Even before COVID-19 swept across the world, we were seeing major changes in the way businesses operated. The online retail boom, the decline of British high streets, and many household names going into administration. Then COVID came along and ramped things up.
The majority of businesses in the UK have been impacted by COVID-19, in one way or another. With many seeing a huge decline in their revenue, some having to cease trading altogether and others with widespread redundancies.
The result? An unsure economic future for employees and the unemployed. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t also opportunities for the future. There are already some businesses flourishing in the ‘new world’ we’re living in.
Maybe it’s time you started your own business… In this post we look at the top five business ideas that we think can flourish in the post-COVID world.
Should I start my own business?
Firstly, before we look at the business ideas themselves it’s really important for you to consider if starting your own business is the right step for you. Starting a business takes hard work (and often a bit of luck) to make it a success, and you’ll most likely need some capital to get your business off the ground – which, in the current climate, may seem like enough to put you off.
If you’ve got the motivation and means to get started, what type of business could you start post COVID? Take a look at the top five simple business ideas in a post-COVID world.
Dog walking service
If you’re a dog lover or live in a dog-friendly area that’s popular with commuters, then starting a dog walking business could be perfect for you. It involves very little startup capital and during lockdown the number of puppies being bought sky-rocketed, so there’s going to be a lot mo
With Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increasing by 166% since lockdown was announced on 23rd March (according to the Dogs Trust) and with lockdown slowly easing across a lot of the UK and people returning to work, now could be the ideal time to start your dog walking service or dog-related product offering.
How to start a dog walking service
- Speak to friends and neighbours with dogs. With a little luck you might find that friends and family, or neighbours in your area, can provide you with your first dog walking job.
- Put up an ad in the local shop or community centre. Being a local dog walker isn’t about being flashy, and offering your services with a simple ad in a local shop window can work wonders. Using a simple sheet with pull off tabs with your phone number can work really well.
- Make sure you have what you need to start your business. Preparation is key. Will you be walking local dogs only for now or will you need to look at transport? Do you need business insurance? Have you researched good dog walks and local dog-friendly parks?
If you have experience in ecommerce, online marketing, SEO, copywriting or digital design, you could do well setting yourself up as a digital freelancer. With some businesses looking to reduce their full time headcount, the demand for freelance talent could well increase quite considerably.
How to become a digital freelancer
- Reach out to your contacts. As much as we often want to roll our eyes when people talk about our network, it can be hugely important when starting out as a freelancer. Friends or old colleagues may be aware of opportunities, either within businesses they’re currently working in or through their contacts. Let them know you’re going freelance and are looking for work.
- Join a freelancer site. There are plenty of online platforms that connect freelancers with companies who have projects they need help with, or need ongoing freelance support. Some good sites to check out are:
- Grow your network. Sites such as LinkedIn give you the opportunity to network with business owners, and share knowledge at the same time. Potential clients may find your profile, so make sure it’s accurate and up-to-date. Stand out from the crowd by creating and sharing posts that demonstrate your professional knowledge and expertise.
Home deliveries have been the saviour for many of us through lockdown – from meals and groceries to impulsive Amazon shopping sprees. The result is that delivery driver demand has never been higher, so it’s a great time to get in on the action if you have your own vehicle.
How to become a delivery driver
- You need your own vehicle. For many deliveries you’ll need a car or van, but many meal delivery services often use motorbikes and bikes too – particularly in big cities.
- Get insurance. If you’re using your car or van for deliveries you need to make sure you have the right insurance cover that includes commercial use. Otherwise you risk invalidating your policy.
- Approach poplar delivery services
They’re now household names so it shouldn’t take you long to find the companies with delivery opportunities. Amazon, Hermes, Deliveroo and UberEats are just a few of the big ones you could look at.
Someone once said there’s no better time to start a business than during a recession. Who said it? Does it hold any value? Honestly? I have no f*cking clue. But, what is true, is that there are definitely opportunities even during difficult times as new things emerge that weren’t there before. A good example during this COVID crisis in the sheer volume of online sales and deliveries. The growth in the sector is unprecedented but only came around as quickly as it did due to COVID
– Eddie Whittingham, Founder
Related to home deliveries, online sales have seen a huge increase during lockdown and the trend looks to continue. So, why not join the online retail boom and make money yourself? Savvy online sellers made the most of shortages and demands for items like hand sanitiser, face masks, rubber gloves, and even loo roll.
In fact, it’s reported that the cost of hand sanitiser went up by as much as 400% during lockdown, due to the crazy increase in demand. The supply and demand for such products seems to have calmed down, but selling online is still a quick and easy way to earn cash.
If you don’t have the capital to buy stock upfront, you could consider drop shipping – where you don’t hold stock, instead you take customer orders and pass them straight onto the manufacturer or wholesaler to deliver directly.
How to set up as an online seller
- Set up your tech. You’ll need a laptop, computer or tablet to work from. You may need a printer too if you’re going to have to print off delivery notes and labels.
- Buy stock (or find a drop shipping partner). This is where you decide if you can afford (and want) to buy in stock to then sell. Or whether it’s better for you to use drop shipping and simply manage customer orders and pass them onto the manufacturer to fulfill the order.
- Create your website (or ecommerce accounts). If you’re planning to set up your own online shop to sell products directly then you’ll need to create your website. If you don’t fancy the extensive online marketing and promotion that you’ll need to make your website an ecommerce success then you might want to start by using existing online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and notonthehighstreet.
- Register your business. There’s a difference between selling a few items on eBay and being an official online seller. If you’re serious about making it your main way of earning, you want to register your business. That could be as a sole trader or limited company, but for tax purposes you want to do things by the book.
This option certainly isn’t for everyone, and requires serious thought whether it’s the right choice for you. Becoming a childminder also involves meeting official requirements, but for the right type of person becoming a childminder can be a really rewarding way to earn money.
How to become a childminder
- Organise your premises. To care for multiple children you’ll need suitable premises in good condition – your home is fine, as long as it’s in a good condition. If you’re close to schools that’s ideal. If you’re further away then you’ll need to consider how you’ll manage the school pick-ups or drop-offs, if necessary.
- Prepare basic teaching materials. If you’re looking after young children full time, you’ll be expected to teach them some of the early years skills, such as basic literacy and numeracy
- Register as a childminder. Unlike if you were working as a babysitter, there’s an official registration process to go through to become a childminder. You’ll need to keep an ongoing learning record of any children under five in your care. There is also likely to be a fair bit of daily admin being a childminder, so being organised is important.
Registration requirements for childminder
The registration requirements to become a childminder can vary, depending on where you live in the UK.
Is it easy to set up a childminding business?
Starting a childminding business may not be as quick to get up and running as some of the alternatives due to the registration process and admin that will be required. The list of requirements is fairly long, including:
- Pediatric first-aid certificate
- Local authority-approved childminder training course
- DBS criminal record check (for you and anyone who lives with you over the age of 16)
- House inspection
- Childminder insurance
Once you complete the childminder registration process, Ofsted will issue you with a certificate and you’ll be ready to take on your first child.
Friends and family, Facebook and your local school notice boards can be a great way to get your business started. Word of mouth is also incredibly effective for childminding.
For more advice on becoming a childminder, check out Gov.uk.
Post-COVID financial support for businesses
For startups and small businesses during COVID, the Government has launched financial support schemes to help them get them back on track. Check out our guide to financial support to recover from COVID-19.
Whilst business insurance isn’t a legal obligation, it can offer valuable peace of mind for you and your business. Consider public liability insurance if you’re working with the public, employers liability insurance if you have employees, and make sure your stock and equipment is covered.