Ten great ideas for a start-up


Date: 28 May 2024

A man is checking the quality of his micro brewery beer

Do you want to work for yourself? Are you struggling to decide what kind of business you want to run? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us want to work for ourselves; the first step towards choosing a business type is to understand your motivations for being your own boss.

Some of the top reasons for starting a business include:

  • Making money;
  • Freedom and independence;
  • Flexibility and a better work-life balance;
  • Turning a hobby into a money-spinner;
  • Giving back to your community.

Whatever business you pick, it’s vital that you love what you do. As a business owner, the buck stops with you – that can mean working long hours and having to take responsibility for all aspects of running a business, including managing finances.

Here are ten great ideas for start-ups that could give you a decent income and the quality of life you are looking for.

Brewery or distillery

The British appetite for craft beers, IPAs and local gins is booming; setting up a micro-brewery or a distillery could tap into this growing market. A micro-brewery can produce anything from 1,000 to 15,000 barrels of beer every year. While there are potentially good profit margins on beer, you could also run special events or offer food to bring more people to your micro-brewery. The equipment needed to brew beer or distil gin can be a big upfront cost but it lasts for decades.

Painter and decorator

A painting and decorating business can be a great option if you’ve got practical skills and you want to get started with minimum outlay. Your client base could include businesses, landlords and housing associations as well as home owners. Start by setting up a Google Business Profile so your business appears in local searches. It’s also worth signing up to the Next Door app and an online directory such as Checkatrade. Using a POS system like Square will enable you to get paid on the go.

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Web developer

If you’ve got design and technical skills, you could set up a website development business from home and make a very good income. Services typically include: website design, graphics and logos, ecommerce functionality, content management system (CMS) development, domain name registration, web hosting and search engine optimisation (SEO). Potential clients include local businesses, charities and clubs. You can also market your business through a freelancer marketplace like PeoplePerHour.

Beauty salon

Demand for beauty treatments is higher than ever, including hair removal, lash and brow treatments, facials and manicures. Setting up a beauty salon can involve a significant outlay but the potential for a profitable business is excellent. You can also set up a beauty business from home. Whichever business model you choose, you’ll need a POS payment system that will allow you to manage appointments as well as take payments.

Food truck

Eating out is more expensive than ever but food trucks are thriving - meeting the demand for high-quality food at reasonable prices. They’re also a relatively cost-effective way to launch a food business. You’ll need to kit out a van and get the necessary licenses and permits; once you’re ready to go, you can expect to make around £100,000 a year. The beauty of a food truck is that you can take it to where the customers are - especially in the summer when there are events and festivals every weekend all over the UK.

Cleaning business

If you're looking for a venture you can start on a shoestring, a cleaning business could be the answer. It requires little investment and has the potential to provide a good income. With the right equipment, you could also offer a niche service, cleaning ovens, carpets, windows or vehicles. As few people pay with cash these days, you’ll need a secure POS system that allows you to take payments on the go and also to manage your appointments.


Many people dream of running a coffee shop. The good news is that independent cafes in the right location - with great coffee, delicious food and a friendly atmosphere - have the potential to be highly successful. Running any kind of hospitality business involves long hours and hard work so you need to love what you do. Overheads and staff costs can be high and margins can be tight; it’s essential to have a robust payment system to manage payments, orders, stock and cash flow.

Tattoo studio

The number of UK tattoo shops has increased significantly over the past ten years as many Brits have embraced body art. If you have the artistic skills, a tattoo business could be a great choice for a start-up. You’ll need to establish if there’s enough demand locally and assess the age profile in your area - a large student population could provide a great client base, for example. Pricing is important but your long-term success will depend on building a reputation for providing high quality and stylish body art.


If you’d like to run a business from home with just a laptop and an internet connection, then dropshipping could be for you. It’s a way of selling online without having to spend anything on stock. With dropshipping, you decide what to sell, how much to charge and how to market your products - usually on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay. However, the logistics are handled by a third party - you pay a dropshipping business to buy, store and ship the goods you’re selling. Typical dropshipping profit margins are between 10% and 15%.

Bike shop

Bike shops are in demand thanks to the growing popularity of cycling in the UK – both as a leisure activity and as an environmentally-friendly means of getting around. If you’re a cycling fanatic, a bike shop could suit you down to the ground as a business. The bikes you sell will need to meet the needs of your local clientele - including commuters, families and serious cyclists. You’ll also need a workshop to be able to offer bike repair and maintenance. Like any retail business, location is key.

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