There may be a lot of economic uncertainty, but that doesn't mean it's a bad time to launch a business. For a few business ideas, take a spin through this list of eight online industries expected to see healthy U.S. revenue growth in 2013 that are hot for startups, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.
Social network game development -- People are spending more time on social networks like Facebook and they are also spending an ever increasing number of hours online, thanks to the rapid adoption of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Consumers are spending more time playing games that are embedded into their social network: The industry has grown by an astonishing 184 percent per year on average for the past five years, IBIS reports. By the end of 2013, U.S. sales in the industry are expected to grow another 32 percent and hit $6 billion.
Online shoe sales -- What woman can’t find an excuse for why she absolutely needs another pair of shoes? Couple that with a surge in ecommerce, and U.S. online shoe sales have grown by more than 16 percent per year on average over the past five years and the industry is predicted to near $9 billion in U.S. revenue in 2013. While there are already some big players in the market, Amazon.com which owns Zappos.com and FootLocker.com make up only 16 percent of the industry. Without a juggernaut in the industry, there is room for startups, IBISWorld says, but make sure to have your own special spin on shoes.
TV and home theater installation services -- Americans spend a lot of time in front of the tube. Approximately 98 percent of U.S. households have a TV and 25 percent of Americans have a home theater system. At the same time, there is no market leader in the installation services industry, leaving ample space for startups to come in and make room for themselves. Revenue in the industry has been climbing by more than 4 percent per year on average in the past five years and by the end of this year should exceed $12 billion, the report says. If you are going to break into the market, you are going to have to stay on top of ever-changing technology in the space.
Virtual data rooms -- Where there once were rooms stuffed to the brim with file cabinets, there are now virtual data rooms, online holding chambers for documents that a select group of parties can access. Since 2008, the virtual data room industry in the U.S. has been growing by almost 16 percent per year on average, IBISWorld reports, and is expected to reach almost $730 million in 2013. A side benefit of running a virtual data room company is that you won’t need a physical space to share your documents with investors and overall, the costs of entering the market are relatively low, IBISWorld says. Over the next five years, sales in the industry are forecast to grow at an annual rate of more than 14 percent.
Online travel agencies -- In 2009, the travel agency industry took a hard hit as consumers pinched pennies and took “staycations” in their time off from work. But since 2010, the industry has been on the rebound and revenues are expected to jump by 6.1 percent to $20.7 billion in 2013. The era of storefront travel agencies is largely over and being gradually replaced by the online marketplace. From 2013 to 2018, IBISWorld predicts online travel agencies will see an increase in sales of 2.2 percent to $23 billion.
Translation services -- In an increasingly global business environment with more and more non English speaking people living in the U.S., the demand for translation services has been on the rise. Also, as online businesses look to gain customers in other countries, they need translators to help make marketing materials and websites accessible in another language. While automated translation services offer some competition, a computer program will never be able to translate nuance and cultural expectations. In the past five years, sales in the industry grew at an annual average rate of 2.4 percent to top $3 billion. In 2013, IBISWorld expects sales to grow by 3.4 percent.
IT security consulting -- When places like the The New York Times Co. get hacked, the IT security industry gets a bit of a boost. Coupled with the increasing popularity of ecommerce and the need to protect online shoppers, the IT security consulting industry has been growing by almost 10 percent per year on average over the past five years, during which time Sony, Zappos and LinkedIn have all been victims of cyber attacks. In 2013, sales should grow 8.8 percent and surpass $5 billion, IBISWorld estimates.
Digital forensic services -- Digital forensic services sounds like it could be the newest iteration of the “CSI” TV series. In reality, it involves the verifying and recovering of lost, deleted or corrupted content. As more and more consumers spend time online, they are also storing more information online. Unfortunately, that translates into more information getting lost online. In the past five years, the digital forensic industry has increased at almost 12 percent per year on average to just shy of $1 billion in revenue. In 2013, IBISWorld predicts the industry will grow another 11 percent. One positive to starting up a digital forensic services business is that there are relatively few governmental regulatory barriers, according to IBISWorld. At the same time, it takes a significant outlay of capital to get into the industry and you will have to constantly keep on top of the rapidly changing technology market. In the coming five years, the industry should maintain growth of 9 percent per year on average.