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Hot Business Trends for 2004? And Beyond: Maybe One Will Turn Into a Creative Business Idea for You
I always look forward to the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine. That's the issue that features the publisher's annual pick of hot businesses, markets, and trends for smart entrepreneurs - or those who aspire to be.
Some of the high tech businesses cited like mobile gaming or online learning tend to require six and seven figure start up costs. This can seem daunting (although not impossible) for the person just venturing into self-employment. So I've decided to focus on the markets, trends, and businesses that speak to someone operating on a somewhat more limited budget. Let's start with hot markets:HOT MARKET: Middle-Aged Women
Since I've recently entered my last year in my 40s, I thought it only appropriate to start with this group (although like most boomers, I still have a hard time thinking of myself as anything close to "middle aged"). Not surprisingly, products and services for women in their 40s and 50s that center around anti-aging and menopause are hot. The magazine cites such promising areas as counseling, exercise spas, yoga, smoking cessation programs? any product or service that helps women stay healthy and feel good about themselves - both inside and out.
The reference to smoking cessation got me thinking? Residential treatment facilities for other forms of substance abuse are common- place, but I've personally never seen a retreat, spa, or other residential-type place specifically aimed at people who need help quitting smoking, and who would benefit from doing so outside their home environment. I'm picturing morning walks, meditation, massage, support groups, good food, and of course, lots and lots of punching bags!HOT MARKET: Toddlers/Tweens/Teens
According to market research firm Packaged Facts, last year 5 to 14 year olds spent $10 billion on food and beverages. Other favorite product areas for kids are sports, fashion, music, and technology.
And apparently home décor and remodeling isn't just for adults anymore (who knew?). Stores like IKEA and Pottery Barn are starting to selling home furnishing products aimed at teens.
With baby boomers having more discretionary income with which to spoil their grandchildren, babies and toddlers have also become hot markets. Online start-up ELittle Luxuries offers designer baby furniture and more than 600 other upscale baby items. (http://www.eLittleLuxuries.com)HOT MARKET: Overweight People
After reading how much kids spend on food and beverages, it's no surprise that 15% of children and teens are overweight. But we adults have them beat. A whopping 64% of Americans are considered obese or overweight. Businesses that offer products and services to help people slim down and develop more healthy habits are the most obvious. But entrepreneurs willing to think outside the "solve the problem" box by looking for ways to make overweight people's lives easier verses trying to fix them, will also do well.HOT MARKET: Metrosexuals
With the enormous appeal of stylish soccer super star David Beckham and shows like Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy where gay men help straight men with fashion, grooming, home décor, and social skills, a growing number of heterosexual men are allowing themselves to tap into their fashionable side.
One enterprising guy who jumped into the metrosexual market early has seen phenomenal growth. With $20,000 and a dream, Tom Granese launched Regiments, an online store that sells high-end grooming products for men. Less than two years later, Tom opened his first storefront in Dallas with a projected $210,000 in first year in-store sales.HOT MARKET: Hispanics
The Hispanic market is certainly nothing new - in fact it's made Entrepreneur's list for many years now. The magazine cites opportunities in anything from food and entertainment, to financial services and Web services.
Now let's look at two of Entrepreneur's picks for hot trends in 2004?HOT TREND: Outdoor Living Spaces
Into gardening or design? According to Joanne Kostecky of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, and president of her own garden design company, the concept of outdoor living rooms that is so popular in the south and some urban areas is beginning to reach the rest of the country. The fact that more consumers are investing in courtyards and elaborate gardens means the gardening and outdoor design businesses are bound to grow!HOT TREND: Fast-Casual Food
Health and taste conscious consumers on the go are turning to fast- casual restaurants and chains. In my own small town of Northampton, two of the more popular joints are benefiting from the fast-casual boom. One serves upscale burritos (my favorite is the Thai burritos) and the other is a hip soup, salad, and sandwich joint that opened in a greatly remodeled former Taco Bell restaurant.
Idea: Back in my old softball days I always wished someone would cater to all those hungry players and fans by starting a high quality food wagon.
Other Hot Trends? Boating and water sports, the hunger for low- carb foods (a trend being taken seriously by restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers), oils and sauces, and multiculturalism which includes the gay and lesbian markets.
