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32 Best Business To Start in UK: Successful Business Ideas for 2024

June 20, 2024

The best businesses to start in UK are:

  1. Local Lead Generation
  2. Real Estate Business
  3. AirBnb Business
  4. Security Company
  5. Organic Food Store
  6. Personal Trainer
  7. Private Tutoring
  8. Consulting Firm
  9. Bookkeeping Services
  10. Social Media Marketing Agency

According to Statista, 92.9% of small and medium-size businesses in the UK survive the first year of business. Although 60% of them close within 3 years. It’s a reasonable timeframe to test out your business model and adjust business processes. Beauhurst reported there are 43 unicorns in the UK as of 2024. Unicorns are startup businesses with a value of more than £804.25 million. Some of these are Deliveroo, Inspired and Starling Bank.

It’s worth noting the UK is also in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. The price of everyday necessities are increasing faster than the income rates. The Resolution Foundation reported it’ll take until 2027 to go back to the pre-cost-of-living crisis state. According to redditor SubScriptZero, the UK investors are also more risk averse. Hence, it’ll take the right product and connections to succeed.

In this article, we’re listing the best business to start in UK. Along with how to start them, suggestions for certifications and what associations you can join to build your network. We’ll also introduce the best business you can start in the UK without venture capital funding.

1. Local Lead Generation

Local lead generation is creating websites to rank on search results. Local lead generation uses local SEO, and refers the leads to local businesses for a flat fee. It’s the best business to start in the UK because 61% of its population search for services online, as per Get App UK. There is no special license needed to start local lead generation. If you have a background in writing or programming, it’ll be helpful, but not mandatory. 

According to Leyton, there are 5.51 million small businesses in the UK. 25% of them don’t have websites. It’s a gap local lead generation can fill. The local lead generation also has 90% profit, which you can invest back to create more websites. The startup cost of a local lead generation business is £400. This cost includes the website hosting and domain.

2. Real Estate Business

A real estate business manages the buying, selling and investing in real estate properties. According to Next Move Strategy Consulting, there is a rise in virtual real estate platforms as remote work became popular post-COVID. These real estate platforms offer virtual tours and information collected through data analytics of market trends, property values and investment opportunities. Buyers can use filters like property size, location and pricing.

According to Statista, the UK is the 2nd largest commercial real estate market in Europe at $1.7 trillion. And residential real estate is projected to reach $17.85 trillion. It is a thriving industry in the country. There is no required license to start a real estate business in the UK. According to The Real Property Experts, you can take classes from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or the Independent Network of Estate Agents (INEA). Indeed UK reported the average income of a real estate agent in the UK is £34990 per year.

3. AirBnB Business

An AirBnB business lists properties for short-term and long-term accommodation in specific locations. An Airbnb business means letting your property to guests. According to Self Catering, 7 million guests booked an Airbnb in the UK due to lack of hotel accommodations. There is a gap you can fill in this market. API Global stated the average annual income of an Airbnb host is £6k per year. Although it can get higher for tourist spots like London.

To start an Airbnb business, you must check with your local authorities. Different locations have different requirements in the UK. In Scotland, a license is required before you list your property. Edinburgh requires a Planning Permission and registration to the Department of Enterprise is mandatory on the Isle of Man. London also has a “90 night rule” which limits the letting time of your property to 90 nights per year. After that, the property listing will automatically be closed. It is free to list your property on Airbnb. However, the service fee for hosts range between 3% to 14%.

4. Security Company

A security company provides armed or unarmed services to protect people and properties. According to LSS London, there is a demand for 60,000 new security officers. This is after the 18,000 new security guards in the UK from 2021 to 2023, as per Statista. The UK's security services industry continues to rise. Randstad reported that security guards earn £18,000 and £32,000 per year on average.

It costs £2,000 and £20,000 to start a security company in the UK. This cost covers the insurance, vehicle and training of security guards, according to Invoice Funding UK. Moreover, it requires a Security Industry Authority (SIA) License to run a security company. The license needs to be renewed every 3 years by attending top-up training. Security companies are also expected to have insurance. According to Get Licensed, companies don’t work with security companies without insurance.

5. Personal Trainer

A personal trainer creates effective programs and guides clients to achieve their fitness goals safely. According to Future Fit, the UK personal training industry is expected to grow by 10% in 2029. It’s a steady industry with increasing demand after COVID as people get more conscious of their health.

There is no degree requirement to be a personal trainer in the UK. However, a Level 2 certificate in Gym Instructing and Level 3 certificate in Personal Training is required according to Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Level 3 qualification for Personal Training will also qualify you to receive National Health Service (NHS) referrals as per Law Donut. 

