Handyman shakes client's hand after completing a job.
If you're considering starting a new business, consider how your strengths, passions and skills might allow you to provide a valuable service. — Getty Images/ ljubaphoto

The growing market for on-demand services is fueled by individuals or small businesses who need help solving a problem or meeting a challenge as it arises. Enter service-based businesses in the gig economy. At its current rate of growth, the gig economy will account for more than 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2027. We all possess skills that have great value to others and perhaps yours can fill a gap that exists in your community or surrounding area. There are few things as professionally fulfilling as leveraging a skill you’re passionate about in order to help others.

The following service-driven small businesses represent intersecting skill sets, and are each experiencing post-pandemic growth. While the competition within each category is significant, highlighting your unique selling proposition, or what sets you apart, can make a huge difference in capturing market share.

Childcare

It is reported that prior to the pandemic, 88% of two-parent families and 83% of single-parent families relied on non-parental childcare. During that time, it was estimated those U.S. parents spent $42 million on early care and education. Childcare was devastated during the pandemic, yet there is still a great need for safe, high-quality options as parents contemplate or face transitioning back to the workplace. There is a trend toward personalized, small-sized childcare “hubs,” which can be a great service to start for those who love children and have a home that can safely accommodate a few children. Keeping it small allows for greater attention and safety while promoting socialization among babies and toddlers.

As a starting point, you’ll need to establish yourself as a business, take childcare and life-saving and first-aid courses, child-proof your home and invest in age-appropriate equipment, toys, books, music and non-toxic cleaning supplies. Spread the word about your service to friends, family and neighbors and through online community groups.

Custom meal delivery service

For the passionate home cook who is skilled at developing nutritious menus, starting a custom meal prep and delivery business can position you for fun, fulfilling and profitable service-driven success. Approximately 17% of Americans have subscribed to meal kit services and of that, 90% referred others to the service. A good place to begin is to identify what you love to cook and the dominant food trends in your area. Perhaps your soups and salads have your friends and family always asking for recipes, or your custom kids birthday cakes are the talk of the town. Maybe you’ve become adept at preparing delicious meals centered around a personal or family food allergy or sensitivity.

Market to your strengths, knowledge and joy and let everyone — especially busy, working parents — know about your time-saving, healthful and creative service. You’ll need to understand the laws that govern home-based food businesses in your state, and you may consider renting out commercial space from the outset.

Housecleaning service

If you’re one of the many people who find cleaning to be a form of therapy and thrive on order and organization, starting a housecleaning service can be a rewarding small business option. The market for professional cleaning services is expected to see 6% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2021-2026. Those thinking about entering the industry will benefit to know that there is a big focus on eco-friendly service providers that use “green” and sustainable alternatives to harsh chemical cleaners. Finding a person you trust with your home, who is reliable and cleans with care and attention to detail is a challenge. This means that clients are often willing to pay well for a cleaning service that checks all of those boxes. Rates average between $91 - $185 depending on the size of the house and number of rooms. Move-in/move-out cleaning jobs require a very deep clean and can command hundreds of dollars, often a flat rate.

In any case, word of mouth about those who provide superior cleaning services spreads like wildfire, so you can quickly grow your client list and find yourself with a need to add employees before you know it. While rare, accidents, spills and breakage can happen so make sure to insure your business and have a plan in place to manage the unexpected.

Eldercare and companionship

The 65 and over population has grown by approximately one-third since 2010. Nearly 85% of the 50 million people aged 65+ report having at least one chronic health condition, yet they long to maintain a good, active quality of life at home for as long as possible. Caregivers and companions for older adults provide a level of non-medical care that helps to achieve that. If you are considering a career as an elder care provider, there are a number of certification courses that you will need to optimize your skills. This will ultimately also optimize your value to prospective and future clients as well as the family members who love them.

As a starting point, you will need to be adept at scheduling activities and appointments and accompanying your clients as needed, provide light housekeeping, help with meal prep and help keep them active, engaged, organized and entertained, both mentally and physically.

It also helps to build trust in customers with testimonials from satisfied clients. This is an important marketing tool, as is leveraging the power of social media via local, community-based Facebook groups.

