The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now
Employment AgenciesTechnical and Trade SchoolsThe Beauty IndustryOrganic SnacksLanguage Schools Automobile DealersPublic Relations Firms Historical SitesClothing Accessories StoresFinancial Planning, Advice, and InvestmentOnline Dating and MatchmakingLocation-Aware AppsPhysical TherapyEnvironmental Consulting Recreational Goods Rental Real Estate AppraisalGreen Toys
Job hunting can be a bit easier when someone else is helping out. Temp agencies and staffing services have shown an 18 percent year-over-year growth rate, according to AnythingResearch.com. Amid continued economic volatility, employers see contingent labor as a means of expanding capacity while preserving flexibility. IBISWorld forecasts sunny days ahead, too: The industry is poised to grow 5 percent growth annually through 2016. Read more.
Technical and trade schools are thriving as job-seekers continue to acquire and nurture new skills. Since last year, the growth rate for the industry nearly doubled to 15.22 percent, according to Sageworks. IBISWorld expects demand for professional skills and performance training to increase by more than 5 percent through 2016. Read more.
A shave and a haircut is worth a lot more than two bits these days. Several indicators point to a salon renaissance. Consider the number of people learning the profession. Cosmetology and barber schools make up the No. 1 fastest-growing industry of 2011, with an exceptional year-over-year growth rate of 29 percent, according to data from AnythingResearch. Nail salons, with their low barriers to entry, are also booming, with a year-over-year growth rate of 9 percent. Read more.
The organic foods business continues to grow—particularly in the niches of snack makers and the specialty food stores that sell their products. Organic snack foods accounted for 5 percent of the country's total organic food sales in 2009, according to the Organic Trade Association, and demand continues to rise—"especially in schools and corporations, where there's new workplace-wellness initiatives," says Jolly Backer, founder of San Diego-based Fresh Healthy Vending. Read more.
The increasingly diversity of the U.S. population, coupled with the globalization of industries, means the number of people seeking instruction in foreign language, English as a second language, and sign language, has been soaring. Language instruction is now a $1 billion industry, with a 13 percent year-over-year growth rate, according to AnythingResearch.com, which ranks the industry as the fifth fastest-growing area to start a business in 2011. Read more.
Through 2008 and 2009, American consumers put the brakes on major purchases, and car sales—for both new and used vehicles—suffered significantly. Now, the industry is recovering. In March, sales were expected to rise 12 percent over last year, and Sageworks estimates an increase of more than 18 percent in sales by private dealers. Businesses that supply the auto industry are recovering as well. The net profit margin for motor vehicle parts manufacturers stood at nearly 5 percent in 2010; machine shops enjoyed a net profit margin that averaged 7 percent. Read more.
While annual revenue for public relations firms flat-lined between 2008 and this year, IBISWorld forecasts that the industry will grow by 6 percent annually over the next five years. And while employment in the field has actually declined lately, it's set to increase by 3 percent every year through 2016. That's due largely to a shifting industry that incorporates more social-media management and marketing, experts say. The industry has a low barrier to entry, and low capital intensity, but is highly competitive. Read more.
Tourism businesses tied to landmarks, archeological sites, historical battlefields, and the like, have seen a year-over-year growth rate of 16 percent, according to AnythingResearch.com. People are still keeping a tight watch on their wallets, so when the urge for a getaway presents itself, more are looking to stay local. It's a challenging industry for entrepreneurs without non-profit experience, though, because nearly half the its $1 billion in revenue comes from public and private donations. Read more.
Adding some flair to the economy, clothing-accessories stores are seeing their sales trend upward. Consumers are making smaller, more frequent purchases to update their wardrobes. After a dip in 2009, the category, which includes companies that specialize in jewelry, wallets, handbags, gloves, hats, and more, grew by 9 percent in 2010. Read more.
Big players like Bank of America and Wells Fargo may champion the financial world, but there is still some room for the little guy. Bolstered by an improved economy, this industry saw an 11 percent increase in sales in 2010, according Sageworks. And as the stock market regains ground, demand for professional financial advice is poised to increase. The industry is growing by about 3 percent this year and 5 percent through 2016, as reported by IBISWorld. Low initial investment costs (mainly personnel) allow easy entry, but in this highly-competitive industry, only the best will thrive. Read more.
Cupid is alive, well, and living on the Internet these days. The online dating and matchmaking industry grew by 2.3 percent between 2008 and 2011, and it is poised to grow by 2.8 percent annually through 2016. The growth is fueled by high profit margins and relatively low barriers to entry (at least for now). Then there's the fact that social stigma against meeting your mate online is vanishing fast. In fact, some studies show that as many as 30 percent of newly married couples first met through the click of a mouse. Read more.
At South by Southwest Interactive this year, one couldn't walk 10 feet without hearing about a new app that connected you to people, places, or deals near your present location. Many, like the location-aware game Dokobots, use Foursquare as a template. Others, such as Yobongo or Meet Gatsby, match users up with people nearby. Helpful apps like those that can find the most inexpensive gasoline or the nearest public restroom in an area. Location-aware deal sites are also popping up across the country. Read more.
Although IBISWorld predicts the physical-therapy industry will remain flat through the rest of 2011, the aging Baby Boomer generation is great news for the industry's future: The field will see a big spurt over the next five years as a huge wave of Americans hit retirement age and beyond. Growth of 4.3 percent is expected annually through 2016. The number of establishments is expected to grow too, to 123,351 in 2016 up from 105,587 in 2011. Read more.
Environmental consulting, now an industry valued at $19.1 billion, is expected to grow 9.4 percent over the next five years, IBISWorld reports. Such growth reflects increased demand for resources, tighter government regulations, and rapid improvements in technology. "Environmental consulting is a mature business now," says Brad Mauer, business development manager for Sovereign Consulting, an environmental-consulting firm in Robbinsville, New Jersey. Read more.
It's hard to keep a good time down: Revenue for companies that rent recreational goods, such as camping equipment, skis, snorkeling gear, and sailboats, is predicted to cross the $1 billion mark by 2013, according to AnythingResearch.com. The industry grew by 10 percent in 2010, though it's highly fragmented. The average company grosses $447,982 a year. Read more.
Home values may not have fully recovered, but the industry that assigns them is poised to expand. The real estate appraisal industry has grown modestly since 2008, but IBISWorld expects it to grow by 5.2 percent annually over each of the next five years. With the improving market and new, more rigorous certification requirements, the business is evolving, making room for upstarts. It is also going through a generational transition: The majority of current appraisers are 50 years old or older. Read more.
Green toys—a category that's defined loosely by manufacturers as "environmentally friendly"—currently represent just a sliver of the $21.87 billion toy industry. But the NPD Group, a leading market research company, estimates that green toy retail is outperforming its parent industry by 150 percent. For example, the aptly named company Green Toys, a California manufacturer of toys made entirely out of recycled materials, has seen its sales grow by 80 percent a year each year since 2007. Read more.
—Gabrielle Blue, Drew Gannon, Christine Lagorio, and Tim Donnelly