man outside doing virtual workout
From virtual personal training and fitness instruction to home improvement services, there are several industries that are in high consumer demand amid COVID-19. — Getty Images/FG Trade

At the beginning of 2020, aspiring entrepreneurs couldn’t have fathomed the impact COVID-19 would have on the business world. While the current norm of social distancing and remote work have turned traditional in-person businesses like restaurants, brick-and-mortar retail and event services upside down, it has also opened up a world of opportunities for business owners to meet consumers’ new and evolving needs.

Here are 10 ideal businesses to start during the current pandemic, whether you’re making your entrepreneurial debut or adapting the products and services you already offer.

Handmade products

E-commerce was already booming before the pandemic, but with most physical stores operating at limited capacity, selling online is the way to go for aspiring retailers. Crafters and artisans with newfound free time now have a unique opportunity to turn their passion and skills into a thriving business on sites like Etsy, which opened twice as many new shops in April 2020 than they did in April 2019. Hobbies like woodworking, jewelry design or knitting can translate well into an online storefront, but as Etsy CEO Josh Silverman told Marketplace Tech, “anyone with creativity and 20 cents can open a shop on Etsy.”

Unique face masks

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, one potential avenue for an Etsy business is cloth face masks. Most states have regulations in place for mandatory face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible, so the demand for masks is still incredibly high. They’ve even become something of a fashion statement as people seek to accessorize their outfits with the perfect mask.

With a little bit of know-how and an eye for fashion, you can make customizable masks for those looking to have their personality shine through while they’re following safety protocols.

[Read: 20 Small Businesses Thriving During Coronavirus]

Pet products and services

One positive trend to emerge out of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders is the huge spike in pet adoptions. As people seek pet companionship while they’re social distancing, shelters across the country have seen a 700% increase in adoptions and fostering since last year.

To care for their new furry friends, many consumers are turning to online retailers and service providers. Pet products like homemade treats and toys are in high demand right now, so you can channel your love of animals into a pet-focused business that makes consumer’s lives easier.

Home beauty kits

While hair and nail salons were shut down, people adapted to creating their own beauty routines in quarantine. Consumers may be more apt to try out new beauty products as they pamper themselves in the comfort of their own homes.

DIY home beauty products and kits are a great way to capitalize on this trend. Industry experts say products that are focused on holistic wellness and self-care, such as facial products, essential oils and aromatherapy, are expected to see consistent demand in the foreseeable future. You can curate and source local products for a personalized box subscription experience, or create your own line of organic or natural skin and hair care items.

Commercial cleaning service

While cleaning and antibacterial supplies continue to fly off the shelves, many commercial cleaning services are finding themselves in higher demand than ever before.

Office buildings, restaurants and other public businesses are counting on these service providers to continuously disinfect their spaces and keep employees and patrons safe. As more types of businesses reopen to the public, including schools and universities, owners and building managers will continue to seek these cleaning services to stop the spread of germs and viruses.

[Read: Business Ideas That Will Emerge Out of the Pandemic]

Delivery and errand services

Many senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are on high alert to keep themselves safe during this time, which often means staying home as much as possible. On-demand delivery services have naturally become a highly sought-after market, with online food delivery services alone expected to grow by more than $104 billion by 2023.

Getting involved in this fast-growing industry could be as simple as becoming an Uber Eats driver or an Instacart shopper. You could also create your own independent courier service where you deliver groceries and other essential items, or run errands such as picking up medications.

Interior and exterior home improvement projects have increased during COVID-19, with 57% of consumers emphasizing such projects during the first three months of the pandemic.

Educational toys and games

With many schools shut down and having limited online class schedules, students and parents alike are finding alternate ways to promote analytical thinking and creative stimulation. This is where creative entrepreneurs with a passion for learning can step in and fill the gap with educational toys and games.

Since children are spending more time in front of a screen than ever before, parents are expressing a strong preference for more educational options when it comes to their children’s entertainment. Creating and selling physical toys or digital games and apps that allow children to learn while having fun will be the key to success in this market.

Virtual workout classes and personal training

The pandemic has shown many how important it is to maintain their physical health and immune systems. As many gyms and fitness centers continue to operate with restricted capacity and hours, consumers are left with finding creative solutions to get their exercise.

Entrepreneurs with a passion for fitness and a background in proper workout and training techniques can translate their skills into virtual classes and one-on-one sessions with the work(out)-from-home crowd. An overwhelming majority of consumers have been accessing prerecorded fitness videos (73%) and livestreamed classes (85%) during the pandemic, so there’s plenty of demand for this type of content. You can offer a variety of skill levels to reach everyone from the fitness buffs to those just beginning their fitness journeys while cooped up at home.

Home improvement

As people spend more time in their homes, they’re finding a greater interest in maintaining and upgrading their properties. Interior and exterior home improvement projects have increased during COVID-19, with 57% of consumers emphasizing such projects during the first three months of the pandemic.

While basic redecorating projects are achievable for most consumers, larger repairs and projects may be beyond the skill set of the average homeowner. If you’re handy and have a working knowledge of construction, you can help consumers remodel and renovate their spaces to create an ideal quarantine haven. A great target market is overwhelmed parents and other remote workers who now need a functional, dedicated home office space.

[Read: Small Business Trends That Are the New Normal]

Virtual activities for remote teams

The list of companies implementing permanent remote work policies in the wake of COVID-19 continues to grow. Many technology companies have jumped on this trend by promoting their software for keeping distributed teams connected and productive. However, company culture is just as important, and since in-person team bonding activities are largely off the table for now, leaders are thinking beyond the Zoom happy hour and trying to find new, exciting ways to build camaraderie.

Companies may not have time to plan and coordinate their own unique virtual activities, so you can offer to plan it for them. Whether you host and moderate an online session or create and ship virtual “activity kits” for teams to do together in real-time over video chat, there are plenty of opportunities to offer assistance with team building in the remote work era.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

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Published September 16, 2020