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

The impact of COVID-19, particularly on the business world, couldn’t have been predicted but has been an incredible learning experience—especially for aspiring entrepreneurs. Social distancing and remote work have forced traditional in-person businesses like restaurants, brick-and-mortar retail and event services to get creative with solutions and stay viable while also opening a world of opportunities for business owners to meet consumers’ new and evolving needs.

Entrepreneurs are innovative, creative and risk-taking by definition so establishing a business in or immediately after a pandemic doesn’t frighten many away. However, there are several niche markets or missing spaces in the digital marketplace that entrepreneurs can fill—thereby taking advantage of pent-up market demand and putting their best foot forward in the business world. Here are 13 ideal businesses to consider pursuing, whether you’re making your entrepreneurial debut or adapting the products and services you already offer to a changing marketplace.

Handmade products

E-commerce has always occupied an important space in the marketplace and the pandemic showed us both the resilience of businesses selling online and the demand of community members looking to support local and small businesses. Online stores are the best avenue for aspiring retailers of homemade products like hand-knitted gloves, infused olive oil and more. Crafters and artisans have a unique opportunity to build a following on social media like Instagram and TikTok and turn their passion and skills into a thriving business on sites like Etsy. Hobbies like woodworking, jewelry design or knitting can translate well into an online storefront, as can basic digital designers who create templates for Cricut users. As Etsy CEO Josh Silverman told Marketplace Tech, “anyone with creativity and 20 cents can open a shop on Etsy.”

[Read more: How to Sell on Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started]

Pet products and services

A positive from the COVID-19 lockdowns was the significant spike in pet adoptions. As people sought companionship from dogs, cats, birds and more while social distancing, shelters across the country saw a 700% increase in adoptions and fostering in 2020 compared to 2019.

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, as are online pet training classes. Channel your love of animals into a pet-focused business that makes consumers’ and pets’ lives better.

Home beauty kits

When hair and nail salons were shut down, people adapted by creating their own beauty routines in quarantine. Though lockdowns are lifted, consumers may still 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 consumers who prefer to pamper themselves at home over a salon. 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, even after the pandemic ends. 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

In 2020, cleaning and antibacterial supplies flew off the shelves and many commercial cleaning services found themselves in higher demand than ever before.

Office buildings, restaurants and other public businesses still count on these service providers to continuously disinfect their spaces and keep employees and patrons safe. As more 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 and ensure their employees feel safe and protected.

Delivery and errand services

On-demand delivery services have 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.

Educational toys and games

Students and parents alike continue to find alternate ways to promote analytical thinking and creative stimulation, even after schools have opened to in-person classes or hybrid learning. Creative entrepreneurs with a passion for learning have a wonderful opportunity to step in and fill the gap in the market 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.

Companies may not have time to plan and coordinate their own unique virtual activities, so you can offer to plan it for them.

Virtual workout classes and personal training

The pandemic showed many how important it is to maintain their physical health and immune systems. In 2020, consumers were left to find creative solutions to get their exercise, and virtual workout classes and digital personal training sessions entered the market with a splash.

Entrepreneurs with a passion for fitness and a background in physical education, kinesiology, nutrition or exercise science 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 content. Offer a variety of skill levels to reach every audience—from the fitness buffs to those just beginning their fitness journeys.

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 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 haven. Most interested target markets could be overwhelmed parents, new homeowners or remote workers who now need a functional, dedicated home office space.

[Read more: How a 136-Year-Old Home Improvement Chain Survived and Thrived During COVID-19]

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 started 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 (or make some employees feel uncomfortable), leaders are thinking beyond the “Zoom happy hour” 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, there are plenty of opportunities to offer assistance with team building in the remote work era.

Virtual resume editing and consulting

With thousands of layoffs and furloughs, a large percentage of the American population found themselves without jobs when the pandemic hit. For entrepreneurs with a vested interest in professional coaching and consulting, starting a virtual resume editing and consulting business enables those with the knowledge of professional etiquette and a passion for helping others to monetize their skills and purpose. Advances in the digital space also make sharing and editing pieces easy. Between Zoom and collaborative digital tools like Google Docs, very little startup funding is needed.

This business can offer flexibility, easy scalability and a nearly never-ending audience to market to. You can offer both virtual and in-person consulting appointments, choose the work you’d like to take on and find confidence that someone will always be looking for a job and need resume help.

Computer- or device-cleaning business

COVID-19 brought cleanliness to the forefront of everyone’s minds, in addition to a significant increased reliance on technology to stay connected. By combining the two demands—technology and sanitizing high-traffic items—entrepreneurs can dominate a niche market with fast turnaround and excellent customer service.

Entrepreneurs interested in the technology industry don’t have to travel to Silicon Valley to be a part of the magic. Instead, they can work from their home or a brick-and-mortar shop while making the most important asset to many—a laptop or phone—work like new.

Transcription service

Transcription services—listening to voice recordings and documenting them into written word—have been and continue to be a unique business suited for filling the needs of many industries. Most notably used in the medical field, transcription services are an interesting remote business. The best transcription services have high-quality transcriptions edited by native English speakers for accuracy, spelling, grammar and data.

Who or what industries make use of transcription services? Law firms, healthcare providers, market researchers, podcasters and more use transcription services to save time and get their jobs done.

Write a book or downloadable guide

While writing one book doesn’t seem like a business in itself, it can pay dividends if done well. The market for nonfiction books is expected to grow by 10.5%, demonstrating the demand for new nonfiction books. Take a lesson you’ve learned in your life, the failures and successes you’ve collected in your career or a list of mottos you live your life by and turn them into a narrative—or a downloadable guide. You can publish independently, work with a publishing house or sell copies of your “how-to” online through social media or a website.

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.

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Published June 21, 2021