Business Ideas for 2017

2017 might turn out to be a great year for those with the initiative to start a business and chart their own path through life independent of a paycheck from the “man,” or “woman.” While good business ideas come and go, we’re pretty sure the following are solid bets to generate profits for many years to come.

Web Designer

These days, no one even thinks about going into business without first pondering a website. But who wants to spend the time and effort building them? Nobody. Except you, maybe. One thing is for certain. If you have that particular combination of creativity and technology chops going for you, there is an endless stream of new business owners looking to throw money in your direction. It used to be that you had to be a monster hand-coder in a bunch of esoteric computer programs in order to call yourself a web designer. Not so much, these days.

Check out WordPress, the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the web. You could teach yourself how to design basic websites in an afternoon and start charging real money for it. List yourself on websites like Fiverr.com. It’s a good idea to do a few websites for free, so you will have a portfolio to show around. Four or five should be plenty. You might even consider starting with your local area. Jump online and see which businesses in your own community either don’t have a website at all or else it looks to have come straight out of 1995. If you’re really serious about becoming a web designer, it wouldn’t hurt to have a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. Whether or not you need to spring for the big bucks and get some sort of degree or certification, that depends on your career goals and pocketbook.

Nutrition Coach

It’s no secret that Americans need help when it comes to food choices. Fast food consumption is rampant. Obesity and diabetes are off the charts. The good news for you is that oodles of people with more money than time will gladly pay you to tell them how to eat healthier. It might be hard to believe but, even in this time of information overload, a great many of us are ignorant about how to achieve better health. This is where you come in. Hopefully, you already have an interest and track record in good eating practices. While you can meet personally with clients, this business was made for the Internet.

Create a website where you dispense information about great eating practices. You will be a nutrition coach. How to make money at it? There are lots of ways. Write advice oriented e-books that can be downloaded. Start a membership section of the website that offers premier advice in return for a monthly fee. You could also charge by the hour for personal consultations conducted by email or over a streaming video service like Skype. Then there’s Youtube. The sky is the limit there. The thing to keep in mind is that you need to develop a brand that appeals to people and makes you the go-to guy or gal for healthy eating choices.

Self-Publishing

The world changed forever when Amazon introduced the e-book reader Kindle. While the migration from physical books to the electronic variety will never be complete, entrepreneurial types quickly saw the possibilities for profit by publishing e-books on a variety of self-help topics (or fiction, if that’s your interest). No longer does a budding author have to bang his or her head against the major publishing companies firewalls that give a thumbs up or down on what is fit to print. Forget about physical printing. Who needs it? It is ridiculously easy to upload a book to Amazon to be “published” in Kindle format. People can download it almost anywhere in the world.

The good news is that the author keeps 70 percent of the cover price. Compare that to a traditional publishing deal where 10 percent is more common. If you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, that lower percentage is acceptable when you sell millions of copies. As a self-published author, it’s your job to become a marketer. Those books won’t sell themselves. You need to learn to think of each one as an asset, comparable to a widget sitting on a shelf in a brick-and-mortar store. Here’s an FYI. Whether you specialize in non-fiction or fiction, readers have shown they like series of books and will download them like rabid weasels.

Teaching Online

The Internet, for all its shortcomings, does one thing really well. It brings together people from all across the globe. Some have a skill or particular set of knowledge. Others are glad to pay for it. In recent years (and 2017 will be no different) online courses have exploded in popularity. The great thing is you don’t have to play by the arbitrary regulations that say you must have a college degree costing thousands of dollars. The free market is the ultimate decider here. If the information you present is considered valuable, people will pay for it.

For an idea of what kind of course are selling well, check out the Udemy website. There are dozens of modestly-priced services out there to help organize and upload your lessons. Most courses provide a combination of audio, video, and printable documents. You might choose to go the route of meeting individually with students (either online or in person) for lessons, but don’t rule out creating that online course as well. There are only so many hours in the day. An online course can earn you money around the clock, even while you’re sleeping. As with the self-publishing model, think of yourself as a marketer. That’s the only way to truly find success in this method. Word-of-mouth is great. You’ll want that too, but you have to eat in the meantime.

