List Of Small Business Ideas
- Looking for a list of small business ideas?
Not sure of the best business start up idea, but still hoping to start a business?
Wondering if you might need more experience, money or time?
It's easy to get carried away with an idea for 'the perfect small business' and miss out on better and more appropriate opportunities.
So just in case you've overlooked something, here's a list of small business ideas to consider....
(In alphabetical order)
Aerobics or dance teacher
- You will usually work in leisure centres, community halls or in
private dance studios. Either way, most of these venues will not be
fitted out with luxury furnishings or facilities!
- A sense of humour is essential. No one wants to get fit and be miserable doing it!
- You'll need to rent premises in an easy to find location otherwise customers will go elsewhere.
- Flexible working hours but usually evenings and weekends, when your customers can get to your classes.
- Takes time to get established. Can your finances hold up for so long?
- Earnings potential depends on your ability. You need to build a strong reputation to attract new customers.
- Initial marketing and advertising costs will be high.
- There are lots of different associations - if you can get trained in various styles of dance you'll increase your options.
- You'll need to know about health and safety issues - your
business could be ruined if someone suffers serious injury whilst under
- You must be comfortable working with children and adults alike.
- Alternatively, see ymca fit , a site offering a range of ways to start a fitness or dance based career.
Antiques and collectibles dealer
- This idea takes a lot of time to research and set up, not to say
a fair amount of cash to inject into the business at the beginning.
- You'll need premises with plenty of space to store your stock
and easy car parking outside - customers won't want to walk far with
- You should store your stock in a location free of humidity or
strong sunlight - both of these can do irreparable damage to your
- You could search car boot sales for bargains - sellers often
don't know the value of their antiques. But be early, there will be
loads of other dealers with the same idea.
- Other sources of stock include Art and Antique Fairs, or even Ebay (as long as you can tell if it's a genuine item for sale!).
- Only include this in your list of small business ideas if you
have plenty of patience - you'll be hanging around waiting for customers
to decide to buy, for suppliers to agree to sell, or for auctions to
- Brush up your skills in negotiating if you choose to include this in your final list of small business ideas.
- Profits margins are tight so you'll have to buy stock you can sell quickly.
- You'll need reliable transport because you'll have to travel around finding the best deals.
- Britain accounts for around 30% of the global antiques market.
- You'll need to be physically strong to include this idea in your
list of small business ideas - some of those appliances are heavy!
- Good analytical skills needed - your reputation depends on fixing things first time.
- Engineering background and knowledge essential.
- Must be comfortable working in other people's homes.
- Choose your own hours but earnings depend on how many jobs you complete.
- You could be a painter, illustrator or both.
- If you have artistic flair you must include this idea in your list of small business ideas.
- You could specialise in watercolours or oils and sell your
paintings at craft fairs, car boot sales and through specialised niche
- Alternatively, you can concentrate on digital art.
- Logos, advertising, product displays, booklets, leaflets,
product branding, business letterheads and business cards, all need your
- You can create your own style and sell your work directly to the
public, commonly through internet channels - own websites, facebook,
flickr and so on, or at art exhibitions.
- You can sell to businesses directly.
- You should sell through the artists online website Etsy , if only for the recognition it brings you.
- Can be operated part time until enough skill is achieved to justify full time.
- Earnings fluctuate depending on the quality of work.
- Build a strong portfolio and show it to everyone you know!
- Work the hours that suit you best.
- You must be able to work alone for long periods of time if you include this in your final list of small business ideas.
- There's no doubt this small business idea will always have a constant demand from customers.
- If you like the idea of making startling changes to people's
appearance (and improving their self esteem) this might be the perfect
small business for you.
- But remember there's lots of others with the same idea. College courses on beauty skills/theory are very popular.
- On top of that, start up costs can spiral out of control if not carefully managed.
- Nevertheless it can be a lucrative business if set up in the right location and you can find plenty of loyal customers.
- It's essential to have some qualifications to show your prospective customers!
After all, would you trust anyone unqualified to 'work' on your body!
- If you're starting without qualifications you should consider going
into partnership with, or employing a qualified beauty therapist.
- Some local councils will refuse to provide a licence for you to trade if you're not qualified.
- You'll need to be aware of the Control Of Hazardous Substances regulations, be properly insured and take every precaution possible to avoid injuring your customers.
- If you plan to play relaxing music you'll also need a Performing Rights Licence.
- Customers will visit you hoping to release stress and tension, so you'll need to be a good listener and have lots of patience.
Bed and breakfast hotel / guest house
As far as ideas for a small business go, this is not an easy choice!
- Lots of hard work and sleepless nights - only include in your list
of small business ideas if your health is good and you have enough
- You must be in the right location to attract decent customers.
- Your customer service skills will need to be top notch.
- Cater for holiday makers or overnight business travellers. It's not easy to do both because their requirements are much different.
- You'll be up early every single morning.
- Time off will be very little - perhaps the odd afternoon.
- Must be able to serve quality food. If you can't cook employ a good chef.
- You must be ruthless in your cleaning!
