Friday, August 26, 2011

The Best Business Opportunities of 2011

Best Business Opportunities of 2011

What are the best business opportunities of 2011? As always, those that best meet the needs of consumers. 2011, like 2010, is another year where consumer markets will be dominated by the perceived needs of baby boomers, so you'll find that many of the best business opportunities target that group. From travel through medical technology, it's hard to find an industry not impacted by the boomer population bulge. Here are my predictions for the best business opportunities for 2011.
1) Tour Packages
There's no better time to be selling travel packages. The great boomer bulge is hitting retirement or already retired and neither dwindling portfolios or increased airport security will deter them from seeing the exotic places on their lists before they "kick the bucket". So business opportunities abound in organizing appealing packages of accommodation and activities in popular exotic locales. As I write this, African safaris, Southeast Asia and Antarctica are destinations of choice.
2) International Education
Canada and the U.S. are increasingly popular with foreign students, creating business opportunities for providing the educational experiences students from China, Japan and other countries are looking for, from courses on Learning English as a Second Language through schools that provide a full curriculum with accredited degrees or certification. Remember that most of these students are looking for the "Canadian" or "American" experience as well; online offerings won't cut it.
3) Microbreweries                   
A waft of chocolate. A lingering malty sweetness. Beer drinkers today want their beer to have flavour and body making microbreweries excellent business opportunities. Microbreweries can produce the specialized flavours and styles of beer that sophisticated beer drinkers are looking for, and the number of such people is growing. Beer tasting has become as popular as wine tasting. If you go this route, don't forget to have a brewpub on your premises.
4) Mobile Marketing Consultants
Mobile marketing is hot. How hot? Well, a report by BIA/Kelsey indicates the US mobile advertising market will grow from the $491M posted in 2009 to $1.2B in 2011 and produce nearly $3B in 2014. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that businesses are going to flock to an advertising space like that. And that means exploding business opportunities for savvy marketing consultants who know how mobile marketing works.
5) Green Technologies
Yep, I know that I mentioned this one last year. But once again, green technologies of all kinds are prime business opportunities this year because this is where the government funding opportunities are. (See the Government of Canada's Funding Technologies for the Environment website, for instance. Green technologies are attempts to solve environmental challenges which gives startups a huge scope from developing sources of clean energy through better waste management.
6) Financial Planners
What can I say? When baby boomers should retire, whether they have enough money to retire on or if they even want to retire is the fodder for endless media hand-wringing, but one thing is certain; they will all have to at some point. Financial planners and advisors, your moment in the sun is now.
7) Walk-in Baths
I've yet to meet a senior that didn't want to continue to live in his or her home. But once a person develops mobility issues, things such as taking a shower or bath at home become dangerous without assistance. Walk-in baths directly address this need, making bathing easier and safer. Because the number of seniors in our population is peaking, there's going to be a growing market for these and similar products – a great time to become a distributor.
8) Web Apps for Business
One of the great things about the Web is that it gives anyone the ability to run with the big dogs – assuming they have the technological smarts. Developing Web apps for business is a great business opportunity because, as I wrote in Top Small Business Trends 2011, businesses are turning to cloud computing in ever increasing numbers. So put your thinking cap on. What functions would small businesses be willing to move to the 'Net? Has it been done already? If so, can you build "a better mousetrap"?
9) Medical and Assistive Technologies
Medical and Assistive Technologies include medical devices, diagnostic and medical imaging, healthcare IT and wireless health (smart devices) and assistive devices and home healthcare and the field is rife with business opportunities. "Today's payers and healthcare providers are increasingly looking towards technologies that materially decrease costs while providing better quality care" (Health Technology Exchange). While the process of developing such a technology can be lengthy, the financial rewards can be huge.
10) Niche Recruiters
Another effect of the boomer population bulge is what I think of as the lemming effect. Whatever it is, it suddenly seems that everyone is doing it. Such as retiring. Professions and business are being hard hit. We're already experiencing a shortage of doctors and other medical professionals, for instance. The situation will be a bonanza for recruiters and/or placement agencies who can supply qualified people to companies and government organizations that are having trouble filling positions.
11) Downsizing Assistants
I first mentioned this idea in Small Scale Business Ideas, but it's such a potentially profitable business opportunity I think it bears repeating. The bulging senior demographic also means that a whole lot more people are downsizing and moving, some by their own choice and others because they need medical and care services they can't get at home. As a Downsizing Assistant you would have two potential markets; the people moving and/or going into care and people with aging parents looking for help finding appropriate accommodation and care services for them. Your services could range from finding suitable placements for people through physically helping people pack up and move.
Why Are These the Best Business Opportunities?
These are what I consider to be the best business opportunities because these are business opportunities that have legs. Taking into account the economy, consumer and business trends, these are businesses that should be profitable not just for 2011, but for years to come.
But not every business opportunity is right for everyone. You always need to do your homework; writing a business plan is a good (and safe) way to find out if the small business opportunity you're considering is worth investing your time and money in.

 By: Susan Ward

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