Ready to take the plunge into self-employment? Want to be your own boss, but you are unsure which avenue will be the most lucrative? Or maybe you want to embark on a successful side hustle. Whatever the reason, getting a grasp on some good small business ideas are key to launching your own venture. Whether you want to be one of the 3.8 billion people filing new business applications or just want an outlet for your passion project - starting a small business can be a lot of fun.

 If you know you want to start but are unsure of what to do - Dojo is on hand to offer up a pantheon of options. Dojo provides small business owners with the tools to operate as well as handy business tips to succeed in your ventures.

In this handy guide, you’ll find everything from easy business ideas to how to start a small business at home ideas.

Contents and key links

  • Small business definition
  • What makes a good small business idea
  • Five of the best small business ideas
  • Five easy business ideas
  • How to start a small business at home
  • Are small business loans a good idea

What is a small business?

Time to get technical. A business is classified as small if it has less than 50 employees and is privately owned. A small business must also have an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less and £5.1 million or less on its balance sheet. In the UK, there are an estimated 5.4 million registered small businesses. Your new small business idea could add to this government tally.

What makes a good small business idea?

What are good small business ideas, and what are profitable small business ideas?

As a small business owner, you want to be able to succeed from the start. 60% of new businesses fail within the first three years. You don’t want your passion project to become part of this statistic.

Let’s break down what makes a good small business idea:

Being resourceful

Good small business ideas are often ones that utilise what you already have. This might be skills or materials. For example, if you’re skilled at writing you could start a small business writing content for companies and advertise your services through a service or directly to clients via a website. If you have physical wares to sell, you can start by selling on socials or via an online store if, for example, you’re a skilled potter.

The upside about using what you have is that you won’t need to train, re-train or spend money upskilling on courses if your idea is resourceful. This could cut costs as well as boosting your confidence when starting.

Low overheads

Trust us - you don’t want your business to cost an arm and a leg to set up. Having low overheads means that you can spend your money where it matters, like in marketing.

For example, you can keep costs low by solely selling online. You won’t have to spend money commuting to brick-and-mortar establishments, pay for rental leases or necessarily hold physical stock yourself if your business is based online.

Sustainably run

When you come up with good small business ideas, one of the main questions you need to ask yourself is - is it sustainable to run this by myself?

You’ll need to ask yourself if you have the skills, resources and capability to run your chosen business-type. This could mean do you have a solid understanding of financials to be able to calculate outgoings and profit. Or the space and time to hold stock and post packages.

If you don’t have a business partner, you will be responsible for every aspect of your small business. Therefore, small home business ideas that you can run yourself, where you can trial your business idea, are best when getting started. 

Five of the best alternative small business ideas

Below, we’ve included five of some of the best small business ideas that aren’t traditional options. These have low overheads, can be sustainably run and utilise skills and items you may already own.

Start a dropshipping business

Dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to start running an Ecommerce store.

If you’re searching ‘how to start a small business at home ideas’ and you have a passion for selling products, then starting a small dropshipping business could be the answer.

This small business has low overheads. This is because a third-party dropshipper keeps stock and sends out products to customers. So all you need to focus on is making sales via your website.

If you want to know about starting a dropshipping business, read our guide.

Freelance as a graphic designer

You’re arty and have a passion for photoshop. If this sounds like you, why not start as a freelance graphic designer?

You will be designing logos and static imagery for a range of clients. But the best part - every day as a freelancer is different! You could be designing restaurant menus on Monday. Pivoting to a YouTube banner on Tuesday followed by creating a business watermark the week after.

Although this option gives you flexibility in terms of where and what hours you work, going freelance means you will need to register as a sole trader and pay your own taxes. 

Virtual Assistant

If you’re searching for ‘what are good small business ideas’, look no further than becoming a virtual assistant. Much like a personal assistant, a virtual one is an independent contractor who works with clients to complete administrative duties.

This role is almost always 100% remote and requires nothing other than a personal laptop to get going. The Society of Virtual Assistants has over 3,500 members and is a great place to get started with your small business.

You will probably need to send your clients a sales invoice to charge for work as a virtual assistant. Learn what an invoice is and how to send one via our handy guide.

Begin teaching English as a foreign language

You could start an online teaching business if you’re fluent in English. This is one of the best small business ideas because all you need is yourself, your laptop and a webcam.

