More people than ever are taking the plunge and setting up their own enterprise. Rachel Miller investigates ten new business opportunities with the potential to succeed
1. Food business
The dream of running a café or restaurant is incredibly popular but only a few manage to make it work in the long term. However, consumer interest in food and eating out is showing no signs of abating. Food businesses that are doing really well at the moment include vegan and vegetarian (there are now over half a million vegans in the UK), pop-up cafes and street food stalls. Another key trend is small plates where diners choose a selection of dishes and share. In addition, food writers - such as Deliciously Ella, Olivia Wollenberg and The Curry Guy - have built impressive social media followings and created profitable online and book businesses out of their passion.
There's been a steady rise in the popularity of craft beer and the good news is that drinkers are prepared to pay a premium price for it. Analysts say that microbreweries are becoming increasingly profitable and this is making them a target for acquisition - always a good sign. James Simmonds, of UHY Hacker Young, said: "Craft beer is leading the way in the surging popularity of artisan products … [its] increasing popularity has transformed many microbreweries into highly profitable businesses for entrepreneurs looking for a niche position in the food and drinks market."
3. Video and photography business
Even though we're all documenting our lives using cameras on our smartphones, demand for professional photographers and video production companies is rising because of the need for high quality images and footage that stand out on social media and websites. Video, in particular, has become a crucial format for business content. There's also a growing market for stock shots so photographers can sell images (as well as video footage) to the likes of Getty Images and Shutterstock.
4. Selling via eBay and Amazon
Ecommerce continues to grow and becoming a trader on the big online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon is a relatively easy way in. You just have to open an account and load images and descriptions of the products you want to sell. However there is a world of difference between those that are making a living out of online trading and those that are just making a few quid on the side. If you've got lots of one product to sell, you only need to input the information once and the orders should keep coming in. Selling one-off items, including second-hand goods, is far more labour-intensive.
If you sell your expertise on a consultancy basis, you'll know just how hard it is to expand your business. There are only so many hours in the day. Many consultants are discovering that they can monetise their skills by selling e-learning courses online – from PowerPoint-based courses to online videos and seminars.
The digitisation of tax reporting (Making Tax Digital) has opened up new opportunities for bookkeepers. In theory, VAT registered businesses are inputting their accounts information into an online app themselves, but in practice they may need a professional to verify what they have done each quarter. Bookkeepers may well find that clients need them more than ever. Malcolm Trotter, chief executive of the International Association of Bookkeepers, said he expects bookkeepers' work to "actually increase, as more businesses look to them to ensure everything is correct in real-time".
Online shopping continues to grow; and that is fuelling a demand for couriers. Of course, big firms tend to use national courier firms but there is still plenty of demand for reliable independent couriers to deliver items across the UK – especially anything that is sold on eBay.
8. Tattoos and piercing
Body art has gone mainstream and the demand for professional and talented tattoo artists is growing. There's also more awareness of the relevant health and safety issues so consumers are looking for well-trained and experienced practitioners who abide by all the necessary regulations.
9. Personal training
The demand for personal trainers often rises and falls depending on consumer confidence but overall this sector continues to grow. Personal training is no longer only for the rich and famous – trainers are in demand because they provide an extra motivation for those that find it hard to stick to an exercise programme. Virtual coaching has also become popular, allowing a personal trainer to make a diet and fitness plan for their clients and offering support and feedback by phone, email, text or even webcam.
10. Bike business
Keen cyclists (a fast-growing group) often have more than one bike and they want to keep them in tip-top condition. That means independent bike repair shops are booming. Many of these outfits also offer bike building and customisation workshops. Some, like Bristol Bicycles, even have their own bike ranges. There are also business opportunities in organising cycling events as well.