Great ideas for 2016
In its annual trends report, The Future 100 — which highlights the big and small trends to watch this coming year — JWT Intelligence reported that more and more companies are using Instagram as a marketing tool. According to the report, the social media app reached 400 million users in 2015, and the number of companies with more than 100 employees using Instagram for marketing is expected to reach 48.8 percent in 2016.
Despite Instagram's growing popularity, not all brands know what they're doing on the app. If you have a background in social media and marketing and a passion for photography and Instagram, starting a consulting business that focuses on the popular photo app can be a great way to make money while helping other businesses improve their content and thrive.
Women's health platform
Women-focused platforms and businesses for women, by women were huge in 2015, and they will only continue to grow this year. According to The Future 100, this new wave of platforms is expanding women's media and reflecting a new way of thinking about femininity, empowerment and gender identities. The report also noted that another big trend is taking the taboo out of women's health.
Aspiring women entrepreneurs looking to make a difference are now in a better position than ever to launch businesses that help other women. An online store that focuses on women's health needs, or another platform that connects women with important resources and products, could be a great framework for a successful and meaningful business this year.
Box subscription services
Box subscription services are popping up everywhere in the food, beauty and even pet product sectors, ready to deliver goods right to your door each month. One of the perks that keeps customers coming back for more is the idea that these subscription boxes are carefully curated just for them based on their likes and interests, and each month, the boxes' contents are a surprise.
Find a unique product category that's still untapped by the box subscription industry, or find a way to put a new spin on an existing service, and you could have a lucrative business on your hands. Keep it as inexpensive as possible — according to LearnVest, offering cheaper products will help you stand out from the competition.
Health clubs for millennials
According to The Future 100, millennials are drinking alcohol less than ever and focusing more on health and fitness. This means that health and fitness services are being rebranded to become trendier and more sociable.
Opening a health club or fitness center targeted specifically to millennials could be a great way to capitalize on the trend, especially if you focus on creating a strong, fun and engaging social media presence to really connect with young members and potential customers.
Kids are your future customers, so gaining their loyalty now isn't a bad idea.
JWT Intelligence also cited the connectivity of kids as a big trend for 2015. According to Common Sense Media, three-quarters of kids have access to a mobile device. This spells a big business opportunity for anyone who can create products or design apps just for kids. And, if they also happen to be educational or promote good health, you'll win their parents over, too.
You can start small by designing a few kid-friendly apps and see where your business goes from there.
Most homeowners have pickup bins for standard recyclables like paper, glass and plastic, but they often don't make the effort to properly recycle electronics and batteries, which can be extremely harmful to the environment when left in landfills.
Offer to pick up all the e-waste that's been collecting dust in people's garages — old televisions, broken laptops and defunct cellphones, for example — and bring them to your local electronics-recycling facility for a fee. You can charge per item, by weight, or a flat fee plus travel to and from the location.
If you're proficient in a highly specialized software, you can get paid to pass your knowledge on to amateurs and professionals looking to expand their skill sets.
Technical manuals are available for programs like QuickBooks and Final Cut Pro, but these are often expensive and difficult for the average user to get through. Schedule small group workshops or private sessions, and charge by the hour for a full tutorial of the program. The best part about this gig is that it can be done part time.
Health care consulting
The combination of aging baby boomers and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act means that the health care industry will rapidly continue to expand and change.
As an independent health care consultant, you can offer management and data analysis for organizations like hospitals, labs and therapist offices to help implement solutions to improve efficiency and save money. If you have a marketing or economics degree, this is a great opportunity to put it to use.
We included this on our list of business ideas for foodies, and for good reason: A December 2012 study by Intuit and Emergent Research predicted that revenue from the food truck industry will reach $2.7 billion by 2017.
A truck is a much less expensive investment than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and according to Mobi Munch founder Josh Tang, the failure rate for food trucks is just 10 to 20 percent (as opposed to 60 to 90 percent for restaurants). With the right equipment and some great recipes, you can have your mobile eatery up and running in no time.
Companies are increasingly turning to freelance and contract workers to fill the skill gaps in their staff. It's not hard to imagine that you could build a whole company around providing freelance services of one sort or another.