- You'll need well trained and polite pleasant staff to work for you. You can't possibly do everything.
- You'll need alcohol licences, performing rights licences, food
hygiene certificates, hotel inspection grading, tourist board grading,
local authority health and safety checks amongst others.
- High demand from small businesses means this should be included on your list of small business ideas.
- Lots of small business owners despise taking care of their book keeping.
- They would much rather do anything else.
- But this creates a great opportunity for you if you have the analytical skills to start up a bookkeeping service.
- You can become a vital part of many small businesses as you help them to keep track of their finances and sort out their paperwork.
- You'll need clients who are local to you and you'll need to collect
and deliver paperwork backwards and forwards. You'll need a car, or
- It's not a business that you can 'play at'. You'll be required every week of the year by your clients.
- You'll need some basic training at the very least. You can study online and at your own pace with Open Study College book keeping courses.
- You can gain additional experience (and useful contacts) by volunteering your services to charitable organisations.
- Earnings are limited by the number of hours you can work - you'll be paid by the hour.
- Computer skills are essential.
- You might need to provide your own software, the cost of which needs recharging to your customers.
- If you are finding it difficult to obtain work, try temping. You
may be offered a permanent job as a result.
- You'll need a systematic approach - you'll work for some
businesses who'll give you a cardboard box full of mixed up papers and
expect you to sort it out.
- This mini section is exclusively about a cafe - other catering options are discussed elsewhere.
- Opening a cafe seems to be popular small business idea.
- A cafe is not the same thing as a restaurant or coffee shop. It's ambience (and customer base) is totally different.
- Cafe menus are generally full of basic, wholesome types of food and drink and prices are affordable to all types of customers.
- Cafe owners will need a friendly and welcoming personality, and be able to strike up a conversation with anyone.
- Cafe visitors will expect high levels of food and premises hygiene
and low(ish) prices. You have to deliver on all counts to make your cafe
business a success.
- Don't neglect the outside of your premises - make sure there's no litter.
- Many try and fail at this business idea. There's a lot of competition. You have to carve out your own unique approach.
- A well thought out business plan is advised, as it's easy to overspend on incidentals.
- Customer numbers can be affected by seasonal changes.
- Prepare to neglect your lunch (perhaps breakfast and tea too!) - you'll be too busy serving your customers.
- Choosing the right location for this business is vital - do your research beforehand. How many people pass by? Are they the kind
of people who'll spend money in your cafe? Without the right number of customers you can't possibly succeed.
- You have to tell the Environmental Health Department of your local
council that you're intending to start to run a cafe business.
- The Food Standards Agency have a comprehensive guide on the legal and health related matters you need to be aware of.
- The Cafe Society is a membership organisation offering support to cafe owners in the UK.
- Popular trends seem to be towards locally sourced foods or
environmentally friendly, fair trade products. This is an area worthy of
further research. However,
food prices are increasing and margins can be put under pressure if you
become too inflexible in sourcing your supplies.
- Cafe owners have to keep good records to ensure that all food
consumed can be traced back to it's supplier (General Food Regulations
Car boot sales
- You can try out this business idea before you decide to take the
plunge... simply hire a stall and sell your surplus household items and
- Did you enjoy the experience?
- But did you go to the most convenient venue - one almost on your doorstep?
- Do it again - but this time choose a car boot sale that starts at 6am!! and is at least a half hour's drive away.
- Maybe this is the business for you after all.
- Why not add it to your list of small business ideas...
- You can build up your stocks from first time car boot sellers
trying to sell their household stuff (most virtually give it away) or
from jumble sales, charity shops and so on.
- All goods sold by you as a trader at a car boot sale must comply with the Sale of Goods Act - broadly be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.
- The Price Marking Order 2004 requires all traders to show a price on any goods for sale. Only non
traders selling their own personal items are allowed to not display a
- Some local councils will require you to register with them as a second hand goods dealer.
- As with all retail ventures you need to be aware of thieves, so it's helpful to have a colleague help you out.
- Most car boot sales, especially the busy ones, are held at
weekends, including bank holidays. You need to be prepared to work when
everyone else isn't!
- Don't forget that buyers need to carry their purchases in something
- take some carrier bags and wrapping paper. You can collect them
months in advance from your local supermarkets!
- If you're selling from your car as opposed to a stall, make sure
your internal car lights aren't left on all day. Otherwise you might be
in for a longer day than you anticipated when you try to start your car
only to find
you have a flat battery!
Car washing and valeting - mobile service
- You'll need a decent sized van and you'll go to the customer's car, wherever that may be!
- If you're based in Scotland you need a licence to trade in this business. Not the case in the rest of the UK.
- You'll need professional biodegradable car cleaning products,
not a bottle of Turtlewax you've just picked up at the supermarket.
- To make sure you carry out a good job it's essential to regularly
replace your water (if you use it), cloths, buckets, sponges and
leathers. No customer will thank you for
cleaning their car with dirty equipment.
- Try to get a mixture of private work and small car dealerships.
The private work pay a better rate but the car dealers will provide
- Get your van properly sign written van and wear a uniform if you choose this in your list of small business ideas.
