Always searching for the next great business idea? We've been watching the latest trends and think these four business ideas are about to catch on. Best of all, most of them can be done without employees and the startup costs are super-low.
Business Opportunity: Career CoachWhat this means for entrepreneurs:
With unemployment at near-record levels and millions of others stuck in careers they can't stand, there's a supreme demand for career guidance.
And considering today's job search is different from 10 to 15 years ago, with new components like social media and fierce competition, job seekers need a little extra help understanding the process and tapping into the available resources.
This reality has made career coaches more popular today than ever. Career coaches help job seekers determine direction. They can also assess skills, prepare a job search campaign and action plan, draft résumé cover letters, reference pages and LinkedIn profiles, and prepare clients for the interview and salary negotiation process.
Career coaches work with a range of individuals, from college graduates and moms returning to work to career-changers and military members.
Diane Burns, director of the Certified Professional Career Coach program for the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches, said career coaches are in demand because candidates in today's competitive market need help describing their accomplishments as the perfect fit for a specific position.
"Career coaches are gaining traction as an expert resource in a job seeker's career search plan," she said. "They don't search for a job every day, so when they need to seek new employment, they want the guidance of a career coach to guide them along the path."
This is a wide-open industry, with a number of niche fields in which to specialize, such as military transitions, youths, C-suite executives and medical professionals. Clients will take comfort in working with a coach who specializes in their area of expertise. Best of all, no special degree is required.
Business Opportunity: Personal Social Media ConsultantWhat this means for entrepreneurs:
Between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a host of other ever-evolving social networking sites, the potential for unintentionally sending the wrong image of one's self to potential employers, college recruiters and even business partners is greater than ever.
Formerly a vehicle used primarily to chat with friends, social networking sites have become a powerful tool in the business world, providing an opportunity to stand out from the crowd when searching for a job or launching a new company.
Statistics show Internet users spend more than four hours a month on social networking sites. The difficulty in knowing what image to portray on each one has spawned personal social media consultants, who help individuals minimize the impact of any negative content online and show them how to use social media to highlight their expertise and position themselves as an expert in their field.
Nick Gilham, founder of the social media consulting agency A Branded You, said he works with individuals who are already users of social media in their personal life, but don’t know how to turn that experience into a networking opportunity professionally.
"I work with them to develop strategies for sharing the right type of content and how to connect with the people that will help them succeed in their careers," he said. Gilham believes the demand for services like his will only increase over time.
"It doesn't appear that the popularity of social media is going to waiver any time soon, so there will be increased demand for experts who can guide individuals on how to use social media effectively," Gilham said.
While scrolling through Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, it is clear this is an area many people need help with. Anyone with a background in social media, human resources, management or marketing has a good shot of making a go of a personal branding business.
Business Opportunity: Memory OrganizerWhat this means for entrepreneurs:
The addition of digital cameras to cellphones and tablets makes snapping photos and capturing memories easier than ever.
Birthdays, holidays and first days of school are all events that parents want documented with photographs. But what happens to those memories after the birthday candles are blown out?
While photos used to be stored in albums, digital cameras often can mean pictures get taken and then are never seen again. Or they are stored in a litany of places, from the camera itself to flash drives, computers and online photo- sharing services. Add in home movies, which are simpler than ever to shoot, and keeping track of all those memories becomes overwhelming.
Filling a need in this area is a new business aimed at helping families organize and track their photos and videos — and it's turning into quite a big business. Recognizing the need, Bob Evelth founded HoldMyMemories.com, an online site giving families one place to hold their photos and videos that's accessible from nearly anywhere.
Evelth knows services like his will increasingly be in demand.
An InfoTrends study found that 60 billion digital photos are expected to be taken this year, up 10 billion from just four years ago. Additionally, the research found that single people take 415 photos a year on average and couples take 514; throw a baby under the age of 1 into the mix and that number grows to 668.
"Those memories, captured in time, are priceless," Evelth said. "It is our job to educate moms to not only capture those memories, but to put them in a place where they can be easily retrieved, and easily shared."
It doesn't take creating your own software like Evelth. Entrepreneurs can use any method to organizing the photos and videos, as long as they have a knack for teaching and are good at explaining the process. A little creativity doesn't hurt, either.
Business Opportunity: Invasive Species Pest ManagementWhat this means for entrepreneurs:
While there has long been a need for exterminators, the recent arrival of such irritating pests as the stink bug and long-horned beetle has opened the door for a new type of pest management specialist.
Today, the services that invasive species pest management businesses provide are in high demand, as the bugs — which arrived from other countries — continue to explode in population.
The most notable annoyance is the stink bug, which has taken hold of the eastern half of the United States since landing here less than 15 years ago. What started as a problem for Pennsylvania residents has now become an issue for homeowners in 33 states and as stink bugs make their way west, the need increases for someone to exterminate them.
Drew Cowley, owner of New Jersey's Cowley's Pest Control since 1991, said his business’ services have grown in popularity since the stink bug's arrival.
"Most people will not tolerate stink bugs in their homes," Cowley said. "One or two is not alarming, but when the numbers climb and people panic, our phone starts ringing."
Getting rid of pests and invasive species is not something most homeowners are skilled at, which is why Cowley envisions the industry continuing to thrive.
"Professional pest control can only increase in the future in my opinion," Cowley said. "Every year, every month and week, we hear of some guy failing miserably trying to do their own pest control."
While the list of exterminators may be a mile long in the Yellow Pages, those with a specific niche in invasive species management are not abundant. By focusing on just one species like the stink bug, chances of your service standing out from the crowd increase.