Small Business Ideas for Budding Entrepreneurs
Are you looking for small business ideas to turn into reality this year? If so, read on, as you will discover some of the best ideas and opportunities available today.
Is the economy recovering? Well, some of us did see the light at the end of the tunnel, but reaching the end is still a long way to go.
With the still-pretty-much-bleak global economy outlook, along with the highly possible increase in downsizing trends, more and more people are made redundant, people are put their back against the wall to start making a decision – or else…
The next logical step for those people are: looking for another job and starting a business. Many more are spending money to earn an online MBA with hopes of striking it big with a management position.
The former is more desirable for those who place income security high in their list, but the latter is more desirable for those who are being fed up with all the corporate politics and seemingly unfair downsizing.
Whatever step you want to choose, I recommend you to consider the latter for two reasons:
- Throughout the history of small business, being downsized is one of the most successful life changing experience in born new, thriving, entrepreneurs.
- Getting back into the workforce with the standard you had before is not as easy as you think – businesses cut costs, and one of the area that are being heavily cut is payroll – bottom line, businesses want more for less these days.
With that being said, this year is probably the best time to start a business. Businesses have proven once again that they can survive under heavy pressure and it has been proven time and time again that some of the most successful businesses were launched during the recession.
So, are you ready to start a business?
Top small business ideas
Budding entrepreneurs – to give you some ideas on what business to start this year, here are some small business ideas for you to consider:
Mobile app business
Mobile technologies and gadgets have taken the world by storm – and you ain’t seen nothing yet. 1.2 billion people worldwide were using mobile apps, downloading an estimated 56-82 billion of apps in 2013 (source.) With “only” 800,000 mobile apps to choose from, the market is still very much wide open. This year is the best time to jump into the mobile app business bandwagon.
Whether you develop apps yourself or hire an app developer to do it for you, your key to success is in your ability to give what people want. When you are able to do that, making millions of dollar through app sales – even as an independent business owner – is a not-too-distant future for you.
Most of the case, DIY reduce costs. If you can provide products and services that allow people to DIY something, such as creating your own home cleaning products, you are on a roll. Let’s take DIY green energy idea, for example. Offering people a chance to build their own green energy generator with your how-to-guides, materials and/or accessories can be a very lucrative – and sustainable – business idea.
Energy saving business
This idea is definitely hot in the past few years, and this year the emphasis on energy cost-cutting regimes will push any energy saving businesses even further. Producing or distributing LED lightings will be the right business this year.
As more and more businesses are going green today, starting up a business helping other businesses to go green – e.g. implementing green practices, reducing inefficiency in energy consumption, etc. – is not only a smart business move, but also a socially-responsible one.
Online business / make money online
Ah, my favourite small business idea. I heard and read too many real life success stories of people who have gone from zero to hero making money online.
The wonder of the Internet is this: For as low as $50 (a domain name + affordable web hosting fee) or even for free, you can start a lucrative online business and shoot for a chance to create a six figure business before this year ends. Furthermore, as cloud computing will become mainstream (or it’s already mainstream?) and plenty of web tools to help you build a web business easily, online revenues are more accessible to non-tech webpreneurs. Just make sure to obtain a general liability insurance to protect your online business. A lot of the same risks that brick and mortar businesses face exists for web-based businesses as well.
Of course, you need to have this one key factor: Your competitiveness in a low-cost, high-competition market.
There is a better solution in your cost cutting campaign – outsourcing. Nothing new here, but outsourcing is indeed increased in demand and importance. As businesses cut costs, outsourcing service providers are well-sought after.
Outsourcing enables your company to be more nimble and resposive to changes. The key in outsourcing is finding the right companies to outsource to.
The business idea: outsourcing company that manage service buyers needs. Doing other people’s business operations (or errands, if you will) can be astonishingly profitable.
A tip: Instead of going solo, hire a team to do tasks – Your main job: Cash in the opportunity, as the opportunity is (still) wide open to explore.