- You won't be allowed to simply pour water all over the place...
you'll have to use a waterless cleaning system or use specialised tanks
installed in your van, together with water containment mats and pumps to
collect any run off water.
- The run off water collected has to be disposed of legally and
you'll have to register as a waste carrier so you can transport it to a
- You have to be fully aware of health and safety procedures as you will be handling potentially hazardous substances.
- You'll need to be well insured and there are several insurance
firms in the UK who offer dedicated policies for the car valeting
Carpet and upholstery cleaning
- This small business idea can be operated either full or part time.
- Customers will probably be domestic households rather than
commercial organisations unless you take on employees and win some
regular long term contracts.
- You'll need to print thousands of leaflets and post them door to door - it's by far the most effective way of getting business.
- You'll need a good eye for detail and be prepared for some challenging situations. (not only carpets - think big dogs...)
- You'll need reliable transport - a van is better than a car - it looks more industrial and can be sign written.
- Many franchises operate in this area so you'll have to compete for your customers.
- The National Carpet Cleaners Association is the only trade association covering the entire UK and their website provides plenty of useful information
if you included this idea in your list of small business ideas.
- A useful further source of information is the website of Amtech UK, who provide information on equipment and training options.
Chauffering and wedding hire
- You'll need high quality luxury vehicles (think Rolls Royce,
Mercedes, Jaguar, BMW) before you can include this in your list of small
- When choosing a car you should be clear on the exact requirements
of your intended market - you need the right car for the right job.
- Business profits can be improved by choosing a fuel efficient and reliable vehicle from the start.
- You'll need to be extremely smart in appearance. A uniform is advised.
- A friendly personality is a must - in the case of a wedding it's someone's big day and you'll be an important part of it.
- Today's roads are much busier than ever - you will only succeed as a
chauffeur if you aren't easily angered by other drivers actions or
traffic hold ups.
You must be a picture of calmness at all times!
- Clean your cars every single day and keep them well maintained -
the worst thing for your reputation would be an avoidable mechanical
breakdown whilst you're driving the bride or groom to their wedding.
Imagine the number of people who'll tell that story.
- You can of course specialise in business travel only.
- You will need a private car hire licence. These are issued by local or district councils.
- As you are responsible for the safety of your passengers it is advised to obtain at least some basic first aid training.
- Your list of small business ideas might include selling children's clothes.
- It's a difficult business to make money from. Might have to be a labour of love.
- Try to get a shop in an affluent village location and sell
higher end (and more expensive) ranges. Your customers will hopefully
then compete with each other to buy the best for their children!
- Cheaper ranges are more suited to market halls, car boot sales and
similar. You won't be able to afford to rent a large shop AND compete
with the likes of Matalan.
- Both higher and lower end ranges are equally suited to online sales through Ebay or your own website.
- You need to be aware of 'product placement' techniques to get the best from your shop displays. Visual Merchandising Courses offer online training options.
- Be aware of any shifts in fashion trends - for example ethically
sourced and organic clothing is taking an increasing market share, and
make sure you turn around your stock as quickly as you can.
- Ideal local area business to add to your list of small business ideas.
- This is one of the simplest of all businesses but it's also one that will always be in demand.
- There's no shortage of people who simply don't have time to clean their homes or workplace.
- You can solve their problem, and with very low overheads on your part.
- Leaflet drops are probably the best way to find new business,
followed by personal recommendation of your current (happy) customers.
- Low equipment costs - but make sure you use safe and environmentally friendly cleaning products at all times.
- Ideally wear a uniform with your business name clearly visible.
- Customers will sometimes want to supply the equipment - vacuums,
cleaning products, the lot - don't take it personally just get on with
- You'll need to be flexible about working hours - these will be dictated by your customers and not by you.
- You should always visit customer premises before quoting a price. Some places are bound to be cleaner and tidier than others!
- You can work for householders or business office premises, or both.
- If you're cleaning homes or anywhere involving children expect to
be checked with the Criminal Records Bureau before being offered any
- You could try to get regular work with house letting agents in your
area - cleaning before a new tenant takes a property for example.
- Physical fitness and good health will be needed.
- Buy an ipod to wear if you can - it'll keep your mind active!
- Earnings depends on the prosperity of the local area or region you work in.
- There are lots of cleaning franchises operating and you are likely to be competing with them for business.
- They're all over the place. They seem to be on almost everyone's list of small business ideas.
- Did you know that the first coffee shop to open in Britain did so in 1651.
- Now there are estimated to be more than 15,000.
- Around 5,000 of those coffee shops in the UK belong to either Costa or Starbucks. Are you sure you can compete?
- This small business idea needs a very robust business plan. Don't jump in unprepared!
- Do you really want to be a barista?
- OK, let's assume you do...
- If you decide to start this business you need to think carefully about getting your location right.
- Take time to research an area, and establish who your likely customers will be.
- Apparently over 55's drink more coffee than any other age group - does your business plan acknowledge this?
- A popular selling angle is to offer Fair trade products.
