The 5 Best Businesses to Start in 2012 / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

We list 5 growing markets that you may want to jump into if you plan to start a small business in 2012.

If you're eager to start your own venture, but haven't honed in on the exact industry to apply your passion, the potential for growth and competition should be a critical consideration when planning for success. Starting a small business is exciting and often risky in its own right, so how do you know which industries will be doing well 2, 5, or 10 years from now? Consider the trends.

Below, we identified 5 growing markets that you may want to jump into if you plan to start your small business in 2012:

1. Eco-friendly Packaging

A recent study from Perception Research Services found that 50% of the shoppers polled said they were willing to pay more for such environmentally-friendly packaging, and that 23% of consumers were more likely than previously to check if the packaging could be recycled before buying a product.

If this propensity translates into demand, and the demand translates to more sales or more money per sale, retailers and product manufacturers will be quickly looking to partner with companies who can provide such sustainable packaging materials. Ecovention and Ecovative Design are two such companies that are already working to mold this space.

2. Fast Casual Restaurants

The fast casual segment of restaurants has led the industry in sales and in unit growth. You know these establishments -- they offer a relaxed atmosphere, family friendly environment, fresh ingredients made to order, and usually costs around $10-15 per person.

Fast casual restaurants are the perfect endeavor for entrepreneurial leaders. They often attract innovative and passionate operators who want to scratch their small business itch while growing a respected brand. You may consider venturing out to start your own fast casual restaurant, or you can inquire about franchising opportunities with growing chains such as Panera, Chipotle, or Five Guys.

3. Healthcare

A new analysis of federal statistics by American City Business Journals reports that the healthcare industry will will be the nation's biggest source of new jobs for the rest of the decade. A total of 5.6 million jobs will be created in the healthcare and social assistance field between 2010 and 2020: nearly 2 million more than any other industry in the next 10 years.

In particular, the biggest opportunity in these sectors may be in working with aging populations. As baby boomers grow older, the demand for healthcare and social services that help them live a healthy, active, and fulfilled life is holding strong.

4. Street Vendors

Street vendors, like food trucks, have boomed over the last few years. They posted a 23% profit margin last year, and will continue to expand as consumer tastes for unique and gourmet foods demand it. This industry is projected to see annual revenue growth of 3.7% over the next five years.

With street vendors and food trucks employing just 4 people on average and requiring moderate funding, these small businesses-on-wheels are a great option if you're looking to offer a niche culinary experience in major metropolitan areas.

5. Craft Brewing

Craft beer is expected to continue sucking up a large share of the demand for alcoholic beverages, as consumers opt for better quality, reasonably-priced beers. Over the last year alone, craft beer's dollar share in U.S. supermarkets was up 15% - the sixth consecutive year of growth. Overall, craft beer sales in supermarkets are rapidly approaching $1 billion, and IBISWorld projects that the segment will continue to grow.

Opportunity is ripe if you can offer up unusual and creative flavors, or complement their specialty beers with food by buying into or building your own brewpub or gastropub.

What other industries do you feel would be prime for opportunity in this next year?

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