Organic clothing, organic food, and others are the type of products that continually grow in demand. Offering organic version of something niche – e.g. organic chewable pet toys – can offer you a great chance of success.
Thousands of sites are established every day on the Net – most of those site needs domain names and web hosting services – Why don’t you start one? Starting up a web hosting company won’t take more than $500 (if you are on a reseller plan of a web hosting provider) but can make you $2000 per month – Yes, Internet-related businesses are HUGE in potential. Some other ideas: starting up a web design/development business, an SEO/link building services, an online community development business, a social media marketing business, etc. can help site owners to do well online.
Green homes and buildings are in demand and start gaining momentum in construction business trends – why? Because they use less resources, create less waste and promote healthy living for those who live inside.
Baby boomer-related business
The highlight of the year: Baby boomers are retiring from the workforce, creating a mega-problem to the economy – thanks to the flawed MediCare, Social Security and retirement funds. Creating a business that act as a safety-net for those baby boomers will boom your business sky-high. One example of such business is entrepreneurship training business for baby boomers.
Cheap and/or recycled product business
“Turning trash into cash” type of business is very, very lucrative this year. With the increase in material and production costs, making use of ‘useless’ materials and create something out of them will proved to be a thriving business. One example: Creating Converse-like canvass shoes out of wastes – the scrapbooking style.
Home based business
The best cost-cutting innovation of all – work from your home! With the ever-presence of the Internet, working at home
Charity and philantropy
Giving as a business? Never – However, you can be a business that match recipients and givers, such as the web-based Kiva.com that match small business borrowers with lenders.
Here’s a business idea for you: White label fundraising. There are times when you are really want to make a difference by running your own charity, but don’t know how. Well, there are white label fundraising companies that, in essence, partner with non-profit organisations and charities to provide a chance for someone to raise funds for his/her favourite charities or non-profits without all the hassle of resource management and reporting. Even better, he/she will receive good income to cover the fundraising activities by receiving a percentage of the raised funds.
A win-win solution for all and being the one who meet the organisations with independent fundraisers makes a good business idea.
No longer a trend for road warriors out there, but a growing trend for new entrepreneurs who envision themselves as location independent business owners. Again, the Internet plays a major role in mobile business, as well as the more powerful and cutting-edge mobile technologies and gadgets. Your iPhone and MacBook Air will enable you to run your business wherever you are.
Bootstrapping and cost-cutting consultancy business
As every business owner aim to be leaner and more responsive, bootstrapping and cost-cutting consultants will have their moments this year – roles, such as energy consultants, Internet startup consultants, and similar others will enjoy substantial growth this year.
Freemium is a business model (usually online business) that allows free but limited access to a product or service, in which a premium is charged if you want a full-featured access. Twitter will do it, Flickr has done it, and you should join the bandwagon. The premise: free is what attract people, and getting 1% of those people to pay for the premium should boom your business – think about it: you can create revenue offering something for free, with no obligation or any hidden policies.
Personalised products and/or services
People enjoy personalised products and/or services that are made specifically to their specifications. Indeed, people no longer really want to wear a Mark Ecko t-shirt – you want “YOUR” t-shirt printed with YOUR choice of image; you don’t want a Hallmark greeting card – you want “YOUR” greeting card made especially for you.
With growing interest in everything custom and personalised, starting a business offering design-your-own, make-your-own or choose-your-own products and/or services is a smart move.
Social media consultant/promoter/marketer
Having an established business website for your small business is no longer effective – you need to go social in your effort to promote your business. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) not all small business owner are “social-media-literate” – this is clearly a gap in the market.
Despite the fact that social media campaign’s ROI is still trivial to figure out, social media continues to be important vehicles for enhancing business branding, engaging prospects/customers and increasing business profits. That being said, businesses need someone who is social media savvy.
Starting a social media consulting business helping small business owners to promote their products and services to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms via various services, such as social media channels management, online community management and other social media services can be very profitable.
cloud business/cloud working services
“The cloud” or “cloud computing” is probably only a buzz word or marketing gimmick to many, but the benefits are there: Migrating part or all of your business process to the cloud can help you cut costs and increase productivity. Starting a business offering cloud services is a great opportunity to reach huge, untapped market of business owners.