Instagram Consultant

Five years from now, people might go, “Instagram? What’s that?” But for now, this is one of the hottest social media outlets for businesses and consumers alike. If you have a social media marketing background and an interest in photography, this idea could be a great money-maker. Here’s why. Big brands have been told by people who may or may not know what they’re talking about that Instagram is where it’s at. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It only matters that a marketing department or CEO believes it to be true.

Companies are poised to throw loads of cash at the social media flavor of the day. Show them that you have the chops to get their brand in front of millions of eyeballs and they will reward you handsomely. Before you contact them with your exorbitant hourly rate, though, get together a portfolio of accounts that you have managed successfully. It goes without saying that your own account should be eye candy to the extreme. The bottom line is that some companies will spend an absolute fortune to create an online presence on Instagram. Somebody’s got to cash those checks. It might as well be you. Obviously, Facebook’s not dead. You could offer consulting services for other big social media brands as well. Right now that would also include Twitter, Youtube, Google+, and possibly LinkedIn.

Give Them a Box of Stuff

What exactly is a box subscription service? You’ve probably seen them and didn’t even realize it. The Dollar Shave Club is one example. So is that company that picks out and sends clothes to you periodically. Another will send you complete ingredients ready to cook for a tantalizing meal. What they all have in common is that they recognized a need in the market and filled it. The trick is to come up with something that people use with frequency, so they will need to buy from you again and again and again.

If you do your job right, customers will be excited to receive their monthly box of whatever. They might even tell their friends and neighbors. The trick, of course, is to tap into a niche that is either undiscovered or that you can serve with better products or cheaper prices. To return to the Dollar Shave Club example, founders’ Mark Levine and Michael Dublin were outraged at the cost of razor blades. They found a deal on a huge supply of the things and the rest is history. Keep this in mind. If you can figure out how to sell something on a recurring subscription basis, do it. It’s easy money.

Kid-Friendly Apps

If you’re thinking that kids have no money to spend, you’re thinking about it wrong. Research shows that almost 75 percent of children have access to mobile devices, even if it’s through their parents’ cell phone or tablet. While the youngsters might not be forking out the actual cash to buy the latest and greatest app, you can rest assured that they have mucho influence in the purchase decision. The money in kids’ apps does not necessarily follow the fanciest technical designer (think Angry Birds).

In this case, the idea is the thing. There are plenty of low and no-cost ways to educate yourself on how to create an app. Start small and basic and grow from there. Parents will love you even more if you can help the brats learn something while they’re playing. An educational app that the rug rats love to play? Create one of those and you’ll be sipping margaritas at a swanky beach resort in no time at all. The main thing here is to do something. Come up with a single idea and learn the basics to make it work.

Food Truck

Everybody thinks their family recipes are the best but are you savvy enough to turn Granny’s turnip green souffle recipe into cold, hard cash? A food truck is no business to jump in on a lark. Make no mistake that you’ll be running a restaurant, albeit on a smaller scale. The facts are that the food truck industry is booming and set to reach $2.7 billion by the end of this year. Even better, the food truck failure rate runs about 10-20 percent (as opposed to a 60-90 percent rate for traditional restaurants).

A brand new, tricked-out truck isn’t cheap but it’s not as expensive as an entire brick-and-mortar restaurant. And if you’re handy, there’s always the option of buying a panel truck and modifying it yourself. One thing you might not know. Services exist that rent out food trucks by the day or the month. That’s one way to dip your toe into the food business without mortgaging a liver and both kidneys. If it turns out people like what you’re cooking, go for the gusto!

Smartphone Repair

The smartphone market might ultimately become the largest single market segment in human history. These devices have become an indispensable part of both our business and personal lives. But a smartphone is a machine and machines break. That’s bad unless you decide to become a smartphone repair person. As anyone who has ever sent a damaged phone back to the factory for work knows, it gets expensive! Take a crash course in phone repair and you can undercut Apple’s prices all the way to the bank. Your own shop with an inexhaustible supply of panicked customers running through the door. What could be better?

See something you like in the preceding list? Grab it by the throat and don’t let go. We also have other lists of ideas, all of which are linked to below this article. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of owning your own business. It’s an independent life that may or may not be highly profitable, but there’s an old saying about small business owners that goes something like this: a small business owner is the only person who will gladly work eighty hours a week to avoid putting in forty. If you can honestly offer a hearty concurrence to that sentiment, then starting a business in 2017 might be the smartest thing you’ve ever done.