The 14 best business ideas for 2014

Dawn Murden
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Innovate business concept made with words drawing a light bulb

Microbreweries, Victorian-themed businesses and alternative care home concepts are among the best business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2014, according to a report published today by Startups.co.uk.

The report, entitled What business to start in 2014, outlines the top 14 business opportunities which are expected to sky-rocket over the coming year. Other promising sectors highlighted in the report include niche price comparison sites, Raspberry Pi accessories and starting a regional coworking office.

Companies House data showed a record 500,000 new businesses launched last year, the highest number in the UK’s history, and early projections show the start-up community will continue to grow in 2014.

With the economic climate looking bright for 2014 and more people beginning to realise their start-up ambitions, Startups has uncovered the most opportune businesses to start this year.

Released today, the report combines in-depth analysis and research of emerging business and consumer trends, as well as interviews with, and suggestions from, industry experts; serial entrepreneurs, business leaders and both established company CEOs and brand new start-ups.

Contributors and interviewees include BrewDog co-founder James Wyatt, Mumsnet co-founder and CEO Justine Roberts, James Greenbury of Parcel2Go.com and Eben Upton, co-founder of award-winning and ground-breaking microcomputer design company Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Startups.co.uk’s 14 best business ideas for 2014 are:

  1. Microbrewery - Inspired by a craft beer renaissance in the US, microbreweries are growing in the UK as consumers turn away from commercially-brewed beers. With the alcoholic drinks industry predicted to grow to an estimated £45 billion by 2017, this sector holds opportunities for entrepreneurs keen to join the UK’s “craft beer revolution”.
  2. Personal trainer - The fitness market is worth over £3 billion and although figures show the obesity crisis is worsening, both the fit and overweight alike are fuelling personal training industry. With Olympic medallist Victoria Pendleton announcing plans to become a personal trainer, 2014 marks a great to time to join her.
  3. Virtual assistant - Demand for the online work market is rising and if estimations are correct, it will be a $5 billion global market by 2018. As more and more businesses turn away from full-time in-house assistants to their online counterparts, 2014 will see virtual assistants multiply.
  4. Niche price comparison website - Starting up in an established market might seem counter-intuitive but with several verticals not yet targeted, in 2014 niche price comparison sites will become big business, especially as the market has now reached the £1 billion mark.
  5. Raspberry Pi accessories - The Raspberry Pi microcomputer, essentially a credit-card sized miniature PC, is gathering steam having now sold over two million units and has garnered huge press and public attention as well as backing from Google. 2014 will see the growth of add-ons to complement this innovative offering.
  6. Victorian-themed business - Victoriana is experiencing a revival; helped by the popularity of shows such as Mr Selfridge and multiple remakes of Sherlock Holmes. Romanticism of all things Victorian has grown across all sectors; taxidermy, fashion and weddings in particular, with designer Marc Jacobs’ Spring collection inspired by the era.
  7. Independent BYOD consultant - More and more businesses are turning to IT professionals to help them navigate the rising ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend. Coupled with the growth in remote working, expect to see booming demand for IT experts who specialise in this area.
  8. Mobile catering - Global cuisine on the go and health drinks will be big again in 2014 and with pop-up catering gaining real momentum amid emerging commercial centres around the UK, mobile food and drinks businesses will be in high-demand this year.
  9. Blogging business - Not a new opportunity by any means but as more companies turn to the “blogosphere” to engage with consumers, a blogging business is still a great opportunity for 2014 – and refinements to blogging platforms and advertising interest are fuelling the market.
  10. Data analytics - The rise of “Big Data”, with 90% of all the information on the web created in the last two years, shows no signs of abating. Businesses are increasingly looking for help to make sense of this data – including the government’s pledge to release its vast vault – so this market represents huge potential for entrepreneurs smart enough to capital on it.
  11. Oculus Rift game development - Virtual reality was an unrealised dream, up until now. With Oculus Rift, the world’s first virtual reality device, set to launch later this year, this area could be the making of any software developer.
  12. Cleantech business - By 2050, the world’s population is expected to exceed nine billion and the demands on our natural resources and environment will be more evident than ever before. Government is calling on entrepreneurs to help tackle this issue making an eco-friendly start-up the way forward.
  13. Regional coworking office - Start-up clusters are emerging across the UK, not just in Londo. With areas such as Manchester, Newcastle and Brighton increasingly becoming key areas of tech innovation cowork offices in locations further afield makes for an attractive proposition for 2014.
  14. Boutique care home - The Baby Boomer generation are reaching a pensionable age and having fought for civil rights, feminism and liberalisation will demand greater degrees of independence, control and personalisation as an antidote to existing retirement living options. Expect to see boutique care homes become a reality in 2014.

Ian Wallis, editor of Startups.co.uk, discussed the predictions: ‘The shift to niche products and services was so apparent to us as we explored the start-up marketplace. Personalisation, independence, diversity and uniqueness are terms that bind the trends we’ve identified together.

‘Those with fevered entrepreneurial minds never cease from coming up with great business ideas and while we know execution is ultimately the critical factor, there are some truly inspiring opportunities out there.

‘Whether somewhat obscure or the next big thing, this list represents the tip of the iceberg for the entrepreneurial ingenuity we’re seeing. And combined with growing start-up support and the thawing of Britain’s frozen economy we expect 2014 to stand-out as a great time to start a business.’

Commenting on the Raspberry Pi accessories opportunity, the foundation’s co-founder Eben Upton said:

‘Historically, most of the well-established companies such as ModMyPi started out selling custom cases as they have a low cost base, moving on to more complex electronic components when they had made some money from sales.’

‘Most of the accessories on the market are targeted at hackers and modders, but I would definitely recommend looking into educational accessories as well.’

‘Since 30-40% of Raspberry Pis are going to kids, targeting them as a market makes a lot of sense.’

BrewDog co-founder, James Wyatt, expressed optimism for entrepreneurs to look at starting a business in the microbrewery industry:

‘The craft brewing sector has seen compound growth of 12% over the last five years and there has never been a better time to start an independent craft beer brewery.

‘When we started out in 2007, there wasn’t a UK market for craft beer, but with the increased demand, amazing breweries are popping up all over the country. Drinkers are becoming more discerning, they are looking for quality over quantity and are tired of the same old soulless, mass-produced lagers.

‘Craft beer brewing is about variety. Brewing in small batches allows you the freedom to try new things and experiment, and push the boundaries of what beer can be. The sky is the limit.’

 

About Startups.co.uk

Startups.co.uk is the UK’s leading independent, online resource for anyone starting and growing a business.

Established in 2000, the site is the longest standing, largest and most comprehensive advice platform available covering everything you need to know start, buy, run or sell a business.

It is also the site behind the UK’s longest-running national awards scheme for new businesses, the Startups Awards, as well as entrepreneurial features and events Young Guns and Startups 100.