- As with other similar types of business you have to register with your local Environmental Health Department.
- Food standards, legislation and hygiene must be clearly understood.
- This is an incredibly competitive market and it may well be
worthwhile to invest in specialist training, such as that provided by Limini Coffee.
- You should know about expected mark ups, staff requirements, how
many tables you can fit into a sales area, if you should make
supplementary food sales (and what kind of foods) and so on.
- A coffee shop has to persuade customers to return. This is achieved
with a combination of top class customer service and providing a
pleasing, relaxed environment for visitors.
- If you're genuinely interested in this business idea another great resource, well worth taking a look at, is MatthewAlgie.Com.
Computer consultant, repairs, training
- Great potential. Well worth inclusion in any list of small business ideas.
- Target small businesses - they will probably not have in house
expertise and won't want to enter into long term and costly maintenance
- Develop a reputation as the business to call for everything
computer related - fix hardware, install software, sort out network
problems (a nightmare for many small businesses), perhaps offer additional training.
- It's vital to keep up to date with your skills and knowledge -
computer technology changes almost daily - impress your customers by
demonstrating you know what's going on!
- If you decide to offer services to homeowners one of the best
places to advertise is in local church or community magazines - anything
that people tend to keep for quite a while.
- As far as working for homeowners is concerned you should also
recognise that as Pc's become cheaper and more disposable, the domestic
repair market becomes more niche than ever as some people
can and will simply buy a new computer rather than pay relatively large
sums for repairs.
- This small business idea is popular with anyone wanting a part time activity.
- It's important to be able to develop something unique to sell.
- Sell at craft fairs or offer sale or return terms to specialised craft stores.
- Set up a shop at Folksy or Etsy to sell your products online.
- If you want to sell through retail stores you'll have to get out
and see the store managers. Take some stock with you and demonstrate
it's quality. Even offer to leave
free samples that the store can trial to see if there is a demand.
- Most craft businesses are 'hobby' based and don't make a lot of
money. Card making and jewellery are especially competitive areas.
- You'll need to check that your products are safe to sell - visit WalkaboutCrafts, who have detailed information about the rules.
- Packaging costs need to be taken into account when calculating a profitable selling price.
- Try to get a mention in some of the many craft magazines available.
- You'll need a reliable van (VW, Mercedes) to include this in your list of small business ideas.
- The opportunities for this type of business must be expanding due to the increase in internet sales and home shopping.
- But competition is strong from Royal Mail, DHL and UPS.
- You could approach local businesses who don't have their own delivery service.
- Businesses such as accountants and chemists need to deliver boxes
and letters in their local areas and often don't have a reliable way of
- You'll need repeat business to make any money from this business idea.
- Try to plan your deliveries so that you don't make a 'return' journey with an empty van.
- The service you offer will be more specialised and personal than
that offered by Royal Mail. You need to be trusted with sensitive
documents and parcels.
- You can sometimes obtain work as a 'local' delivery service for a
national network - for example collecting from a depot and distributing
items in a specific geographical area.
- Obviously for this small business idea you're going to need a full
driving licence. If you drive a vehicle larger than 3.5 tonnes you'll
also need a Standard National Operators Licence.
- For vehicles under 3.5 tonnes you are allowed to drive up to a maximum of 10 hours per day.
- For vehicles over 3.5 tonnes you can only drive for 9 hours per day and must take a break of 45 minutes after every 4.5 hours.
- It's important to be sufficiently insured for goods in transit.
- Your profits can be affected badly by fuel price changes so never offer a fixed price service for an extended period of time.
- Some equipment is essential, such as a mobile phone and a sat nav
system - and just for good measure buy some street guides in book form -
you can use them when your sat nav sends you on a completely
inappropriate route! I have them in my car and they are invaluable.
- You might also consider a Personal Digital Assistant and related
software, so you can have customers sign for deliveries electronically.
There are several companies offering software solutions, such as Plus Systems, Courier Soft
and Courier Systems.
- There are more new drivers on the road every year and they all have to learn how to drive.
- Once qualified you can set up your own driving instructor business.
- Despite the number of customers it's a competitive area, with special offers being offered to entice customers.
- Choose a fuel efficient car to increase your profit margins and receive valuable tax breaks.
- National franchises such as the AA and BSM dominate this market. These organisations can provide you with a 'way
in' to the industry if you're prepared to
wait a few years before branching out on your own. You might be
interested to learn that the AA bought out BSM in a takeover deal in
2011, but both brands continue to trade independently.
- Over the years Ebay has blurred the edges between 'professional'
and 'amateur' traders so much that nowadays almost anyone can set up an
- Ebay traders include individuals hoping to earn a small amount
of extra cash and established retail outlets looking for a way to sell
- If you're reading this you are unlikely to be an established
trader, as you probably wouldn't be looking for a list of small business
ideas if you were!
- If you intend to earn a living by becoming an Ebay trader it's a
good idea to spend a few months learning the ropes, buying and selling
on the site, but in a small way.
- After your 'trial' time you can make a more informed decision about whether or not this small business idea is for you.
