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10 small business ideas for 2024

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From making a bit of extra cash on the side to enjoying the freedom of working for yourself, there are lots of reasons you might want to set up a small business in 2024.

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There are plenty of business opportunities available. How about becoming a gardener, for instance?

The first thing you need to decide is what sort of business you want to run. As the 4.31 million self-employed workers in the UK know, choosing the right start-up idea is crucial to the success of your business. 

Why not draw some inspiration from our list of some of the best businesses to start this year?

These unsecured and secured loans could help you grow your business, cover running costs or even fund a new company.

1. Social media consultancy

An online presence is indispensable for businesses of all sizes in 2024. And social media is one of the easiest and most effective ways for small businesses to market their services. 

So, if you enjoy social media, you could set yourself up as a social media consultant. 

Ways to get started include joining a social media management service such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite, setting up business profiles on the main platforms to showcase your skills, and taking a digital marketing course – these range from quick online courses to recognised qualifications that take a few months to complete.

2. Dog walking

After surging during the pandemic, pet ownership in the UK remains high, with approximately 57% of households having at least one type of animal. 

Of these, 31% have a dog, meaning dog walkers are in high demand across the country.

Advantages of this idea include the absence of official training requirements, ease of finding customers and the potential to charge up to £25 per hour.

You can also increase your profits by offering pet-sitting services when your clients go away.

However, it’s vital to only take on as many dogs as you can handle and to take out dog walking insurance to cover you in case of any problems.

According to Defra Animal Activity Licensing rules, you also need certain qualifications to look after someone else’s pet in your own home. 

3. Virtual assistant services

Lots of small businesses now outsource their admin to off-site virtual assistants, who charge around £30 an hour to remotely handle tasks such as diary management and bookkeeping.

If you have experience in a related field, you can also offer specialist services, such as marketing, potentially at a higher rate.

It’s an accessible business start-up idea for people from a range of backgrounds, especially as you can use platforms such as Upwork to find clients that are a good match for your skill set. 

And, as you build up your client base, you can expand by creating a virtual assistant agency and managing a team of people who also work from home.

4. Removals

Tens of thousands of people move house every month in the UK. 

So, if you are fit and strong, and happy to drive a van in both urban areas and on long journeys, then setting up a business helping people to move home could prove a profitable venture.

You need van insurance as well as cover for any accidental damage to the items you transport. Like all businesses, you should also consider different types of business insurance – just in case something goes wrong.

5. Sewing and alterations

While sewing machines were commonplace in UK households 50 years ago, they are much rarer now. 

This means there are plenty of opportunities for budding tailors and seamstresses willing to take on jobs. This might range from making a bespoke set of curtains to shortening a pair of jeans.

All you need is a good sewing machine and some basic supplies, such as thread, and you’re ready to go. 

However, it might be worth teaming up with local clothes shops or dry cleaners as a way of kicking off your client list.

6. Gardening

From mowing lawns to creating landscape features such as rockeries and ponds, gardening can be a varied and highly satisfying occupation – as long as you enjoy being outdoors in all weathers. 

Start-up costs can involve investing in some gardening equipment, as well as a van to transport it, but in the early days, you might be able to use your customers’ equipment to do most jobs. 

The going rate for gardening services varies depending on location and the type of service offered but averages out at about £25 an hour.

And with recent figures suggesting Britons spend hundreds of pounds on their gardens during the summer months alone, you should have no shortage of clients on your books.

7. Catering

A home-catering service is an easy small business to set up if you enjoy spending time in the kitchen. 

However, if you’re planning to work on a commercial scale, you'll need a certified and hygiene-rated kitchen equipped to produce your chosen sweet or savoury dishes. 

Once that’s sorted, you can sell your creations at local markets and use social media to find online customers.

It’s sensible to start off small to grow your reputation and build up a bank of positive reviews. But once you have some experience, you can up your profits by fulfilling specialist orders, such as wedding cakes and breakfasts.

8. Tutoring

If you’re an expert in a particular field – whether that’s physics or playing the drums – you could make money by sharing your knowledge as a tutor.

You don’t need any formal qualifications, although most people prefer a tutor who can offer proof of their proficiency in the subject concerned. 

And as tutoring can now be done remotely via services such as Zoom, there are no geographical limits on who you can teach.

If you’re interested in tutoring online, platforms such as MyTutor or Tutor House are great for finding prospective clients. 

If you’d rather tutor in person, then local schools and colleges are a good place to start.

9. Online sales

Feeling creative? You can use websites such as Etsy to sell everything from candles to clothes.

There are various fees to pay when you make a sale online, but on Etsy listing an item only costs £0.16, so you can scope out the level of demand for your creations without breaking the bank.

And you can increase the online visibility of your wares for free via platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

10. Photographs

A picture can speak a thousand words, which is why skilled photographers are in demand everywhere, with clients ranging from restaurants to estate agents. 

You’ll need a decent camera and photo editing software package to get started. Plus, ideally, a few extras, such as a drone or a studio where you can shoot professional headshots. 

If you’re struggling to find work, you can also take pictures designed for stock image websites such as Shutterstock, which businesses use to buy photos for their websites and blogs.

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