There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. Technology is more powerful and affordable than ever and social media has made it possible to promote your business in ways that are often more effective than expensive traditional advertising campaigns. And if you need startup funds to get going, crowd funding and alternative lending sites are making it much easier to get your business off the ground. Here’s a list of 35 business ideas to choose so as to start your business in 2015.
- Kid-Friendly Apps
Kids are your future customers so gaining their loyalty now isn’t a bad idea. In its 10th annual trends report, THE FUTURE 100, which highlights the big and small trends to watch this year, JWT Intelligence cites the connectivity of kids as a big trend for 2015. According to Common Sense Media, three-quarters of kids have access to a mobile device. This spells a big business opportunity for anyone who can create products or design apps just for kids. And, if they also happen to be educational or promote good health, you’ll win their parents over, too.
You can start small by designing a few kid-friendly apps and see where your business goes from there.
- Software trainer
If you’re proficient in a highly specialized software, you can get paid to pass your knowledge on to amateurs and professionals looking to expand their skill sets. Technical manuals are available for programs like QuickBooks and Final Cut Pro, but these are often expensive and difficult for the average user to get through. Schedule small group workshops or private sessions, and charge by the hour for a full tutorial of the program. The best part about this gig is that it can be done part time.
- Healthcare Consulting
With government health institutions under-funded and failing to cope with the healthcare needs of the population, the private healthcare industry will continue to expand… and change. As an independent healthcare consultant, you can offer management and data analysis for organizations like hospitals, labs and therapist offices to help implement solutions to improve efficiency and/or save money. This is a great opportunity to put that marketing or economics degree to use.
- Food Truck
Food is a basic need and people need to eat no matter the state of the economy. A truck is a much less expensive investment than a brick-and-mortar restaurant. With the right equipment and some great recipes, you can have your mobile eatery up and running in no time.
Companies are increasingly turning to freelance and contract workers to fill the skill gaps in their staff. It’s not hard to imagine that you could build a whole company around providing freelance services of one sort or another. According to Freelancer.com, which lists more than a million freelance projects on its site, the most in-demand freelance services are: data entry, academic writing, Excel projects, data processing, Web search and Facebook-based jobs. Hourly rates start at $30 an hour and stretch into the hundreds.
- Mobile consulting
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: mobile is now a non-negotiable for almost any business. Finding ways to go mobile is a challenge for many business owners. If your company can provide affordable mobile solutions to businesses that need them you’ll find mobile consulting a rich business opportunity.
With the majority of the population owning smart mobile devices (phones, smart pads etc), most businesses are realizing that they need to connect with their prospects and customers via mobile. So firms will need helping in setting up and maintaining their mobile presence.
There’s no denying the global marketplace is growing and reaching beyond country and continental borders. We have a seen a growing presence of Chinese and other nationalities in Zimbabwe. That is set to grow even further as the huge Russian and Chinese projects take off in the coming months. The hiring of interpreters and translators is set to grow significantly. This translates into a big business opportunity for entrepreneurs who can bring foreign-language speakers together with businesses in need.
- 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 (www.exaktime.com), 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
A mobile salon that travels to customers’ residences to do their hair or nails, has nothing but growth potential. Senior citizens need to look good but travelling to the salon may be inconvenient for them. Offering mobile salon services is a great business opportunity.
- Vending machine business
Time-strapped people are looking for quick food on the go that is healthier than the chips and cokes you find at most restaurant. There is potential for 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. Such companies are having big success overseas, 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
Smart phones 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..
Contractors – electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters and more, are always needed as people need to maintain and repair their homes. Instead of operating as a one man business, you set up a proper company and hire the many unemployed skilled people around. 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 (www.soasta.com), 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. Instead, many are outsourcing non-core business functions to third-party firms. This is creating a business opportunity for anyone who can provide marketing, human resources, healthcare management or any other service a business needs. Small businesses have the opportunity to specialize and focus on their niches.
- Party Planner
Love to party? Then why not turn the good times into a great business opportunity? As a party planner, you’ll be in charge of hiring a caterer, finding the entertainment, creating invitations, contacting equipment rental companies, and choosing the decor for the occasion, which could be an anniversary, a wedding, a baby shower, or a graduation. If you decide to get into this business, you’re probably a pretty social person by nature, so don’t be afraid to leverage your network to land your first gig.
