Starting a business can be difficult, even when the economy is booming. But being a business owner during an economic recession can be downright terrifying. In order to ensure the long-term success of your business, it's important to consider how viable it will be if you hit tough times or the economy takes a turn for the worse.
The following 14 business types are sustainable from bull to bear markets and everything in between.
1. Event Planning
Weddings, retirement parties, and special anniversaries will be celebrated whether or not the economy is thriving. An event or party planning business can be an especially good fit for those who are social butterflies and love to work one-on-one with clients to create the party of their dreams. Annual business events are another source of income for event planners who incorporate both business and private clientele into their client roster.
2. Auto Maintenance
Cars are essential in many locations where public transportation options are limited. When times are tough, people are more likely to invest in repairing their vehicles than in purchasing new ones. If you have experience in the automotive industry and know how to repair common vehicle problems, this could be a great recession-proof business. Then, when the economy starts to come back, you can incorporate additional luxury services like auto detailing for an added revenue stream.
Though people might eat out less frequently, restaurants can still operate profitably in a slow economy. People may continue to eat out because it's convenient for them, it has become a custom for them, or because it's a way to celebrate with friends and family. You can increase customer visits with various loyalty programs or by simply offering coupons to encourage ongoing patronage.
4. Laundry Services
When the economy slows down and people work multiple jobs, they have less time to spend taking care of household chores. Laundromats offer a way to get a lot of laundry done in a short amount of time. It's also the only option for many people unable to afford in-home washers and dryers. Opening a laundromat can be the first economy-friendly step, then adding in full-service clothes laundering as your business starts to grow.
5. Cleaning Services
No matter how robust or how poor the economy, businesses always need to be cleaned. A residential-only service, however, may struggle to find business. Keep in mind that when you're focusing on commercial cleaning, you are not limited to cleaning offices. Explore what it would take to add construction clean up to your list of services to bring in additional customers.
6. Vending Machine Business
Because vending machines are convenient and sell items at a relatively low price point, vending machine businesses are not hit as hard by economic recessions. Plus, the start-up costs can be minimal, giving you an opportunity to generate cash flow relatively quickly. You can boost sales even more by adding credit card payment options to your machines, often a preferred method of payment during an economic crunch.
7. Online Reseller
With no mortgage or lease and relatively low overhead, online sellers can survive in a tough economy when brick-and-mortar stores might struggle to keep their doors open. You can resell products directly, or act as a middleman, connecting buyers and sellers in return for a portion of the profit. Reselling used merchandise saves the consumer money, which is another advantage.
8. Accountant or Bookkeeper
You have probably heard it said that the only two things certain in this life are death and taxes. People and businesses will almost certainly need help with bookkeeping and tax filing. If you have the necessary training and certification, offering your services as an accountant can be a great idea in a down economy. A bookkeeping business is also a great way to generate income while helping others get a handle on their own. And it doesn't require the extent of certifications needed for accountants.
Time-sensitive materials still need to get from point A to point B. Courier and transportation services — both local and long-distance — are essential in any economy. If you are willing to make deliveries last-minute, during bad weather and even on holidays, you can increase your chances of succeeding. Word of mouth marketing is a key element of growing this type of business, so make sure you ask for referrals once you begin to collect happy customers.
10. Content Writer
Copywriters and bloggers are always needed (maybe even more than usual) when the economy is slow. Persuasive writing is what gets people to make purchases when their tendency is to save and not spend. Content marketing also goes hand-in-hand with social media, so you can a consider adding in social media management to help clients fully leverage digital marketing to reach their audience.
11. Credit Consultant
People can be hit hard financially when the economy is bad. As a credit consultant you can help people pay off debts, negotiate interest rates, and learn to make better financial decisions. By building relationships with local mortgage brokers, automobile dealers, loan officers and CPAs, you can create a referral program that helps you build a steady stream of clients.
Whether people just need a haircut or they're trying to look their best for a job interview, haircuts will always be needed. In addition, people may splurge on these services as a way to treat themselves when big-ticket items are financially out of reach.
A childcare business is also economy-proof, especially if the need for household income precludes parents and relatives from staying home to raise children. Since the cost for most daycare facilities can be prohibitive, a home-based childcare business can provide an affordable — and very attractive — childcare option for many hit by the economy.
14. Specialty Food Services
People who maintain special diets don't stop their eating plans just because the economy slows down. Kosher stores, vegan groceries, and other specialty food retailers may not be as heavily impacted by a down economy as other businesses. You can sell specialty food products, provide an order and delivery service, or even prepare full meals to make it easier for customers to maintain their eating habits.
When choosing an economy-proof business, think about what products and services you rely on yourself when money is tight. The things you spend money on when you feel you have no money at all are likely to lead to great, stable business ideas. Once you have explored your options, take time to qualify your business idea before you get started.