- To become a trader on Ebay you have to provide Ebay with your
postal address or landline telephone number and details of your bank
- Ebay produce their own detailed and helpful guides for new traders. These are essential reading and can be found at the Ebay Business Centre.
- You'll need to find a profitable line of goods to sell. Ebay
will take their listing fee and commission before you receive the
balance of the selling price.
- You also have to accept payment through paypal, which adds to your costs as paypal also take a fee for processing a transaction.
- Your chances of success are heavily influenced by your 'seller
feedback ratings'. This means you have to consistently provide excellent
customer service and always
deliver goods in the time scale you've promised. You need at least 98%
positive feedback to become a 'Power Seller'.
- An Ebay business is exactly the same as any other - despite some
commonly held beliefs you do have to register with HMRC and pay taxes on
- You'll definitely need to be physically fit for this one to be included on your list of small business ideas!
- You'll need good time management skills, lots of patience and a friendly attitude.
- You'll need training and qualifications to convince customers to use you.
- There are many training providers in this field. The main thing to
be aware of is that you really need a qualification recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals.
- They are the 'standard' guardians in a way, and without a
qualification recognised by them you'll find it difficult to get work.
Their website includes links to various training options.
- It's useful to be able to advise on nutrition as well as fitness programs.
- You can specialise in one area, such as weight loss programs, muscle tone improvements, or cardio vascular.
- You can even specialise in fitness for children (after school clubs), OAP's or any other identifiable group.
- If you can arrange group sessions instead of one to one you'll increase your earnings potential.
- You'll need to be well insured as customers will blame you if they suffer any injuries.
- You'll need first aid and CPR certificates and if you're working
with children or people with disabilities you'll have to pass certain background checks.
- If you offer a mobile service you need to be able to get to your
customers. It would be great to use a push bike, but you'll need to
carry around quite a bit of equipment, including weights, electronic
monitors and so on, so a van is probably a more practical choice!
- It's a great achievement to keep someone healthy enough to enjoy their life fully.
- On many a list of small business ideas!
- Your success is heavily influenced by being in the right location!
- Choose the wrong place and you're doomed before you start.
- There are more than 9,000 florists in the UK.
- This is a very competitive market - supermarkets account
for many impulse sales - you'll have to be prepared to cater for
weddings, funerals and parties.
- Join an organisation such as Interflora to improve your business profile and increase your sales.
- Stock control is vital - it's no use having a shop full of dying flowers. Only buy what you need.
- You need to make plenty of sales at Mothers Day, Valentines Day and Christmas to compensate for quiet periods.
- Cash flow will be tight to begin with as most flower wholesalers
won't let you have a trade account straight away. Expect to pay up front
for your stock.
- Network as much as you can - make sure you have thousands of business cards and leave them everywhere!
- You should have a website - Floristpro produce bespoke websites for a reasonable monthly fee.
- Avoid renting premises with long term leases.
- Make sure your premises are well presented - lots of bright colours and no shabby paint work.
- You'll need an artistic eye - your displays must be appealing.
- You'll be working long days with very early morning starts if you need to visit a wholesaler to buy stock.
- This might not be a great small business idea if you suffer from hay fever!
- No list of small business ideas should miss off this excellent
way of not only running a small business, but also keeping you fit and
- You'll be weeding, mowing, trimming hedges, clearing leaves and
debris, watering plants and planting shrubs, amongst other things.
- You have to like working outdoors and in all weathers.
- You'll need good quality protective clothing.
- You'll need a car or van capable of carrying your tools, probably including a mower.
- You must have a good understanding of plants, shrubs and flowers -
some of your customers might ask you to source suitable types for their
- Other options are provided by the Institute of Gardening,
who provide courses covering basic to advanced gardening which also
includes advice on developing the business skills you'll need to
establish a small gardening business.
- If you prefer to learn at your computer, try the virtual learning offered by MyGardenSchool.
- If you're going to be using a chainsaw you need to be certified as competent - for more details see the Health & Safety Executive website.
- Most of your customers will be householders - posting leaflets will generate interest in your services.
- Leave some business cards in local shops and give them to all
your customers. Ask them to pass them to anyone else who might need your
- There are several regulations to be aware of, including the Work at Height Regulations and the Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations.
- You will need a waste carrier licence if you are going to dispose of any waste on behalf of your customer. The Environment Agency provide these licences.
- You need to be careful with the use and storage of pesticides.
- Unfortunately there are a lot of rogue 'gardeners' offering
services cheap, but they have little, if any, knowledge about the
regulations they should adhere to, or even about the plants they are
'taking care' of.
You will have to persuade your customers that you're worth paying more
because you know what you're doing!
- Don't enter a price war with rogue gardeners - instead move on to different areas to find more savvy customers.
- You could expand into consulting - advising customers which
plants to buy and where to put them, for example. Designing and building
rockeries or other garden features would naturally follow.
Hairdresser - mobile
- Get some work experience in an established salon first. You have
to know what you're doing before you can include this in your list of
small business ideas!
