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Ideas for the Top Businesses to Start in 2014

Last December I gave you 13 businesses to start in 2013 which people seemed to enjoy. So, I’m doing it again this year. According to a recent survey by Kelly Services, roughly 48% of world employees hate their jobs—up from 47% a year ago! Whether its long hours, lack of flexibility, or stagnant pay, an increasing number of individuals are beginning to look for a way out. While many dream of starting their own businesses as a way out of the daily grind, very few actually take the plunge. But, if you’ve had enough of your current career, why not try something new in 2014?  Here are 10 great ideas for businesses to start in 2014.

1.            IT consulting and web development.

It is becoming increasingly necessary for businesses to have a robust online presence in order to succeed. However; there are plenty of business owners out there that lack the skills to actually create a website themselves. If you have knowledge of coding and open-source software platforms and have an artistic side, maybe IT consulting and website development is for you.  And, it doesn’t have to end with website development. There is a slew of services that can be offered to both individuals and businesses, from social media management and blogging to SEO and app development. For a great example of a successful IT consulting and web development business, check out RyTech, LLC.

2.            Pet food.

                An estimated 83.3 million people in the United States are dog owners, so it probably goes without saying that industries catering to canine owners really have the potential to blossom. While they may all seem the same, dog food brands are all very unique and owners are easily attached to a certain brand. While the likes of Purina and Ukanuba hold a substantial portion of the market, there are tons of smaller brands that see success as well. For example, Fromm, a Wisconsin-based family dog food company prides itself on its healthy and wholesome options.

The learning curve may be greater for this type of business than some others on this list, as you’ll have to deal with issues like warehousing and storage, pest control, maintenance, sanitation, formulation, production records, labeling, traceability, employee training, quality control, sampling and lab analysis, to name a few, but once you master mixing your product you’ll be ready to get in front of shelters, dog daycares and pet supply stores in your area to present a local feed alternative to some of the national brands already out there.

3.            Wedding supplies.

There are dozens of things to worry about when planning a wedding and some of the most frustrating can be tracking down some of the smaller items that really tie the event together. Things like table numbers, ring bearer pillows and table card holders are necessities at any wedding event, but finding unique options is sometimes a challenge. If you have a creative side why not start a wedding supply business? Yes, there are plenty of companies out there that rent linens and place settings, but specializing in creative and unique options for some of those other items may make you some cash. Better yet, with sites like Etsy, it’s easier than ever to set up shop online with minimum startup costs.

4.            Craft Brewery.

 Home brewing is bigger than ever with over 1 million home brewers throughout the country at the end of last year, but have you ever though to take it a step further and become licensed to sell your product? There are a number of steps that need to be followed in order to sell alcohol and you’ll need to set up an actual brewery outside of your home, but if you can do it, do it. Consumers spent upwards of $12 million on craft beer in 2012, up from $5.7 million in 2007. More and more people are becoming connoisseurs of these local products, and selling wholesale to restaurants and bars in your area may not be as tough as you think.

5.            Bakery.

Right now cupcakes are all the rage, but any dessert is good, really. Especially if you can set up shop in an area with a lot of foot traffic, you’ll have a great chance to be successful.

6.            Coffeehouse.

With non-traditional working arrangements becoming more common, people are spending more of the workday outside of the office. Coffee shops offer the perfect meeting places and work spaces for this crowd. Add in some wireless internet and you’ll have customers basically before you can open your door. Develop a simple lunch menu with some sandwiches and salads and you’ll ensure that customers are coming through the door at all times of the day. And a final note- don’t be scared away by Starbucks as there are plenty of people that prefer an alternative coffeehouse.

7.            App coding.

I don’t think there’s an app for that, but who knows. Apps are all the rage and quite frankly changing the way we live life. While there are millions out there already, there are probably just as many ideas that haven’t yet been developed. Plenty of folks have had an idea or two for a great app in the past but don’t have the slightest clue how to actually create it. If you know what you’re doing, starting an app coding business could hold huge potential. Sell your coding services to individuals that have ideas but not the know-how. You could work either on a flat fee or hourly rate for writing the necessary code to bring the app to fruition, or potentially take a percentage stake in any sales proceeds to maximize your return.

8.            Men’s accessories.

Socks. Ties. Cufflinks. Men’s clothing is relatively boring, and these little trinkets spice it up and create a unique look. Many internet-only businesses out there are succeeding by selling tons of these things. For example, tonsofsocks.com carries more sock varieties than I can even imagine and thetiebar.com sells ties and bowties in every color and pattern imaginable. Best yet, they’re affordable, so the customer base is large. Further, you don’t need to manufacture the items yourself, but rather act as a central purchasing point (think Amazon). Think of a way to build your own business catering to the same crowd and you could be on your way to a new career.

9.            Author.               

Everyone has a story, idea or insight into something. Chances are that there are others out there that share the same interests. With the rise of eBooks, publication and distribution of written material has become more accessible to the average Joe. If you think you’re up to it, why not make 2014 the year you get published and pull in a little extra income. While royalties vary, Amazon pays out up to 70% for Kindle purchases, which can add up quickly.  Here’s a good starting point on learning how to self-publish your eBook.

10.          Home Improvement services.  

The residential real estate market is finally showing signs of improvement. More homeowners means more opportunity for home improvement. Painting, carpentry, landscape design and similar specialties could be hot for 2014. If you are skilled in a certain trade, why not try your hand at being your own boss this year? You’ll need to form a business entity and get the appropriate permits and licenses, but starting a home improvement business in 2014 could get you out from under your boss’ hand.

If you’ve ever thought that starting a business may be for you, then there may be no better time than 2014. There is no shortage of industries that would welcome new ventures, so the best thing you can do in the New Year is get out there and give it a go.

Michael F. Brennan runs a virtual law office helping clients in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota launch new businesses. He can be reached at michael.brennan@mfblegal.com with questions or comments, or check out his website at www.thevirtualattorney.com.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. For specific legal advice regarding a specific legal issue please contact me or another attorney for assistance.

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