Nobody said starting a business was easy, but if you’re considering branching out on your own, here are some great ideas for small businesses that don’t require huge set-up costs or lengthy professional training.

But before we list our best business start-up ideas, here are a few words of advice:

  • Play to your strengths
  • Look local
  • Spend time and effort on the planning process
  • Have a marketing strategy
  • Don’t overpromise and under-deliver
  • Be prepared to work hard

Great ideas for starting a small business

OK, so you’re considering starting up a business of your own.  That’s great as long as you’re passionate about it, you’ve done your homework and it fills a need.  It’s no good doing what everyone else is doing – look for your unique selling point and do the job better than anyone else!

Here are 10 of the most popular small business ideas:

Photographer or videographer

If you love nothing more than being behind a lens and creating memorable moments, this could be the job for you.  You’ll need some high-quality equipment, and you may need to offer your services at a discounted rate at first in order to build up a portfolio, but if photography is your pride and passion, it could be the business for you.

House or pet sitter

A home is usually a person’s biggest asset and their pet a much-loved member of their family.  Looking after their prized possessions with respect, care and attention to detail can be a sought-after service and it’s possible to build up a strong reputation through word-of-mouth referrals.

Landscaper or garden service

If you’ve got green fingers and can handle some physical labour, starting up a small gardening service or landscaping business is a great idea.  Many people don’t have the time, ability or inclination to keep their backyards or verges looking good – and there’s always a need for willing, able and knowledgeable people to do the hard yards for them.


If you’re a specialist in a subject (eg maths, languages and music), you could make money by tutoring students.  Teaching experience is helpful but not necessary – and you may even find that you can build a business by tutoring online students outside your geographical location.

Virtual Assistant

Many businesses operate very successfully by utilising the services of a virtual assistant to handle a variety of administrative and organisational tasks, eg scheduling, diary management, emails, travel arrangements and social media posting.  If you’re a dab hand with a computer, can multitask and have an eye for detail, you could set yourself up as a VA.


Put your strong language skills to good use by setting up a translation business.  You may be able to contract your services to companies or government departments, and networking at social clubs is also a useful way of marketing your business.


If you have financial expertise, are familiar with accounting software and can work to deadlines, establishing a small bookkeeping business could be right for you.

Freelance copywriter

The explosion of digital communications has led to a huge demand for online content in many different forms, so if you have a good command of the English language and have a way with words, you could consider a copywriting or editing business.

Domestic or commercial cleaning

There will always be a demand for people to clean homes and businesses as it’s a necessary job that not everyone has the time or inclination to do.  Setting up a cleaning business is simple and all you need is some high-quality commercial cleaning equipment that will help you get the job done efficiently.

Social media marketing consultant

Most businesses need a social media presence to maintain engagement with their existing customers and grow their reputation and market share, so if you’re adept on social channels, you could consider offering your skills for a fee.

A last word on starting your own business

Many aspirant business owners come unstuck because they discover a significant disconnect between theory and reality.  Having a good idea is just the start.  If you’re considering going it alone, it’s really important to do thorough groundwork to ensure there’s a demand for your service and that you can deliver what you promise.

Setting yourself up with quality equipment is also a must.  Whether it’s a camera for your photography business, a portable vacuum for your commercial cleaning business, a lawnmower for your landscaping enterprise or a computer set-up for your online business, you need high-quality equipment that you can rely on.