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10 amazing UK small business ideas for 2020

4-minute read

10 amazing UK small business ideas for 2020
Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

24 February 2020

With more people in the UK going self-employed, you might be looking for small business ideas yourself – here are trends to watch out for in 2020.

Food and drink small business ideas

There are lots of great small business ideas and trends from the food and drink industry. We’ve looked at BBC Good Food’s 20 food trends for 2020 and picked out inspiring ideas – which ones do you like?

What business should I start?

1. Non- and low-alcoholic drinks bar

The Guardian reports that non- and low-alcoholic drinks sales have risen 18 per cent in Western Europe over the last five years.

Big Drop, Seedlip and Infinite Session are just some of the brands making alcohol-free products exclusively. And in January, Brewdog launched its first completely alcohol-free bar in Old Street, London. says that as many as 25 per cent of 18-24 year-olds don’t drink at all, so opening your own alcohol-free bar or pub could do well beyond dry January.

2. Food halls

BBC Good Food says lots of food halls are opening across the country, including Market Hall West End in London and Picturedome in Macclesfield. There’s even a new Time Out Market opening in London Waterloo in 2021.

You could start your own street food business to capitalise on this growing trend.

Read about food and drink industry insurance and find out more about the BBC’s top 20 trends.

Green and eco small business ideas

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, recently pledged $10 billion to fight climate change, calling it the biggest threat to our planet. Here are some small business ideas to consider if you’re interested in helping tackle the environmental emergency.

What business should I start?

3. Plant-based food

While this idea could be classed under the category above, the BBC quotes a University of Oxford study that says if everybody cut meat and dairy from their diet there could be a “49 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from food production”.

And according to April Preston, director of product development at M&S, plant-based food “has shown absolutely no sign of slowing down. Our customers are adopting flexitarian lifestyles and we’ve a pipeline of new plant-based products planned, including a no-chicken kiev.”

You could look into starting a food stall selling vegan snacks or a meat-free restaurant – just make sure you do your research to make sure there’s appetite in your area first.

4. Vintage and second-hand

In 2019, The Guardian asked whether buying vintage clothing is “the most eco way to shop” and said that vintage fashion “fits neatly into the wider mood of the Instagram age”.

Whether it’s selling second-hand clothes, upcycling old products or simply repairing them, is there a shop you could open with sustainability in mind?

Read about shop insurance.

Pet small business ideas

A 2018 Mintel study revealed that 54 per cent of British millennials would rather cut back spending on themselves rather than their pets. With consumers ready to put their pets first, what small business ideas could you consider?

What business should I start?

5. Dog walking business

You need to love dogs and know how to handle them, so if you like this small business idea, consider training first. But it could be lucrative if you walk several dogs at once, as you can expect to earn between £6-10 per dog for walks that last between 30 minutes and an hour.

Read about how to start a dog walking business.

6. Pet grooming business

This taps into how much owners are prepared to spend on their pets – the same Mintel research mentioned above revealed that 30 per cent of millennial pet care purchasers say they “like their pet to keep up with the latest trends”.

If you’re an animal lover, a pet grooming business could be a great direction to consider.

Read about pet business insurance.

Hair and beauty small business ideas

Harper’s Bazaar says that while the beauty industry thrives on ‘newness’, a slower approach is on the horizon for 2020, with “sustainability movements flourishing”. Here are some trends Harper’s Bazaar mention specifically that could give you inspiration.

What business should I start?

7. Men’s beauty

Harper’s Bazaar says that the Indie Beauty Expo London 2019 in October made it clear that “beauty brands specifically for men (not ‘gender neutral’) are on the up”. It mentions Made for Men Skincare, Shakeup Cosmetics and Warpaint as examples – if you like this small business idea, why not look to these brands for inspiration?

8. Make-believe makeup

Influential makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon says “2020 is the year to experiment and play with your make-up and your style” and advises that placing “a touch of glitter in the centre of your eye, under your lower lash line, will give you a subtle twinkle of sparkle”. Could you take this influence into a mobile beautician business?

Read about hair and beauty business insurance.

Small business ideas using existing skills

In 2019, The Guardian reported on the rise of ‘slashies’ – people pursuing a side business as a choice, not a necessity, and as a way to work on a passion. A side business can be a way to turn hobbies or skills you already have into income. What skills do you have that could help you become your own boss?

What business should I start?

9. A copywriting business

With words appearing everywhere from a company’s blog to its social media accounts, great content is in high demand. And according to ProCopywriters, nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of copywriters run their own business – would you consider going freelance?

Read about copywriters’ insurance.

10. A design business

While there are different routes into graphic design, it can also be a great business to start on the side if you have the skillset. It’s creative and you’ll get to use imagery, illustration and typography to help businesses develop a visual identity.

Read about how to become a freelance graphic designer.

What are your top small business ideas?

The small business ideas in this article are designed to give you inspiration. If you want to explore an idea, make sure you treat it as a business, carrying out the right research and planning – writing a business plan is a great place to start.

Let us know about your favourite small business ideas in the comments below.

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