Starting a small business can be one of the most exciting endeavors in a person’s life. But it can also be overwhelming and challenging. It requires tons of hard work, planning, and dedication. It also involves plenty of risk-taking, tough decisions, and managing intricate financial and legal issues.
The first step is developing a great idea. Once you have that idea, it’s time for market research to see if it’ll work. The product or service must fill a need in the marketplace, and consumer trends can change rather quickly.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently revealed the top 5 projected fastest-growing service sectors for 2021 to 2031. Launching a small business in an area related to these sectors would be a wise move in 2024 and beyond.
1. Cash in on entertainment spending
The BLS projects the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector to grow at a compound annual rate of 3.7% between 2021 and 2031, making it the fastest-growing sector. Examples of the types of businesses in this sector run the gamut from art galleries to event planning to escape rooms.
You’d think Americans would be spending less on entertainment due to inflationary pressures, but that’s not the case. A 2023 McKinsey & Company Consumer Pulse Survey revealed a surge in out-of-home entertainment spending this year, with a 7% year-over-year growth. Americans are committed to spending money to have fun, which should continue well into the future.
Small business ideas to cash in on this trend include event planning and decorating, culinary arts classes, or a photography studio. For example, event planning is an always-in-demand service. A recent survey of 1,000 small business owners revealed wedding and event planners paid themselves a salary between $25,000 to $75,000 in 2021. The ceiling for earnings in event planning can be much higher for those who make a name for themselves.
2. Health care is growing at a rapid rate
The BLS projects health care and social assistance should grow at a compound annual rate of 3.3% between 2021-2031. Examples of types of businesses in this sector should be obvious, but they include hospitals, hospice care, physical therapy and rehabilitation facilities, and medical billing and coding.
U.S. healthcare expenditures greatly exceed those of other developed countries, and they’re expected to increase significantly in the years ahead. American healthcare costs are growing 1.1% faster than the annual GDP, and by 2028, healthcare spending is projected to reach a staggering $6.2 trillion and account for nearly 20% of the national GDP. Part of the reason for this is the aging Baby Boomer generation, which is adding 10,000 older and more expensive Medicare beneficiaries every day.
Small business ideas that can benefit from this trend include medical transportation, medical equipment rental, senior concierge services, and nutritional counseling. Before starting a business in the health care and social assistance sector, remember that you may need to follow specific regulations, licensing requirements, and certifications in your local area.
3. Jump into information services
The BLS projects the information services industry to swell by a compound annual growth rate of 3.3% between 2021 and 2031. Examples of types of businesses in this sector include IT consulting firms, cybersecurity services, online reputation management, and legal research services.
In this era of endless information, profitability in this sector has been driven by a surge in professional knowledge workers and the increasingly important role of data in the business world. For example, IT jobs grew more than twice as fast as total U.S. private sector jobs between 2017 and 2020, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.
Small business ideas that can cash in on this trend include outsourced IT support and management, IT training and workshops, building and managing e-commerce websites, and home automation and smart home installation.
4. Waste management is a surging field
The administrative and support and waste management and remediation services sector is projected to grow by 2.9 annually between 2021-2031, according to the BLS. The sector’s name is a mouthful, but examples of businesses include electronic waste recycling, mold remediation, asbestos cleanup, composting services, and lead paint removal.
This industry is seeing rapid growth because, well, Americans produce a lot of junk. As the population and economy grow, materials production increases in tandem. Without proper waste management, this growth in consumption leads to mismanaged waste and potential pollution.
Small business ideas for the waste management industry include construction and demolition debris removal, junk removal and hauling, waste auditing and consulting, medical waste management, and waste reduction consulting. As with healthcare small business ideas, ensure you research local regulations, obtain necessary permits and licenses, and consider the environmental impacts of your operations before launching a business in this industry.
5. Business consulting is in high demand
The BLS projects the management of companies and enterprises industry to grow at a compound annual rate of 2.8% between 2021 and 2031. Examples of businesses in this field include business consulting firms, startup incubators and accelerators, franchise management, and corporate governance and compliance services.
The pandemic caused a critical demand for businesses to adapt quickly, producing an unprecedented push for more digital technology. This caused the U.S. management consulting industry market size to grow by 2.1% in 2022 alone, according to an IBIS World industry report. The corporate governance and compliance field has also seen considerable growth since the pandemic, mainly due to investors demanding more sustainable practices from corporations in environmental practices to social and community impacts.
Small business ideas for the management of companies and enterprises industry include executive coaching, startup incubators that offer resources and mentorship, sustainability consulting, and data analytics consulting. Starting a small business in this field requires specialized expertise, so identify your niche, target market, and unique value proposition.
The future looks bright for these 5 industries
Data from the BLS reveals that growth prospects for the five sectors we just mentioned look strong. There should be many opportunities to start a small business in one of these fields between now and 2031.
Remember to take special care in vetting your small business idea before launching. Be clear about who your customers will be, your product or service-market fit, how you’ll be different, and your go-to-market.
The five industries we mentioned should be great fields to start a business in, but running a small business still requires the same discernment, confidence, passion, and resiliency as in any type of industry.
Nick Pipitone is an experienced content writer who frequently breaks down complex business data reports for websites like The Credit Review, Propmodo, and moveBuddha.