Business development · 5 October 2017

The ten best startup ideas for under £10,000 you can launch today

A young family group shares fun food and memories at a local food cart, serving delicious handmade sandwiches and snacks. One of the women smiles as she receives her order of gourmet french fries with special dipping sauce.
Online searches for “street food van” jumped by 320 per cent between 2014 and 2016, with 7,000 vendors now trading

Here, Business Advice reveals ten of the best startup ideas that can be launched almost immediately within a modest investment of under £10,000.

While around half of the UK population admit to holding entrepreneurial aspirations, research has shown that insufficient funding remains far and away the greatest deterrent to starting a company. However, it might cost less than you think to build the foundations of a new business.

To help kick-start a wave of entrepreneurial activity, we’ve brought together the best startup ideas under £10,000 that could represent a viable business opportunity at a realistic investment.

  1. Drone operator

The UK’s drone industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, with over 1,700 trained and qualified pilots in Britain. While as many as 5,000 unqualified and uninsured pilots are predicted to be operating illegally, commercial opportunities are growing. For newly-qualified drone pilots, the going daily rate appears to sit between £350 and £500.

Drone operators have been enlisted by production companies to work on films and television projects
Drone operators have been enlisted by production companies to work on films and television projects

The training process for new drone pilots costs around £1,200 and involves an exam and flight test. The drone itself will retail from around £1,000.

Insurance also costs in the thousands, and supplies and additional equipment is costly – drone batteries are notoriously short-lived.

Costs

  • Drone: £1,000 – £20,000
  • Training: £1,200
  • Insurance: £1,000 – £2,000
  1. Street food vendor

Britain’s taste for street food is growing, opening business opportunities to both cookery novices and chefs seeking a change of scenery. Setting up as a street food vendor could even represent a low-risk option – the budget for a new market stall or gazebo set-up can be around £5,000.

We met some of the rising stars of Britain’s street food scene

Early starts and poor British weather are some of the physical challenges of a street food entrepreneur, and reaching profitability could also take some time. The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) is an essential resource for new entrants to the street food scene.

Costs

  • Stall/gazebo/van: ~£5,000 to £10,000
  • Daily rents: £30 – £100, plus a percentage of takings per day 
  1. Photography business

Social media platforms have given photographers new mediums to demonstrate their work and skills. But, running a fully-fledged photography business is a lot more complicated than keeping up an impressive personal Instagram page.

Average starting salaries for professional photographers are estimated to be as low as £12,000
Average starting salaries for professional photographers are estimated to be as low as £12,000

For those serious about making a career out of taking photos, the London School of Photography is one of many institutions offering professional training courses. Nikon and Canon both offer digital SLR cameras, now popular amongst sport and wildlife photographers and capable of professional work, for entry level budgets.

Costs

  • Camera: £1,000 – £3,000
  • Training course: £3,495 (part-time six-month course) 
  1. Tour guide

In-bound tourism is now worth at least £24bn to the UK economy, according to VisitBritain research, putting it as Britain’s seventh biggest export sector. Becoming a tour guide has become a viable business opportunity for many wannabe local historians, and varying levels of entry are available.

The Institute of Tourist Guiding has a stratified badge system for qualified guides. The lowest “White Badge” course qualifies new tour guides for sites like stately homes and cathedrals. For more extensive opportunities, the highest “Blue Badge” course trains ambitious guides over 18 months.

Costs

  • Blue Badge training: ~£6,000
  • Additional costs: Website, marketing budget, walking shoes 
  1. Online marketplace seller

The marketplace platforms offered through sites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy have broken down many barriers for budding ecommerce entrepreneurs. Sellers on such sites are predicted to bring in £21.3bn a year by 2020, having been granted easier access than ever to a wealth of overseas buyers.

714,000 small UK business owners now sell via online marketplaces
714,000 small UK business owners now sell via online marketplaces

eBay’s ten most lucrative ecommerce business opportunities could give you a head start in choosing your target market.

  1. Clothes, shoes and accessories
  2. Vehicle parts
  3. Mobile phones and communication
  4. Home, furniture and DIY
  5. Sporting goods
  6. Computers and tablets
  7. Office and industrial
  8. Jewellery and watches
  9. Health and beauty
  10. Collectables

Aside from a working internet connection, you’ll need a strong supply of stock, postage materials and cash flow before your business can sustain itself. 

Read on for our final five best startup ideas for under £10,000

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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