While your individual skills and interests are key to determining what type of venture to pursue, the last thing you want to do is start a business in an industry with a gloomy outlook.
Here are five industries with promising futures, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research firm IBISWorld and financial information company Sageworks.
1. Health Care
As the 75 million baby boomers age, there's increased demand for health care services. According to an outlook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of the 20 occupations projected to have the highest percent increase in employment by 2024 are in the health industry. Meeting the needs of an aging population creates opportunities for physical therapists, doctors, optometrists and other specialists to open their own practices.
Don't have the expertise to open that kind of business? Starting a home health aide staffing firm is one idea you could pursue. According to the bureau, employment of home health aides is expected to increase 38 percent by 2024, and finding employees may be relatively easy since the job doesn't require a degree.
Good news for those with green thumbs: 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana . IBISWorld predicts that industry revenue for medical and recreational marijuana growers will jump 33.5 percent over the next five years. The retail side of the business is also expected to see sales rise this year, according to the firm.
But for every high, there's a low. Because the drug remains illegal at the federal level, says Dmitry Diment, a senior industry analyst at IBISWorld, new growth opportunities arise only when regulations are approved by the states. Those at the forefront of medical and recreational marijuana — like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California — offer the best examples of how the industry could evolve, he adds.
Personal disposable income is projected to grow by 4 percent per year from 2014 to 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and as disposable income grows, so does the "quantity and quality of online purchases," IBISWorld says.
But e-commerce can be an easily saturated market, given low barriers of entry. To increase your online business's chance of success, focus on your customers — whether through customizable products, timely support or fast delivery of products, IBISWorld industry analyst Madeline LeClair says.
In a similar vein, continued innovation in the tech world means continued opportunities for tech-savvy entrepreneurs. IBISWorld projects a 31 percent revenue boost for smartphone app developers alone in 2017.
Don't forget about the support side of the industry; Sageworks found that tech consulting and installation services had strong sales growth in 2016.
5. Home & Building Maintenance
From landscaping to cleaning to pest control, businesses in maintenance industries that service residences and commercial buildings saw a 13 percent increase in sales in 2016, according to Sageworks.
If you gain the right expertise, Sageworks analyst James Noe says, these businesses are easy to start because they have relatively low upfront costs and don't require large inventory, staff or dedicated office space.