According to Indeed, the average income of a personal trainer is £30,914 annually. You can increase your income by offering additional services like custom nutritional plans. You can also further your study Level 4 Personal Training or niche down to Pre & Post Natal or Sport Massage.

6. Private Tutoring Business

A private tutoring business or tuition provides specialized support and guidance for kids and adults on specific subjects. According to First Tutor, private tuition in the UK is worth £2 billion. 40% of students in London are receiving private tuition. The demand for private tutoring rose due to COVID. According to Glassdoor, the average income of a private tutor in the UK is £33,374 annually.

There is no license requirement to start a tutoring business.If you’re registering as a sole trader, you just have to register your business in His Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) within 3 months after your first tutor service. You should also be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked since it’s required for people working with children. The startup cost of a private tutoring business is £1,000 to £5,000. This includes the tutoring materials and advertisement.

7. Consulting Firm

A consulting firm provides professional or technical advice on companies. They’re typically hired to solve a specific problem in the company, or make the company process more efficient. According to City A.M., the UK consulting market grew by 4.7% in 2023. The consulting market has slower growth compared to other industries. But the average income ranges from £44,000 for junior consultants to £170,000 for partners.

According to The HR Director, the consulting industry needs over 40k consultants in operations, management and IT. There is no license required to be a consultant, but you can get training and accreditation from The Institute of Consulting (IC).

8. Bookkeeping Services

Bookkeeping services provide the day-to-day recording of the business’s financial transactions. This includes managing accounts payable, invoicing, processing payrolls, and managing performance indicators. According to Glassdoor, the average income of a bookkeeper in the UK is £24K - £32K per year.

To start a bookkeeping service, you can apply for a Practice License in the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB). The Practical License application is processed for 28 days. Bookkeepers are also required to register an Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) supervisor. These can be recognized associations like the ICB, Institute of Accountants and Bookkeepers (IAB) or Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). Bookkeepers who don’t want to join these associations can appoint the HMRC as AML supervisor. Bookkeepers are also expected to do their due diligence to ensure the companies they’re working with are not involved in money laundering.

9. Social Media Marketing Agency

A social media marketing agency creates social media strategies and campaigns for their clients. Social media marketing agencies also optimize the business’s social media accounts to drive attention. According to We Are Social, 56.2 million of the UK's population use social media for almost 2 hours per day. It’s an important marketing channel to reach a business’s target audience. Indeed UK reported the average income of a social media marketer is £32,679 per annum.

There is no special license required to start a social media marketing agency in the UK. If you have analytical skills, and a background in business administration, you can start your own marketing agency. You can also get other qualifications from recognized bodies like the Institute of Data and Marketing. The Chartered Institute of Marketing can also help you expand your network. 

Evie Morton, a social media marketing manager, told Prospects UK everyone in their agency doesn’t have a degree related to marketing. Evie is a high achiever who enjoys the fast-paced environment of social media marketing. She said she enjoys changing her tone for every business and marketing campaign their agency worked in.

10. Business Coach

A business coach works closely with executives, entrepreneurs and business owners. Business coaches help companies build and implement strategies for growth. According to UK Business Mentoring, 6 out of 10 businesses fail within 3 years. The successful businesses managed with the help of business coaches. Growth Idea reported that 99% of clients are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their business coaches.

There are no requirements to be a business coach in the UK. However, companies would prefer those who have a degree in business or have experience in related fields. The Institute of Leadership Management (ILM) offers ILM Level 5 qualification. It’s best for managers and business coaches. The average annual income of a business is £45,960, as per Jooble.

11. Cyber Security

Cyber security is protecting the devices and services we use against cyberthreats. According to the UK Government, businesses experienced 7.78 million cyber crimes in the last year. And the British Council reported the cyber security unemployment rate is 0%. The demand is high and skilled cyber security providers are low.

According to Yale Ledgers, obtaining Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are starting grounds for cyber security providers. You can also become an Assured Cyber Security Consultant. Application to National Cyber Security Centre required relevant Cyber Protection Certification and Cyber Essentials Certification. According to Talent, the average income of cyber security providers is  £54,994 per year.

12. Health and Wellness Coach

A health and wellness coach guides and supports individuals in adopting healthier habits. According to Statista, the health and wellness of the UK is projected to reach 10.65% annual growth until 2028. There is no requirement to be a health coach in the UK, but it’ll help to have a background in healthcare and physical therapy, according to Workbred UK. Payscale reported that the average health coach income is £22,803 per year.

