5 Fast-Growing Industries Ripe for Entrepreneurs

No one knows the future but, sometimes, you can make a very educated guess where things are headed.

learn more about David Nilssen

By David Nilssen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you're thinking about starting a business, think first which industries have sustainable momentum. No venture is a sure thing, but if you start your business in an industry with a strong positive trend behind it, you're starting on an easier road. Instead of fighting your competitors tooth-and-nail for a limited or dwindling pool of customers, you will benefit from a rising tide of revenue as the market opens up.

Reading: Four Trends Startups Need to Know Now

Here are my picks, in no particular order, for the top five industries for startups.

1. Green building. Demand is finally coming back in the construction industry, and it's coming back green. By 2016, more than half of all commercial and institutional construction will be environmentally sustainable, energy efficient or both. Green residential projects are on the rise as well. Abundant government subsidies and tax cuts for green building doesn't hurt, either. IBISWorld projects 23% annual growth in the green building industry through 2016.

2. Corporate health and wellness. Every week I hear about another company bringing a yoga class in-house or sponsoring gym memberships for employees. It's more than just anecdotal: 45% of employers offered wellness programs to their employees in 2013, up from less than 30% in 2005. The corporate health and wellness industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of almost 10% through 2016.

As more corporations jump on the wellness bandwagon to save on health care and boost morale, businesses offering health screenings, health education, nutrition and fitness services to corporations may have as many customers as they can handle. For an interesting example, take a look at Every Move.

Related: How 'V-Commerce' Could Be the Next Big Trend for Startups

3. Translation services. With more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide and more companies expanding into global markets, translation services are increasingly in demand for advertising, packaging, social media, terms of service, you name it.

Some translation is done with machine intelligence but this is still a high-touch business with many levels of quality control required for sensitive material like medical equipment or to just avoid an embarrassing mistake in the marketing copy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 42% growth for the translation industry by 2020 compared to 2010.

4. Education software. The industry has been resistant to change but, with the growing concern over America's education crisis, it's only a matter of time before new ideas start to make inroads here. Early education is especially ready to take off. The education software market for pre-kindergarten grew from nothing in 2010 to $14 million in 2012.

The entire digital education market globally is expected to grow 20.3% annually through 2017. Think real-time personalization of lesson plans, gamification of learning and more accurate tracking of student progress, just for starters.

5. Digital forensics. As we store more and more of our personal and business information digitally, demand is growing for companies that can find that information when it gets lost or stolen by a hacker. There are businesses that specialize in retrieving information from devices and networks, and others that specialize in tracking down cyber criminals by following their digital fingerprints. The digital security industry has been growing at almost 14% annually. With the Heartbleed bug making security a hot topic again, expect it to grow even faster from here on out.

Related: The 10 Fastest-Growing Industries for Small Business

David Nilssen

Entrepreneur, Investor, Author, Philanthropist

David Nilssen is the co-founder and CEO of Bellevue, Wash.-based Guidant Financial. The company helps entrepreneurs invest their retirement funds into a business or franchise without taking a taxable distribution or incurring penalties; it also aids business owners in securing Small Business Administration loans.  

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