Best Business Ideas for 2023: Easing life’s hard decisions

Tech is transforming things like death services, insurance, and relocation, making life’s hard decisions simpler and easier to deal with for consumers.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

The death of a loved one, serious injury, redundancy, and moving house – these are all unfortunate situations which are frequently cited as the most stressful events in a person’s life.

Consumers naturally try not to think about these unpleasant scenarios until they’ve arrived, which can leave them unprepared and vulnerable to having their interests ignored. That’s even more true now: you don’t need to be Warren Buffet to know that today’s global economy is in very poor shape, and will inevitably lead to an increase in business liquidations, job losses, and divorce rates.

In this environment, there’s not only room for businesses that can provide genuine support for customers during one of the most difficult times in their life, but a definite and enduring need. Here are the new business opportunities for society’s taboo topics in 2023.

Death services

When someone dies, the last thing people want to think about is all the time, money and admin that goes into funeral planning, dealing with solicitors and any other formalities.

That’s why a new generation of startups is aiming to make it that little bit easier for those of us left behind, by offering transparent, economical, and consumer-focused death planning and services.

IBIS’ 2022 market report shows that the market size of the Funeral Activities industry in the UK has grown 2.7% per year on average between 2018 and 2023, showing it’s a consumer need that’s not going to go away anytime soon.

A growing and ageing UK population has contributed to an increase in the number of deaths in the United Kingdom, and the market is broadening following limited commemorations throughout the COVID pandemic.

In fact, according to SunLife’s 2023 industry report – which has been tracking funeral costs since 2004 – the cost of dying, including the funeral, professional fees, and send off costs, the average cost of a basic funeral has gone down 2.5% since 2021 to £3,953.

One new business that’s aiming to make death faster, fairer, and easier is the Startups-100 listed business, Legacy of Lives. It’s a free supportive funeral comparison and booking website that makes it painless for users to compare funeral costs and find the most affordable option for their budget.

Founder Rebecca Peach had the idea for the website when her aunt, Kathy, sadly passed away. “I witnessed first-hand how hard it was to navigate the end-of-life process,” she describes. “We knew zero about cost and [struggled] to locate personal documents. We really needed support, but could not find it anywhere.”

Peach tells Startups that the death services is ripe for disruption as “one of the few industries that has been untouched by digitalisation”. Given her background in digital transformation, she set out to revolutionise the sector and ensure planning a funeral “is as stress-free, transparent, and simple as it possibly can be.”

I witnessed first-hand how hard it was to navigate the end-of-life process.

The cost of living crisis has also given Legacy of Lives a boost. Companies that are able to help customers save money and stretch their budgets will see big success in 2023.

Peach agrees with this assessment. “Consumers are far more aware of their spending than they once were. Research shows that 83% of families only source one quote for funerals. We want to put consumers in control and make it simple and easy to compare services and prices.”

Direct cremations are the most affordable choice for a funeral, as a cremation without a service.  During the pandemic, they became a more popular and practical option.

But Peach says she has seen a movement in the sector towards having multiple options to choose from when it comes to funeral planning.

“From unique hearses, all the way to turning ashes into fireworks or diamonds, people want a service that reflects their life,” she explains. “Many are turning away altogether from the traditional funeral, instead opting for a direct cremation followed by a party for their loved ones some months later.”

Consumers are far more aware of their spending than they once were.

Manchester-based Guardian Angel’s online platform simplifies the bereavement process for grieving families by connecting them with funeral directors and giving them the option to set times when they’re happy to be visited and when they’d like to be left in peace.

The common denominator between all these startups is they are concepts that give bereaved people more time and space to grieve. This is a simple and rewarding business idea to execute, best suited to creative entrepreneurs who want to overhaul an outdated industry.

What are some business ideas for death services?

Cremation niches

As personalised funeral planning becomes increasingly sought-after, customers are looking for personalised designs that they can use to store the remains of a loved one.

Whether you’re a jewellery designer or a carpenter; turn your talents to help someone create a cherished keepsake that will celebrate the life of the deceased. There are already some beautiful memorial methods, including a company that can grow a tree from ashes to create a living memorial.

Alternative funeral planning

Church membership is declining in the UK and people are looking for more personalised ways to say goodbye to their loved ones. For those that want their funeral to take place in a particular manner or location that represents them, you could offer alternative burial or cremation services.

A good recent example of this was the “aquamation” requested by Sir Desmond Tutu, an environmentally friendly cremation alternative that uses water, heat and an alkali to dispose of the body. For other, sustainable options, there’s also a “human composting” technology that can turn the deceased into soil, enabling new life to grow from their burial.

Living with a long-term illness

About 15 million people in the UK are currently living with a debilitating health condition. For those going through stressful treatment, like chemotherapy, and pain management, there comes an enourmous physical and emotional toll. But with the current NHS crisis, there are also fewer support options available.

There is a real lack of understanding about just how difficult it is for individuals trying to earn a living while also struggling with chronic pain. For many, the stress is simply too much. Past research from Pain UK shows that 41% of people who attended pain clinics have been prevented from working, and 13% have had to reduce their hours.

