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This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
Entrepreneurship is thriving in the U.S. Paperwork filed by Americans to start new businesses increased by 24% in 2020 and is on pace to be even higher in 2021, according to data from the Census Bureau.
We looked at several industries to evaluate trends over the past year to help pinpoint ideas for an aspiring business owner. Whether you’re interested in the food industry or the professional services space, here’s a list of small business ideas that can catapult your work in 2022.
Sell your professional services
Professional service businesses are among the most popular industries in the latest census data, as more Americans look for easy ways to sell their skills. Here are some top options to consider:
- Consulting: While all consultants provide expert advice to professionals, there are two main types of consultant businesses: strategy and management consulting. Strategy consultants help businesses with specific questions about their direction, while management consultants often specialize in a particular industry, such as human resources, finances/accounting, or IT.
- Pet grooming: Pet ownership is on the rise, with around 23 million households adding a new pet during the pandemic. That is creating a demand for more pet services and pet-friendly businesses. Your business can begin pet grooming by gathering the right tools, setting up appointments, and staying in touch with customers — and the industry also comes with the potential for growth.
- Event planning: The event-planning industry is booming. As in-person events become more popular as spaces reopen around the country, that interest will only continue to grow. There are multiple ways to get started with an event-planning business, including volunteering your services first; taking classes for knowledge and networking; experimenting with different types of events for contacts in your network.
- Personal training: The new year consistently spurs a high demand for health, fitness, and personal training. Whether you’re working with clients at a gym or helping them improve their golf game, Square has the tools for you to accept payments, book appointments, and send invoices, all in one place.
- Cleaning services: The cleaning industry is primarily divided into two categories: consumer cleaning services for residential homes and commercial cleaning services for businesses and corporations. When you first start your cleaning business, deciding on a specific niche can help you with marketing, pricing, and overall strategy.
Break into food, beverage, and restaurants
Starting a full-service restaurant might feel like a big task for a first-time entrepreneur, but plenty of business owners have found success with creative ways of breaking into the food and beverage industry before pursuing growth and expansion.
- Limited-edition drops from home: Test out your idea by starting small but marketing big. Last Crumb started in 2020 as a luxury, direct-to-consumer cookie brand. They built a waitlist for their cookie drops with creative flavors and thoughtful preparations.
- Community-focused spaces: Wide Eyes, Open Palms is a good example of how a community-focused business can grow. After starting off selling specialty coffee and pastries at local California farmers markets, Angie Evans and Kat McIver used savings, support from some customers as investors, and loans made more palatable by having an established business to lock down a brick-and-mortar cafe. They regularly partner with the local small business community as well as the LGBTQ center of Long Beach.
- Specialty stores and products: Try specificity if you’ve got one standout idea that could take off. One mid-pandemic success story is Fishwife, which aims to take the passion for tinned fish abroad and bring it over to the U.S.
Looking to break into the retail space? Consider a range of offerings, not just one style of product. Small and local businesses have connected with customers over the past year by embracing a multi-hyphenate approach.
One example: Jared Erickson and Bobby K Russell launched a space in Atlanta, Georgia, called Brother Moto, a motorcycle-repair-space coffee shop and lifestyle brand — combining the welcoming environment of a coffee shop with their expertise and interest in motorcycles. The best multi-hyphenate retail concepts pull from the passions of their business owners and embrace what they see as needs in their communities.
Sell your creative services
Much like the professional service space, finding ways to sell your creative strengths is a great way to start your first business.
- Graphic designer: Whether it’s as a full-time agency or a side project, you can use a free online store to sell and promote your design services.
- Freelance writing: Are you an expert in drawing up business plans, writing marketing copy, or editing resumes? Your writing and editing skills could be your next profitable move, and Square offers invoicing tools that help you get paid quickly.
- Translation: All kinds of businesses are pursuing global expansion and need translation experts as they start that work. Consider creating a marketing strategy to help you break into the field.
Booming businesses for Gen Z
Gen Z over-indexes on desiring brands that appear young, trendy, funny, bold, and innovative, according to a recent Global Web Index report. They also over-index on valuing brands that help customers improve their image, offer customized/personalized products, run customer communities, support charities, and make customers feel valued.
Here are some business ideas that are attracting a Gen Z audience as well as Gen Z entrepreneurs:
- Gaming: From gaming studios to influencers to community organizers, this is a space Gen Z is expected to own moving forward.
- Beauty: Many small business owners have found success in the beauty space by making their own products and putting their own brand front and center.
- Fine art and photography: As the art world becomes more democratized, Gen Z is catching on with businesses promoting personality-driven, accessible work with wide appeal.
The business checklist that will make your idea into a reality
Starting a business on your own can be a tough grind that requires patience. Before you get going, here are a few things that you need to have in order.
- Adequate industry training: In order to enter any industry successfully, it’s important to have extensive knowledge about the business and master the skills needed to be efficient.
- A well-thought-out business plan: Your business plan will be the framework of your idea and the more time you put into creating a business plan, the better off you’ll be. Make sure to detail out all components including an executive summary, business description, market analysis, competitive analysis, product plan, business operations, employee and training summary, and financial strategy. These will help you create well-defined goals and actionable steps for your business.
- Funding: Starting a business is expensive and most of the time requires outside business funding. A business line of credit or a small business loan are common business financing options to consider. But you should analyze your financial situation before getting locked into a payback plan.
- Entrepreneurial drive: Not every industry expert is suited to be a business owner. The drive and motivation you need to go your own way aren’t often taught. Time management skills, organization, and problem resolution are notable entrepreneurial traits that you should master before starting your own business, and successful entrepreneurs often form habits that help them become successful in their endeavors.