16. Cleaning Service
Cleaning services are particularly recession-proof. Both residential and commercial cleaning operations can easily be run from home, but which you decide to start may depend on your resources. Commercial cleaning, for example, often requires commercial equipment, as well as a staff to clean big spaces. If you have less startup capital and are thinking of a solo operation, cleaning homes and smaller offices will be your best bet.
Whichever you choose, be sure to use simple yet effective marketing, such as fliers, ads on your vehicle, and, of course, word-of-mouth.
- Carpet Cleaning Service
A variation on cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning services are especially recession-resistant. Few people are willing to let their carpets get dirty, and even fewer have the equipment or skills to clean their own carpets. That’s where you come in.
Depending on the types of services you’re going to offer, you’ll need a range of equipment and supplies. If you’re low on startup capital, consider buying used equipment in the beginning, as well as purchasing a portable extractor to clean carpets instead of a truck-mounted unit, which can be costly.
- Computer Repair
These days, more and more companies are looking to save by outsourcing key functions, including computer repair. You can set up a service catering to these businesses as well as to individuals. Before you start, check out the competition in your area. Who’s offering what, and is there a niche you can fill? Get an idea of what types of rates you can charge.
If you require training before getting started, there are numerous technical schools teaching computer repair.
- Craft Business
In a world of mass-produced junk, shoppers feel good about buying handmade, one-of-a-kind items. Turn your creativity and talent into a business by selling jewelry, ceramics, unique décor, purses, metalwork — the sky’s the limit! You can sell your crafts on your own website or on sites such as Etsy (www.etsy.com), and at craft fairs and local events.
Some items sell better than others, so do your research. Next, think about how much it will cost you to make each product, in time, materials, and other overhead. Make sure you charge a high enough price to make a profit.
- Concierge Service
If you have energy, strong organizational skills, and, most important, a talent for customer service, consider starting a concierge service. The overhead is low, and the potential for profits is especially great if you live in an area with an upscale or corporate client base. You’ll also find success offering niche services, such as catering to the senior market, organizing, caring for pets, and assisting busy parents.
Once you’ve decided on your market, think about pricing, advertising, and how you’ll run your service on a day-to-day basis.
- Wedding Planner
Zimbabweans like fancy weddings. If your organizational skills are top notch, you thrive under pressure, and you have a flair for putting together beautiful events, think about becoming a wedding planner.
In addition to managing budgets, you’ll need to be able to build relationships with suppliers, venue owners and caterers. If you are new to the field, you may need to take a course at a college or online. You can also gain experience by planning weddings and parties for friends and family.
- Junk Removal
It’s indisputable: People will always have junk. For a fee, you can help them get rid of it.
First, find out what type of junk removal services are needed in your area. Depending on the services you offer, you may need trucks, dumpsters, safety equipment, shovels, and more. Research local and government regulations, and learn about proper removal and disposal techniques. You should be certified to deal with hazardous materials. Also consider disposal fees, and price high enough so that these fees don’t eat into your profits.
Most people love sweet desserts — the cuter and tinier, the better. If you’ve got a knack for making delectable desserts, consider starting a home-based bakery. You can offer your desserts for delivery or pickup, parties, and sell them from stores and online.
Before getting started, contact your local council to find out about the laws governing at-home food production. Other considerations are drafting a solid business plan, packaging, marketing, and, of course, using your tastiest recipes to keep customers coming back!
- Repossession Services
This is another business that benefits from a down economy. In this trade, you’ll repossess vehicles on behalf of banks and loan companies from borrowers who fail to make payments.
Once you’re experienced, repossessing a vehicle is a quick job, and you can make a lot of profit. Keep in mind, though, that the startup expenses can be substantial, including a tow truck, storage space, insurance, licensing, and more. You’ll need to be well-versed in the repossession laws , and, of course, have the temperament to handle run-ins with potentially disgruntled borrowers.
- Child Care Services
If you enjoy working with children, you can start a home-based daycare center. With many families having both parents working, there is a need for this service in most suburbs. Aside from insurance, licensing fees, and advertising, you’ll need enough startup capital to buy things like play equipment, toys, and educational supplies — and don’t forget to get CPR and first aid training.
- Dog walking
A dog walking and pet sitting service can be set up with minimal investment. For instance, when Catherine started her business – Catherine’s Pet Services – all she needed was $500 for a couple of garden kennels.
Catherine placed a few ads in shop windows. Over time – and with the help of word of mouth recommendation and ads in the local magazine – what started as a part-time activity became a full time job.