Women are the most underserved audience in this sector niche. In a 2022 survey, one in four women living with chronic pain said they felt it was not taken seriously by doctors, (versus one in six men).

Age is also a factor. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that, more than half of working-age adults who are out of the workforce because of long-term sickness in 2022 were aged 50 to 64 years. Coincidentally, this is also the talent group that today’s companies desperately need to fill labour gaps.

Kiteline Health is one tech company that’s helping to address the issue. Set up by founder, Candice Hampson, following her own personal battle with breast cancer, Kiteline’s self-management app gives employees living with a long-term health condition the support they need to continue with work.

Christine Beardsell, cofounder of Kiteline Health, says she and Hampson talked to large numbers of people affected by cancer and other chronic and long-term conditions to research the idea.

“We also spoke to businesses and HR leaders about more general well-being needs in the workplace,” she outlines. “We kept hearing the same three pain points: the need for more emotional well-being support (not just therapy), the desire to find credible well-being information about the lifestyle changes one can make, and the motivation and support to make those changes.”

Through the app, employers can better support the wellbeing of their most vulnerable staff, by accessing training for line managers and distributing expert information from a professional health coach. This will facilitate a reduced sickness absence rate, which is currently around four times greater for those living with a chronic condition than those without, on average.

Individuals, meanwhile, can be given sensitive, tailored guidance on how to better manage their illness – something Hampson says she would have benefited from during her own cancer journey.

Beardsell is predicting big things for this industry trend in 2023. Post-pandemic, many Brits are still grappling with long Covid, which Beardsell says has “unleashed renewed interest in long-term conditions – more specifically multiple long-term conditions.

“UK businesses are now looking for well-being solutions that go beyond therapy and focus on whole-person health,” she assesses. “They also are looking for solutions that are proactive and preventative. Health coaching fills both of those gaps.”

What are some business ideas for helping people with long-term illnesses?

Help and support with long Covid

While testing may have stopped, the legacy of the COVID-19 outbreak will no-doubt continue for decades. Long Covid brings with it lots of hard-to-manage symptoms including increased fatigue and decreased lung capacity. In turn, these can have a negative impact on mental health.

Apps to help users with breathing exercises or brain training to cope with brain fog will be sought-after as the true scale of long Covid becomes better understood. Anyone with tech expertise will be well-place to cater to the growing demand.

Wellbeing consultancy

Businesses across the UK are waking up to the important role that good health and wellbeing plays in boosting employee productivity. Starting a wellbeing consultancy is a shrewd way to help more companies tap into the trend and offer robust support for their team members.

Make yourself even more valuable by concentrating on a specific specialism, like mental health therapy for construction workers, an industry that has a historically poor record of mental health.

Divorce services

According to the most recent divorce statistics from the Office of National Statistics, in 2021, there were 113,505 divorces granted in England and Wales, a 9.6% increase compared with 2020.

Not only is a divorce an emotionally-taxing time for those involved, it also brings a huge cost burden. If you thought funerals sounded expensive, then look away now. The average cost of a divorce in the UK – including the petition, court fees, and legal fees – is a whopping £14,500.

One reason for the increased rate is the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The most recent government figures show that divorce rates for male and female couples doubled between 2018 and 2019.

However, the economic upheaval of the past year will also likely have an impact on divorce rates. Recessions cause financial problems, and that naturally leads to marital stress. The obligation to find a cost-efficient route to separation – avoiding tricky and confusing legal fees – has therefore grown rapidly for UK couples in 2023.

From great tragedy comes great triumph. It’s no wonder that many startups have seen a golden opportunity to simplify a long and outdated process, and help those going through a difficult time.

Amicable is a fully online service that removes lawyers from the equation and instead uses experts to help couples reach a settlement. Cofounder Kate Daly was inspired after going through a costly and traumatic divorce herself.

Its services include a free app to help with parenting and financial plans, and an online chatbot providing 24/7 support. Rather than the blunt force instrument of the law, this allows a tailored approach that can be adapted to each couple’s unique circumstances.

Divorce affects many aspects of family, work, and personal life. That means there are lots of business ideas that can come from this sector.

What are some business ideas for divorce?

Online consultancy

Divorce is already known for being emotionally taxing, but as any solicitor will tell you, it’s also probably one of the more complicated legal processes to deal with.

You could gather a team of experts, or even just a well-designed AI chatbot, to make legal advice more accessible to people in early-stage divorce planning. Provide the basic, must-know information for consumers before they spend a fortune on legal fees.

Same-sex consultancy

Specialist legal advisory services could also be designed for LGBT couples. Sadly, there are still different laws around same-sex marriage unions, and some consumers might feel more comfortable using a service that’s especially knowledgeable about these inequalities.

Communications app for divorcees

Sometimes, divorces end particularly badly. Communication can fall apart in these situations, so it might help some ex-couples to have a messaging application where they can talk to each other on fair ground.

You could include specific elements to aid the settlement process, such as file uploading, as there’s a lot of paperwork involved in this procedure.

