Female Entrepreneur in Studio

The annual Startups.co.uk list of best businesses to start in 2020 is here. From sober socialising to CBD vaping to smart tech for the elderly, Startups’ experts have forecast the trends that will dominate new business in the new year - and could help you become 2020’s business success story.

Non-alcoholic fun

With an estimated third of young people now claiming to be teetotal, they probably need more options for a Friday night than huddling under the heaters in their local beer garden.

From competitive socialising like Bounce ping pong or Flight Club’s social darts, to alcohol-free distilleries such as Jump Ship Brewing or Sipling, to alcohol-free events catering - there are a host of new sober startup sectors to try. 

Businesses include:

Alcohol-free drinks
Non-alcoholic drinking/leisure festival
Non-alcoholic distillery
Competitive socialising company
Alcohol-free corporate events company


Urban farming

Whether it is in preparation for a climate apocalypse or to get back in touch with where their food comes from, urbanites are bringing farming to the city. Vertical farming - essentially stacking narrow beds of crops on top of each other to make the most of small space - insect farming and farm-to-fork eateries are all on the menu for 2020. 

Businesses include:

Insect farming
Vertical farming
Products to help people grow their own
Eateries with farms attached
Veg deliveries

Dog with two food bowls

Premium pet food

In case you hadn’t caught the memo, supermarket own-brand mystery meat tins are no longer good enough for our furry friends. Bespoke, homemade and even vegan pet food is now all the go. Savvy entrepreneurs can cash in by creating a new brand of artisan pet food, or helping people make their own at home.

Business ideas include:

Raw pet food
Vegan snacks, food supplements and skin products for pets
Pet nutrition consultancy 
Pet-tech – technology that helps owners maintain their pet’s health 
Tailored/personalised pet-food subscriptions
Pet food recipe books, cookbooks and blogs

CBD, or cannabidiol, has come to the UK after causing a stir in the US. Current figures suggest 1.3 million users are spending £300m per year on CBD and this is set to grow with more and more products being added to the market. In addition to the popular oils and capsules, the selection of CBD edibles such as gummies, sweets or chocolates is growing quickly, offering an array of business opportunities.

Business ideas include:

Therapeutic products
Food and drink



Despite not being a new idea as such, the opportunity for the right podcasts to make it big is still there, especially when you think there are only 700,000 podcasts in comparison to approximately 23 million youtube channels. The key here is to zero in on an untapped niche - not only do you corner a new audience but also related sponsorship deals.

Business ideas include:

Make a podcast about something you’re passionate about 

Woman buying a product online

Smarttech to help the elderly

With a growing older population, catering to a senior market is big business. From everyday helping hands, like apps to help with daily chores, to home security for peace of mind, to in-home entertainment systems - designing technology with older generations in mind is worthy and worth it. With more people wanting to stay in their homes for longer, connecting users and families with the in-home help they need is also a good possible venture. 

Business ideas include:

Smart-home apps 
Online care
Entertainment accessibility devices 
Smart-home installation service or support

Modest fashion

Modest fashion is a fast growing business; H&M and ASOS have already got in on it, launching modest capsule collections in the last couple of years, and there is a huge market still up for grabs. There are still relatively few fashion-forward brands that cater to Muslim, Christian and Jewish people who want to dress modestly, and the fashion pack are just waking up to this underserved market - so the time is right if you want to launch a brand in this space.

Business ideas include:

Shop (online and/or bricks-and-mortar)
Fashion events
Magazine or blog publisher
Styling services

Customer walking with a no more plastic bag on her shoulder


Makeup and beauty is the latest sector to go under the eco-friendly microscope. Sustainable packaging, ethically sourced ingredients and social purpose are all trends creeping into the beauty space for 2020, and savvy business minds will be able to jump on this trend. With the global beauty industry valued at $532bn, there is a huge opportunity here for clever entrepreneurs.

Business ideas include:

Vegan and chemical-free makeup
Sustainable wipes, lotions and applicators
Eco packaging
Eco-conscious salons
Eco beauty influencer/beauty therapist


Craft teaching

As anyone who has witnessed the return of chokers and scrunchies can attest, everything comes full circle. In rebellion against the homogenised, mass-produced products of the 90s and early 2000s, people are now seeking out the imperfect and hand made. 2020 could be a big time for anyone looking to sell their own creations, teach others to make theirs or help people sell.

Business ideas include:

Designing and making to sell
Teaching others to make their own - knitting, pottery, etc.
Helping to sell - marketplaces, apps, blogs



It’s unlikely you have missed the gin craze over the last few years; gin themed venues, artisanal gins, mixers and alcohol-free gins plus a range of gin merch including gin scented soaps or fragrances have saturated the market. 2020 is rum’s turn to dominate cocktail menus and instagram posts.

WSTA figures also show that flavoured and spiced rums are recording strong sales growth  - with 10 million bottles sold in 2018 and no sign of slowing down. 

Business ideas include:

Traditional dark rum distilling 
Flavoured rums
Mixers and cocktail recipe books
Rum flavoured foods and products


Sustainable transport

By 2021, 93% of UK internet users will be shopping online. With consumers becoming ever more aware of how their products are made and transported, offering green logistics solutions is going to be a top concern for businesses dependent on quick delivery times. As well as the green credentials, offering delivery drivers fair pay and good benefits will also be an important priority for any business looking to secure big brand contracts.

Business ideas include:

Fleets of bikes or electric vehicles
Offsetting and consolidating deliveries
Sustainable long haul deliveries
Eco commuting - cycle to work etc


Digital fitness

If you didn’t know about the new at-home fitness class craze, then digital spin class Peloton’s bizarre ad this Christmas may have brought it to your attention. Traditional gym formats are being cast aside in favour of classes you can join by video camera, modern pic n mix gym memberships and YouTube influencers. Digital fitness is open to a global audience - and as Peloton’s  $1,995 bike and $39 a month subscription proves, people are willing to pay to look good.

Business ideas include:

At home digital fitness classes
Trackers and apps
Pic n Mix gym classes
YouTube & Instagram classes 

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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