British businesses are booming. The number of new businesses registered in the UK in the first half of 2021 increased by 32% against the same period in 2019. A combination of enterprise, social, and working changes has presented new opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to take the reins of their own brand and have a go at being their own boss. It also signals a rise in entrepreneurship to help drive the economic recovery post-COVID.
Innovative technology has further presented opportunities for new businesses to experience accelerated growth. The use of B2B Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms are enabling businesses to extend cashflows, supercharge product development, and unlock finance management.
Alongside new digital services, the demand for technical transformation, and the growth of no-code platforms, there is now a unique prospect to hone your technical literacy and start a business that has real potential for growth.
Here, Jamie Beaumont, founder and CEO of Playter, investigates four emerging digital industries with space on the market to start a business for less than £1,000.
- Near-field communication (NFC) integration
You may not be familiar with near-field communication (NFC), but you’ve been using it for years. Today, most smartphones have NFC capabilities. This allows them to communicate with other NFC compatible devices.
NFC is activated when two compatible devices are tapped against each other, where set instructions can then be played out. Familiar actions include payment tap-and-go systems, entry badges to authorise access to buildings, and digitised time-stamp cards.
The applications of NFC are now being integrated across businesses and domestic settings for a variety of uses. The installation and integration of NFC tags could be a viable business for entrepreneurs. The global NFC market is expected to grow 49% between 2022 and 2024.
NFC tags can cost as little as £0.25. It’s a small sticker with a paper-thin chip inside. These tags can be programmed with no code using smartphones and apps that are accessible to everyone. In homes and businesses, you could set up NFC tags to be activated when phones are tapped against them. These can trigger actions including:
- Taking customers to a specific website
- Displaying a menu on the phone
- Connecting to a venue or home’s Wi-Fi
- Controlling or dimming lights
While there may be other costs incurred with setting up your NFC business, in theory, there’s no reason you couldn’t set this one up for only £0.25.
- Ecommerce marketplace
This venture is commonplace on many ‘businesses-to-start’ lists, but the growth of the sector continues to make this an exciting endeavour, with low set-up costs so that most people can start with a limited investment.
No-code platforms such as Shopify and Wix are enabling business owners to create brands from scratch. Meanwhile, other e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and eBay, allow businesses to place their products in front of huge audiences.
Partially spurred on by the pandemic, global e-commerce retail sales increased by 65% between 2018 and 2021.
There are a variety of ways to get into e-commerce for less than £1,000. According to Oberlo, using Shopify, a drop-shipping platform and domain provider, will cost start-ups in the region of £500-£600 per year, with additional costs depending on your stock requirements.
Of course, dropshipping is not the only way to begin your e-commerce marketplace. Entrepreneurs may find success selling products from other sources, identifying gaps in the market where competitors have not yet focussed their sales and customer outreach.
- Chatbot builder
Automated services are set to be the next big thing in the world of customer experiences, and it’s a market that is still up for grabs for any entrepreneur pining for a successful business.
Chatbots can vary in utility. Your own experience with them may tell you as much. Retailers may be able to tell you when your order is expected for delivery. Hoteliers may allow you to book and pay for a room using a messenger service. Even Domino’s is in on the action, integrating Facebook messenger with their ordering service. Now, you just need to ask ‘Dom’ for your pizza.
As businesses continue to expand their digital offering to consumers, you may find untapped potential in setting up chatbots for forward-thinking companies. Even better, there’s no coding involved.
All it takes is some forward planning, considering what your clients’ customers may ask for over a messaging service, and how to respond to their questions. 21 percent of surveyed consumers think that chatbots are the easiest way to contact a business. Remind your customers of its value when you pitch your new business to them.
The market revenue of chatbots is set to increase by 327% in the next five years, so there’s real growth potential for your new business. The cost of a chatbot-building service can vary between £120 and £540 per year, depending on the features, its integration, and the number of conversations the chatbot can deliver.
- Outsourced social media management
Social media is a great tool for businesses to reach new audiences and keep existing customers engaged with their products and services. 89.3% of businesses believe that social media is very important or somewhat important to their overall marketing strategy.
The average value of online shopping orders originating from social media in the second quarter of 2021 was £61.90: its prevalence and success has created a huge market for outsourced social media management services.
The potential for marketers to create a business around social media grows alongside the increasing use of these platforms. By 2025, there will be an additional 450 million users of social networks.
The best part is that the tools to get started are free – you can run campaigns on the platforms themselves. You will, of course, need knowledge of how to set up and run carefully-targeted campaigns, and how to interpret and learn from the results. You’ll also need a creative eye, while strong content creation, audience understanding and metric tracking skills are also essential. However, there is a huge variety of free courses online that can point you towards effective social media use.
Although it may not cost anything to set up, developing your social media skills could be a worthwhile investment. The Chartered Institute of Marketing, for example, offers a Social Media Strategy Masterclass for £575, elevating your ability to drive continuous conversation and a compelling content narrative in your customer’s markets.
Starting a business is an exciting prospect and there are a number of low-cost routes in to build your own business start-up. Plus, once you’ve navigated the first year or so and are starting to think about scaling up, services such as B2B Buy Now Pay Later mean anyone has the potential to successfully create and grow a business.