WASHINGTON, October 7, 2013 — In an age where the small business ecosystem dominated by hipster e-commerce startups, capital-intensive biotech and clean energy. it’s easy to overlook viable business models flourishing right underneath your nose. While today’s small business landscape convinces many that they either need computer programming knowledge, a Ph.D. in biology or millions of dollars in venture capital to start a worthwhile businesses, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Some of the most reliable business models can actually develop from hobbies or other interests such as gourmet cooking or woodwork. True, you’ll still need to acquire the proper management skills to be able to properly run and grow such a business. But again, contrary to popular belief, not having high-tech knowledge or expertise is not the deal breaker it once was when you ponder starting a promising business in 2013. One of the more consistent industries for non-techies to get into, even in today’s tough times, is home improvement.
According to the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), the size of the home improvement industry is in excess of $275 billion, with a steady 4-5 percent growth correlating with current housing market trends. Regardless of what is “hot” in places like Silicon Valley California and Austin Texas, people will always need a place to live.
And, given the ongoing difficulty involved in getting a new mortgage for the average wage-earner these days, many current homeowners are inclined to fix up their present digs a bit rather than going to the time and expense of considering a move.
Perhaps no one understands this better than Angie Hicks, creator of the popular “Angie’s List,” a publicly traded e-company with nearly two million members. “Angie’s List” makes the bulk of its revenue from its membership site where consumers search for and share local reviews of professional service companies, including home improvement contractors.
Home contractors themselves are experiencing a resurgence of business as home values begin once to increase in many of the hardest-hit areas of the country. But successes such as “Angie’s List,” and to a lesser degree the popular Craig’s List, have validated the size and viability of home improvement and repair as a profitable space within which to do business.
Another market force that has made this arena good for entrepreneurs is the ease of sourcing supplies and materials due to the growth of companies such as Home Depot and Lowes as well as the phenomenal proliferation of online suppliers. While the two giant home improvement retailers provide a wide array of standard products and raw materials for the do-it-yourselfer, the latter area boasts seemingly limitless options for retailing niche products ranging from custom-made wares to more esoteric products like bidets.
One of the best things about the home improvement business model is that there is generally a low barrier to entry. These businesses are typically begun in small, localized markets that allow their owners to refine and perfect their business processes prior to investing in costly expansion. Such businesses are also not very capital intensive in that the customer generally pays for the variable costs of the business up front prior to any work being done.
If you are looking for potential business models to adopt, the home improvement category is a healthy option that you might consider if you lean towards more traditional business ideas or simply lack the knowledge or skills to start a more technologically-based business. Home improvement is strong, growing and promises to offer lucrative opportunities for savvy business people for some time to come.
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