Hot Trends to Explore

B2B Services

Technology Consulting
Check your MAC address; set up wireless WEP encryption; enable a VPN for half a dozen remote workers--you're not the only one wallowing in technology alphabet soup. That's why we're pegging technology consulting as a steamy growth area for 2006.

Businesses without in-house IT departments need experts to hook them up with everything from printers to internet security to wireless networks. But you can't just rush in with a computer toolkit and a few pieces of software. "One of the key requirements nowadays is to be able to deliver complete solutions to the customer," says Anil Miglani, senior vice president of research group AMI-Partners in New York City. If necessary, startups "should be open to partnering with others who can complement their own skill sets."

With the release of Windows Vista next year, look for more opportunities to open up. "The new Windows OS will create a new market as businesses upgrade and transition their existing applications," says Miglani. She also points to RFID consulting as an area set for growth. And in 2007, extended daylight-saving time goes into effect, which means all sorts of digital devices will need adjustments to handle the change. So polish up your technology expertise--lots of businesses are going to need your help.--A.C.K.

Staffing
As we've been saying for years, staffing is hot. According to data from the American Staffing Association, temporary and contract staffing services had combined sales totaling $16.9 billion in the second quarter of 2005, a 7.3 percent increase over the same period in 2004.

"The trend shaping the staffing industry is a growing shortage of skilled workers," says Roger E. Herman, CEO of The Herman Group, a work force consulting company in Greensboro, North Carolina. He points to shortages in almost all employment sectors: medical, retail, business services and hospitality, to name a few. Some fiery niches: supplying workers to help businesses meet Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, as well as placements for returning veterans.

Guiding companies into the red-hot medical staffing business is Dr. Jason Meyer, founder of Medical Staffing Consultants Inc. in Rockville Centre, New York. He advises entrepreneurs on challenges such as recruiting, licensing, malpractice insurance and securing the upfront capital to meet payroll before contracts are due.

Derek L. Riley and Jason C. Bleacher, 32-year-old co-founders of Immediate Care Option Network in York, Pennsylvania, have found success in the medical staffing arena. Started in 2001, their company supplies highly trained nurses to local hospitals, nursing homes and the like. Thanks to a second office recently opened in Florida, 2005 sales are projected to exceed $2.5 million.--N.L.T.

Tech Recycling
It's the digital age, and we've got a ton of technological gadgets to dispose of--from old laptops and monitors to cell phones and broken TV sets. "It's an issue that a lot more people are aware of, and more people are searching out their options [of how to] dispose of their old electronics equipment," says Jason Linnell, executive director of the National Center for Electronics Recycling.

Enter the technology-recycling (or "e-cycling") business. According to the International Association of Electronics Recyclers, there are 1.5 billion pounds of electronic equipment processed annually, and it estimates that in the next decade, about 3 billion units of consumer goods will be scrapped.

To enter this market, start by finding your niche. Possibilities include recycling and refurbishing cell phones for sale overseas, disposing of large companies' defunct tech equipment, and specializing in data destruction for old computer gear. And with states like California enacting programs to help fund tech recycling on the state level, expect even more entrepreneurial prospects in the near future.

The logistics of transporting and recycling e-waste can be challenging for startups, but don't let that stop you, says David DeMulle, director of OSS-Spectrum , an e-waste specialist in Tujunga, California, that publishes information for e-cycling startups on its site. For more on this red-hot industry, see "Wiping the Slate Clean" .--N.L.T.

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This article was originally published in the December 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Hot List.

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