Out of more than 700 industries, research firm IBISWorld has identified the six small-business types most likely to do best next year.
How will your industry do? Take a look at the top-performers report. It shows that with the recession ebbing, some industries will profit by helping consumers pull out of the downturn, while others are already building on recovery.
1. E-commerce and online auctions -- The top performer with more than 11 percent projected revenue growth, e-commerce will simply keep gaining on brick-and-mortar retail next year. Is the downturn making us drive less and shop online more? Not clear, but America's love for shopping with a click will not abate next year.
2. Real estate appraisal -- With the housing markets firming up and fears about buying in a still-dropping market lessen, there'll be more demand for appraisers. Still-low interest rates should help drive more home sales next year, helping appraisers see nearly 9 percent revenue growth.
3. Environmental consulting -- New laws and growing consumer interest in going green will help environmental consultants see 7.5 percent revenue growth in 2011. I've been researching green supply-chain issues recently, and one driver is big retailers demanding green operating principles from their vendors -- which in turn drives those vendors to look to their own suppliers for greener practices. Upshot: Lots of companies that need to cut their carbon output, and need experts to help them figure out how to do it cost-effectively.
4. Debt collection agencies -- This has been a busy industry the past three years, and next year it should keep growing revenue -- IBISWorld says more than 4 percent. The theory: as unemployment eases (finally!) and the housing market recovers, debtors will be able to pay back more of what they owe, improving margins for collection agencies.
5. Advertising agencies -- Many companies are looking to jump on any hint of economic upswing, and are finally adding to their marketing budgets. The forecast is for 3.5 percent revenue growth. Expect agencies with a specialty in online and social-media advertising to take the lion's share of the upswing.
6. Job training and career counseling -- This one also mines the downturn, to the tune of 3.4 percent growth. Helping the unemployed retrain for new careers will still be big business next year.
How will your industry do in 2011? Leave us your forecast in the comments.