So far, 2014 has been a promising year in terms of economic recovery. The recession has mostly subsided, and the economy appears to be rebounding after a slow, cold winter. Business confidence is also on the rise, and many prospective entrepreneurs are finally shirking their hesitation in hopes of finally working for themselves.
Whether you plan on freelancing or launching a scalable business, working for yourself has its risks. Without the safety net of healthcare benefits and a steady paycheck, your financial survival now lies in your own hands. One of the best ways to mitigate this risk is by starting a business within a growing industry, where the market is wide enough for new businesses and freelancers to capture their share of the profit.
This list includes 8 of the quickest-growing industries in 2014. See where you can find your niche:
Home Health Care
As baby boomers continue to age, questions about how to care for them continue to arise. One thing is certain: home-based elderly care will be a rapidly growing industry well into the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 715,700 more jobs will be created in the home healthcare industry by 2022—this represents the largest compound growth rate of any other industry tracked by the Bureau.
Whether you plan to become a full-time caregiver, start a retirement home or create a new way for families to connect with qualified home health care workers, these opportunities will continue to grow as the boomer generation enters retirement.
As the average age of the elderly continues to climb, the need for affordable healthcare will also continue to expand. The mobile health movement, also referred to as mHealth, aims to better manage health through mobile technologies including wearable devices, mobile apps and other applications. mHealth offers a bridge between growing medical needs and modern technological solutions.
Mobile penetration has reached nearly 96% usage globally, and PWC estimates that the mHealh market will increase nearly six-fold to $23 billion by 2017. There are a lot of promising areas to explore in this space, including:
- mobile medical payments
- apps for connecting patients with doctors on-the-go
- simplified pharmacy refills
- mobile video conferencing and check-ins
- fitness and diet tracking
Child Day Care
Care for the elderly may be growing, but care for the other side of the age spectrum appears to be booming alongside it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 196,500 jobs will be created in the child day care services industry by 2022, due to an increasing number of parents entering the workforce.
If you have the funds and the patience for the complex licensing process, you can consider starting a daycare. If you prefer to work more independently (and potentially create an opportunity to travel) you can consider providing babysitting, au pair or nanny services. Another approach is to become a liaison between these services, finding creative ways to connect day care providers with parents seeking assistance.
A greater number of parents are putting their babies in day care, but that hasn’t minimized their desire to dote upon them. Baby products represent a flourishing market. Aided by the surge of baby showers and mommy blogs, the frenzy surrounding baby products doesn’t seem to be slowing.
Predictions estimate that by 2018 there will be more than 6,000 companies selling baby goods via the internet. Meanwhile, large retail stores are working with variety small-scale suppliers of baby goods; without a single monopoly business on baby products there is room for penetration as long as you can differentiate.
There are a lot of baby products out there, but there’s certainly more room for innovation and customization. Parents are willing to spend more time and money on their children than they do on almost anything else, so whether it’s organic, modern, customized, unique or DIY, consider a unique baby product that can meet a parent’s need.
In the last 10 years, sustainable design has gone from a niche market to a mainstream cultural demand. From 2005 to 2013, the number of green construction projects jumped from 2% to 41%, and the future looks even rosier. According to the US Green Building Council, nearly half of construction projects will be green by 2015, which represents up to $145 Billion in economic opportunity.
The government is also spending billions in grants to fund various efficiency programs that include sustainable housing programs and building modernization. The competition in this space will inevitably be intense, but so will the opportunity. Whether you become a sustainability consultant, get certified in solar panel installation or start a green landscaping business, there is plenty of room for expansion in this immensely popular space.
Healthy, Artisanal and Organic Foods
Amongst restaurants, supermarkets, caterers and individual food suppliers, every facet of the food industry is shifting. Customers now expect that businesses take greater care in food preparation, flavor and sourcing. This has led to a rise in culinary specialty, organic markets and artisanal cuisine, and less emphasis on convenience.
Statistics reveal that the sales of “specialty foods” jumped from $60.1 billion in 2008 to $80.3 billion in 2013, and this year’s projections point to continued growth. The largest category of “specialty food” is cheese (and cheese alternatives), and the fastest growing category includes nut butters and unique frozen deserts (Zagat has uncovered some fun ice cream flavors, like “Honey Jalapeño Pickle”).
The locavore movement is also on the rise, with 70% of retailers saying that buying local food is at the top of consumers’ concerns. Consider how you can capitalize on this shift. Can you become an organic supplier and connect farmers to markets? Do you bake a mean vegan cookie that you can pitch to sell at Whole Foods? Can you add a distinct fusion or culinary flare to your catering business?
Systems Design and Data Recovery
According to a Sageworks financial analysis, the field of computer system design saw 18% sales growth leading into 2013. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts 608,700 new jobs being created in the same field. It also predicts over 73,000 jobs created for software publishers, and even more for technical consulting positions.
While it may be no surprise that the demand for engineers and developers is growing, one element of technology that is severely lacking in experienced workers is “digital detectives.” This field applies to those who specialize in data recovery, tracking and investigation, and can help uproot sources of digital fraud. This type of job is projected to be extremely desirable (and in short supply), so if you have the technical chops it may be an area worth beefing up your skills on data recovery and analysis.
Translation and interpretation services have grown by about 50% since 2007, and seem to be accelerating with the increase in international business.
There are currently about 50,000 translation businesses out there, but the vast majority of them are small, individual operators. This lack of corporate competition leaves a lot of room for freelancers and small-scale entrepreneurs to break into this space. If you know a second language, this is a great place to start. If you don’t, check out this list of the most widely spoken and viable languages to learn.
The biggest industry opportunities of 2014 appear to be focused on healthcare, technology and children. Meanwhile, the fastest declining industry in terms of job loss appears to be apparel manufacturing, so be sure to steer clear. Industry opportunities are important, but remember that your greatest asset will be leveraging your current expertise. Ideally, find a way you can apply your skillset to an industry with a growing market share; combining skills with opportunity will help reduce your chances of failure.