Profitable business ideas for start-ups in 2021 – A Guide

  • Why you should start a small business now
  • How start-ups can profit from current opportunities in 2021
  • How to start a business: Choose a business model and set realistic goals
  • Business ideas that are expected to flourish in 2021

Many aspiring entrepreneurs often doubt their business ideas and find themselves caught between taking the leap and starting a business or deferring plans to a later date.

Renowned freelance reporter and finance expert Erica Sandberg says that as long as you’re driven and excited about your business idea, 2021 is a uniquely ideal year to launch.

From e-commerce to transcription services and video production – 2021 offers budding start-ups a plethora of profitable opportunities.

However, as we begin exiting the coronavirus pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that those considering a new set up will need to showcase different skills and strengths than those running small businesses in the past.

Profitable business ideas for start-ups

Thousands of Britons want to start a new business in 2021

According to a recent survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted for Enterprise Nation, one in five respondents said they want to launch a business in 2021, while one in ten participants said they were already actively putting their business plans into action.

Meanwhile, more than half of surveyees stated that they expect to launch their new business at some point during 2021, seeing the start-up as more of a side hustle than a full-time job.

As for the kinds of businesses that respondents were keen to set in motion, the health and wellbeing sphere was the most popular, followed by manufacturing, technology and business service.

However, 12% of those surveyed said they require more information and support before they can embark on their ideas, and 8% have put their business dreams on hold due to uncertain times.

Entrepreneurship, while appealing, can often be so overwhelming that people never put their plans in motion in fear that their business will collapse.

Distinguished European executive Dr Steve Garnett, who boasts an impressive track record for helping tech start-ups flourish, said that start-up CEOs must go the extra mile if they want to become millionaires in today’s society.

The former EMEA chairman said that now, entrepreneurs must demonstrate to would-be investors that their idea resolves “real business problems of today while painting a vision of where its direction years beyond now.”

Dr Garnett added that many entrepreneurs successfully generate millions in revenue but get trapped in the “death valley” between GBP 1 million and GBP 10 million after that. He noted this was particularly common in tech start-ups as they fail to innovate their business continuously.

So, what should you sell? Who’s your audience? How will you acquire customers? What kind of platforms should you engage with? These may be questions that you’re asking yourself.

Fret not, in our complete guide; we’ll offer advice on how to start a business in 2021, including an outline of some profitable business ideas.

Before you start overthinking, the first step you should consider is creating a comprehensive business model, where you can plan how you will execute your niche.

Create a business model

Create a post-pandemic winning business model

Suppose you know what kind of business you want to start. In that case, we advise creating a business model that will help you understand and test your ideas in the marketplace while supporting your business’s viability and delivering value to customers.

While you may want to develop your own business model, we’ve outlined some tried-and-tested business types that you may want to consider:

  • Subscription Model – can be applied to both traditional and online businesses. It generates profit by offering the customer a product via a recurring payment, for example, a monthly subscription payment on Netflix.
  • Freelance Model – the business provides the consumer with a service by offering a skill they may need.
  • Affiliate Marketing Model – money is generated by promoting other businesses products or services on your website in exchange for a commission on each completed transaction.
  • E-commerce Model – business launches a website on platforms such as Shopify or WordPress to sell physical products or event tickets online.

No matter what business model you decided to use, note that it shouldn’t just be centred on income. You must also factor in production costs, target market, revenue streams and key metrics to ensure your success.

Market research is fundamental to your winning strategy. You will need to understand your target audience’s needs, desires, and language to have a better understanding of how to communicate with that audience and sell them your product.

If you are part of your target audience, this would be beneficial as you’re more likely to struggle to sell products to people with whom you share no interest.

Set realistic goals

Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

Having unrealistic goals or expectations is one of the most common reasons why new business ventures fail.

Set realistic goals and make rational and adaptive decisions to prevent being disappointed. If you approach your business idea with a sense of false optimism and have naive expectations, the venture could fall through, potentially resulting in a significant loss.

Often, the difference between a prosperous undertaking and a failed venture is perseverance. Even when you’ve had no leads, no sales and no website visitors for a significant period, could you continue promoting your enterprise?

Do you possess the patience to play the “slow and steady” game and persist even in the face of difficulty?

The first year will be challenging as you’ll need to establish your venture, gain recognition and build a brand that people trust.

With that in mind, how will you approach your goals and objectives in the first year? Perhaps, instead of focusing on sales, it might be more worthwhile to centre your goals on generating web traffic and brand awareness or do this before you launch your business as then, you will already have an audience.

That said, even though the first year will be challenging, 2021 presents an abundance of profitable opportunities, as people’s priorities are changing and remote working appears to be here to stay.

Secure affordable rent for commercial spaces

With more people working from home due to the impact of COVID-19, you’re likely to secure an excellent deal on offices or commercial space, with many prices already discounted.

Whether you plan to open a shop, restaurant, cafe, gym or other customer-facing business in 2021, you’re in a great position to negotiate rent prices with the landlord.

There is also a broader choice of leasing options available for small businesses, from short-term arrangements to shared spaces, which will help reduce the costs of your outgoings.

Government-backed financial support available

As launching a new enterprise can often require a significant amount of capital, aspiring CEOs will be glad to know that many government-backed financial support services are available.

Each of the devolved governments also offers business support services online or over the phone, where a dedicated member will provide advice, support and sources of finance.

The UK government offers start-ups tailored support, including a New Enterprise Allowance to boost small business performance and growth when starting first setting out.

Entrepreneurs can also apply for start-up loans between GBP 500 and GBP 25,000 with a fixed interest rate fee of 6% per year and no early repayment fee. You’ll also receive free support and guidance with your business plan, as well as 12 months of free mentoring should you require.

Fruitful business ideas for 2021

Are you still struggling with what type of business route you should pursue? Luckily, we’ve outlined a few profitable, scalable ideas below, some of which are more popular and therefore less risky than others.

On-demand health and wellness services

With most of the shows, music, and other streamable services that we enjoy available at the click of a button, on-demand health and wellness services is a concept that’s sure to blow-up in 2021 and beyond.

COVID-19 has changed people’s attitude towards their health and wellbeing, and looking after our bodies and minds has become a growing priority for most people.

Whether it’s physical fitness, mindfulness, or nutrition, there is a demand for services that enable people to stream quick wellbeing and health fixes via phones, tablets, or other electronic devices.


According to recent research, web searching for e-learning and teaching courses surged up 328% in 2020!

With most people confined to their homes, the e-learning explosion may not come as a surprise. However, the convenience of learning and teaching from home is expected to continue as remote working is fast-becoming the norm.

The online corporate training market is undoubtedly growing, which opens the door to endless opportunities for those considering launching an e-learning enterprise.

Consultancy services

Consulting is a massive industry, and while competitiveness makes it challenging for start-ups, it could also be a lucrative option.

The UK consultancy sector is predicted to grow by 9% in 2021. With the impact of Brexit still largely uncertain, organisations will be looking to consultants for advice and support to minimise any potential disruption and diversify talent pools as the UK becomes independent.

App developer

There has been a dramatic increase in mobile apps since the coronavirus pandemic and the first national lockdown in March 2020, and smartphones are now an everyday accessory for most people living in more economically developed countries.

The number of downloads for video communication apps, namely Zoom, Google’s Meet and Microsoft’s Teams, skyrocketed in 2020. With remote working here to stay, apps will more than likely continue to dominate the mobile landscape.

In 2021, an estimated 7 billion mobile users are projected to spend an average of 90% of their time on mobile apps – meaning an innovative app could make you the next millionaire.