When launching a startup, it always helps if the industry you're breaking into doesn't have a juggernaut with the power to crush the competition.
While almost every sector has incumbent market leaders and new rising stars, certain industries are fragmented to the point where no single player has a major stranglehold.
As a part of Inc.'s annual look at the best industries for starting a business, we decided to highlight the niche sectors that are projected to grow during the next few years and that don't have an industry leader dominating the market. The selections, which come from IBISWorld's exhaustive list of U.S. sectors, focus on industries where the industry life cycle is mature, and all major players have less than 5 percent market share.
Here, in alphabetical order, are five industries in the U.S. with no clear dominant player.
1. Heavy equipment rental
2014 industry revenue: $35 billion
Projected revenue growth (2014-15): 2.2 percent
Companies in this industry lease out equipment for activities related to air, sea, and rail transport, as well as construction of highways, roads, tunnels, bridges, and oil drilling. Although the industry suffered in the two years immediately following the recession, revenue began growing again in 2011 as business owners freed up capital by shifting to renting--rather than purchasing--heavy equipment. During the five-year period to 2019, rising demand from the transportation, mining, and construction sectors is expected to help industry revenue grow, to $39.2 billion.
2. Home builders
2014 industry revenue: $81.8 billion
Projected revenue growth (2014-15): 11.3 percent
Revenue for the home builders industry usually rises and falls with economic cycles; it dropped to a low of $59.8 billion in 2011, from more than $135 billion just five years earlier. Since 2011, however, the sector has been growing steadily, and during the next five years, home builders should benefit from the recovering property market, low interest rates, and rising consumer confidence. By 2019, IBISWorld projects, industry revenue will reach $110.9 billion.
3. Mobile storage services
2014 industry revenue: $7.49 billion
Projected revenue growth (2014-15): 7.1 percent
Companies in this industry provide moving and storage services to both individuals and businesses. While industry revenue contracted significantly during the recession, rising demand for residential and commercial construction during the past five years has helped grow both revenue and profit. IBISWorld expects average revenue to grow 6 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10 billion by 2019.
4. Point of sale software developers
2014 industry revenue: $1.4 billion
Projected revenue growth (2014-15): -1.0 percent
Point of sale (POS) software facilitates business transactions for retailers and wholesalers; developers of the software have benefited from a growing reliance on computers to handle these activities. While growth during the next five years is expected to be moderate, the sector should continue growing in the long term as more and more businesses upgrade their POS technology. IBISWorld expects industry revenue to reach $1.5 billion by 2020.
5. Trade show and conference planning
2014 industry revenue: $12.8 billion
Projected revenue growth (2014-15): 3.0 percent
Companies in this sector help organize and manage conventions, conferences, and other business events, with the majority of their revenue coming from business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) events. Since 2010, rising corporate profits have led to larger marketing budgets, while growing disposable income has helped drive attendance at both B2B and B2C events. During the five years to 2019, industry revenue is expected to ramp up, reaching nearly $15 billion by 2019.