The 19 Best Small Business Opportunities to Seize in 2017

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

Perhaps you’re thinking of leaving the 9-to-5 grind, maybe you’re ready to make a career change, or you’re fresh out of school and ready to change the world with your entrepreneurial spirit. Whatever the reason, these days it’s easier than ever to work from home or launch a startup. And your local Small Business Administration office can help determine what, if any, business documentation you’ll need.

We’ve gathered 19 of the best small business opportunities you should consider for 2016. Let’s get started!

1. Career Coach

People with backgrounds in human resources, workforce development, and career services are especially well-suited for this business. And if you want to specialize as a career coach for a specific field, industry experience is necessary. Above all, you need to be an excellent listener and help people achieve their goals and dreams. Aside from professional certification, all you really need to start this business is a computer, a mobile phone, and a quiet place to work—but some name recognition or a loyal customer base wouldn’t hurt, either.

2. Cost-Cutting Consultant

Businesses are always looking for ways to save money. As a cost-cutting consultant, your job is to help trim the fat from an organization’s budget and offer efficient solutions to tangled-up problems. You need a good head for numbers, an eye for details, and general understanding of the overall operational issues a business might have. Because you’ll generally be going to the company’s location, you won’t need an office to yourself.

3. Errand Service

People are busy… So they’re often willing to pay for convenience. Errand services take care of the little things that people don’t have time to do, like dropping off dry cleaning, grabbing groceries or office supplies, or even stopping by the bank. You’ll definitely need a mobile phone and a car—and make sure to visit your agent, as you’ll want commercial auto insurance for your business vehicle.

4. Event/Wedding Planner

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the event planning industry should expect faster-than-average growth10% over the next 10 years. Event planners put together all kinds of events: from weddings to business conventions, birthday parties, and office holiday parties. Hospitality experience is a good start for event planners. Other than that, you need solid contacts, outstanding organization skills, a good eye for detail, and the ability and drive to make things happen.

5. Food Truck

According to Mobile Cuisine, the food truck industry has experienced a 12.4% growth trend over the past 5 years, skyrocketing to a $1.2 billion dollar industry as of 2015—and things are only looking up for 2016. This business is a bit trickier than the others we’ve looked at so far, since you’ll need a unique idea for food items to offer, a food truck to service customers, proper insurance, business licenses, operating permits (depending on the city you’re operating in), health code compliance documents, and an inventory of food items just to get started. But if cooking is your passion, then a food truck might be the way to go!

6. Freelance Writer

Besides a computer and a bookmarked online dictionary, freelance writers need an impeccable handle on the English language and fairly thick skin to get started in this industry. It helps to have experience with a couple of niches, like finance or health writing, plus areas of expertise, like copywriting or SaaS content writing. This job can be performed anywhere you have Internet access.

7. Golf Coach

Getting paid to hang out at your favorite golf course all day, giving pointers to beginners or intermediate players interested in improving their games… What could beat that? Besides a thorough enjoyment of the game, you’ll need to cultivate relationships with golf courses in your community and let them know about your service, be a top-notch player, and have the skills to teach golfing to beginners.

8. Interior Decorator

If you have an eye for design and a skill for making a room look magazine-cover ready, interior decoration might be a great business for you. Besides creativity, you’ll need to have a knack for project management, a knowledge of design and architecture history, and CAD (computer-aided design) or drawing skills. You also need to be up-to-date on building regulations. You can market your business to building contractors or new home buyers looking for an expert opinion.

9. Professional Organizer

According to The Daily Mail, the average person will spend 153 days of their life looking for lost items like remote controls, books, socks, keys—and even cars! Sometimes people’s homes or offices are cluttered because they’re so busy, and other times they might just be messy. Either way, there’s no end of business for the professional organizer. If you have a gift for organization, storage solutions, and project management, you’ll do well in this business.

