-up supper club

If you’re a keen and competent cook then why not whip up some delicious, cheap meals for your fellow students and make a profit while you’re at it? All you need is a kitchen and enough space to seat people.

Delivery service

Helping other people save time can be a really valuable service, especially for students who have essay deadlines to meet! Whether you deliver someone’s groceries, emergency stationery supplies, late night beer run or breakfast MacDonalds, this is a great business idea for someone who likes variety and doesn’t mind unsociable hours.

Low cost business ideas

Setting up your own small business can be risky. Often, it means leaving the security of being an employee where you have the benefit of paid holidays, company pension and bonus schemes etc. Taking out big start-up loans can often be a risk too far so if you’re looking for ideas that won’t cost the earth then here’s a bit of inspiration.

Cleaning

A cleaning business is easy to set up. You just need your cleaning equipment and basic marketing such as some printed flyers or posters in shop windows.

Photography

There will be an initial outlay for your camera, lenses, tripod etc and if you’re not already an experienced photographer you’ll need to take some courses. Once you’re set up however, there are many opportunities to make good money with this business. Some of the options available are wedding photography, creating and selling stock photos, doing freelance work for magazines or setting up your own studio to do portrait work.

Gardening

A gardening business is a great choice for people who want to work outdoors. Again, there is an initial outlay for equipment but after that, running costs should remain relatively low.Business

Consultancy

Consultancy is big business these days and while the setup costs are small (especially if you’re working from a home office), it relies on your expertise and networking abilities for success. So if you’re an expert in your particular business field and you love to meet new people, then this could be for you.

How to evaluate your business idea

The eventual success (or failure) of your small business relies on many things. Your planning, your passion, your skill and of course the amount of work you’re prepared to put in. Arguably, the most important factor however, is the initial business idea itself. If your idea is fundamentally flawed, then all the planning, passion, skill and work in the world probably won’t save it. So how can you be sure that your idea is solid and likely to set you up for success?

Here are some key questions that you should ask yourself before you commit to any business idea;

  1. Is this something I want to do?
  2. Any new business requires a lot of work and commitment to succeed so if it isn’t something that you’ll enjoy then you’re probably setting yourself up to fail.
  3. Is this something I’m capable of doing? This question is important on two levels. Firstly, of course it’s important that if you’re setting up a manicuring business, you know how to do a manicure. Secondly, even if you can do something, if you don’t have enough belief or confidence in yourself, you’ll struggle to convince prospective customers.
  4. Can I do an elevator pitch for my business idea? You should have a really clear vision of what your business is for and be able to describe it to someone in a sentence or two. If you struggle to do this, then it probably needs a little more thought and focus.
  5. Who will my ideal customers be? Whatever your business is, you’ll need customers. Make sure you have a clear idea of who these people will be as this should influence your marketing, your branding and your product or service. If you don’t have a clear vision of who your customers will be, then spend some time on this before you commit to your business idea.
  6. Can my business idea be profitable? This is of course, key. You may have a great idea and it may be something that people really want but if you can’t make a profit, then it still won’t be a successful business idea. Work out your costs before you commit.

A great place to start when evaluating your business idea, is to write a business plan. In it, you will answer many of the above questions and spot any potential problems.

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