Not stopping there, as companies are (finallly) acknowledging the benefits of remote working, ranging from reducing office expenses to enhancing employee morale, cloud workers (who work remotely by utilising cloud services) – and any other variations – they need help to support them; establishing cloud working services business and offering various services to cloud workers – including services to plug their business/work to the cloud – proves to be a lucrative business.
Small business with a cause
“Do business with us and we will plant a tree on your behalf” is a great small business idea. People basically love to give to others, in many different ways. Some don’t really want to help others directly; they are more interested in getting what they want while doing something worthwhile in the process. Offering your products and services with an embedded social cause(s) can offer you a win-win situation: Happy customers, happy charities and happy business.
Your business is only as good as what your target market think of you. That’s why crowdsourcing makes sense. Offering an opportunity for the crowd (passer-bys website visitors, etc.) to decide what’s best for you can eliminate your need for market research. This makes a powerful business idea: Offering a service to introduce businesses/projects with the crowd.
Starting a crowdfunding/crowdsourcing business to faciliate project owners to get things done/funded by allowing people to take part by offering their money and/or talent will present you with great chances of success. Kickstarter is an example of crowdsourcing service – it is a crowdfunding platform allowing people to fund budding entrepreneurs’ projects and helping them to turn their ideas into reality.
Services to Home-based business
Home based business is good, but offering services to those who work at home is terrific. Some small business ideas: An online community for home-based business owners, delivery services for home-based businesses, home office maintenance services, etc.
Natural disaster recovery business
There are plenty of floods and earthquakes, including wildfire and other force majeure issues throughout the year. The aftermath is devastating for those impacted by the disasters, and helps are much needed in those events. Offering a natural disaster recovery services to the public is not only a noble deed, but also a lucrative one, due to the possible partnership with the Government; the Gov’t will seek for recovery partners and you’d better be there to answer the call! A quick-construction business, amenities supply business, etc. can be both helpful and profitable.
Business continuity services
Business continuity is a big issue in the past few years – with all the natural disasters (earthquakes, snow storms, etc.) and people movements (such as Occupy Wall Street) – businesses need to do strategic planning in ensuring their business continuity – or seek help from others to help them in their disaster planning, to the least. Establishing a business that take care of the whole process for companies is highly lucrative.
Real-time online-off line combo business
Child safety plastic tags that are connected to the GPS and online system to avoid child abduction and interactive restaurant menu with touchscreen are a couple of examples of online-off line combo products/services. Starting a business offering products and services that integrate both worlds flawlessly is well sought after.
With the ever-available Internet, managing your reputation – especially online – is challenging. A “not-so-professional” photo tagged on Facebook can ruin your business reputation. Getting tagged as a scammer by unhappy customers or “creative” competitors and be found online via search engines can ruin your business. Offering reputation management service can give you unlimited stream of customers.
Business technology Intermediaries
Technology advances rapidly, and keeping up with such advances troubles businesses. Cloud computing is said to be beneficial for businesses; but integrating cloud computing solutions to existing IT infrastructure without proper help from a cloud consultant to overseer the integration process, things could backfire.
For websites, content is always important. But with the latest development in search engine arenas, such as Google Panda update that slams both low-quality sites and big user-contributed sites (i.e. eHow.com,) quality content is even more important today. There’s no sign of slowing down; demand for quality content will grow even more significantly this year – a big opportunity for both talented freelance copywriters and copywriting companies to grab.
Why don’t you discover your own small business ideas?
One entrepreneur told me that getting funded by a popular venture capitalist (like Guy Kawasaki, for example) it the key to startup success. Another entrepreneur told me that while starting a business based on your interest could be lame and don’t actually guarantee better success rate, it can help you fuel your much-needed drive to navigate your business through difficult times, especially during the startup phase.