Pet-sitting service

The sharp increase in pet adoption has led to an increase in the need for pet-sitting services, already estimated at over $2.6 billion worldwide, with an expected annual growth of 8.7% from 2020-2027. There is little price resistance when it comes to pet owners and their furry family members. So, animal lovers who have the time, patience and necessary skills to care for other peoples’ pets can develop a thriving pet-sitting business, especially when people start to travel again. The key is to be fully licensed, insured, certified in all facets of pet wellness and safety and prepared to manage emergency situations.

Developing an online presence with a website that reflects your passion and knowledge is vital. It also helps to build trust in customers with testimonials from satisfied clients. This is an important marketing tool, as is leveraging the power of social media via local, community-based Facebook groups.

[Read more: How to Encourage Customers to Leave Good Online Reviews]

Academic tutoring

The global market for private tutoring is expected to soar to $218 billion by 2027. With education greatly impacted by COVID-19, parents are turning to tutoring services to bridge the gap in learning and understanding that exists among school-aged children and teens. Educators looking to start a side hustle or even high school students who excel in one or more academic subjects can earn quite a bit of money while providing much needed support to struggling students.

While it varies by geographical location, experienced high school students can command up to $40 per hour for their services and certified teachers can make upwards of $100 per hour. There are several types of tutoring that one can specialize in, from remediation to test prep. While not as lucrative, becoming an online tutor to gain experience and develop your tutoring style may be an ideal way to get started.

Virtual assistant

More and more companies of all sizes are outsourcing various administrative and project management duties to virtual assistants (VA). These self-employed remote support roles have become a boon to productivity and efficiency, and represent a big savings for a business’s overall operating costs. While typically administrative in nature, among the more specialized VA skills are social media management, SEO, blogging and elevated, on-demand customer service. To succeed, you must be tech-savvy, detail-oriented, have excellent communication and follow-up skills and possess the ability to multi-task across projects and job functions.

The more experienced and skilled you are, the higher the salary you can command. On average, virtual assistants fall within the $16-$30 per hour rate range. You can also establish a monthly retainer with clients as another option. Combine this flexibility with the value of your ability to selectively choose who you work for, set your own hours and work from wherever you want to. When getting started, create a LinkedIn profile to market your skills and build a network of people who may need your services or who can connect you with those who do.

Interior decorating service

As home decor sales surge, consumers often feel they lack the eye or vision to create the interior spaces they dream of or that reflect their personal style. If you have an eye for color, a strong sense of space and a flair for decorating as well as the resourcefulness for discovering the best finds, you just might have the makings of a personal decor consultant. Style combined with certification through a reputable and accredited course like The Interior Design Institute will set you on the right course.

Having an eye for style and a certification is a great start, but you also need to show your skills. It’s imperative that you also create a portfolio of your work so prospective clients have a feel for your aesthetic and expertise. Rates for decorating services vary with experience, but they typically range from $75-$125 per hour for those just starting out. Seasoned professionals can command upwards of $150 per hour or more.

Career coach

The pandemic has both forced and encouraged millions of us to reassess our professional goals, leaving many at a crossroads ready to discover what’s next but with uncertainty about how to go about it. If you have a background in human resources, talent management or psychology, or think you have a unique ability to recognize and help people leverage their most marketable attributes and strengths, career counseling could be a very rewarding small business to explore.

There are numerous programs to prepare you for a future as a certified coach or career counselor, an industry that is currently valued at $15.9 billion. It’s not for everyone and requires a great deal of patience, empathy, honesty, positivity and sensitivity along with strong communication skills, the ability to listen without judgement and provide goal-based guidance. You may want to consider a specialization such as entrepreneur counseling, resume building and interviewing, or coaching clients on work-life integration.

Handyman

Who doesn’t have a wishlist of little household fix-it projects but lacks the time or know-how to get them done? If you happen to know your way around a tool box, you can find yourself a neighborhood commodity, circulating among neighbors willing to pay good money to do paint touch-ups, picture-hangings, furniture assembly and any number of odd projects.

Today's homeowners are serial outsourcers. If you are a retired construction worker or carpenter and have a current license, you can be well-suited to service the endless small jobs that regularly arise, adding up to big money for you. There are several very helpful apps you should check out that assist handy professionals with getting up and running, landing customers, getting insured and staying organized.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Where business leaders go to grow

CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published April 02, 2021