Five Uncommon Small Business Ideas
Food fads, like the latest hot entrepreneurial trends, come in waves. And those waves don't always bring in that long-lost ship you've been waiting for. When contemplating a new business, be careful to evaluate whether the tide is following the tech tree that grew Apple computers, or if the proverbial party dip is being served with Olestra chips. Let's not even get started on the kale craze, because it will be gone before you know it.
Not every fad is truly the greatest thing since frozen TV dinners or deep-fried Twinkies. It probably isn't a coincidence that the word fad itself is defined as: a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal, and is immediately followed in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary by fade: to wither, or cause to lose freshness or brilliance of color.
But all is not lost. In fact, the 2018 Small Business Optimism Index (yes, there is such a thing) increased in May to the second highest level in the survey's 45-year history. The figures rose above 107, a three-point gain, with small businesses reporting high numbers in several important areas: compensation, profits, and sales trends. Good news for the little guy with big dreams.
Fad or no fad, your plan to open your own business must have several essentials to succeed. Most of us can't take the huge risk of funding a start-up without it becoming profitable. That is a practical no-brainer. Other key emotional and psychological factors include wanting to love what you do all day, achieving a better quality of life than you had when you worked for someone else, and never enduring another excruciating corporate performance review (a personal interjection).
Here are a few other important things to consider before opening that kombucha bar down the block, or hosting after-school art classes in your basement:
- Is there a need and demand in your community for your services/skills/products?
- How much other competition is there for your business?
- Will you need extensive training in a new skill, and can you afford the time and money to undertake it?
- Do you want to work from home, the cloud, or even the beach?
- And last, but not least, are you invested enough in your idea to eat, sleep, and breathe it for months or years before it gets off the ground?
Your Best Edit has researched dozens of current ideas, career predictions, and business trends so that you don't have to. We chose these five viable and out-of-the-box occupations to get you started on your entrepreneurial journey:
1. Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Technician
- Qualifications: A high school diploma or GED and a bicycle repair course is extremely helpful. Certification is not required for bicycle technicians, but it can lead to additional job opportunities, according to the United Bicycle Institute (UBI), based in Oregon. Technicians need at least one year of practical experience, or may opt to complete UBI's basic mechanics and frame building courses. There are also special educational benefits for veterans at UBI. Alternatively, you may get certification through the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado, by completing a series of seven courses. Over the past decade, bike riders have grown from 47 million to more than 66 million cyclists. Nationally, the number of commuters riding to work on a bicycle has increased by 60%, saving gas, money, encouraging better health, and cutting down on pollution.
- Average hourly wage: $14
- Average annual salary: $29,370
- Highest employment by state: California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida
2. Funeral Service Worker
- Qualifications: An associate's degree in funeral service or mortuary science is the typical educational requirement. Most employers and state licensing laws require applicants to be 21 years old, have two years of formal education, supervised training, and pass a state licensing exam. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, overall employment of funeral service workers is projected to grow five percent from 2016 to 2026, and employees handle about 113 cases per year. Those who are licensed as funeral directors and embalmers, and are willing to relocate, have the best job opportunities. Tasks include completing legal documents such as death certificates, performing embalming duties (not for the faint of heart), consulting with and comforting grieving loved ones, and planning services. The average cost of a complete funeral and burial is $7,360, while a simple cremation runs about $1,100.
- Average hourly wage: $27
- Average annual salary: $56,850
- Highest employment by state: Texas, Florida, Indiana
3. Lactation Consultant
- Qualifications: Lactation consultants are usually registered nurses (RNs) working with new mothers, teaching them how to breastfeed their newborn babies, scheduling feedings, and instructing them on how to hold the infants. These specialists have a nursing diploma, an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). Consultants may be assigned to work in the delivery ward in hospitals or clinics, teach classes in schools, or work privately doing in-home care. After having received training and sufficient experience, they must pass a certification examination through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. By 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% job growth rate for registered nurses, more than double the rate of any other occupation. The US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control is also working toward a goal that, by 2020, more than 80 percent of mothers will attempt breastfeeding, and that 25% of infants will nurse exclusively for the first six months.
- Hourly wage: $30
- Average annual salary: $79,900
- Highest employment by state: nationwide
4. Downsizing Consultant
- Qualifications: No certification is required to undertake the delicate task of moving older and/or retired people from a large home to a smaller one, or transitioning them into an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, a great deal of patience and understanding is the key to making this a rewarding career for yourself and a relatively painless experience for your clients. You will need to be detail-oriented and able to handle the physical aspects of packing, sorting, and cleaning. As an advisor and source of comfort to your clients and their families, you will also be handling confidential documents, dealing with lawyers and appraisers, as well as coordinating estate sales. The National Association of Senior Move Managers is a nonprofit umbrella organization that offers training for consultants and resources for clients, with a strict code of safety and ethics. Their 25-hour self-study program covers the most essential skills in working with adults with challenging health issues, such as dementia, as well as covering marketing.
- Hourly wage: $50-$120
- Average annual salary: $40,300
- Highest employment by state: nationwide
5. Food Truck Operator
- Qualifications: Aside from a passion for cooking, developing extraordinary recipes, and feeding the hungry masses, running a successful and profitable food truck operation requires completing a multitude of tasks before you even serve your first customer. The Small Business Administration is a very helpful resource on where to obtain the required food truck licenses and permits, but you must also check local ordinances as they vary. You won't need an MBA to launch this business, but you must factor in food costs, fuel, regular vehicle maintenance, insurance, and labor into your bottom line. The more meals you serve, the more money you'll make. If you want to generate extra revenue, schedule regular stops at festivals, fairs, and concerts. Spread the word to your regulars on social media, and keep on trucking your way to a delicious future.
- Hourly wage: $15
- Average annual salary: $125,000
- Highest employment by state: California, Florida, New York, Texas, Oregon
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