According to Freelancer.com, which lists more than a million freelance projects on its site, the most in-demand freelance services are data entry, academic writing, Excel projects, data processing, Web search and Facebook-based jobs. Some freelance gigs pay by the project and others pay hourly, and the rates can vary greatly. But as you gain more experience, your earning potential will soar.
Mobile tech is now a must-have for almost any business, but finding ways to go mobile is a challenge for many business owners. If you can provide affordable mobile solutions to businesses that need them, you'll find mobile consulting a rich business opportunity.
According to Jamie Turner, founder of The 60-Second Marketer, there will be an ongoing need for mobile assistance.
"Research from The 60-Second Marketer indicates that there are more people on the planet who own a mobile device than who own a toothbrush," said Turner, who co-authored the book "Go Mobile" (Wiley, January 2012) with Jeanne Hopkins. "So it's safe to say that your prospects are using mobile. If you're in business, it's your job to be where your prospects are. Your prospects are in mobile right now."
There's no denying the global marketplace is growing and reaching beyond the borders of China and Mexico. All that cross-cultural communication is creating a growing need for translators.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, the hiring of interpreters and translators is projected to grow by 46 percent by 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. This means it's a big business opportunity for entrepreneurs who can bring foreign-language speakers together with businesses in need.
Employees are increasinglymobile. In fact, according to a forecast from the International Data Corp., the U.S. mobile-worker population is expected to grow to 105.4 million workers worldwide by 2020. So how are employers supposed to keep track of what their workers are doing? Aspiring entrepreneurs can find many ways to solve this problem.
There are plenty of vehicle-tracking time clocks and time-clock apps, but employers often don't have the staff or the time to manage all this new data and distill it into what is needed for payroll and billing. A company that could provide employee-monitoring services, as well as some additional outsourced human resources functions, would be in great demand right now.
As people live longer, there's an increasing need for senior services of all sorts, and not all of these needs are related to health care. One service that has nothing but growth potential is a mobile salon that travels to customers' residences to do their hair or nails.
As aging baby boomers move into the senior-citizen category, there will be a growing need for these mobile services that help keep them looking good without requiring them to make a trip to the salon.
Healthy vending machines
More and more health-conscious and time-strapped Americans are looking for quick food on the go that is healthier than the soda and chips you usually find in vending machines. This has spawned a whole new industry of wellness-oriented, specialized vending companies like Fresh Healthy Vending that offer franchisees the chance to own and service vending machines with better foods and beverages.
Interested entrepreneurs can either open a franchise from an existing vending machine business or sell vending-machine friendly products to help stock up schools and offices with healthier, affordable snacks.
Smartphones have become indispensible for both business and personal use. But have you ever tried to get one fixed? Repairing a broken phone can cost as much as it does to buy one.
Smartphone-repair services like iDropped, a successful chain of Pennsylvania-based smartphone repair stores, are starting to crop up around the country. If you have a knack for fixing broken screens and solving smartphone tech problems, then opening up a more affordable smartphone repair shop or service might be the way to go.
Contracting is a great optionfor skilled workers who are ready to take the leap from being an employee to owning their own company. With the economy improving and more people looking to purchase or improve their homes, there's more of a need for skilled labor, making this the perfect time to start offering contracting services. If you can cater to first-time homeowners, even better — according to CNN, 2015 is the year first-time home buyers are making a comeback as millennials start looking to buy their own homes.
It's probably best to start small and test the waters, but once you've proven your success, your business can continue to grow.
Apps, mobile-friendly websites and e-commerce have become must-haves for every business. Often, however, they don't work properly. One reason is that businesses don't always test their applications or software carefully enough, meaning testing services are now in hot demand.
For example, one company, SOASTA, offers cloud testing services for clients. And there's room in this market for growth — a service that specializes in niche testing, for instance, would have an edge over broader testing services.
A lot of companies cut back on support staff during the recession, and many are reluctant to rehire, even though they need help. Instead, many are outsourcing noncore business functions to third-party firms. This is creating a business opportunity for anyone who can provide marketing, human resources, health care management or any other service a business needs.
This is especially good news for entrepreneurs who want to run a small business. According to business research by the Michigan State University Broad College of Business, the business-to-business services field is highly fragmented and not dominated by any large players. Instead, small businesses have the opportunity specialize and focus on their niches.
Business News Daily assistant editor Nicole Fallon Taylor also contributed to this story. Updated Jan. 1, 2016.