The Best Small Businesses Opportunities for 2017

Ready to Start a Business? Try One of These

Welcome to my 2017 list of the best business opportunities out there, chosen from across a variety of industries. To make my list, these businesses must: 

  1. Have the potential to be profitable now and for many years in the future 
  2. Be able to do well even in uncertain economic times
  3. Do not require a PhD or decades of experience. Some require trade school training, a university degree or a prior apprenticeship, while others need only some prior experience and a passion for the industry.
  4. Do not require large amounts of startup capital, but only what every startup business requires: dedication, hard work, perseverance and a desire to succeed.

Most of these opportunities can be operated as home-based businesses.

If your goal in life is to become very wealthy, chances are you won't get there as a small business owner. But you'll have a chance to generate a healthy income, be your own boss and make all the decisions. You could potentially have a more flexible lifestyle. Building something from the ground up can make starting a business very rewarding in itself. 

Here are my picks for the best small business ideas based on current trends in business and demographics. 

1
Software Engineering and Development

Young computer programmer at a startup company
One of the best business opportunities for 2017. alvarez / Getty Images

Software engineers and developers create, test and maintain software on a variety of platforms, from mainframes to mobile devices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers is expected to increase by 17 percent each year through 2023, and the median pay in 2014 was slightly over $100,000 per year. 

The nature of the software development industry makes it ideal for contract employment. Many software engineers start out as salaried employees and eventually become self-employed contractors. Cloud computing and ease of remote access make software development an ideal home-based business.

2
Children's Services

Small children jumping on bosu balls on training class.
BraunS / Getty Images

There are business opportunities in a variety of areas in the children's services market, including:

  • Quality preschool education, including environmentally-focused offerings such as outdoor preschools
  • Art classes and events
  • Tutoring in critical skills such as reading, math and English
  • Fitness instruction such as tennis, swimming, soccer or golf lessons

If you enjoy working with children and have instructional training and/or experience, why not turn it into a business?

3
Bike Sales, Service and Rentals

Bicycles for sale in shop
Image Source/Raphye Alexius / Getty Images

Given the health and environmental benefits, it's no wonder that bicycling has become the second most popular outdoor activity in America by frequency of participation. According to peopleforbikes

  • U.S. bike commuting has grown 47 percent nationwide and 73 percent in the largest cities over a 10-year period. North American cities are trying hard to increase the number of people using bikes rather than cars to commute to work.
  • Americans spend $81 billion on biking annually, generating 770,000 jobs.

Anything that’s healthy, popular, good for the environment and heavily promoted by government is a pretty good business bet. In addition to pedal-only powered bikes, E-bikes have become very popular. E-bikes can be pedaled without electric power or use electric power to assist, and sales are expected to hit close to 50 million units by 2018. Regular pedal bikes can be converted to E-bikes with a kit that allows replacement of the front or back wheel hub with one containing a small electric motor and adding a battery and cabling.

If cycling is your passion and you want to become an entrepreneur, this may be the perfect business opportunity for you.

4
Senior Care Services

Carer holding hand of senior woman
Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

Senior care services continue to rank as one of the best business opportunities. Demographics play a big role. The first baby boomers hit age 65 in 2011. The entire baby boomer generation will have will have reached age 65 by 2030. Seniors will make up 1/4 of the entire U.S. population. Unfortunately, although they are expected to live longer lives than previous generations, it's also expected that they'll spend more years in sickness, according to a report on senior’s health by the not-for-profit United Health Foundation. 

Fortunately, baby boomers are a wealthy demographic compared to previous generations. For the most part, they can afford to pay for the services necessary to maintain their lifestyles. This includes continuing to live at home in their own communities. According to research by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), nearly 90 percent of seniors have this goal. 

Many affluent seniors suffer from various health and/or mobility issues and are increasingly uncomfortable or unable to drive their own vehicles. They may find it difficult or impossible to take care of household chores such as landscaping, cleaning, cooking or caring for their pets. Others travel extensively and require house sitting or pet sitting and property maintenance services. All in all, a wealth of opportunities exist for entrepreneurs who wish to take advantage of the senior care trend. If you're not interesting in starting your own business from scratch, various senior care franchise opportunities are available. 