- You don't need much equipment but you will need top quality
professional scissors and other professional grooming products. You can
buy them from specialist wholesalers.
- Unless you've learned your skills whilst working for an established hairdresser you'll have to undertake some training.
- There are three levels of NVQ's available to train for. You'll
need at least level 2, but preferably level 3 which provides
professional standard training.
- Health and safety regulations require portable appliance testing to be carried out regularly.
- You should also wear protective gloves when dealing with
hazardous substances, to minimise the chances of dermatitis, which is a
big problem for many hairdressers.
- You'll need a reliable car or van.
- You'll need great time management skills as you'll have to schedule
your appointments properly, taking into account school run times,
traffic jams, and speed bumps! Don't over stretch your diary!
- Be prepared to work late - a lot of your customers will work 9-5. You won't!
- Earnings depend on your local demand and on how many repeat customers you can fit into each month!
- Make sure you always leave a handful of business cards with your customers so they can give them out to their friends.
- Besides private householders you could try to obtain work from care and nursing homes, even hotels!
- You could also rent a chair in an established salon until you have enough customers to go it alone.
- You could specialise in organic hair treatments.
- Charge properly - your customers will pay extra for the convenience of having you visit them.
- This is a business crying out for a facebook page. You can (with
permission of course) post pictures of the work you've done and ask all
you customers and friends to like your page.
- There's an annual industry exhibition called Salon International held every year. It might be worth a visit to pick up new ideas.
- Other useful resources can be found on the Salons Direct website.
- Specialist insurance is available from Salon Gold.
- Whenever I think of the business of being a handyman I have to admit that my first thoughts are of a semi retired person tinkering about fixing broken fences and painting old guttering, using a small selection of half worn tools.
- I suppose my impression of the role of a handyman dates back to my childhood in the 1970's, when every neighbourhood seemed to have a 'person to go to' for all those little jobs that no-one had time to do.
- But things have changed quite a bit since then....
- Nowadays a handyman/woman wears a 'uniform' made up mostly of safety gear - goggles, gloves, wellies, steel toe boots, knee protectors, elbow protectors, dust masks and so on. You'll need quite a collection of these if you start a small business as a handyman/woman.
- The type of work you'll be asked to carry out will vary quite a bit. You could be cleaning guttering, washing cars, mowing lawns, fitting mirrors to walls, painting and decorating, wiring sockets (don't so this unless you understand electrical systems properly), cutting trees, moving furniture - you need a wide range of skills and a fair bit of stamina.
- Essential tools will be ladders, a good general toolkit of spanners, screwdrivers, hammers and the rest, plenty of dust sheets and cleaning materials, possibly a selection of power tools as well.
- Most handymen/women offer their services on the basis that no job is too small - this means you'll inevitably be asked from time to time to do jobs that really are too small - you'll need to know how to respond to these requests - if you refuse the jobs you might lose a potentially good customer, but if you do them you'll need to make sure it's worth your while financially. It's easy to get trapped into the pattern of charging very small prices to match very small jobs.
- If you're offered a job you're clearly not qualified for, you shouldn't take it. It's not fair on the customer, and leaves you liable for any damages if things go badly wrong.
- Never carry out any work involving gas or electricity unless you're suitably qualified.
- Advertise for work in local newspapers or by pushing flyers through letterboxes.
- Most people starting this small business idea will have been learning the trade as an apprentice for several years.
- There are more than 25,000 painters and decorators in the UK alone.
- The amount of work you'll get depends on the skills you have - recommendations will be important.
- If you're starting from scratch you'll need to go on a course to
find out the tricks of the trade such as how to fold pasted wallpaper,
prepare old crumbly walls, pattern match wallpaper, deal with corners,
window frames doors and archways, prepare wood for painting, cover
stains, use a brush roller...
- You really can't hope to progress too far without at least a City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills - Painting and Decorating.
- If you don't have any qualifications try working for family and
friends first to see if you have the patience and ability required.
- If you're a 'natural' you might be able to build up your
small business without formal training, learning as you go, but it's a
You'd be relying on loyal customers (usually friends or recommendations
from friends) and on being located in a remotely populated area with
- There are a range of services you can offer as a decorator depending on your skills.
- You could restrict yourself to painting and hanging wallpaper or
diversify to provide more specialist services such as marbling and
- You have to follow guidance for the correct way of storing paints and other hazardous materials.
- You also have to be a licensed waste carrier to safely dispose of paints and plasterboard.
- Your customers can be businesses but more often than not you'll
be working in customer's homes. You'll need to respect their property
and do a good job without creating a mess.
- You could seek work from landlords requiring properties
redecorating when tenants change, although their requirements will
usually be fairly basic and the prices you can charge
will be relatively low.
- Overall demand won't fall for this type of business so it's worth considering for your list of small business ideas.
- Leaflet drops will bring new business if targeted in the right
areas - work out who your ideal customer is and find out where they
- This might not be a suitable small business idea for anyone who suffers from asthma or eczema.
You'll need a clean home and be prepared for local authorities or food standards agencies to come visiting to check that all your food preparation areas and equipment is of satisfactory standard.
