Just as there are lists of top jobs for the person seeking employment, there are compilations of occupations you probably don't want to enter. Forget dangerous or uncomfortable or low pay. There's another reason people should avoid some jobs: extinction.

For example, Kiplinger again put together its annual list of dying jobs. Job seekers aren't the only ones who should be interested. For entrepreneurs, such lists are canaries in the coal mine, showing where industries are coming up short.

If there's not enough work for employees, there's probably not enough income for business owners -- at least, not a lot of them. (Someone still makes buggy whips, just not a whole lot of them.) Entrepreneurs dependent on the types of occupations on such lists had better take time to seriously contemplate whether their businesses are viable for the long run. And if you're thinking of getting into such a business, time for a second round of thought.

Here are some of the jobs that seem to send the biggest warning signals to business owners:

  • Floral designer -- After a big uptick in floral stores, the sector has taken a hit as grocery stores began to provide floral services, which means a flower shop could have some serious problems. Perhaps a full florist can provide more elaborate arrangements, but many people more frequently are happy with inexpensive flowers that they can pick up for far less. If you have extensive contacts for events or have business customers, you might be OK, but competition will only get tougher.
  • Woodworking machine operators and cabinetmakers -- Two different listings for the price of one. Wood products are increasingly being imported or made with ever more automated equipment. A highly upscale business providing custom cabinetry, demanding finish carpentry, reproduction services, or other areas where top skills can command reasonable money from those who have it and need something unusual might be fine. If you're building more ordinary items, you should plan on further capital improvement for more automation, or, as Kiplinger suggested for workers, consider machining. The materials are different, but I've seen people move from one to the other because, ultimately, many of the same practices occur.
  • Metal and plastic molding machine operators -- Like woodworking, these are areas where people are being displaced by imported products or automation. Plan on cranking up the capital investment into equipment.
  • Travel agent -- Agencies have seen themselves battling against the Internet for years now, as it's been increasingly easy for consumers to book their own travel. However, there is a catch that might offer some hope. The airlines are moving away from providing information to the online travel agencies because they don't want to compete on price. So, there may be a future in doing analysis for travelers and help them save time as they try to find the best buys.
  • Courier -- You could have seen this one coming. Between email, photos and files sent over the Internet, particularly as electronic documents can be signed, there is increasingly less need to send physical documents. The question would be whether you can pivot to more of a delivery service, whether food from restaurants or goods for smaller upscale shops that can't afford to maintain their own deliver service.
  • Drywall installer -- The housing market has done a number on the need for people to install drywall. An intriguing suggestion was to learn how to be a brick mason, as need for them is expected to climb by 14.8 percent, rather than drop by a third as drywall installation is expected to do. If you have a construction business that has depended on that sort of interior work, can you shift into general masonry, construction of rock walls, building outdoor ovens, or other such areas? The big problem is the learning curve, as jumping from dry wall to masonry is a significant change.
Published on: Dec 3, 2015