Which Industries to Pursue and Which to Avoid

What are the best industries to target for new ventures or employment? I get asked that question a lot and typically respond that it may be best to target growing (hopefully thriving) industries. Examples include:

Candy: Even during a recession, people still buy candy.  It’s cheap and a comfort food.  Companies like Tootsie Pops and Snickers launched during the Depression of the 1930s.

iPhone apps: This is an industry that Steve Jobs predicted will grow even larger.  iPhone applications can be customized for practically any interest or consumer need.  Browse Apple’s App Store to get an idea of the sheer number and variety of iPhone applications out there and the potential for niche marketing.  There are apps for children’s books, photo storing, music, games, politics, fitness, money management, fertility tracking, and more.

Healthcare: The healthcare system in the United States is the middle of some big changes.  A great industry to be involved is creating new (and improving old) healthcare technology.  Home health care is also likely to be huge in the coming decades, as Baby Boomers retire.

Self-improvement: We are in the middle of a health and fitness revolution.  People are turning to self-help books and seminars, yoga and other forms of exercise, and more.

Education: Technical and trade schools are options people are turning to when they are laid off or can’t find a job in the first place.  Continuing education is likely to be a larger industry in the future, when people are expected to learn, re-learn, and “un-learn” skills quickly in order to adapt to a fast-paced information age.

Other industries to watch are fast-casual dining, green construction, energy, niche consulting, repair services, and corporate event planning (i.e. conferences and workshops).

With that said, here are some industries that you might want to avoid:

Traditional photofinishing/developing: the internet and programs like Instagram have made this industry practically obsolete.

Recordable media like CDs and DVDs: Again, the internet plays a large role here.  People stream movies and listen to music online, especially members of the younger generation.

Newspapers / magazines: This may seem like an obvious one, since you are reading this online.  People are increasingly turning to the internet for their news (and pretty much everything else).

Other industries to avoid include telecom networking equipment manufacturing, live theater, tobacco, synthetic fiber manufacturing, and hardware manufacturing.

In conclusion, seek out opportunities in industries that are growing, not fading away.  Avoid employment or investment opportunities in industries that are stuck in the past.  By that I mean industries that are making products or offering services that will simply be obsolete in a number of years.

John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship







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