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Best Business Opportunities 2005

Hot business startup ideas to capitalize on the latest trends

Today's hot trends are tomorrow's hot opportunities. If you're thinking about starting a business this year, here's my list of the best new business ideas for 2005.

1. Writing coach / instructor

A recent New York Times headline read: "What Corporate America Can't Build: A Sentence". Employees at all levels of organizations are being asked to communicate more and more via email, and many of them simply aren't up to the task. Unfortunately, most high school and college English classes don't prepare students for this kind of communication, either. Individual coaching and small-group training on writing effective emails and other documents will be in growing demand as more and more companies realize the need in this area.

A second trend driving opportunity in this area is the growth of blogging.

Whether internally or externally facing, a corporate blog needs to be well-written if it is going to be effective. A poorly-written public blog reflects poorly on the company, and a poorly-written internal blog for knowledge management doesn't serve the purpose of capturing knowledge for others to use. Corporations that are taking blogging seriously will also need to provide training in writing skills.  

The third trend creating opportunity for writing coaches is the growth of self-publishing. While part of the attraction of self-publishing is the ability to control expenses, anyone wanting to be successful with self-publishing should recognize the value of being a better writer.

To get started, you'll need credentials - a degree in English, journalism, or related field, and a teaching certificate or verifiable teaching experience. You'll also need a simple, but well-written website demonstrating your writing abilities.

2. IT Privacy & Security Consultant

Information technology consultants are a dime a dozen, and the demand still hasn't quite caught up with the supply created by the recent economic situation and tech industry slowdown. However, in one niche area that's not the case: privacy and security.

A host of new regulatory compliance issues is driving this trend. In particular, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates a number of privacy and data security measures for anyone dealing with electronic medical records, i.e., practically every doctor, clinic, hospital and pharmacy in the U.S. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires public companies to establish rigorous data capture and archive practices around email and instant messaging, among other things. This affects thousands of public companies, and many are unaware of the full implications.

Most larger companies will develop the expertise in-house or hire one of the larger IT consulting agencies. But the opportunity is wide open for servicing smaller companies, i.e., less than 200 employees. The key is to focus on the regulatory compliance issues, where you can be an expert, but they would have a huge learning curve.

3. Construction-Related Trades

New housing starts are up significantly in 2004 over the previous few years, and forecasts for 2005 are even higher. That means more opportunities for plumbers, electricians, framing carpenters, drywallers, and general contractors.

Note that the pay goes up significantly with progressively higher licensing. Journeyman electricians and plumbers can make $20 an hour in some areas, and master plumbers and electricians even more. You may also want to pursue a general contractor's license, as some locales are now requiring you to have a general contractor's license in order to run an electrical service company. Fortunately, evening classes are widely available, so that you can go to school for the next license while working full-time.

One important thing to plan for is that you'll need your own tools. As a journeyman, the master you're working under may provide any large, expensive specialty tools, but you'll be expected to have your own hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, and basic power tools for the job. Don't skimp on these -- what works for occasional home use vs. constant daily professional use is very different. Buy professional-grade tools at the outset and you'll save yourself money in the long run.

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