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8 Trending Business for 2018

Want to convert your very own passion into your very own business? There are resources to make it happen. Pathway Lending and the Small Business Administration want to work with you to help create jobs in Tennessee, and they can help bridge the financial gap. If you’ve got a talent and experience you can leverage, a side hustle you can grow, or an entrepreneurial spirit, there are businesses you can start up that don’t require a college degree in a specific field, nor do you have to be flush with cash to get the ball rolling.

We’ve found eight very viable businesses that you can start building right here, right now. Some are old ideas with a new twist, while others are a sign of the times. A few require less than a $2,000 investment or little inventory, while others balance a higher investment with low risk or high value. Remember: starting your own enterprise is a risk. There’s no guarantee that the company you’ve breathed life into will survive for the long haul, or even that you’ll receive a business loan. But there are ways to educate yourself to build your financial skills and business savvy to help you stay in the game and thrive.

1. Personal Care Provider

Personal care aides are one of the top occupations in nationwide job growth according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the median annual wage for 2016 is $21,920, there is a 25.9% projected increase in demand between 2014 and 2024. The aging of the Baby Boom generation means a rise in the number of potential clients who need some degree of care but who also want to age in place.

Personal care doesn’t stop at home care. Your business can focus on – or diversify into – everything from food delivery to housekeeping, landscaping, and driving. Home health care is a lucrative niche all of its own requiring different degrees of medical training. But health-related or not, all hands-on assistance with daily living activities requires a personal care business license. In Tennessee, this means applying to either the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Top business or not, personal care is no easy money. You and your employees will be exposed to any health and safety hazards in clients’ homes, which can complicate liability and insurance issues in years to come. And in the likely event you can’t cover insurance costs for part-time or even full-time employees, you’ll be filling a high-demand but low-paying job…which may mean lots of turnover at the very time you want to grow your company. But if your passion includes helping people, this is an industry to watch.

2. Food Truck Proprietor

The food truck industry was projected to grow to $2.7 billion by the end of 2017 – a five-year hike from 615 million over the past five years – and should remain in the billions by 2020. It draws talented chefs and aspiring entrepreneurs alike with its exceedingly low failure rate compared to new restaurants. It’s also conducive to test-marketing new concepts, menus and recipes in a short period of time.

Local regulations make some cities more friendly to food truck enterprises than others, but this is very much a viable business opportunity in Nashville and Memphis. It’s also a business where you can outsource skill and talent without performing food service yourself. Nevertheless, experience in the food service industry is essential in securing a business loan.

Even stiff local competition currently allows room for everyone with a vehicle and a sound business plan. With healthy, organic, and gluten-free food options trending, you can catch the wave without sinking money into a brick-and-mortar commercial space.

3. SEO Consultant

With Google’s algorithm constantly changing and new search engines arriving on the scene, the best practices of search engine optimization become quickly outdated. The good news is that if you stay on the cutting edge of SEO, you can remain in high demand for years to come. It’s feasible to become an SEO professional – and even an expert – regardless of your educational or technical background. One of the heftiest investments in this industry is time, and software can add up to $500-800 monthly, but inventory is often minimal – and an SEO-savvy solopreneur can easily run the show from home.

Local competition for search engine services is manageable. Depending on the service and business model, income from a client becomes passive after a certain point as websites rank. With every business needing to be found online, the large net of local prospects is promising. The low cost and high potential value easily turns SEO businesses into the cash cow of the countryside.

4. Personal Shopper

Personal shoppers are far more than gofers. They assist busy professionals with no time to shop, elderly people who can’t get around, interior designers in search of “found objects” from flea markets, businesses who need the right corporate gifts, and event planners with gift bags to fill. While there are professional associations of personal shoppers, no specific experience is mandatory to launch this type of business. Skilled professionals can include advising clients on purchasing decisions. Many personal shoppers double as image consultants.

