Best Business Ideas for 2022: 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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The death of a loved one, divorce, serious injury, losing your job, 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.

But while we might not like to admit it, these problems aren’t going away. In fact, there’s not only room for businesses that can provide genuine support for customers during a time of stress, but a definite and enduring need.

That means these spaces are ripe for disruption with bold and exciting ideas. So where are the new business opportunities for this taboo sector in 2022?

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' 2021 market report shows that UK funeral industry revenue is anticipated to grow at a compound annual rate through 2021-22 to £2.7 billion, 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 2022 industry report – which has been tracking funeral costs since 2004 – the cost of dying, including the funeral, professional fees, and send off costs, dropped for the first time in 18 years earlier this month to an average of £8,864.

One new business that’s aiming to make death faster, fairer, and easier is our Startups 100 2021 third place contender, Farewill. Recognising the esoteric nature of making a will, it simplifies the process by putting customers directly in touch with a team of experts to offer a 15-minute will writing service for just £90. It also claims to offer much cheaper funeral plans.

“Over the next 10 years, £1 trillion will pass between generations – doubling between 2017 and 2027. Farewill is here to help people do it in the simplest, fastest and fairest way possible.”

– Dan Garrett, CEO of Farewill.

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.

Year-on-year the average price of a Direct Cremation has risen to £1647, however Farewill offers Direct Cremation from £895, which is 46% lower than the industry average.

“Attitudes towards death are evolving, meaning that we’re far more likely to shop around for affordable options and the numbers choosing Direct Cremation is set to continue to soar.

“With customers no longer feeling confined to the costly, traditional constraints of high street funeral directors, families now have the freedom to choose how to celebrate their loved one’s legacy in a way that feels personal to them.”

– Dan Garrett, CEO of Farewill.

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?

Bereavement forum

Dealing with the death of a friend, family member or coworker is difficult. Building a reliable support network is key, which is why a safe and secure community forum can be crucial to help people going through similar difficult situations.

This business idea could be easily supported on various platforms, such as social media sites, or using simple website builder software.

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.

Divorce services

According to the most recent divorce statistics from Crisp and Co, 42% of marriages in England and Wales now end in divorce. And 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 £14,561.

The disruption of the past year has also had an impact on divorce rates, as couples spent much more time together locked inside during the UK’s three national lockdowns.

Another reason for this 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.

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. Co-founder 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 life insurance until fairly late in life. But in light of COVID-19 and the new messaging around protecting our health and our bodies, new audiences have been introduced to the benefits of having an insurance policy in place.

Insurance is not a topic that conjures up wild dreams of opportunity and innovation, but consumer behavioural changes over the past few years have meant that young people are now getting more engaged with the industry and driving demand for quick and easy policies.

In answer, many exciting startups are entering the space to streamline and rebrand the service into one that’s about celebrating life, rather than reminding us of death.

One firm we’d definitely like to highlight is YuLife, which came in at 15th in the Startups 100 2021. YuLife’s gamified version of insurance rewards its users/policyholders for taking part in activities like walking, cycling, meditation and mindfulness with discounts from major UK partners. 62% of users regularly engage with the app, and nearly 40% log on every day.

“For decades, life insurance has been little more than death coverage, with little regard given to actually improving policyholders’ quality of life,” YuLife’s founders told us. “YuLife uses technology to transform that model and introduce life insurance that inspires life.”

Urban Jungle is another insurtech business featured on the Startups 100, and it's aiming to put control back into the hands of policyholders. Its proposition is simple: get quick and easy home insurance online and pay on a monthly rolling plan with no hidden fees.

Prioritising customer care over profit-driven motivations, Urban Jungle is pulling the industry in a more ethical, and exciting, direction.

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. There has also been a growing trend in the market for private party insurance. As fluctuating coronavirus safety measures have made last-minute cancellations more likely, consumers are seeking reassurance and financial backup when it comes to large-scale events such as weddings.

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.

Finding a new job

Between September and November 2020 there was a huge spike in the UK redundancy rate (14.5 per 1,000) as pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and enforced closures really took their toll – this was higher even than the peak of 11.8 per 1,000 during the recession in 2009.

While the redundancy rate has now returned to relatively normal levels, there’s no doubt that the pandemic will have long lasting effects on the UK job market.

But it’s not all bad news. Having had a chance to reconsider and reprioritise during the various lockdowns, thousands are seeking a fresh start in what is being hailed as The Great Resignation.

Many people who are post-redundancy are on the hunt for jobs that give them greater flexibility and better work-life balance. And a whole new sub-sector has sprung up to help them do just that.

Steve Witt is co-founder of Not Just Travel and its recruitment arm, The Travel Franchise, which has trained over 900 people as homeworking travel agents under its Not Just Travel brand following the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry.

“People have seen the effect of the pandemic on the traditional work environment. It has changed the way we work, and the way we want to work, forever. More people are looking at what they want from a career and thinking about what they want their work/ life balance to look like than ever before.”

– Steve Witt, co-founder of Not Just Travel

And if you’ve not been on the job market for a while, there are tonnes of innovative new startups cropping up to assist with every aspect of the job application process, so you don’t have to go through irritating recruitment agencies to get on with getting back to work.

Founded by Dylan Buckley and Will Capper in 2018, DirectlyApply is the aptly-named one-stop job search engine where candidates can apply to roles directly.

In addition to its simple job search feature, job seekers can also use the free resume builder, diversity and inclusion checker, job application tracker, and salary comparison tools. We ranked it as one of our top 100 Startups for 2021 thanks to its disruptive business model and impressive growth.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on jobs, and many people are currently stuck in the wrong sector with a skillset that’s being underutilised. Entrepreneurs that love people, and want to meet this ill-fated consumer need, will do well with this particular business idea.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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