It’s a great time to start a small business. Aspiring entrepreneurs have more opportunities than ever before to build a successful store or restaurant – with concepts and products that just weren’t around ten years ago.

We know it takes a heck of a lot more than a great idea to make a successful business but there are some definite advantages of starting off with a novel business idea. We listed three of fastest growing areas from the last few years to give you some inspiration.

Food Trucks

Food trucks may have been around since the start of the 20th Century but the last 10-15 years has seen an explosion in the popularity of wheel-bound culinary delights. This food truck mania is characterized by young entrepreneurs taking an innovative approach to the food they serve, as well as the way they get it to their customers.  By bringing ‘gourmet’ and ‘fusion’ foods to the street at affordable prices, some top-name food trucks have been able to build up dedicated followings.

The rise of food trucks is undoubtedly tied to the downturn in the economy and the rise of Twitter. The former provided the economically straightened circumstances that drove many aspiring restaurateurs into the arms of the food truck industry. And the latter provided small business owners with a quick and easy way to stay in touch with their hipster customer base. (And somehow convince them to pay 2-3 times the going rate for a normal taco!)

Ultimately, the ability to move from location to location provides an incredible opportunity that brick and mortar business just can’t replicate – you get to go to where the people are, think football games, concerts, etc. You can set up shop and start selling stuff from college campuses, office complexes, sporting events, and more – and a single rush during a college football half-time can generate the same revenue as a whole day service at some restaurants.

Counter Culture Tip: the food truck business is about standing out from the crowd – the unique appeal of your concept is just as important as the quality of your food – think duck tacos, mexican dim sum, hungarian pizzas, azerbaijani fishdogs, etc.

Make sure you build a following, take time to create exquisite meals, and work well under pressure.

Vape Shops

If you haven’t been watching the news you might have missed the rising furor around the growing usage of e-cigarettes.  These battery powered ‘vapes’ are being touted by many as a healthier alternatives to normal cigarettes. There are however, many who oppose this interpretation, decrying vape as making smoking ‘acceptable’ again.  Whatever your stance on the argument, there’s no disagreeing with the economics of this booming industry, with e-cigarette sales surpassing $1 Billion in 2013.  Big Tobacco is also moving into this space, looking to spend huge numbers on marketing these new devices. All of which goes to say, there is potentially a huge market opportunity here.
Vape Shops have been opening across the U.S., offering the public not just e-cigarettes but all the related paraphernalia too.  Nicotine cartridges, and flavored refills provide a potentially lucrative revenue stream made up of high-margin products.

All of this could change of course. Some states have already moved to regulate and tax the sale and manufacture of these products and any move to this effect will undoubtedly put a dent in current profit forecasts.

Smartphone Accessory and Repair Shops

eMarketer expects 4.55 billion people to use a mobile phone in 2014, with 1.75 billion using a smartphone.  These numbers are of course stratospheric, especially when you consider that the first iPhone only hit our shelves in 2007. You are not going to have to worry about having a large enough potential customer base if you open up a smartphone repair shop.

These devices are not just peripheral to our lives either. They have become, for many, an intrinsic part of our how we navigate the world.  Given the high purchase cost and huge reliance people have on these devices, it is no surprise that the cellphone repair has become a $1Bn industry. Thousands of successful businesses have spring up across the country dedicated to the maintenance, upkeep, and accessorizing of smartphones – including fixing screens and problematic chargers, dealing with water damage, and providing cosmetic repair services.

If you’re interested in exploring this field, one thing to be aware of is that trends may be moving against this market.  As smartphone prices come down dramatically from their early peak, some industry insiders are expecting to see more people just throwing away broken devices and buying new, rather than repairing old devices. That being said, the joy of local business is that every town and city is unique – it’s important to consider the specific economics of your local population.

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.