You'll do better by finding a niche that you're good at and there's plenty to choose from, including:
Depending on your niche there could be lots of early mornings, late nights or weekend work involved.
Be prepared to give away free samples of food to potential customers.
Here's more detail about the small business idea of making home made cakes and biscuits:
Home Made Biscuits and Cakes
- One of the most cosy ideas for a home based business is the one of
baking your own biscuits and cakes and selling them for a profit.
- Your customers would be places such as local farm shops, small scale
local wholesalers, cafes and perhaps even retirement homes for the
- You could also hire a stall at a fair or fete, or even on a regular market.
- Social networking sites can help spread the word about what you're up to!
- If you're a skilled baker you could specialise with gluten, dairy or
wheat free products, although your customer market will be smaller if
- You have to register with your local council as a food provider at
least 28 days before you begin to trade. Their
environmental health department will want to take a look at your
'domestic' kitchen to make sure it's up to scratch before they allow you
to run this type of home business.
- You'll need a separate sink for washing and you'll have to keep any pets out of your kitchen.
- You'll also need space to separately store raw ingredients away from your finished biscuits and cakes.
- Just because you bake at home doesn't mean you can get away with
wrapping your goods in a brown paper bag and delivering it to your
- The Food Labelling Regulations require you to list ingredients, best
before date, storage instructions and your name and address. You should
also list any allergy risks.
- On top of that you'll need suitable packaging.
Home movie editor / video production
- A time consuming option for our list of small business ideas!
- Specialist software investment will be needed.
- To be taken seriously you'll probably need to buy a shoulder
mounted digital camera or at the very least a top quality compact
version, neither of which are cheap to buy.
- You'll also need tripods, booms, microphones, dvd burners and maybe lighting sets.
- Reliable transport is essential.
- Customers will not be aware of how much work goes into editing and duplicating discs so there might be price resistance.
- You should produce your own demo disc to give away to potential customers.
- Customers can be from a wide range of areas, including amateur
dramatics groups, small businesses wishing to make a promotional or
training video, weddings, birthday parties and so on.
- A useful resource is the website of the Institute of Videography. If you join this organisation
you'll also receive their monthly magazine 'Back Focus'.
- Must be able to work well with children and young adults to include in your list of small business ideas.
- You can find work by registering with a private tutoring agency,
who will carry out checks on your teaching qualifications (and take
around 25% of your earnings as commission!)
- You'll need plenty of teaching resources, both paper and software.
- You'll have to keep up to date with current teaching methods and school curriculums.
- There's increasing demand to assist children trying to obtain places in grammar schools.
- You'll require criminal record checks. Expect parents to ask to see your certificate.
- You might need to tutor in your students home so reliable transport is important.
- You'll be working a lot of evenings and weekends.
- You'll need to be good at time management. You must not be late for appointments.
- You'll need good planning skills to make sure your lessons are relevant and don't over-run.
- It will take time to get established - you need to build a good
reputation first - supply testimonials to prospective customers if you
Ice cream shop / van
- Must be good with children.
- A seasonal small business idea.
- Food hygiene standards must be high.
- You must register with your local environmental health department.
- You'll benefit from both a seating area and a 'takeaway' option.
- Make sure your shop is spotlessly clean. Customers are more choosy than they used to be.
- Town centre or shopping centre locations will have customers throughout the year.
- Tourist locations can become very quiet in winter months.
- You'll need a street trading licence.
- You'll probably need a fairly modern van, because increasing
environmental laws and regulations are making old vans uneconomical to
- Catersell list a wide selection of second hand vans for sale.
- Find a good location or pick a good route for your round. Without this you'll be wasting your time.
- You won't be allowed to simply stop outside a school or shopping
centre - there are rules about where you can trade - check with your
- Book space at every festival, carnival, agricultural show or town fair that you can afford.
- Another possibility for your list of small business ideas which can be operated part or full time.
- Low equipment investment.
- Often operated from home, although if there is enough demand a small industrial unit might be needed.
- You need to operate in a clean environment, otherwise customers won't return.
- You'll need reliable transport and a means of keeping your
clothes straight and uncreased until they are returned to your
- Your customers will often be single professional men, your
friends and neighbours, disorganised students or perhaps pensioners who
find the tasks too strenuous but would like some nicely pressed clothes
- Use leaflet drops to find customers, remember to send some to businesses as well as homes.
- Small hotels and guest houses are ideal as customers, as they provide regular repeat work.
- Other sources of regular work could be clothing or textile hire shops.
- It's a legal requirement to have all portable appliances such as irons safety tested annually by a competent trained person.
- Make sure you have a good insurance policy in place to cover for
any damaged or lost items. Unfortunately some customers will try to take
advantage and make
speculative claims that you've damaged their clothes even when you
- No shortage of potential customers - almost any small business can benefit from a properly targeted leaflet campaign.
- Most of the other businesses on our list of small business ideas shown here would benefit.
- You'll have to be able to demonstrate that your leaflets have been posted and not thrown away by you or your employees.
