Best Small Business Opportunities

This top best small business opportunities list provides something for everybody, from the hot poker craze to smart clothing.

Each small business opportunity presented covers the birth of new industries as well as businesses in the later stage of development. Finding a small business opportunity is only half of the equation to owning a successful company. It's equally important to know if the presented opportunity represents the best for you.

Take some time to explore your entrepreneur personality type and match it up with your ideal business.

Small Business Opportunity: The World of Business Brokers

Business brokers are the matchmakers of the business world bringing together buyers and sellers of small and mid-sized companies. "The majority of business brokerage firms handle the sale of everything from the corner dry cleaner to the local quick print to the local liquor store – and every thing in between." says Tom West, founder and former president of The International Business Brokers Association (IBBA).

IBBA estimates there are approximately 3500 business brokerage firms in America with surveys indicating that 35 percent are sole practitioners.

The field of business brokerage continues to match buyers and sellers each year. Sunbelt Business Advisors began franchising in 1993. Since 2000 the company has grown from 232 franchises throughout the United States and internationally to over 397 in 2004.

VR Business Brokers of Ft. Lauderdale have also experienced rapid growth, adding 72 franchisees over 5 years.

According to Mr. West, earnings in the business broker field are "well above average and a six figure income is certainly attainable for many. Commissions range from 10 to 12 percent of the purchase price with firms charging a minimum fee of at least $10,000 to $15,000, for smaller businesses.

The average price of a business that sells today goes for about $250,000 not including inventory or real estate."

Driving Force: Corporate downsizing and aging baby boomers wanting to cash out of their business for retirement provides optimism for the business broker industry.

Risks: Turning potential buyers into real buyers is the challenge of the business. Much like the real estate business, brokers need people skills and the ability to overcome rejection to be successful says Tom West.

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Small Business Opportunity: Smart Clothes

Smart clothing conjures up images of space-age Jetson style apparel. However, smart clothing is more about functionality than far-out space suits. Smarter apparel encompasses the customization of clothing to special markets ranging from performance apparel, sun protection, and aging-friendly clothing.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner, Kevin Plank, knows performance apparel is the best ticket.

Plank has grown his company, Under Armour into a $100 million business. Under Armour is the originator of performance apparel with a line of microfiber clothing that pulls perspiration away from the skin to keep athletes cool and dry during physical activity.

John Barrow found business success in sun protection. Started in 2001, Coolibar offers a unique range of sun protective clothing, sun hats, and sun protective swimwear. The company website explains the benefits of this unique line of smart clothing, "Sun protective clothing is an excellent sun protection tool as it provides a physical block that doesn't wash or wear off and can shade the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Coolibar's clothing differs from standard attire by blocking 97% or more of UV rays and providing an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 30 or greater." The company has even received The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation.

Driving Force: A mature industry with most manufacturing moved overseas has left the apparel business in need of creativity and innovation. Consumers are open to ideas that meet their specialized needs.

Risks: The challenge of entering the smart clothing market is selecting a niche that's not too mainstream allowing bigger competitors to swallow market share before you get established.

Conversely, a market too narrow can present problems with attaining break-even points and profitability. Success in the smart clothing industry will require the ability to outmaneuver large retailers who influence the apparel business. Selling to select markets (i.e. skateboard shops) and outsourcing the manufacturing process overseas can help to maintain profit margins.

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Small Business Opportunity: Medical Transcription A Doctor's Best Friend

As described by The American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT), "medical transcription is the act of translating from oral to written form (on paper or electronically) the record of a person's medical history, diagnosis, prognosis, and outcome." Transcriptionists transfer medical voice recordings made by doctors and health professionals into documentation including: operating room reports, autopsy reports, and physical examination documentation.

Currently, over 20% of people working in the profession are self-employed. According to an AAMT study, self-employed medical transcriptionists charge 12 cents per standardized line. Top earners make about $18/hr. Not a high earning potential business opportunity but a flexible and challenging home business for many.

What does it take to succeed as a self-employed medical transcriptionist? The AAMT recommends building a medical and business library, find a local mentor, attend seminars in business and gain experience or education in areas such as: anatomy, physiology, English grammar, medical language, and business practices. Necessary skills can be gained by working for a medical transcription company and obtaining certification from a reputable medical transcriptionist educational trainer.

Driving Force: The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics states "the employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012." A growing, aging population will increase demand for medical transcription services as a result of more hospital visits and medical testing.

Risks: The medical transcription business requires careful execution of health record confidentiality requirements. Any changes in the laws and regulations can affect business profitability. An additional risk is the occupational hazards of computer-keyboard work resulting in eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and wrist or back problems.

Resources:

The American Association for Medical Transcription

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Small Business Opportunity: The Student Boom Helps College Admissions Consulting

Demographics don't lie. The Echo boom generation who grew up on boy bands and Britney Spears are entering college. The Baby Boom generation has changed society so too will the Echo kids with high expectations of a great career.

College admissions consultants help students target the best schools for their abilities and aspirations, review test scores, and provide application advice.

Consultation charges range from $100 to $500 for an initial talk to a 3-hour college consultation.

College admissions consulting is not just for kids. With the adoption of a life-long learning mind-set by the adult population, college admissions is an important issue for professional and graduate programs. Further opportunities exist in the specialized area such as MBA admission consulting or medical school consulting.

Driving Force: Student-to-counselor ratio for all levels of public schools is at 485:1; the NACAC recommended ratio is 100:1. Add to the mix an all-time record college student population of 15 million, intense competition, and admission office budget cuts resulting in a hot market.

Risks: Acting in the best interest of the client and the college is a delicate balancing act for college admission consultants. With over 300 members, The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) provides ethical guidance for consultants.

IECA stresses "avoid actions which may give the appearance of an attempt to influence an admission placement."

Resources:

National Association for College Admission Counseling

IECA Principles of Good Practice

 

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Small Business Opportunity: Everything's Poker

Opportunities in this gaming market can range from customized poker chip production to poker boot camps. In this hyper-competitive market more mosaic routes might be best.

One such entrepreneur to take advantage of the poker boom is 27-year old Bhu Srinivasan. With the launch of a new poker magazine called "All In", Srinivasan fills a niche in a fast-growth market.

Magazine corporate sponsors include Belvedere Vodka and Samuel Adams with feature stories from top poker players like Howard Lederer and Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson.

Poker skills are not a requirement to participate in this hot business opportunity. The WorthGroup of Nevada specializes in the construction of casinos making $45 million in 2003. Fast enough growth to make the Inc 500 list in 2004.

Driving Force: Shows like ESPN's World Series Of Poker and Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown have helped popularize the poker craze. Add the overall growth of the gaming business to poker and you have a business opportunity hit.

Risks: Whether poker is viewed as a game of skill or game of chance, there are legal and moral issues involved in the gaming business. Using legal counsel to interpret government laws and regulations is in the best interest to reduce some of the potential risks of a venture in this category.

Resources:

ESPN's World Series Of Poker

All In Magazine

Inc 500 WorthGroup

The business opportunities presented represent a range of profit potentials and risk. Before venturing forth, consider more in-depth research and a business plan to improve your odds of success. In the end, the best business opportunity is the one that closely matches your experience, skills, and interests along with a rising tide of growth.