5 UK small business ideas to get you started in 2018

So you want to start up a business, but you don’t know what business? Well look no further. We’ve taken a look at 5 of the hottest trends for 2018 and pulled together the best business ideas for the year ahead.

Small business ideas for: food businesses

This year’s Waitrose Food & Drink report predicts the ‘fourth meal’ is going to be big in 2018. Britons are adapting their eating schedules around increasingly busy lifestyles.

This means that if dinner is particularly early one evening, we might squeeze in a fourth meal before bedtime. Or, if we’re planning a big workout after work, a mid-afternoon salad will give us the energy to hit the gym.

Other trends the report highlights include Indian street food and increased demand for plant proteins, so one of these businesses could do well in 2018.

For more, you can check out our practical guide to opening a takeaway business in the UK.

What food business should I start?

Late-night restaurant, cafe, or deli

With people leading busy lifestyles, squeezing in another meal is already becoming a big trend. If someone wants to eat at night, perhaps after socialising, a late-night restaurant, cafe, or deli would satisfy any cravings.

Street food

Another key player on the 2018 Waitrose Food & Drink report is Indian street food: ‘food trucks selling puris stuffed with zingy vegetables and drizzled in chutney could become a common sight.’ Be ahead of the trend by setting up your own street food van.

Health food

More and more people are paying attention to what they’re eating, so businesses exploring healthy alternatives to staple foods are on the rise. Find your niche and start a health food business that stands out.

Small business ideas for: cleaning businesses

The cleaning industry in the UK is worth around £5.6 billion, and there almost half a million people working in it. If 2018 is the year you want to tap into a large market, the cleaning industry is certainly one you should consider.

It’s a competitive industry and it’s dominated by small companies and sole traders, so carving a niche for yourself will be vital. Check out our top tips on how to become a cleaner.

A cleaning company doesn’t have to be your traditional house cleaning service. Think about areas you’re interested in and see if you can start a business around those.

What cleaning business should I start?

Mobile car washing

At the end of September 2017, the RAC Foundation said there were 31.3 million cars on the road. A mobile car wash or car valet business could capitalise on this, and the current trend for convenience.

Window cleaning

If you don’t like heights but do like the idea of window cleaning, don’t worry. New equipment means that you can work from the ground. Read our article on how to start a window cleaning business.

Carpet cleaning

Carpets always need cleaning. Instead of buying a new carpet, people may turn to a carpet cleaner to get their current one looking tip-top.

Small business ideas for: premium alcohol and mixers

Alcohol is always a winner for UK based businesses. Britons bought 47 million bottles of gin in the 12 months to September 2017, which means it’s a market you’ll definitely want to explore.

New craft gins from small distilleries are constantly appearing, launching gins infused with different botanicals like rhubarb and seaweed.

But mixers are playing catch-up. With the sugar tax being introduced in April 2018, this year could be a great year to launch a business involving premium mixers, as people explore alternative options to add to their alcohol.

All you need to do is look at the success of Fever-Tree Drinks, which doubled its profits in the first half of last year.

What drink business should I start?

Your own bar or pub

Craft porters and stouts, premium mixers, and ‘hybrid tipples’ (think whiskey finished in IPA casks) feature in the 2018 Waitrose Food & Drink report. Your own bar or pub could capitalise on consumers developing more eclectic tastes.

A shop selling premium alcohol and mixers

A YouGov study in 2017 showed that one in seven Brits prefer to stay in to have a drink. A convenient place to buy premium alcohol and mixers (with a selection that improves on what the supermarkets offer) could do well this year.

A premium mixer subscription service

Subscription boxes that send products straight to a customer’s door capitalise on the trend for convenience. You could set up your own subscription service, selecting the latest and tastiest mixers.

Small business ideas for: trading on nostalgia

Recent years have seen pop culture titans brought back from the dead. The X-Files have been reopened for two new seasons, Friends is now available on Netflix, and vinyls (and even cassette tapes) have experienced a resurgence in popularity.

A business that trades on such nostalgia could do very well in 2018. Those born in the 1990s now fondly look back on things from their childhood, whether it’s velvet or an excess of denim.

Millennials are expected to have the most spending power of any generation in 2018, so this is a market you will definitely want to tap in to.

What nostalgia business should I start?

Fashion shop

A fashion shop could stock vintage clothes, including tracksuits, dungarees, and denim. We revealed last year that independent fashion businesses are on the rise, so 2018 could be the year to capitalise on this trend.

Gaming shop or bar

Retro gaming is big among millennials. Some ideas for businesses here include a gaming shop that buys and sells retro games and consoles, like the Nintendo 64. Or, you could set up your own shop (or even bar) where people can come and play arcade machines or other retro games.

Sweet shop

90s children remember Millions, Dip Dabs and candy laces fondly. Opening a sweet shop can be hard, but creating a strong brand can help you stand out from the supermarkets.

Small business ideas for: pet services

Figures released from the Office for National Statistics show that households in the 65-to-74-year-old age group spent nearly a fifth of their total spending on recreation and culture in the financial year ending 2017, a category that includes pets and pet food.

The average weekly spending on pets and pet food rose by £0.80 to reach £5.40. Another study from Opinium in 2017 showed that Britons spend around £11.6 billion annually on gifts, special diets and activities for their pets.

With pets seen as members of the family, 2018 could be the year to start a business that helps owners pamper their pets.

For more on the sort of business you could start in this area, we have a comprehensive guide on how to start a dog walking business.

What pet business should I start?

Dog walking business

Demand for expert dog care is on the up. If you’ve got a love for dogs, starting a dog walking business could be an ideal move.

Pet grooming business

This business can have low start-up costs and you can choose to set it up and home. You can also provide pet owners with convenience by going mobile.

Pet shop

Opening a pet shop can be tough in the era of the big pet superstores. But if you like working with small animals and can offer a premium, tailored service, opening a pet shop could be for you.

What business are you looking to start in 2018? Let us know in the comments below.

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