The demand for these services is contingent on the economy. Personal shoppers are also up against competition from websites using algorithms and predictive analytics…but a human touch is always in demand. Within five years of the 2008 recession, the personal shopping industry saw a 4.1% boost to $761.7 million.

While personal shoppers save their clients a great deal of time, they invest a lot of their own time and gas into running errands. What you lose in work hours, however, you compensate with low overhead to get your business up and running. As an employee, a shopper can generate $30,000 to $57,500 annually. Investing in the industry as a business owner can be done with less than $2,000 – making it a fabulous low-investment opportunity for someone with good taste and a passion for shopping and helping people.

5. Commercial Cleaner

Both janitors and housekeepers will see at least a 5% demand between now and 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The service businesses themselves enjoyed a 13% increase in demand in recent years, and the industry generates billions in annual sales. The year 2015 saw 3.5 million people employed in 875,000 commercial cleaning businesses.

While commanding somewhat more money than cleaning residences, servicing commercial spaces means working on weekends and at the end of business days. This allows future business owners to grow their housekeeping side hustle until they are ready to quit their day jobs. Some cleaning service owners began with night housecleaning gigs and eventually diversified into services like pest control and specialized floor cleaning. Maintenance tasks like stripping floors require an investment in both inventory and inventory space, but you can make a clean sweep of a new business in this field with less than $10,000.

6. Marketing Consultant

Marketing specialists are one of the highest job growth occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They can pull down an average of $62,000 a year as employees depending on their area of expertise. Professionals working for themselves can charge $50 an hour and over.

While a degree in the field is helpful, marketing is a soft skill that does not strictly require formal education or licensure. Investing the time to learn general marketing and your area of concentration means that you can work for yourself with only a modest outlay of cash once you are at the top of your game. Digital marketing, be it managing a campaign or working as a consultant, can be particularly profitable at this juncture. Other entrepreneurs will need to outsource your skills in order to thrive.

7. Event Planning

Professionals working for event planning firms earn roughly $47,000 a year on average. Heading your own company means earning anywhere from $12 to $75 per hour along with vendor commissions, with corporate planners raking in $16 to $150. One hot niche for budding event planners is in the children’s party services. Generation Xers spend much more on their children’s parties than their Boomer parents – roughly $370 – and they are less likely to organize a large party themselves. Planning special events, on the other hand, runs in the thousands, and annual spending for large-scale events worldwide tops at $500 billion.

While there are certification programs and even degrees from universities in the field, experience trumps formal education when it comes to heading your own event planning firm. Starting up a planning business can be done for under $2,000. It can even be done from home in many cases, which makes this a low-investment, high-value business opportunity for the right professional.

8. Drone Provider

It’s predicted that 600,000 unmanned aircraft systems will take to the air by next year. And demand isn’t stopping anytime soon. Venture capitalists have already invested over $200 million in the drone industry. And by 2020, it is expected to soar to $127 billion. Entrepreneurs are already seeing hot returns for services like crop monitoring, delivery, and wedding cinematography.

Drones can be rented out under the rent-and-mail-back business model. “Selfie” models are strongly trending, and toy versions tap into the high-return children’s market. Now that professional drone racing is a thing, there is a lucrative, if high-cost, market for custom-built drones. For a more modest investment, aspiring videographers can begin their business investment with mid-sized drones and a GoPro camera. If you want to ride the drone bandwagon without investing in costly flying inventory, a “counter drone” business can pull in revenue by detecting and neutralizing intrusive aircrafts.

At the end of the day, a successful business owner fills a need. Your first step is to find a way to make money doing what you love – and do it well. Recent studies show that when people outsource services they can’t conveniently do themselves, they feel happier. And in the coming year, the strongest business trend is helping clients buy back time and energy. If following your dream frees other people up to focus on their own, you’ve got a great head start.

Contact Us to learn more about Pathway Lending and Pathway WBC.  Pathway Lending is an Equal Opportunity Lender. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, disability, age, or national origin. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. © 2017 Pathway Lending. Financing Businesses. Strengthening Communities.

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