13. Copywriting Business

A copywriting business creates persuasive and clear copy to communicate and engage with the target audience. According to Statista, copywriting is the 2nd skill needed in marketing teams. According to Content Chef, 54% of customers won’t buy from a business with obvious grammar or spelling mistakes. Furthermore, 41% of copywriters in the UK are working in the B2B sector. Copywriting is a skill needed in a lot of industries. There is no requirement to start a copywriting business in the UK. A degree in communication, marketing or English will help your credentials for companies. A portfolio is also valuable to showcase your copywriting skills. According to Glassdoor, the average income of a copywriter in the UK is £30,540 per annum.

14. Transcription Agency

A transcription agency creates written or text documents out of voice files. According to the Market Research Future, the legal transcription market is valued at $2.1 billion. And the UK market is the fastest growing market in Europe. Meanwhile, the medical transcription market has a CAGR of 6.55%, according to Technavio.

The transcription industry also has a low barrier to entry. According to the Economic Research Institute, transcriptionists are typically high school graduates. Registering for business and getting insurance like the Professional Indemnity Insurance. The Economic Research Institute reported the average income of medical transcriptionists is £36,928 a year. Legal transcriptionists earn £37,924 per year as per Glassdoor.

15. Market Research Company

A market research company gathers and analyzes data from customers and competitors for businesses. A market research analyst identifies a product's target demographic and their purchasing power. Businesses rely on market research to make informed decisions on their marketing strategies and sales techniques.

If you have a background in statistics, marketing and data science, you can start a market research company. The National Careers Service mentioned knowledge in psychology and sociology are helpful as well. IBIS World reported the market research industry in the UK increased by 4.2% in 2023. According to Talent, the UK's market research analyst earns £32,500 per year on average.

16. Graphic Design Firm

A graphic design firm creates visual concepts  for businesses to communicate with their market. Graphic designers are typically responsible for branding elements such as logo, posters and packaging. According to the Small Business UK, graphic design has grown by 18% in the last 5 years. 

There is a demand for graphic designers by advertising agencies. Graphic design is listed as one of the jobs with shortage in workers by the Home Office. If you have a background in art and design, you can start a graphic design firm. You can also join the International Society of Typographical Designers or Chartered Society of Designers to widen your network.

17. Digital Marketing Agency

A digital marketing agency promotes products and service through the internet. From emails to social media and paid ads. IBIS World reported there is a 6% increase in the number of digital advertising agencies in the UK. According to OMG Center, the UK digital marketing industry generated £13.6 billion.

Starting a digital marketing agency in the UK is easy. You must register the agency with Companies House and HMRC. The National Insurance Contribution (NIC) is required, unless you’re under the Small Profit Threshold (SPT). The SPT means you don’t have to pay the NIC if you earn less than £6,365 a year. According to Women in Agencies, the average income of a digital marketing agency owner in the UK is £30,000 to £70,000 per year.

18. IT Service Company

An IT service company creates, updates, and repairs software or hardware tools for businesses. They enable businesses to access and optimize information and their day-to-day process. According to the UK Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, data-driven companies like IT services employed 1.5 million people in 2023. Statista also expects the UK IT service market to increase by 39.24% until 2029.

An IT service company doesn’t require a specific license to start. If you have a degree or experience in computer science, an IT service company may be a good business. Reddit user Wizz4rd advised a computer science graduate to target SMEs. He mentioned it’s because these small businesses don’t have an internal IT department. SMEs also typically require basic IT services only.

IT services usually work with personal data and are exposed to business practices. Legal Vision UK emphasizes having patent or trade secret protection for softwares your IT company builds. It’s also important to have a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and an IT Services Agreement. According to Sprint Law UK, an IT Service Agreement covers the liability, payment and scope of services. Glassdoor reported the average income of an IT support averages £34k per year.

19. Website Design Agency

A website design agency creates appealing and functional websites for businesses. They create website layout and navigation prioritizing the user experience. According to the UK Web Host Review, people will only look at websites for 0.5 seconds to form an opinion. And 4 out of 10 will leave immediately if it’s not appealing. So, a website designer is a vital position in the ecommerce landscape.

There is no required license to be a website designer. A background in the arts and design will boost your credentials for companies. You can take a Level 3 Certificate in Web Design and Development or a degree in multimedia design. According to UK Web Host, the average income of a website designer in the UK is £30,824 per year.

20. Mobile App Development Company

A mobile app development company plans and designs a mobile application on iOS, android and windows. According to the London App Development, the app industry is projected to reach £31 billion value by 2025. The development of one mobile app costs from £8,000 to £70,000, according to Dian Apps.

