As someone who is continually viewing and assessing new ideas for businesses, or helping successful business owners work out how to scale what they have, I’m always intrigued to see how trends move and what impacts the type of businesses that become popular.
Startups.co.uk have published a list of ‘best business ideas’ for the past few years so, over the course of a series of blogs, I want to investigate what this list might look like in 2021.
There is an amazing entrepreneurial spirit in the UK and, it seems a trauma such as Brexit, followed hot on the heels by a crisis such as Covid, have done nothing to dampen this spirit. However new business ideas, just as much as existing operational businesses, will undoubtedly need some tweaking to adapt to new ways of life that massive change inevitably brings.
Simon Sinek was live on Facebook recently saying that coronavirus was probably the biggest thing to hit the UK business world since the launch of the internet. Think back; businesses were born specifically to exploit the new normal (Amazon), some adapted very quickly and made a huge success (for example the travel/package holiday industry) and, for some, it was just a change too far (Blockbuster comes to mind). So, what is the next chapter in the story? Which businesses will survive? Which will thrive?
1. As safe as houses?
I have heard the comment made that we can no longer claim “a hairdresser will never go out of business” because, it seems, there has come a time when people won’t have their hair cut even though it continues to grow. However, the safety and surety of bricks and mortar is surely one which will continue, price fluctuations notwithstanding, ad infinitum.
In particular, building for the ever-growing care market (as mentioned in Startups.co.uk’s 2018 list). The expected shortfall in care home beds is expected to reach 14,000 by 2026 and recent issues associated with coronavirus might even see some redesigning taking place to offer up better protection against similar crises.
2. Food for thought
Now, we might feel we can cope during lockdown with slightly longer hair, but there’s one thing we do all need to do and that’s eat. Interestingly, the somewhat niche area of ‘late-night food’ was being seen as a trend in 2018, with speculation that there was a new phenomenon known as ‘the fourth meal’. Fast forward to 2020 and there has been a popular pivot by pubs in particular to serve take-away food in order to keep the cash flowing.
As a nation who, despite being stuck at home, seems to be no less keen on a nice meal and something to drink, this has been gratefully received and the delivery of food has also been a bonus and a convenient way to avoid contact while we’re distancing from each other.
3. We come to you
Talking of take-away and deliveries, yet another benefit of being an online retailer has come to the fore during the past few months: with a highly efficient delivery service, Amazon and the like have (almost) not needed to blink. However, far from being left behind by the big boys, we’ve also seen lots of local businesses start delivering in order to keep their business alive while people are stuck at home. I’ve heard the phrase ‘letterbox gift’ recently, in response to handily-sized gifts being delivered; anything from specialist tea bags to cards with a wooden virtual hug token attached to them.
It certainly shows that with a little innovative thinking we can use what has traditionally been a very commoditised service for very bespoke services. The gig economy is there; drivers willing to put in the miles already exist. It’s just up to the smaller businesses to work out how they can package their goods to be attractive as a delivery item.
Winston Churchill once said “to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”. It looks as though this is a good mantra for today’s business owners. We’ve pivoted to cope with lockdown but what else will we need to do once we find ourselves in the ‘new normal’?