“I was earning enough to live on after about three months,” she says “and after about a year I felt I had a sustainable business.” She succeeds by offering a range of services, including dog walking, pet visits and boarding.
- Township tours
There is a growing desire by foreign tourists to see the real Africa, how people live their daily lives in the townships. Mandy Mankaza started Imbizo Tours by bringing tourists from overseas to experience the vibrant culture of her home town. With great referrals and recommendations from websites like Trip Advisor and travel magazines, she has managed to build an established business employing ten people and owning two vans.
- A mobile coffee bar
With a coffee maker, a cart or van and some paper cups, you can set up a mobile coffee van at busy places, such as at markets, shopping malls, busy pavements and at events. You need to have properly trained personnel who can prepare varieties of cappuccinos and espressos.
- A mobile juice bar
Similar to a mobile coffee bar, a juice bar allows you to satisfy the needs of people who want cold, healthy fruit juices, smoothies and flavored drinks.
- Window cleaning service
Office and home windows need regular cleaning. If you have a car with a roof rack you can start a window cleaning business for a few hundred dollars (bucket, ladder, clothes, etc). Alternatively you might invest in high pressure water sprays, water tanks You build a customer base by distributing flyers and posters, knocking on doors and asking and by word of mouth.
- An eBay business
Launching an eBay business allows you to reach a national and occasionally an international market. You can auction goods or sell at a fixed price.
Most eBay businesses will pay at least $19.99 per month as a subscription fee (rising to $59.99 for a featured shop and $349 for an ‘Anchor Shop’) and on top of that you will pay fees for each auction or fixed price insertion and each sale. With PayPal now available in Zimbabwe, payments are no longer a problem.
To succeed on eBay you usually have to find goods that can’t be bought elsewhere or offer popular products at knock-down prices. For some it’s a part-time source of pin-money, for others a full-time business. Success stories on eBay include Nasty Gal, which six years after starting to sell vintage clothing on the auction site it’s now a $60m business.
- Online book and music store
Buying books, magazines and music is a rapidly growing trend as more and people are acquiring smart phones, pads and computers with internet access. You can sell digital editions on behalf of authors, publishers and musicians for a commission or a markup. Just ensure you don’t flout copyright laws.
Photography is a skills-based business. Go to almost any event – from music gigs to vintage car rallies and weddings and you’ll find photographers hard at work.
Being a serious professional photographer requires an investment in good quality equipment and time to acquire the knowledge and skill to use it.
Starting from scratch would mean buying pro-quality cameras, lenses, tripods and lights. Importantly most of these businesses take payment either at the point of sale or soon after and that’s great for cash flow.
Demand is there but the key is to market effectively and at the right price.
- Stock photography
There is demand for good quality photos by publishers of books, magazines and newspapers. Photos are sold online so you need an ecommerce website and then you start taking photos and uploading them. You can also sell photos from other photographers and graphic designers for a commission. The market is global so there is no limit to your growth.
Even if you weren’t the class brainiac, the tutoring business could still be a good gig. One option is to be the middleman and recruit bright, broke college kids to do the actual work.
Startup costs are fairly cheap. You can operate out of your house or the student’s home. You can even conduct sessions online via services like Skype.
- Virtual Assistant
Most business owners spend too much time on tasks that could easily be handled by someone else. That’s where a virtual assistant can help. Virtual assistants are just like in-office assistants, except they may never meet their bosses face-to-face. Communication is typically done via email, phone, or Web conference.
VAs perform administrative duties and other jobs from home on a contract basis. Increasingly, they also provide a range of specialized services, including bookkeeping, market research, even technology troubleshooting. Good VAs can command anywhere from $20 to $75 an hour, depending on geographic location and skill set.
A first step to becoming a virtual assistant is to sign up with an organization like the International Virtual Assistants Association or AssistU, which provide registries of qualified professionals to people looking for a good VA. You can also build your own team of reliable VAs and become the go-to agency for this valuable service.
- Online Retailer
Starting an online store is easier, and cheaper, than ever. In fact, you can launch an e-commerce business with as little as a few hundred bucks. For instance, eBay lets you put up a store and find customers for your products for only around $20 a month with one of its online storefronts.
If you want to strike out on your own, there are companies that sell professional website templates for about $100. For around $10 a month, a company like Yahoo! will host your business and provide email accounts and technical assistance.
This article originally appeared in Businesslink magazine