Insurance services

As little as five years ago, the average person probably wouldn’t think about purchasing insurance until fairly late in life. But in light of the economic crisis, and as the messaging around business closures and financial worries gets louder, new audiences have been introduced to the benefits of having an insurance policy in place.

One firm we’d definitely like to highlight is Insurance claims can be a convoluted process to get to grips with, and so, Sprout founders Raphael Gouth and Niels Thoné decided to do something about it.

The forward-thinking tech company utilises AI to reimagine the claims process for major insurance companies across the world so it can be done in real-time, rather than over months. As Roi Amir, CEO of Sprout, explains it, “claims handlers have time to support and be more empathetic towards their customers and are provided with the tools to make fast and accurate decisions.”

Amir notes that is also keeping an eye on the cost of living crisis and the role it could play in creating big opportunity for insurance providers in 2023.

“In the current economic environment, consumers and companies are faced with more risk,” he explains. “With more risk, comes more awareness of how to protect against it. The industry itself is also evolving, creating more insurance products to protect against new risks in a smarter or easier way.”

Other trends that Amir says are influencing insurance growth include cybersecurity (bolstering cyber crime insurance rates) and the NHS crisis (causing more people to take out medical insurance).

How do you start an insurance company?

One thing to note about the insurance industry is that it’s one of the most heavily regulated in the world.

Before starting an insurance business, you’ll need to apply for your Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) license and decide whether to become an insurance broker (finding customers the best-priced insurance for their needs, underwritten by a third-party insurance company) or underwriter (your company takes on the insured risk).

New insurer authorisation also costs £25,000.

It’s not the simplest industry to enter, but you don’t need to have big backing to get started. Instead, the key requirement for this emerging trend is creativity. New ideas are helping the industry to rebrand itself, enabling entrepreneurs and insurance partners to access a previously untapped audience base.

What are some good insurance service business ideas?

Very short-term policies

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that younger people are in less danger of sudden illness or death than older people. But if you’re looking to make a more unique impact in this industry, you could tap into some niche areas like short-term policy offerings.

Consumers who are engaging in a dangerous activity, such as skydiving, might want to take out a quick policy that can protect them for as long as their safety is, eh-hem, up in the air.

Millennial insurance

As we’ve already mentioned, life-threatening injuries don’t really appear on the list of concerns for most young people. But there are other policy ideas that would be more effective for reaching the millennial, and emerging Gen Z, market.

For example, you could offer policies relating to areas like content creation, for people who make digital products and want to ensure they can’t be lost or stolen. Fewer millennials are driving, but you could sell insurance policies around e-scooters or other emerging modes of transport.

Recruiting in a recession

In 2009, following the global financial crisis, there was a huge spike in the UK redundancy rate, which peaked at 11.8 per 1,000 workers.

With the UK economy expected to massively contract in 2023, there will be a similar surge in job losses. Many people who are post-redundancy will be on the hunt for new career opportunities that give them greater flexibility and better work-life balance.

Meanwhile, businesses which can’t afford to make a bad hire will want to undertake targeted and strategic recruitment drive that finds them exceptional and long-lasting talent. And a whole new sub-sector has sprung up to help them do just that.

Trailblazers include Scout, the company which aims to help its customers strengthen their bottom line with a unique model that’s also one of the most affordable on the market.

Scout embeds its own talent partners into businesses, for a set period of time. This allows its customers to intimately understand its clients’ exact culture and operational needs, and source the talent needed to survive the impending recession.

And if you’re looking for ways to source talent quickly, or apply to a role without jumping through 3,000 hoops, there are tonnes of innovative new startups cropping up to assist with every aspect of the job application process.

Founded by Dan Hudson in 2019, GiGL is a new app that’s aiming to digitise the hiring and CV process and put “the person” back at the centre of the outdated hospitality hiring process.

Individuals get a massively simplified sign up process, able to apply to jobs with one, 60-second video. And retail or hospitality businesses can reply within hours (which also brings the added bonus of avoiding irritating recruitment agencies).

What are some good recruitment business ideas?

‘Reskilling’ training provider

If you have particular experience in an industry with lots of jobs available – such as software development – then offer your skillset to those who are redundant to help them put their existing talents into a new area, such as coding.

The good thing about this business idea is it can be a low-maintenance operation. Rather than offering live lectures, you could simply upload a training course for people to pay for at a reduced rate.

Job application coach

Designing a CV, building a portfolio website, drafting an application letter – these common tasks can be not just time-consuming, but also stress-inducing for candidates, particularly those that are re-entering the jobs marketplace after a redundancy or time at home.

If you have experience in HR or people management, you could consider becoming a coach to support in the creation and optimisation of application documents. Advice can be presented digitally, so you could offer your services to people across the country. You could also consider advertising a discounted rate for multiple sessions.

Final thoughts

Some people feel a bit squeamish about making a living from other people’s difficult moments. But the truth is that consumers need help dealing with taboo topics like death and divorce – probably more so than for any other life event.

Someone needs to do it, and someone should do it well. The most important thing is that you’re using innovation and creativity to help people through the most difficult periods of their lives. There’s nothing contradictory about a profit-seeking enterprise being motivated by compassion – in fact, we encourage it.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.
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