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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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: A lot of companies cut back on support staff during the recession and many are reluctant to rehire, even though they need help. This is creating a business opportunity for anyone who can provide marketing, human resources, healthcare management or any other service a business needs.
According to Stephanie Scott Harbour, owner of the New York Mom Corps franchise, there is a big demand for services in marketing, finance and human resources.
"We are seeing increased client demand for specific functional roles – particularly marketing, finance and human resources. We are hearing from our clients that these departments have been downsized over the past few years, and are now in (sometimes desperate) need of additional support," she said.
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