If you have interest in coding, or a degree in computer science or programming, you can start a mobile app development company. It doesn’t require a specific license. You can also join The Chartered Institute for IT or Institution of Analysts and Programmers. According to Payscale, mobile app developers have an average income of £32,539 per annum.

21. Project Management

A project manager coordinates and organizes the project process from start to finish. They’re also responsible for budgeting and meeting the schedules required. According to the Association for Project Management (APM), there are 2.13 million project managers in the UK. It is more in demand in the UK, compared to the 426,229 project managers in the US, as per Zippia.

There is no specific license required to become a project manager in the UK. Although you must know the project management method used in Europe. It is the PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2). The PRINCE2 course is available online. However, according to Prospects UK, some sectors will require knowledge in the industry more than any business background. These sectors are IT and Engineering.

22. SEO Agency

An SEO agency improves a website’s online presence to increase traffic and conversion through SEO strategies. They do SEO audits, content creations, on-page optimization and link building. According to Artios, the UK SEO market has grown by 11.2% in 5 years. CW Jobs reported the average income for SEO jobs is £42,500 per annum.

There are no specific requirements to start an SEO agency. Prospects UK mentioned getting search engine optimization certificates. Some of those are Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) and Google Digital Garage SEO Fundamental course. And if you’re looking to scale your SEO agency, an employment agreement is required for your employees.

23. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the promotion of a product or service for a commission. The commission rates in the UK ranges from 1% to 50%, according to Authority Hacker. You can start an affiliate marketing business without any certifications or licenses. However, the UK has rules and regulations for affiliate marketers. The CAP Code enforced by Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) states all affiliate marketing should be obvious to the audience.

To get started in promoting affiliate products, you can join affiliate programs. The Amazon Associate UK, CJ Affiliate and Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Programme are some of the top affiliate programs in the UK. The cookie window for affiliate marketing ranges from 24 hours to 90 days.

24. Blogging

Blogging is creating, maintaining and writing blogs for your own website. These blogs often have an informal tone to encourage engagement with the audience. Bloggers write a range of topics from their own interests in sports and news. Buzzword Creative UK reported 77% of internet users regularly read blogs. In fact, 26% of kids read blogs frequently. 

Bloggers can earn from their blogs through ads, sponsored reviews and brand collaborations. There are no requirements to be a blogger. Although 30% of readers said content quality is important as per UK Web Host Review. So, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the topic you’re blogging about. The most successful blogger in the UK, Zoe Sugg, net worth is estimated to be around £4.7 million. Zoella, Zoe’s blog, tackles beauty, fashion, lifestyle and interior design. 

25. Remote Accountant

An accountant tracks and summarizes financial accounts for businesses and financial authorities. Unlike bookkeepers, accountants analyze and interpret their collected data. Currently, the average age of accountants in the UK is 46, as per Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB). According to FRC, the number of students and accountants joining professional bodies like ACCA declined by 3.5%. The majority of accountants are near retirement and there are less new accountants.

According to Prospects UK, any degree holder can be an accountant. They can get qualifications from professional accounting bodies. AAT Level 2 Certificate and the CIMA course are some options. CIMA offers online study options. According to Suited Insure, accountants in the UK earn £30,000 on average per year.

26. CV Writer Company

A CV writer company showcases the skills, experiences, and expertise of their clients. They make sure the information is logically arranged and readable for hiring managers. According to CV Help UK, 7 out of 10 CVs are rejected through the applicant tracking system (ATS). The ATS filters the CVs based on keywords.

There is no regulation in place for CV writers. A degree in journalism, or an experience in HR are helpful. It’ll help you write succinct descriptions. You can also join the British Association of CV Writers. It was established in 2022 so CV writers can share tips and resources. It’s beneficial to expand your network. According to Twin Employment, 43% of CVs are rejected because of spelling or grammatical mistakes.

27. Data Entry Clerk

A data entry clerk transfers information from paper or audio to computer files. Data entries can be done manually or through a scanner. Data entry clerks also sort through information and categorize them. According to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), there is a slight decrease in data entry jobs. But data dictates most business operations in all industries. So, ONS expects data entry to still be an important job in the country.

Data entry has minimum requirements. You don’t need to be a degree holder, but proficient in computer software used for entry. According to UK National Career Services, you can take free online in The Skills Toolkit to improve your client prospects. Randstad reported data entry is needed in hospitality, manufacturing and creative industries. A data clerk earns £22,928 per year on average, as per Glassdoor UK.

