There are always opportunities for new companies in every sector - all you need is a unique selling point and the drive to bring your product and service to market. Particularly on the upside of an economic downturn, start-up companies can quickly gain market share and fill the gaps left by those who have perished.
As inherently nimble and agile enterprises, start-ups are flexible to respond to consumer demand - delivering a tailored, service-focused experience to end-users. As such, there is often a ready-made customer base available, provided businesses can market themselves effectively. Very often, larger, more established companies are slower to react to industry change, finding themselves weighed down by their own scale and infrastructure.
But while new businesses can thrive in any area of industry, there are some sectors which look to be particularly receptive to start-ups in 2014. These are the areas which are growing quickly - where demand for goods and services either outstrip supply, or are threatening to do so in the near future.
Starting a business in such an industry this year could prove highly lucrative, if you are able to identify a niche and deliver what customers are seeking. But what are the hot sectors for 2014?
Where is the greatest demand for services?
Financial information company Sageworks has compiled a list of the ten fastest-growing sectors over the last 12 months, based upon sales growth. This should give would-be entrepreneurs some insight into where the greatest demand is at present, and which areas are likely to thrive in 2014. If you have specialist skills in one of these fields, there could be a real opportunity to enter self-employment during 2014.
A number of sectors - including oilseed and grain farming, drinks manufacturing, agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing - saw sales growth of 20 per cent in 2013, Sageworks reported. Other crop farming increased at a rate of 18 per cent, while computer systems design - including programming, integration and facilities management - enjoyed growth of 16 per cent.
Estate agencies, chemical merchant wholesale and distributors, and personal/households goods repair and maintenance services witnessed growth of 15 per cent. Meanwhile Sageworks reported sales growth of 15 per cent in employment services - which includes job placements and executive search. Demand for professional services in this area has risen as employers have sought talented staff members to put their growth strategies into action.
Growth opportunities exist everywhere
Of course, demand for services is often location-specific, with some regions/countries having the right conditions or resources to support certain sectors. Sageworks reported 21 per cent growth in mining support activities - including drilling, sampling and prospecting - but in the UK the mining sector has been in decline for a generation.
British start-ups are more likely to thrive in hi-tech industries and those related to technology - for instance software and application developers. With an increasing number of businesses and consumers embracing mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, there is an almost insatiable appetite for new solutions geared at improving the end-user experience. Similarly, the continuing growth of cloud computing is likely to create opportunities within the hosted services supply chain - in terms of product development, sales and delivery.
The British construction and housing sectors are also on the move in early 2014, after an extended slump during the economic downturn. Mortgage approvals were at a six-year high in November 2013, as increased access to finance and greater consumer confidence encouraged people to buy. This means there could be room for start-ups to enter the market.
A fast-growing economy will always create opportunities for new businesses - so this could be your ideal chance to fulfil your dream of setting up a company. If you can identify a gap in the market, and think you have the skills needed to fill it, then the world of entrepreneurialism awaits in 2014.
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Posted by Steve Williams