10 Ways to Choose a Niche for Your Side Business

I want to start a new side business. Where can I find information to help me choose the best industry or niche to focus on?

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Finding business opportunities and ideas

1. Reach Out to Professionals You Know

Reach out to friends or professionals you know in the industries that interest you and interview them about their work. Information and advice from those personally invested can be much more insightful than simple Internet research conducted on your own.

Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind

2. Look at the Numbers

If you’re deciding to start a side business solely as monetary gain rather than to follow your passion, all it takes is analyzing the numbers. Look through a copy of Forbes or cruise through lists online of what types of businesses are on top with their consumer profits. Ask yourfriends and family where they spend the most money — piecing together this info will give you a good idea.

Rob Fulton, Exponential Black

3. Read the Inc. 5000 List

Inc. Magazine does a great job of compiling the Inc. 5000 list, which identifies the fastest growing private companies in various market sectors. Grab the list then go to a market sector that interests you, for example renewable energy, then research the companies on the list. If you see a high growth company that isn’t operating in your area, it could be a great opportunity.

Chris Kane, Bounceboards LLC

4. Use Google Trends

The same way social searches help provide an instant snapshot of what the general public is thinking and talking about at that instant, Google Trends is an incredibly valuable resource to help gauge what consumers care about over time. Check out Google Trends for a wealth of information about what people are searching for online.

Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

5. Look to Your Customers

Sometimes, the best business ideas come from your customers. We’ve multiplied the number of brands we manage by recognizing a variety of different needs among our consumers. They’ve helped drive the vision of our company because we only build products they want to buy. What would often start as a side project has turned into a number of real businesses we now operate each day.

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

6. Check Out eCommerceFuel

eCommerceFuel is an essential resource to check out when looking for a niche. There are tons of helpful articles as well as a forum full of e-commerce experts willing to provide assistance.

Josh Weiss, Bluegala

7. Browse Crowdfunding Platforms

One of the best ways to get inspired for a new business is by looking to Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or other crowdfunding platforms. It is fascinating to see the trends in what projects get funding, for example the gaming or life-hacking spaces, and it can be incredibly motivating to see other entrepreneurs financing and pursuing their ideas.

Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

8. Search Your Heart

The best industry or niche is one that you have passion for. Identify what your interests are, and then do market research to make sure that the niche is big enough for your aspirations.

Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders, Inc

9. Look to Existing Trends and Their Ecosystems

Some of the best new businesses start as a response to existing trends. For example, services like Uber and Airbnb have ushered in the shared economy. What are businesses you can build around this? Can you write an e-book about the best ways to take advantage of it? Or start a training program on how to maximize these services? What about a blog about this trend? You get the idea; build around great ideas.

Adam Stillman, SparkReel

10. Start With the Problem

In starting a new business, my belief is that you should start with an issue you wish to resolve and from there think of the company or product that would meet this need. Many entrepreneurs don’t come out of the gate with the notion that they want to start a businessnecessarily, but rather they are looking to help solve an issue, and that helps to guide their path from there.

Basha Rubin, Priori Legal