The most popular business ideas in the UK today

Can-do hobbies, food, hair & beauty, and consultancy were among the most popular business ideas across the UK last year. That’s according to Cobweb’s most recent national Start-up Barometer based on analysis of almost 200,000 downloads of Business Opportunity Profiles (BOPs) from COBRA (Complete Business Reference Adviser) by subscribers last year. Analysis of 192,664 downloads has revealed that the number one start-up profile that was researched was Photographer, followed by Café in second place, with Coffee Shop third, Management Consultant fourth and Personal Trainer in fifth place.

Of the top 20 business ideas profiles downloaded, six were food-based, five were in consultancy/training, and four were hobby-based ventures. The BOPs were downloaded by business advisers working with their start-up and small business clients in local enterprise agencies, business reference libraries, university incubators and enterprise units around the UK.

Alongside the agencies, libraries and universities, COBRA subscribers also include front-line managers in high street banks across the country and a variety of other national, regional and local business support agencies and funding providers. There were over 400,000 downloads from COBRA across all types of guides and reports during 2014.

The top business ideas are surprisingly traditional. There is little sign of the boom in new online business models, except for eBay trading. People are starting with what they know.

TOP 20 start-up ideas

coffee shop1 Photographer (1,878)

2 Café (1,790)

3 Coffee Shop (1,779)

4 Management Consultant (1,677)

5 Personal Trainer (1,550)

6 Domestic Cleaning Service (1,487)

7 Beauty Salon (1,470)

8 Dog Walker (1,461)

9 Fast Food Takeaway (1,369)

10 eBay Trader (1,369)

11 Mobile Takeaway (1,356)

12 Restaurant (1,323)

13 Hairdressing Salon (1,191)

14 Business Trainer (1,183)

15 Freelance Artist (1,162)

16 Fashion Designer (1,129)

17 Gardener (1,097)

18 Cake and Biscuit Producer (1,093)

19 IT Consultant (1,079)

20 Recruitment Agency (1,068)

Many of these businesses can be run from home. For a more indepth overview of businesses you can run from home with little funding see here.

How to stand out?

If you are thinking about starting a venture in one of the business areas above, then you’re obviously selecting a tried and tested business model. Every small town will already have many other people running a business just like the one you want to start. That is both a blessing and potentially a curse. It’s a blessing because if lots of similar businesses are surviving or thriving then there is clearly a healthy potential market for your service. But it could be a curse because you’ll have to work hard to stand out!

Standing out starts with having a clear niche or target audience. It is better to make yourself especially appealing to a small group of customers than to try to appeal to everyone. What do you want to be known for: just another hairdresser, or the place to go if you have curly hair? Do you want to be just another Personal Trainer, or the PT who specialises in new mums?  You will still get general customers, but the group that you target will really love you and become fans, who spread the word. As a specialist you are also likely to be able to charge higher amounts when you become established. Making people feel understood and special has real value.

Start now…

Download our free set up your business checklist to start moving forward with your business today.



Images: photographer and coffee shop via Shutterstock.

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