10. IT Contractor

Small businesses often don’t have the resources for an in-house IT department but still need help troubleshooting, repairing, and upgrading their equipment. Tech-savvy individuals who go into business for themselves need to keep their computer hardware and software skills up-to-date, and should be on-call whenever a client has a technological emergency.

11. Mobile Pet Grooming

For this business, you’ll need a truck that can handle the demands of a pet groomer: a table, water, crates, and so on. You might be required to perform special grooming needs on some animals, like those that are sick or old, too. This can be a particularly rewarding business for people who love animals, and offers the opportunity to expand as demand for your services grows.

12. Personal Shopper

Some people struggle when it comes to shopping while others seem to have a particular talent for always finding that single perfect item. If you’re one of the latter, you were made to run a personal shopping business! You’ll probably find yourself extra busy around the holidays, but a lot of individuals also have difficulty or little interest in purchasing normal things throughout the year, like clothes, household goods, or birthday gifts for others. You’ll need a car, appropriate auto insurance, and an excellent eye for detail.

13. Personal Trainer

Personal trainers are sometimes associated with one or more gyms in their community, while others make house calls. To get started in this industry you’ll probably need to get certifications in your statethough it’s always a good idea to do so anyway. You’ll need a genuine desire to help others, infinite patience, and knowledge about the mechanics and limitations of the human body.

14. Hair Stylist

Hairstyling is something that will never go out of style. If you’ve been working at a salon but want to start your own home-based business, you already have a cosmetology license and a list of customers who love you. Now all you need is a business permit; a dedicated room in your house with a sink, a comfortable chair, and a cart or counter for all your supplies; and the actual supplies, like scissors, curlers, pins, and styling products. 

15. Social Media Specialist

Businesses today rely on social media more than ever. They don’t all know how to use it well, however. Your role as a social media specialist is to help businesses create a strategic plan, develop the brand’s voice, and create social media posts that increase shares, comments, and sales. You can work from anywhere, but you’ll need a broad skill set that encompasses PR, marketing, and writing.

16. Massage Therapist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapy has seen a 19% growth rate in the last ten years and chances are it will keep growing. First, you’ll need massage therapy certification. Then, to work from home, you’ll need a business permit, massage table, massage oils, soft music, and a quiet room. In addition to your own website, you can leave fliers or your card at physical therapy or fitness facilities.

17. Vending Services

Vending machines today deliver more than just sodas and chips: you can buy everything from DVDs to makeup, umbrellas, and lottery tickets. At one point, vending machines at American airports even sold life insurance policies. Your options include starting your own unique vending machine line or becoming a franchisee of a flourishing vending machine business.

18. Virtual Assistant

This is not a new industry, but it’s one that shows no signs of slowing down. Virtual assistants perform a wide range of administrative duties from their homes: transcription services, email communications, bookkeeping services, research and scheduling, and countless other important tasks. You can work for several clients at once, and all you need is Internet service, a computer, and great organization and planning skills.

19. Website Developer/Designer

It’s pretty clear these days that no company can be without a website, so website development and design have become incredibly popular businesses. If you’re an expert in various programming languages like Java, Python, and C, plus know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you could start a business as a web designer and developera combination of skills that would definitely put you in high demand.

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The right business idea can mean the difference between success and failure—so choose wisely, and pursue your passion! That’s what small business is all about.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

3 Comments

Most Recent

  • Greg Berman

    Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

    Yeah, these are the really very good business opportunities.

  • Alexis.Gil

    Thursday, August 18th, 2016

    Thanks for posting! I think that this list can be more longer. For example there are a lot of opportunities now connected with freelance and not only for writers. Speaking about virtual assistance I must admit that you are right, this sphere gradual increasing. Their help can be very useful (this article about it http://vafromeurope.com/virtual-assistant-saves-crazy-busy-people/)

  • Anthony Awadalla

    Friday, February 26th, 2016

    Love it Meredith! I've preached the same exact philosophy to friends and family who have similar talents as the ones mentioned above but currently work a 9-5 they despise. Following your passions means starting somewhere and this article outlines those options very well!

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