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Are there any small businesses I can start and run on my own?

Whether you're looking to become self-employed as a full time job, or whether it's to earn some much needed money on top of your regular income, there are some small business ideas that you can start-up and run by yourself.

Starting your first business can seem rather daunting and it's not a decision that should be taken lightly. From planning what your business will do, to what entity type it will have can seem impossible to do on your own. But don't worry, it is possible, and hopefully this post will help you. Let's start with deciding an entity type.

Sole trader or limited company?

There are two main entity types that are used in the UK, these are sole trader or limited company. When starting out, it may be wise to start as a sole trader as it can be easier to walk away from if it doesn't turn out the way you expected it to. However, if you want to seem more professional and have a little added security, then it may be better to look at forming a limited company.

There are also other things to consider too - for example, with a sole trader there's no legal separation between the business and it's owner.

For more information on the different legal structures of businesses check out our previous post What are the different legal structures in business?.

The Food, Drink and Health Market

Many sales in the food, drink and health market are now fuelled by online sales. More people are heading online in order to find unique products and to research local, organic products. So, if you're producing artisan cheeses with ingredients from local farms, then having an online presence can help to increase your market.

If you want to add a little something different, you could include recipe cards with ingredients that bring out the flavours of your cheese, or a wine pairing list. This could add value to your product and keep people coming back.

If you have a talent for cooking you could try setting up a food stall in your local town, people like to eat freshly prepared food. Healthy food can be a big draw in towns that have the usual cafes or fast food outlets.

An e-commerce website

Setting up an e-commerce website is now quicker and easier than it has ever been, with templates out there to make your own. This can make it easier than ever to get a business off the ground.

One upside of an e-commerce website is that, depending on what you sell, there may be no need to rent an office space, and you can run it all from home. But don't feel as though it's too easy, you'll still need to do your homework regarding what you'll sell and who you'll sell it to and stay on top of relevant legislation (such as the Distance Selling Regulations). Knowing your target market can make it easier to sell to them, try to find out their needs, likes and dislikes and then build a plan to target them.

A good way to start is thinking about products that people are too embarrassed to go out and buy from a store, things like incontinence pads. By selling these products online, with discreet delivery, people will be more willing to buy them. You could even look into dropshipping, where you act as the middleman between the customer and the manufacturer.


If you've had specialist training in a particular area, why not use your skills as a freelancer? Most freelancers work on a B2B basis that uses their qualifications, but on their own terms. There are many different options open to freelancers: photographers, content writers and video producers are just a few.

Man working

There are a few platforms you can use to advertise your services to businesses that are in need of your skills, and there are many business owners out there who don't have the skills or the time they need in order to carry out certain activities. When these business owners are unable to hire permanent staff, they turn to freelancers.


No matter what business idea you have, or the business structure you go for, your success will highly depend on your motivation and determination to make it work. There will be a time when you get complaints from customers, but don't crumble because of them.

One of the main things to consider, is planning. Plan ahead, plan your products and services, plan your customer service, and you should be at a good point to get going.

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