To start, however, you’ll need to make sure you are properly qualified. You can take a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course at colleges, remotely or at private training providers across the globe. A full-time TEFL course roughly lasts around four weeks and usually comprises 120 hours of study.

You can set up your own website and start collecting clients once you qualify. They can pay for your services via your website or through MOTO payments.

Become a Life Coach

As outlined, the best small business ideas are the ones you already have experience in.

A Life Coaching small business could be your calling if you have exceptional people skills and enjoy navigating life and career transitions. When you have a wealth of experience yourself, it’s easy to mentor someone wanting to get onto the career ladder. Or, when someone else is searching for simple business ideas - you will be on hand to show them away.

This small business idea has the potential to be a big earner too, as life and career coaching does not come cheap! It’s best to look for a certified programme, if you want to start up a life coaching business. You can find more details via the GOV website.

Three easy business ideas

You’ve already heard the best small business ideas, so here are five easy business ideas to sink your teeth into. All of these businesses are virtually costless to set up and easy to execute.

B&B Host

Do you have a spare, furnished room in your home? If so, you could become a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) host! Travellers and holidaymakers can spend the night in your spotless spare room and you can make a fortune off this easy business idea. 

To start a small B&B business, you do need to have a physical location for your guests to sleep in and a bathroom for them to use. You don’t need any licensing to run a B&B business. However, you need to be aware of various legislation.

Dog Walking or Pet Sitting

Hanging out with furry four-legged friends all day and getting paid for it? Sign us up. If you’re asking ‘what are good small business ideas?’ This is definitely one of them.

Approximately 62% of households in the UK own a pet while only 23% of employees work remotely full-time. As part of your job as a dog walker or a pet sitter, you will need to feed the pets, supply them with water and exercise them as needed. Lots of clients also want regular updates on their pampered pooches - so be sure to have technology on hand to do this.

This is one of the best simple business ideas and the perfect side hustle. It is also a small business which you can scale up extremely quickly.

Tour Guide

Know your way around the Cotswolds? Have the desire to embark on walking tours and teach holidaymakers about the history of your town? If so, then starting up a tour-guiding business could be your calling.

You first need to find your niche to capitalise on this easy business idea. What are you interested in and what do you know most about? Then, you need to create an online website where you can sell your service.

After that is the fun part - organising your tour. Be sure to carry an NFC-enabled card machine with you on your tours, too. This is so you can take on-the-go payments. To register as a tour guide, you will need public liability insurance. To learn more, visit HMRC.

How to start a small business at home

Following our small business ideas suggestions, you may be wondering how you can get started. There are six steps to building your dream business at home:

1 - Choosing a small business idea that is sustainable and enjoyable.

2 - Create a business plan. This can be topline planning if you want your small business to remain a hobby.

3 - Register as a sole trader, a limited company or a business partnership.

4 - Sign up for a business bank account. Make sure you are issued an account number and a sort code, too

5 - Set up an office or determine if you can work remotely from the comfort of your own home.

6 - Start building your dream business from the ground up.

Are small business loans a good idea?

While we’ve supplied you with some low-cost UK small business ideas, you may want to start a small business that requires a small business loan. But what is a small business loan and is it a good idea to take one out?

What is a small business loan?

A small business loan is a form of business financing. It’s a way to fund your small business before you start making a profit. There are many different types of small business loans available in the UK. However, these are usually fixed-term. This means you repay both the capital and the interest.

These loans can also be taken out for short-term or long-term periods. Loans can also be secured or unsecured. For more information regarding business loans see HMRC’s website.

Should you take out a small business loan?

A small business loan can help you build your dream business from the ground up. It can also help you cover hidden expenses and expand your inventory. However, it is not always necessary to take out a small business loan. Instead, you may be eligible for a business bursary.

You can also look at business funding options - click here to find out more about business funding offered by Dojo. 

Alternatively, in the UK, there are various grants and schemes available that offer billions to small businesses. This could be a great second option to taking out a small business loan.


Now that you are clued up on what a small business is and what one can be - it’s time to get stuck in with creating good small business ideas.

Whatever idea you decide to run with, Dojo is on hand to help you get paid with our card machines and remote payments options like paymentlinks and online checkout.

For more business guides, see our blog.