Hot markets and hot trends lead to hot businesses. Here are some of Entrepreneur's picks?HOT BUSINESS: Children's Enrichment Programs
With so many parents in the workforce, more kids than ever before are engaged in extracurricular and after school activities. If you like the idea of working with kids, you can opt to open a physical location like a gym, dance or art studio, or camp, take your program into the schools, or provide private lessons.
If you think opening your own place is financially out of reach, think again. While $12,000 is no small sum of money, it's a lot less than a lot of people might expect they'd need to shell out to start their own dance studio. But that's how much former dance student turned instructor Archer Alstaettter dug up in cash and credit cards to found Dance Emotion in Irvine, California. That was five years ago. Today Archer's studio has 500 clients and expects 600-plus to be enrolled by spring. You go Archer!HOT BUSINESS: Home Improvement
Remodeling, refurbishing, and redecorating are all the rage. There are some 30 cable shows on home improvement alone. And home improvement isn't all about décor. Worth noting are businesses that help home owners maximize the space they have as well as those making homes more accessible to an aging population. (To read about a unique, highly successful, and legitimate home business opportunity that matches home owners with reputable home repair contractors go to http://www.ChangingCourse.com/hrnsuccess.htm)HOT BUSINESS: Yoga & Pilates
According to Entrepreneur, companies are bending over backwards to cater to the growing market of people practicing yoga. Clothes, mats, DVDs, music, and classes aimed at seniors, pregnant women and children as young as three are just a few products and services aimed at this growing market.
And with a reported 47 million Americans taking Pilates, a work out that builds abdominal muscles, opportunities abound for gym owners and instructors alike. If you like the idea of teaching Pilates, studio owner Maria Leone recommends starting out by keeping overhead low. She suggests renting space for one-on-one sessions from a small gym or chiropractic office. Fees for a typical Pilates session range from $50 to $70 an hour. Meditate on that!HOT BUSINESS: Upscale Pet Services
According to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, Americans spent an estimated $31 billion on pets in 2003. A few of the luxury services cited include pet hotels complete with heated floors, limousine rides, day cruises, and personal shoppers. And apparently the spa trend has extended to the pet world with exfoliating treatments, aromatherapy, liposuction (I kid you not), and chiropractic services.HOT BUSINESS: Outsourcing
Outsourcing is one of those good new-bad news things. If your job is being eliminated because it's cheaper for your company to outsource functions like HR, accounting, and network security, then outsourcing is a bad thing. Outsourcing is particularly hot in IT - and when it comes to outsourcing jobs overseas, it's also controversial. The good news for freelancers is the federal government plans to open 850,000 jobs to outsourcing, with $85 billion in federal IT contracts to be awarded over the next three years
Other Hot Businesses: Spas, organic foods, online matchmaking, senior care, wireless, tech security, and voiceover IP (VoIP).
If you believe as I do that it's better to be the boss, than to have one, why not make 2004 the year you start putting your entrepreneurial plans into action? You don't have to quit your job or mortgage your home to get the ball rolling. You might resolve to do some research, start putting together a business plan, take a course on marketing, glass blowing, woodworking, web design, or whatever sparks your fancy, get certified to teach yoga, buy a book on how to launch a successful on-line business, start a Barbara Sher style Success Team? or just order a subscription to Entrepreneur.
If you don't already subscribe to Entrepreneur you can do so at http://www.Entrepreneur.com. The site also features a ton of free resources for anyone who already is - or dreams of - working for themselves. For other free resources for people who want to start their own businesses visit http://www.ChangingCourse.com/newbiz.htm
Okay, but what if you don't see a trend, market, or business here that speaks to you? Then find the one that does! I had a client who is crazy for horses and photography. It took me all of 30 seconds on Google.com to find a group called the Equine Photographers Network.
In addition to their conference this February in Florida, the group offers a free public online discussion group with over 700 members who range from top-of-their-field working pros to amateur photographers to magazine editors and writers to horse owners, all interested in improving their equine photography skill and knowledge. Learn all about the Equine Photographers Network at http://www.EquinePhotographers.net.
The way to find the "hottest" business idea for you is to get in touch with the passion that burns the brightest in your heart. Then make 2004 the year resolve to you take those first bold steps on behalf of your dream!
