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UK business ideas for 2023 – top 10 trends to watch

5-minute read

Woman smiling and taking online orders for a small business
Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

5 January 2023

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Looking to start your own business in 2023? At Simply Business, we've delved into our customer data to reveal the latest trends among small businesses and the self-employed.

What are the most popular new business ideas, and how has the cost of living crisis impacted these trends? From DJs to new independent cafés, here’s what we’re predicting for 2023.

10 fastest growing trades for small businesses

We analysed all new Simply Business business insurance policies taken out in 2021 and 2022 to find the fastest growing small business sectors.

And it appears a new wave of entrepreneurs are emerging from a year dominated by the cost of living crisis.

Read all about the top 10 trades expected to grow the fastest in 2023:

Infographic showing the top 10 fastest growing trades in 2023

Industries bouncing back post-pandemic

From security guards to DJs, many trades are seeing a resurgence as the nation returns to events, live music, and travel after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Project manager

Project managers top the table with an impressive 71 per cent growth in 2022 compared to 2021.

While during the pandemic many businesses cut back on contractors to save costs, the rise in self-employed project managers could indicate that demand is on the up.

The boost could also be down to changing attitudes to work. Many project managers are now benefiting from hybrid working and flexible hours following the pandemic.

Interested? Read our guide on how to become a project manager to learn more.

Security guard

Self-employed security guards are among the top five fastest growing trades of 2022.

As airports, nightclubs, and other industries that need trained security personnel only just begin to operate at full capacity, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a 22 per cent increase in security guards for 2022.

Read more on how to start a security company to find out the skills you’ll need and the type of work you could be doing as a self-employed security guard.


Thinking about putting your passion for music into a new business venture? One popular idea could be to become a disc jockey.

Nightclubs were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. But as the music entertainment industry recovers, more people are turning their hands to DJing – in fact our data shows the number of DJs rose by 18 per cent in 2022.

Events, parties, and weddings all enjoyed a year uninterrupted by Covid restrictions last year, which could go some way to explain this surge in popularity.

Woman DJing for a crowd
Photograph: bernardbodo/

From teaching dance to running a gift shop, the trend for side hustles and following creative passions looks set to continue.

Dance instructor

If you’re a trained dancer and looking for a natural side hustle, why not launch into professional dance teaching?

Our data shows the number of self-employed dance instructors increased by 12 per cent between 2021 and 2022. You could join one of the many dance instructors and make money from your hobby.

Read more about how to become a self-employed dance teacher, including practical guidance on your legal and tax responsibilities and marketing tips.

Gift shop

Whether it’s for selling homemade crafts born out of a lockdown hobby or those realising a long-term ambition to own a retail shop, entrepreneurs are seemingly opening more gift shops.

Despite the challenging economic climate, we insured 21 per cent more gift shops last year compared to 2021.

If you’re getting into retail, consider how other trends like sustainable fashion and homemade candles could complement your sales strategy. Or why not test the water with an online shop first?

New entrepreneurs on Britain’s high streets?

In the midst of a cost of living crisis, we’ve seen a rise in a variety of small businesses on the high street.

Here are the popular business ideas to make the top 10 fastest-growing industries according to our new customer data:

  • property managing agents saw a 34 per cent rise between 2021 and 2022 making it our second-fastest growing trade – there’s always going to be a market for rental properties and many landlords are looking for a professional agent to manage their portfolios
  • café owners are up 31 per cent
  • food stalls have seen a 9 per cent increase – from tacos to Sri Lankan food, street food sellers are on the up

Skilled tradespeople are in high demand

Although the trades industry has seen repeated challenges – from supply chain issues to tool theft – some trades are on the rise:

  • self-employed electrical engineers rose 20 per cent in 2022
  • fencing contractors increased by 9 per cent

Read more: Trades industry predictions for 2023.

‘A new wave of entrepreneurs’

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “Small Businesses and the self-employed are vital to the UK economy, accounting for 99 per cent of all British businesses – with most being impacted by the cost of living crisis.

“Thankfully small business owners have shown resilience, innovation and creativity at every stage since the start of the pandemic in 2020. And as a wave of challenges persist – it’s incredibly encouraging to see this uplift in UK entrepreneurs leading the way when it comes to our recovery.

“Put simply, our economy and communities need small businesses to bounce back, so it’s heartening to see a new wave of entrepreneurs seizing the opportunity to start up.”

We’re a nation of animal lovers, and pet ownership only seems to be on the up. If you fancy taking advantage of this trend with a new business, read our guide to jobs working with animals for a few ideas.

Starting a home baking business is something that soared in the pandemic and beyond – in fact it increased 230 per cent between 2019 and 2021 according to Simply Business research.

Read our guide to starting a cake and baking business for the key steps you need to follow. And watch tips from Butterwick Bakery on how to get started:

Even the best business ideas need a thought-out plan

The small profitable 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.

Once you've decided on the type of business you want to start, it'll need a name. If you're looking for small business name ideas, why not use our free Business Name Generator?

For more general data on business confidence and optimism, read our SME Insights Report and understand the challenges that businesses are facing.

What are your favourite self-employed ideas for 2023? Let us know in the comments below.

Methodology: Simply business analysed 196,271 new policies in 2021 and 179,832 new policies in 2022 to find the fastest growing sectors. Data extracted January 2022.

Looking for self-employed insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single self-employed insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. Whether it's public liability insurance, professional indemnity or whatever else you need, we'll run you a quick quote online, and let you decide if we're a good fit.

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Photograph 1: amenic181/
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

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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