When you're reading through this list of best businesses to start, remember my ground rules. These are business opportunities with few if any barriers to entry. You do not have to have years of education or millions of dollars to start any of these businesses. Many exciting business opportunities exist in fields such as biotechnologies, for instance, but you won't find them on this list because they are not "almost-anyone-could-start" businesses.
So here they are (in no particular order); the best small business opportunities of 2013.
1) Organic food
Increasing numbers of people care about the quality of the food they eat, wanting it to be both healthy and safe. Which is probably why, as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says, "The global market for organic products, once a small scale niche market, reached a value of almost $US 59 billion in 2010… Today the organic food market is described by industry analysts as the most dynamic and rapidly growing sector of the global food industry."
The market for exporting processed organic foods, rather than shipping commodities, has recently been expanded by trade agreements that give Canada enhanced access to U.S. and EU markets (The Globe and Mail).
2) Bike store
Bicycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in America by frequency of participation. In 2010, Americans ages 6 and older went on 2.44 billion bicycling outings, averaging 58 outings per bicyclist (Outdoor Recreation Participation Report 2011). And many North American cities are trying hard to increase the number of people using bikes to commute to work rather than cars. Anything that's both popular and heavily promoted by government is a pretty good business bet.
3) Senior transportation services
While there's a growing trend for young people to not bother to get their driving licenses, the baby boomers are a generation for whom getting a driver's license was an important rite of passage. Now many of them are being forced to give up their driving privileges and rely on being transported by others. And as many of them are not able to just hop on a bus or take other public transit because of physical limitations, transporting seniors is a huge business opportunity that's only going to get bigger over the next few years.
Before you start such a business of your own, be aware that there are quite a few franchise opportunities in this area such as Driving Miss Daisy (Canadian). (If opening a franchise interests you, you'll want to read Should You Buy a Franchise?)
4) Hot lunch delivery
If you've been to India, you're probably familiar with the custom of hot lunches delivered to working people in tiffins (metal food containers). Now take that idea and apply it to the office buildings full of working people in your city. Think how much people working in offices would appreciate the convenience of having a hot meal delivered. And think of the environmental waste-eliminating angle of the tiffin. Vancouver's already got a non-profit Tiffin Project going, but a for-profit version may work where you are.
5) General contracting services for home renovations
The house that I live in was built by one man. Nowadays it takes a small army of tradespeople just to renovate one room – a thought which makes me, and millions others quail and put off yet again whatever renovation we were thinking of doing. A person with superior organizational skills and contacts with tradespeople could make a fortune overseeing the renovations of other people’s bathrooms, kitchens, house extensions etc. Is that person you?
6) Patient advocacy
The increasing demands on our increasingly fragmented, dysfunctional health care system create an increasing need for people who can help individual patients and their families navigate our medial system. Helping the families of seniors deal with the different care options available and get the best care possible is one possible niche in this market. There are many other possibilities, though, as you'll see when you look at So You Want to Be a Patient Advocate? (About.com Patient Empowerment).
7) Irrigation systems
Selling and installing irrigation systems is a good business opportunity because of the large group of potential clients. Residential home owners with their swathes of green lawn, businesses, golf courses, greenhouse growers and farmers – they all want or need irrigation. But the truly great thing about this business is the potential to make money off the maintenance of the irrigation systems you sell, such as shutting down systems in the winter.
8) Mobile apps development
This is admittedly a business idea that was onlast year's Best Business Opportunities list but the possibilities for making money off developing mobile applications are nowhere close to being exhausted as of this writing. Increasing numbers of businesses will want branded apps and there is still the chance of making the big score by developing an app for consumers that becomes wildly popular.
9) Pet farewell products and services
To many North Americans, pets are not animals; they're family members. Therefore, when a beloved pet dies, they want to express their grief in similar ways to the way they would if a loved person died. That means pet burials and cremations, accompanied by funeral services and products ranging from headstones through stained glass portraits. According to the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, the 700 or so funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries for pets in the U.S. brought in $52.87 billion in 2011 (There's Never Been a Better Time to Be a Dead Pet, Bloomberg Businessweek). And the market is growing.
10) Scooter sales and repair
The percentage of Americans who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) has tripled since 1960, while in Canada, in 2009 to 2011, 67% of Canadian men and 54% of Canadian women aged 18 to 79 were overweight or obese based on results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey.
My point? It's not just older people who are using scooters to get around anymore – creating three business opportunities for entrepreneurs; selling new scooters, selling used scooters and repairing the hundreds of thousands of scooters that are already out there.
Why Are These the Best Business Opportunities?
None of these are get rich quick ideas or even the business ideas that I think will make the most money. But in my opinion, these are business opportunities that are going to provide real chances to make money in 2013 and beyond – businesses that, done right, in the right place and for the right people may be profitable enterprises for years to come.
Note that there is never any guarantee when you're starting a business. Any business opportunity you're considering requires due diligence. Writing a business plan is a good place to start; it will help you determine if a particular business opportunity is right for you.