Q: Could you share some ideas that you think will catch on?
A: I get questions like this quite often--people wanting ideas for businesses to start. The first thing I always recommend is that you do some soul-searching to find out what you are passionate about. I've said it a thousand times: If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to be passionate about what you're doing, not in it only to make some money.
That said, there are many business ideas floating around out there for the taking, and if you look at several of them, you might find one you're passionate about. For some people, finding a business idea that already exists is preferable to coming up with an entirely new concept. You can be successful either way if you move slowly and carefully.
So I decided to put together a list of business ideas. By no means exhaustive, this list is based on information from our Start-Up Kitsand from other articles on Entrepreneur.com. Perhaps you'll find an idea here that will spark your interest--or it might get your wheels turning to come up with a list--and a business idea--of your own.
1. Child care: Child-care services range from small homebased operations to large, commercial centers and can be started with an investment of as little as a few hundred dollars. You can stay very small, essentially just creating a job for yourself, or you can grow into a substantial enterprise with potentially millions of dollars a year in revenue.
2. Food: From ice cream to organic, food always presents opportunities. It's just a matter of figuring out what to feed people.
3. Online learning: Beyond creating content, services will be a growth market. Help companies integrate training software or structure programs. Better yet, outsource it for them by running the software, finding talent and administering classes.
4. Pet products: What's too extravagant for a beloved family member? Apparently nothing, and pets reap the spoils. U.S. households will spend $30 billion on their pets in 2002, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. (APPMA)--and not just on food bowls and the occasional chew toy. The upscale pet accessories market is where it's at, and entrepreneurs are cashing in with everything from high-end fashion to holistic foods.
5. Personal concierge: A personal concierge service runs on the most basic of premises. People want things done but don't have the time to do them. But they're happy to pay someone to take care of their business efficiently and with a touch of class. Why not let that someone be you?
Remember to do your own research for your specific market--if you find out that your idea won't work with the demographic in your particular city, for instance, you'll want to consider a different idea. And be sure to check out Entrepreneur's December issue, where we do a roundup of hot businesses, trends and markets for the coming year.
Karen E. Spaeder is editor of Entrepreneur.com and managing editor ofEntrepreneur magazine.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.
Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.