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7 simple self-employed business ideas to get you started

4-minute read

Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

23 October 2019

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Taking the step to become your own boss is exciting. If you're looking for some business inspiration, we've come up with a list of interesting and achievable self-employment ideas.

How many people are self-employed in the UK?

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics say there are 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK – making up 15.1 per cent of the workforce.

In 2001 there were 3.3 million self-employed, so there’s been a significant rise in numbers. It could be that more and more UK workers are seeking freedom and flexibility, and believe that self-employment is a great way to achieve it.

Many self-employed people set themselves up as sole traders, but some set up as a limited company, registering with Companies House. Find out more about the difference between a sole trader and a limited company.

If you’re tempted to join the ranks of the UK’s self-employed, here’s our list of the best self-employed business ideas. Which one’s right for you?

Self-employment ideas to get you started today

1. Writer

If you have a way with words, setting yourself up as a self-employed writer could be a rewarding career move. Content marketing is an increasingly important strategy for many businesses – many writers are hired to produce online articles for brands.

Top tip for getting started as a writer

You’ll need a solid knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO) and web writing best practice, and it’s a good idea to have a blog and online portfolio to showcase your writing skills, plus an active presence on social media.

If you’re ready to get going as a writer, take a look at our insurance for copywriters.

2. Online seller

Whether you love rummaging in flea markets and car boot sales for hidden gems or you’re keen to buy products in bulk and sell them on individually for a profit, online marketplaces like eBay provide the perfect platform.

Top tip for getting started as an online seller

Make sure you do your research carefully before you invest in a lot of stock, and then be prepared for hard work and patience to build your reputation as a stellar seller.

If online selling is the business for you, we've got insurance for online retailers.

3. Tailor

Can you work wonders with a needle and thread? If so, setting up as a self-employed tailor and dressmaker could be just the ticket. From taking up a hem to altering a wedding dress or even creating a made-to-measure suit, tailoring is an old-fashioned skill that’s still in high demand.

Top tip for getting started as a tailor

It’s probably a good idea to work from home initially to keep costs low. Try a mixture of online and offline methods to get the word out about your business. Why not distribute flyers and posters in your local area and share your beautiful work on a blog and on social media?

Read more about how to start a clothing business.

Ready to get started? Don’t forget your tailors’ insurance.

4. Handyperson

If you’re the practical type but you’re not trained in a particular trade like plumbing or building, you could start a business as a self-employed handyperson. Get hired to put up shelves, hang doors, perform small household repairs or do a bit of gardening.

Top tip for getting started as a handyperson

If you’re worried about finding customers, you could sign up to a service like TaskRabbit, where people post tasks they need help with.

Convinced that being a self-employed handyman is the business for you? Check out handyman insurance from Simply Business.

5. Beauty therapist

If you’re trained to carry out beauty treatments, there are lots of potential self-employment ideas in the beauty industry. You don’t necessarily need your own premises. You could start by doing treatments in your own home or offering mobile services.

Consider, for example, offering mobile make-up, hair, manicures and facial treatments, and promoting your services for hen parties and weddings.

Top tip for getting started as a beauty therapist

Making a website and showing some of your work, as well as distributing some well-designed flyers and business cards, could be a good way to start.

If you’re keen to get going as a self-employed beauty therapist, don’t forget your beauty insurance.

6. Dog walker

There are an estimated nine million dogs in the UK, and many smitten owners want to make sure their canine companions are getting the best possible care while they’re at work or on holiday.

As a self-employed dog sitter and dog walker, you can charge around £10 per dog walk or £20 for a day of dog sitting, so if you care for enough dogs daily then it begins to add up.

Bear in mind though that the maximum number of dogs you can walk at one time may depend on your local council. There’s often a limit of four unless you apply for a special licence to walk up to eight.

Top tip for getting started as a dog walker

The best way to spread the word that you’re running your own dog sitting or dog walking business is to take some business cards to the park when you walk your own dog, and also leave some cards or flyers in your local pet shops, grooming parlours and dog-friendly cafes.

Read more: how to start a dog walking business.

Decided that dog care is your ideal business idea? Be sure to grab your dog walkers’ insurance.

7. Cookery teacher

If you have a passion for food, how about setting up as a self-employed cookery teacher or starting your own cookery school?

If you have access to a restaurant or commercial kitchen that’s great, but your home kitchen may do just fine if it’s reasonably well-equipped and spacious, or you could even offer lessons in the homes of your students.

Top tip for getting started as a cookery teacher

This business idea will work best if you have knowledge of a particular cuisine and a head full of delicious recipes and culinary tips.

Come up with a tasty but relatively simple menu and then lead your students through cooking it step-by-step. The best bit is, you get to sit down to a tasty shared meal with your students at the end.

You could also read about how to start your own takeaway business.

If you're keen to kick off a cooking business, take a look at Simply Business chef insurance.

What are your best self-employed business ideas?

Hopefully our list has sparked your interest in starting your own business, and has showed you that there are loads of different options for self-employment – whether your skills lie in nail painting, hedge trimming, dog cuddling or digital copywriting.

If none of these self-employment ideas take your fancy, we’d love to know your best business ideas. And if you do take the plunge and set up as self-employed, remember that Simply Business offers insurance for the self-employed keeping you covered in case anything goes wrong.

Read more guides for small businesses:

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Sam Bromley

Written by

Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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