Inspired by those two entrepreneurs’ opinion, I conclude that there are two small business ideas you can start. Of course, there’s a note to that: These 2 ideas are the “fundamentals.” There are literally hundreds “sub-ideas” that can be derived from those 2 – with a little imagination, you can get a mountain of ideas.
Intrigued enough? Let’s get down to business – here are just 2 ideas you need to focus on in starting a profitable business – anytime:
1. Start a business that solves problem
Cliche, but the one and only truth often underestimated by budding entrepreneurs. Want a successful business? Just start a business that solves problem. If you don’t particularly solve problems (e.g. copy what others do and adapt the “formula” for a specific niche,) success is possible, but it might need more resources to achieve.
For instance, just forget it if you want to be the next Facebook. Unless you are very, very blessed, chances are, it would be difficult to build the next Facebook for many reasons. However, you could possibly build the next Facebook if you can fix what’s broken with Facebook and you get funding from well-known VCs (venture capitalists). Why? You will need the media to buzz your startup and such VCs can leverage your effort. You also need support from a very strong team to enable you to challenge the “status quo.”
Perhaps a better chance for the rest of us to be successful is to solve problems – no matter how little they are – by developing a product or service that focus on them, instead of trying to copy-and-paste your competitors and eventually end up in price wars. It’s pretty straightforward, really.
For instance, you know how things can be very frustrating when you are get poor products and services from big brands. Yelp! review or RipOffReport can get you heard, but that doesn’t mean you will get your complaint resolved. The better way? Gripevine.com solves the problems by connecting you directly with company decision makers to get your voice heard and complaints resolved faster, better.
Need a less-techie example? Okay – let’s try eateries… want to start a restaurant (or a food truck, if you will) that actually solves problems? Check this out: French restaurant Mon Histoire dans l’assiette offers cuisines that are free of 11 of the most common allergens, giving peace of mind for customers sensitive to allergens.
2. Start an interest-driven small business
Some entrepreneurs suggest that building a business based on your interest and hobby is probably your biggest mistake in entrepreneurship. One of the main reasons is that when your hobby is turned into a business, it’s no longer fun and will soon lose your appeal. Stats also prove that hobby-based business don’t have better success rate than the rest.
However, I agree to small business owners who testify that running a business built upon their interests and hobbies means that when things are not looking so good their passion helps them survive, even thrive.
This is particularly true in my case; I enjoy building and running websites, and things are not always a smooth-sailing. There are ups and downs, and while there are times that things are frustrating to me, my passion for everything web business has helped me survive and thrive. If I’m on online business just for the money and potential, I don’t think I’ll have the drive to hustle.
Are you passionate about writing? Get started with being a freelance writer, and start building credibility. When the time comes, you can “upgrade” your career from a freelancer to a small business owner by establishing a business around your writing passion. For example, you can start a content writing business, allowing businesses to “buy” your service and/or content.
Here’s another example… are you enjoy starting up a web business but lousy at growing them? Then start a business offering website building service, helping your clients to get fully operational web business without even lifting a finger – and offering outstanding support to them.
One more example not related to tech and the web: How about starting an all-in-one pet shop with multiple streams of income potential? While selling pet products have its ups and downs – just like any other retail shops – you can add pet training, sitting and grooming services to your lineup. Knows how to persuade a cat to behave better? You might want to add “cat whisperer” service to your lineup.
As you can see, the possibilities are limitless! And those examples mentioned are derived from just 2 inspiring ideas. Chances are, you don’t need 200 small business ideas to get you inspired; you only need t-w-o.
I can see a light bulb pops up above your head… well, don’t switch it off by doing something else! Start writing on your notes on the ideas you just discovered – now. Then start looking for more information on what’s required to make your particular idea into a reality.
I can also see some of you are not sure about the ideas I present. Indeed, too simple ideas are often appear stupid. You might want to find more “acceptable” ideas from other sites… no worries, mate! Any business ideas from any reputable business websites are great, definitely. What’s important is this: Be sure that you take action on the ideas you are interested in. No action, no reaction. That’s the law of physics that also applies in business.
So, what do you think – any ideas popping out? If so, please share yours!
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