"Off the beaten career path" consultant, Valerie Young, abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at http://www.ChangingCourse.com, offering free resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Redbook, Entrepreneur's Business Start Ups, and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, she's presented her How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are program to thousands of people.
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Handling the Dreaded Why Did You Leave? Question
If you left your last job under less-than-ideal circumstances, you probably dread the "Why did you leave?" question that almost always comes up at job interviews. Here's how to handle it.
Benefits of Maintaining a Career Portfolio
Have you ever tried to contact a past employer only to discover they are no longer in existence or your former manager has moved on and been replaced by someone else? Of course, if you are an avid networker this shouldn't be much of a problem when it comes time to provide proof of your experience, education and accomplishments. A portfolio of your career should be developed and maintained using all documentation of your career history in order to overcome any problems that could arise in proving any aspects of your career.
When All Is Not Well With Work
When all is not well with work, what do you do? Do you quickly get frustrated and feel discontent? Do you look at each situation as a tiresome challenge or as an opportunity to learn something new? Have you ever considered looking at work problems from a spiritual point of view?When you look at work from a spiritual perspective, you will see that there are lessons for you to learn. Let's look at a couple of situations that you or someone you know may have encountered.
Get That Job: Mastering Job Interviews
I've heard it said?in fact, it might well have been me that said it - there are few things more excruciating in professional life than the job interview. Job interviews are awful! Throughout my career I have attended many and conducted many more, and the truth is whether you are the candidate or the interviewer, job interviews are challenging and confronting and difficult - but you can not only survive but learn to be a masterful interviewee by developing an understanding of what it is the interviewer needs to see and learning to conduct yourself with clarity and confidence.
What Do Accountants And Doctors Have In Common?
Freshly qualified accounting graduates when asked by the interviewer "Are there any questions you want to ask?" usually respond with "What are my duties and responsibilities"Be careful. Some interviewers intentionally do not mention anything about duties and responsibilities to test the reaction of the candidates.
Speak Up: Your Job Is At Stake!
How good are you at standing up for yourself?Do you run the other way when done an injustice or when someone steps on your proverbial toes?How do you react?Now's the time to speak up and stand your ground! If you've never done this, you need to master this skill.How many of you watched the "The Apprentice?" While the show is not the ultimate mirror of corporate life or a guide on how to be promoted, my clients have cited specific show episodes to highlight weaknesses they'd like to improve.
Why Are 95% of Job Applicants Not Called Back?
Have you been desperately looking for a job and keep coming up short? Despite all that you do, does every attempt you make seem to fail? Are you at that point of quitting? Ever wonder why you have not been called back? Not long ago, I was right where you are. I was all over the place, running here and there looking for the magic pill to help me.
Successful Job Search: 10 Steps To Quickly Acquire Your Dream Job And Put More Money In Your Pocket
Do you want to continue your costly, time-consuming and exhausting struggle in a frustrating job search using weak, ineffective tools that are getting you nowhere? The job market today is fiercely competitive with few high-paying or desirable jobs available. With repeated downsizings, companies have learned to survive with less.
Put Some Mystery in Your Life
Mystery shoppers. For some it conjures up images of private eyes and undercover detectives.
Job Interviews -- What Your Pre-Interview Research Should Cover
When you go in for a job interview, you're not just a candidate seeking a job. You're a potential problem solver and contributor.
3 Resume Secrets the Pros Use
You don't write a resume every day. Not even every month or year, most likely.
How to Pick the Best Career for You: Part 3
Marketing-with-Intent precisely drives you to your target and with greater speed because you are using the right mode of transportation, an accurate compass and a clear vision of where you're headed. You'll differentiate yourself from your competition by using the right vehicle to uncover the best career for you.
Interviewing Over Lunch: Are You at Risk?
Sometimes a hiring process will include having lunch with the hiring manager. Despite anything said to the contrary (like "It'll just be an informal lunch so we can get to know each other.
Whiners Need Not Apply
Sometime last summer I decided to host a pity party and invite all my friends. Well, not all my friends, exactly.
Create a Network and Catapult Your Job Search
Networking is still known as a great job-search strategy, yet it eludes some individuals simply because they don't know how to go about it. Individuals also tend to shy away from networking because it's time consuming.
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