28. Digital Design Agency

A digital design agency creates digital assets like animation or 2D and 3D models for businesses. They use audio and video formats, unlike graphic designers. Digital designers also focus on user experience and the screen size of devices. According to Design Week, digital design is the fastest growing area of the industry. However, there is a decline in digital design applicants. From 299,422 in 2010 to 95,694 in 2021. 

There are no specific licenses required to be a digital designer. But you must be knowledgeable in industry standard tools like Illustrator, InDesign and Adobe Photoshop. There are also industry standard coding languages like Javascript, HTML and CSS. According to Indeed UK, digital designers can earn up to £33,834 per year.

29. Virtual Event Planning Business

A virtual event planner plans and implements virtual events according to their client’s needs. They also develop feedback surveys and reports. Virtual event planners handle the logistics and technology needed to ensure seamless execution of the virtual event. According to Indeed UK, virtual event planners can earn £33,967 per year on average. 

There are no requirements to be a virtual event planner. If you have a degree in event management or hospitality, it’s a good business to start. According to London Daily News, the virtual event market is expected to grow up to 21.34% in value by 2027. The demand for work-from-home policy in businesses is also driving the increase in virtual events. You can expand your network by joining Society of Event Organizers (SEO).

30. Online Boutique

An online boutique is a small store selling fashionable clothes or lifestyle items. Boutique typically caters to a niche interest like vintage, shapewear and street wear. According to Statista, apparel is the top item UK residents purchase online. And 25% of retail sales are from textile and clothing. These data suggest there is already a market ready for online boutiques. There are no required licenses to start your online boutique. You just have to register your business at the Companies House and HMRC. According to Forbes, the average income of an online boutique is £4,744.44 per month.

31. Business Development Management

Business development management identifies new prospects and market opportunities. Business development managers focus on building partnerships instead of revenue, like sales members. The business development role has a 5% growth rate in the UK, as per Randstad. This is because of the increasing number of businesses in the country, and workforce retirement.

You can be a business development manager with Level 2 or 3 courses in sales marketing and business principles. The Institute of Leadership and Management provides further studies to increase your income. According to UK NCS, the salary for business development managers range from £26,000 to £64,000.

32. Virtual Interior Design

A virtual interior designer creates interior spaces that are functional and safe. According to Frame Recruitment in the UK, interior designers are in demand, especially in the hospitality industry. You can be a virtual interior designer with a degree in interior design. A diploma in interior architecture is also acceptable. 

You can also get accreditation or CPD training from the Society of British Interior Designers (SBID). According to Where Saints Go, the best places to be an interior designer are Liverpool, Cardiff, Sheffield and Glasgow. Talent reported interior designers earn £35,000 per annum.

Is UK Good for Starting a Small Business?

The UK is good for starting a small business because they have professional bodies supporting businesses. From IT to Marketing and CV writing, there are associations that small business owners can join. It expands their network and gives them access to resources and trends of the industry. According to Statista, the UK has more than 33 million workers. It’ll be easy for businesses to access this strong workforce.

The UK also ranks 8th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. It’s easier for businesses to register and launch in the UK, compared to other European countries. The UK also has enterprise zones, which offer tax breaks for expanding or launching businesses. According to the House of Commons, there are 48 enterprise zones in the UK today. Statista also reported the UK’s inflation rate was projected to go down to 2% in 2028. It’s a 5% decline from 2023.

What is The Best Business To Start in 2024 in the UK?

The best business to start in 2024 in the UK is local lead generation because it doesn’t require any degree or certification. Local lead generation is creating websites for local service providers. Through SEO techniques, you can rank in the search results within 3 to 6 months. Starting a business like a security company or bookkeeping agency needs certifications to practice the profession. And they typically range from months to 4 years. Most business ideas take years of hard work to profit from. For affiliate marketing and blogging, it takes at least 2 years of consistent publishing to rank on search results.

According to Startup Magazine, 1 out of 5 businesses in the UK doesn’t have a website. And 94% of the UK's population search Google regularly. Local lead generation solves this problem by referring customers to the local businesses. So, local business owners can do what they do best while your local lead gen sites drive customers in. With that in mind, local lead generation is highly scalable. You can create websites for 50+ niches in your town. And rent them out for £400 to £2400 per month.

For example, the tree care site I worked in 2015 regularly drives leads, and earns me $2k per month. All the lead gen sites I own today generate me $52k every month. Local lead generation sites aren’t affected by Google core updates, so it also requires less maintenance. So, if you’re looking for a business idea you can start much faster, is passive and scalable, local lead generation is the best option.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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    1. Hi Lisa thanks for your comment! I appreciate your kind words and that you took the time. What idea(s) did you find most helpful?

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