5
Counseling and Therapy

Man talking with therapist in therapy
Tom M Johnson / Getty Images

The mental health field is another profession that is experiencing increased demand for services. The BLS expects the need for marriage and family therapists to grow 41 percent by 2020.

The nature of mental health counseling makes it suitable for private practice. Many professionals in the field make the occupational choice to start their own counseling businesses. This typically requires extensive schooling, however, and often post-graduate degree. 

6
Financial Advisor/Planner

Businessman meeting with clients
PhotoAlto/Eric Audras / Getty Images

Financial advisers/planners are expected to be in high demand with a projected growth rate of 30 percent through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Studies in Canada indicate that only 20 percent of Canadians have confidence in their math and money skills as they relate to planning for a secure financial future, according to a 2011 survey by Ipsos Reid for ABC Life Literacy Canada.

Becoming a financial adviser/planner normally requires a bachelor's degree and additional training in securities management, leading to licensing/certification. But this is another business that is riding the demographic wave. A huge pool of baby boomers are headed for retirement, and they need and want help with their finances. Financial advising and planning is an ideal business opportunity. 

7
Facilities Support Services

Foreman talks to architect in empty room
David Sacks / Getty Images

Facilities support services is a catch-all term that encompasses the full range of facilities services for businesses, including:

  • Cleaning
  • Security
  • Building maintenance
  • Painting
  • Moving

The industry is expected to grow by 30 percent through 2026. If you have a background in maintenance or construction and good organizational skills, why not consider a business as a facilities support services coordinator?

8
Gourmet Coffee

barista making coffee, close-up of hands
Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

Think an independent coffee shop serving espressos, lattes and cappuccinos can't compete with Starbucks? Think again. A new coffeehouse recently opened in my little town and it has been packed with customers from day one. The owner attributes his success to:

  • Being in a convenient location for vehicle, cycling and foot traffic
  • Offering a pleasant atmosphere, including an outdoor patio 
  • Serving high-quality beverages made from small-batch specialty coffees, served by properly trained baristas so the product is consistent
  • Not attempting to compete with fast-food outlets by selling brewed coffee.

If you have a passion for specialty coffee, why not make it your next business opportunity?

9
Body Decoration Services (Piercings and Tattoos)

Tattoo
webphotographeer / Getty Images

According to statistics, the tattoo industry generated $3 billion in revenue in 2014 and continues to grow rapidly:

  • 40 percent of American households have at least one member with a tattoo, up from 21 percent in 1999
  • 22 percent of young millennials have at least one tattoo
  • 30 percent of people aged 25-39 have tattoos and 40 percent of adults aged 30-39
  • Tattoos are also popular with middle-aged adults ​— 30 percent of those aged 40-49 have at least one

Most tattoo artists learn the trade via an apprenticeship alongside a professional (typically three years or more). For health and safety reasons, some jurisdictions require classroom experience.

If you have artistic and creative skills, becoming a tattoo artist can be an excellent business opportunity.

10
Gain the Necessary Education, Skills and Training

Dreaming of bigger things...
PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

There are no shortcuts to starting your own business. You'll have to acquire any necessary academic credentials and/or the skills and training to take advantage of some of these opportunities. Working as an employee or apprentice in your chosen field for a period of time before becoming self-employed can give you the training and business skills and experience necessary to start your own business. It can allow you to make a name for yourself and develop a list of clients so you'll already have potential customers when you start your own business.

11
Develop a Solid Business Plan

Young Black businesswoman uses white board to plan launch of new company.
David Shopper / Getty Images

There are many reasons why having a solid business plan is a good idea. An essential component of a business plan is researching the market. Going through this exercise will tell you whether your business idea is feasible in your locale.

Having a business plan is also essential if you need startup capital in the form of debt financing from a bank or equity financing from investors

When you have a business plan and startup capital in place, select a winning name for your business and register it with your state. Decide what type of business ownership works best for you. Do you want to be a sole proprietor or start a partnership? Should you incorporate? Get any business licenses or permits that are required, and register for taxes if this is necessary in your state. Look into insurance needs. Then start promoting your business.