The 10 best business ideas for 2021

Featuring virtual influencers, on-demand wellness, and remote working services, we guide you through the business trends and opportunities going big in 2021

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  • Henry Williams

What a year 2021 has been so far… the COVID pandemic is lingering around like a bad smell, the fallout from Brexit has hit businesses across the UK hard, and hybrid working has become the new norm.

So, is 2021 a good time to start a business? Absolutely. Some would even say there’s never been a better time.

We’ve crunched the numbers, interviewed experts, and dug deep down into consumer research to unearth the business ideas, trends, and opportunities that we think have the biggest potential for aspiring entrepreneurs in 2021.

And this year’s list is as varied and exciting as ever. From virtual influencers and electric bikes to remote working services and the feeling economy (what on earth is that? Read on to find out), we bring you the 10 business trends that are defining 2021.

Simon Paine, co-founder and CEO of the PopUp Business School: “We are in new territory, and in many ways it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for starting something completely new. We will never get a chance like this to step back, out of our day to day, to reflect and create something that is important to us and that people need. What do people want and need at this time? How can you serve them in a way that aligns with your passions and interests?

 “Don’t focus on what is missing, what is lost, and what is wrong. Start focusing on what is next, what is possible, and what you can do. Your focus determines your results. Change your focus and you change the course of your destiny. Every single day, focus on what you can build and create, and work towards the future you desire.”

1. Virtual influencers

They have millions of adoring followers, advertising deals with major brands, and they live out their lives entirely online.

Meet the virtual influencers – realistic, CGI-generated online personalities that, according to some sources, achieve three times more engagement than their physical counterparts.

Limitless potential awaits for those with the technical know-how and resources to enter this strange new market.

Read the full article on virtual influencers.

2. The feeling economy

More and more robots are taking our jobs, but this time, they’re doing the thinking for us…

Worrying? Not necessarily. As AI assumes menial cognitive tasks, distinctly human characteristics like empathy and emotional intelligence will become ever more valuable.

Businesses that marry technology with services that only a person can provide stand to do well in the feeling economy.

Read the full article on the feeling economy

3. Electric bikes and e-scooters

2020 has witnessed a boom in bike sales, as people have sought to avoid the perils of close confinement on public transport. But electric bikes and e-scooters have been the big success story – Halfords alone reported a 230% increase in sales in this category.

We foresee plenty of opportunities in this space in 2021: think electric bike rental, electric bike accessories, and electric bike conversion.

Read the full article on electric bikes and e-scooters.

Want to see how catastrophe and innovation tend to go hand in hand? Check out our timeline of the last 20 years in business.

4. Animal care and training

Many people have found comfort in a four-legged friend in 2020. But, as our research has discovered, many were completely unprepared for the amount of work involved in caring for their pet.

Therefore, if you’re an animal lover, or you have experience in pet care, you’re in luck – we predict a boom in the animal care and training sector next year.

Read the full article on animal care and training

5. On-demand health and wellness

Movies, music, and food have all been available at the click of a button. And now, it’s easier than ever to attend to your own wellbeing with on-demand health and wellness services.

Whether it's fully-optimised meals in a pouch, online fitness classes, or apps to help you look after your libido, there are now quick fixes for everything.

Read the full article on on-demand health and wellness.

6. The flexi-office

The office will never be the same again, that’s for sure. Businesses just won’t be as keen to commit massive portions of their revenue to leasing office space that doesn’t actually contribute that much to the success of the company.

So meet the flexi-office, which is likely to make up 30% of all office space by next year.

Read the full article on flexi-offices.

7. Diversity and inclusion

Never have diversity and inclusion been more central to the global conversation. And never has it been more important to ensure they stay at the top of the agenda, and not sink after a few token nods.

Whether you focus your efforts on helping individuals from underrepresented backgrounds or champion diversity and inclusivity initiatives in businesses, could you help keep these issues at the top of the agenda in 2021?

Read the full article on diversity and inclusion

8. Localisation

People have been sounding the death knell of the high street for decades – and with good reason.

But come 2021 and a global pandemic, and suddenly local shops and independents have never had it so good. Yes, out of necessity, many consumers have discovered the joys of shopping locally – and, according to surveys, many are going to continue to do so.

That presents a plethora of opportunities, from starting a local business of your own, to actually helping consumers discover, shop at, and support local businesses.

Read the full article on localisation

9. Online learning

Searches for online learning courses and teaching online increased by 240% and 328% respectively in 2020. Not a surprise really, as suddenly we all had a lot of free time stuck at home, and were keen to fill it with something constructive.

As with many things that have happened during the pandemic, now people have discovered how convenient online learning can be, they’re keen to continue.

Limitless opportunities here. If you can teach it, you can teach it online.

Read the full article on online learning

10. Remote working services

In many ways, the last year has proved that people can work from home just as effectively as they can in the office. However, there are some benefits of the workplace that just can’t be replicated while WFHing.

Remote working services aim, as much as possible, to compensate for these inadequacies by helping people to collaborate better, work more productively, and even host socials to boost team morale.

Read the full article on remote working services

Henry Williams
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