- Contact businesses you've previously worked for and ask them if
their business improved because of the leaflet campaign. If it has, ask
if you can use their name and experiences in your sales literature.
- Virtually no start up costs if you start on a small scale.
You'll just need some comfortable footwear and protective clothing in
case of rain.
- No long term commitment needed.
- You can expand by taking on employees to increase your earnings
potential (after all you can only personally deliver a maximum number of
leaflets each hour) or buy some printing equipment and offer to not
only deliver leaflets for your customers, but to design and produce them
- Prices you charge depend on the routes - for example houses with large gardens take longer than terraced rows.
- Lots of people who have been made redundant seem to include this on their list of small business ideas!
- Look for tourist hot spots, industrial estates, office
complexes, out of town retail parks, sports stadiums, fairs, carnivals,
trade or agricultural shows, even areas of outstanding natural beauty -
walkers are always hungry!
- You'll need to have a street trading licence (normally issued
annually) - apply to your local council. It's a criminal offence if you
trade without this licence.
- You are required by law to display your street trading licence on your vehicle or catering unit.
- You'll need food hygiene certificates and public liability insurance.
- You have to register as a mobile caterer with your local environmental health department.
- If you work in other areas of the country besides your local area
you'll also need to register with the environmental health department
covering that area.
- If you want to work after 11pm you'll need a late hours catering licence, again issued by your local council.
- You'll need a reliable fridge and cooking equipment.
- Provide some bins - protect the environment and avoid being
fined. You are legally responsible for any litter originating from your
business that is left within 100 metres from you.
- You'll usually be selling sandwiches, pies, burgers, chips and
similar meals or specialise in Indian or Spanish food for example.
- You can take large amounts of money if you have a pitch at a
popular festival. However, rents are high and competition for pitches is
- Conversely, if weather is poor you won't always be refunded pitch
fees - you can lose almost your entire year's profit during one bad
weekend at a major festival!
- You have to be careful about who you employ - employees in this
industry often 'help out' but also have other jobs - HMRC real time
information regulations apply to these people and your business needs to
- There's plenty of competition but if you have the right skills there's also plenty of opportunity.
- Despite the popularity of digital cameras and phones capable of
taking reasonable photographs, there is still a big difference in
quality when compared to a photograph taken with professional equipment.
- You'll have to invest in good equipment but with a bit of research
you should be able to pick up high grade second hand cameras and lenses.
- If you've got an eye for what makes a good picture you've got a good chance of building up a lucrative small business.
- You should build a strong portfolio of work to show to potential customers.
- Good typing skills essential, as is a friendly telephone manner.
- You'll need an up to date computer and a selection of popular
software if you intend this to be on your list of small business ideas.
- You'll need a range of paper, lots of paper clips and a work horse of a printer.
- Make sure you have a reliable telephone connection, not a mobile that goes on and off.
- You must be able to work to tight deadlines.
- Can be operated full or part time.
- Small businesses need you!
- Work at home or at your customers premises.
- If you work at home you'll need a dedicated space.
- Reliable transport essential.
Virtual assistant and telephone answering service
- It goes without saying you'll need a great telephone manner.
- Strong customer service skills.
- Reliability and confidentiality is a must.
- Can be carried out from home, with the right equipment, but you'll need more than one person answering the phones!
- As your client base grows you will need to increase your employee numbers quickly to continue to provide a good service.
- Charge a monthly subscription with an extra charge per call taken.
- Customers will usually be small one person businesses.
Website design and development
- Small businesses need you!
- You'll need to be able to provide ideas for your customers because most of them won't have a clue.
- Design some demo sites to add to your portfolio.
- You'll have to know about HTML and CSS and not use WYSIWYG editors.
- You might need help with complicated problems - build a network of helpers (eg flash, logo designers etc).
- Learn how to optimize a site and write good content.
- The first point of reference for a beginner should be the British Window Cleaning Academy. Here you will
find lots of useful information and details of training opportunities.
- A reliable sign written van is needed, with somewhere to store a ladder.
- Rounds are traditionally 'sold' and usually window cleaners
don't like to invade another's patch - it's just the way it is, so your
expansion plans might be held back!
- You'll need a head for heights and know when to be discrete.
- You can work for householders and businesses.
- It's important to keep your 'round' as compact as possible, reducing travel costs.
- If you buy a round from another window cleaner expect to pay a price of 5 times average monthly earnings.
- You need to be reliable and turn up on a regular basis at your
customers premises. If not, expect them to choose another window
- Window cleaners in Scotland are required to be licenced by their
local authority, but this requirement doesn't apply in the rest of the
- There's an increasing trend to use water fed poles, reducing the need to keep climbing ladders.
- Expanding into additional but related services such as gutter
cleaning or power washing can bring in more work from current customers.
- Outdoor work - great in summer, hard work in winter (if you can even clean windows at all in freezing conditions).
- Windy weather and dark nights will shorten your working days.
- You'll need to be fully aware of health and safety issues and be
properly insured. There are many insurers offering specialist window
I hope you liked this list of small business ideas.
I'll be adding to it regularly, so please check back again soon.
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