Great Ideas for 2015

Great Ideas for 2015
There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. Technology is more powerful and affordable than ever and social media has made it possible to promote your business in ways that are often more effective than expensive advertising campaigns. And if you need startup funds to get going, crowd funding and alternative lending sites are making it much easier to get your business off the ground. Here’s a list of 14 business ideas to inspire you to start your business in 2015.

Kid-Friendly Apps

Kid-Friendly Apps

Kids are your future customers so gaining their loyalty now isn’t a bad idea.

In its 10th annual trends report, THE FUTURE 100, which highlights the big and small trends to watch this coming year, JWT Intelligence cites 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 you business goes from there.

Recycling pickup

Recycling pickup
Most homeowners have pick-up 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 in their garages — old televisions, broken laptops, defunct cellphones — and bring them to your local electronic recycling facility. Charge per item, by weight, or a flat fee plus travel to and from the location.

Software trainer

Software trainer
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.

Healthcare Consulting

Healthcare Consulting
The combination of aging baby boomers and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act means that the healthcare industry will rapidly continue to expand… and change. As an independent healthcare consultant, you can offer management and data analysis for organizations like hospitals, labs and therapist offices to help implement solutions to improve efficiency and/or save money. This is a great opportunity to put that marketing or economics degree to use.

Food Truck

Food Truck
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.

Freelancing

Freelancing
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. Hourly rates start at $30 an hour and stretch into the hundreds.

[Related story: What the Part-Time Economy Means for Employers]

Mobile consulting

Mobile consulting
It's been said before, but it bears repeating: mobile is now a non-negotiable for almost any business. Finding ways to go mobile is a challenge for many business owners. If your company 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 a company called "The 60-Second Marketer," there will be 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."

Translator

Translator
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 46 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.
This translates into a big business opportunity for entrepreneurs who can bring foreign-language speakers together with businesses in need.

Employee-monitoring services

Employee-monitoring services
Employees are increasingly mobile. In fact, it is estimated there will be 1.3 billion mobile workers by 2015. So how are employers supposed to keep track of what their workers are doing? The answer provides myriad business opportunities for entrepreneurs. One company, Exaktime, recently debuted a mobile time clock. There are also 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 to 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.

Traveling salon

Traveling salon
As people live longer, there's an increasing need for senior services of all sorts. And not all are related to health care. One such service, a mobile salon that travels to customers' residences to do their hair or nails, has nothing but growth potential. As aging baby boomers move into the senior citizen category, there will be a growing need for these mobile services that help keep boomers looking good without requiring them to make a trip to the salon.

Vending machine business

Vending machine business
Increasingly, 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 health-oriented, unique and specialized vending companies that offer franchisees the chance to own and service as few as one or two machines. One such franchise has had big success putting healthy vending machines in schools, offices, public buildings, etc. Owning a vending-machine business offers franchisees the opportunity to start small and test the waters.

Smartphone repair

Smartphone repair
Smartphones have become indispensible for both business and personal use. But have you ever tried to get one fixed? It can cost as much to as it does to buy one. Smartphone-repair services are starting to crop up around the country, but for now, this market is wide open. Here’s an example of one entrepreneur who has started a successful chain of Pennsylvania-based smartphone repair stores called iDropped.

Contracting

Contracting
If you've tried to hire a contractor lately you probably already know that something odd is going on. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many contractors went out of business during the height of the recession and those that survived got lean and mean. Now, as the economy improves and Americans are spending money to improve their homes, they are having trouble finding contractors – electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters and more. Contractors say they are facing a shortage of skilled labor and having trouble finding employees to rebuild their former skeleton crews.

This creates an opportunity for skilled workers who are ready to take the leap from being an employee to owning their own company. Starting small is probably the best way to test the waters. You can grow after you've proven your success.

Testing business

Testing business
Apps, websites, e-commerce…they've become must-haves for any business. But often, they don't work. The reason is that businesses don't test their applications or software carefully enough. Testing services are in hot demand. One company, SOASTA, offers cloud testing services for clients. There's room in this market for growth. A service that specializes in niche testing would have an edge over broader testing services.

Business services

Business 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 non-core business functions to third-party firms. This is creating a business opportunity for anyone who can provide marketing, human resources, healthcare 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 fragments and not dominated by any large players. Instead, small businesses have the opportunity specialize and focus on their niches.