Entrepreneurship has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic as people sought creative outlets, activities to fill their free time, and ancillary income. Heading into 2023, with the risk of a recession, uncertainty about the job market, and workers’ relentless push for autonomy in their jobs, more people are becoming entrepreneurs.
In fact, it’s an advantageous time to start a business because of low startup costs and fewer barriers to entry – like the access to digital tools and the ability to market oneself online. What’s more, it’s especially promising for solopreneurs — business owners who run a company without employees — to capitalize on skills they already have, said Dave Mawhinney, an entrepreneurship professor and executive director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University.
Luke Pardue, an economist at the human-resources platform Gusto, said personal and professional services were among the most successful companies to emerge in the past two years.
“During the onset of the pandemic, we saw a focus on entrepreneurship in these personal-services sectors,” Pardue said. “As the economy shifted towards remote work, we’ve seen that new business creation has been focused on professional services,” like virtual assisting.
People are taking advantage of these opportunities: freelancing rose 3% in 2022 to a new high, according to freelance platform Upwork.
The gig economy is growing in size and specialty, said Lauren Russell, freelancer and founder of social media marketing agency Irresistibly Social LLC.
“With the gig economy growing, there are a lot of micro niches so people can have a more custom, tailored service,” Russell said.
Insider spoke with economists and entrepreneurs about the best businesses to start in 2023.
2022 was the year of the content creator. Influencers are earning upwards of five figures from brand partnerships and sponsored content.
But you don’t have to be an influencer to make money online. User-generated content is a growing sector of income for many content creators.
Giselle González, a UGC creator, makes content for brands in the lifestyle and beauty industries and brings in $5,000 a month, documentation showed.
To start, she suggests finding companies and brands you already shop from, creating content using their products, and using that as samples to create a portfolio. Then, reach out to decision-makers for the brand on LinkedIn to pitch your ideas to become a paid content creator for their pages.
Even if you don’t want to become an influencer, social-media expertise is sought-after — brands of all sizes and industries need social-media strategies to scale. Kar Brulhart, who had experience working in digital media and brand marketing, used those skills to start a consulting agency.
Brulhart’s eponymous brand works with businesses on their social-media strategies and helps clients increase social volume, quality, and relevance.
“When it comes to monetization, many business owners I work with are not making anything on TikTok,” she previously told Insider, adding that her job is to evaluate analytics and come up with solutions for her clients.
Given the increase in businesses created in the past few years, many entrepreneurs are seeking help with their digital presence.
Alyssa Nguyen launched her firm in 2020 after teaching herself how to design graphics and websites. Her business, which works with companies owned by women and people of color on branding, booked nearly $170,000 in revenue in 2021, documents verified by Insider showed.
Nguyen said that for those looking to enter the design or freelance markets, it’s crucial to start creating content to have a digital portfolio so clients will find you.
“Even if you have no clients right now, make things that you enjoy making in the aesthetic that you enjoy,” she said.
Digital marketing has become another growing career field since the Great Resignation began. As more small businesses attempt to break into established industries, marketing remains an important item on entrepreneurs’ to-do lists.
Vix Reitano founded her marketing agency after spending five years in TV, journalism, and advertising.
She built the company by doing administrative marketing tasks like writing clients’ emails and crafting their marketing strategies, tapping the skills she acquired in her previous jobs. She grew her offerings to include public-relations outreach, campaign planning, and digital production.
Reitano recently transitioned from marketing to coaching for entrepreneurs and small-business owners via her mindset coaching business.
The market-research firm IBISWorld estimates that the business-coaching industry is worth more than $11 billion and is expected to continue growing. With the popularity of business coaches on Instagram and TikTok and the growing number of aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners have more avenues to find clients.
Jessica Hawks, who went viral on TikTok after sharing the benefits of a virtual-assistant career, transformed her services into a coaching company when thousands of viewers began asking how they, too, could earn $10,000 a month with a freelance career.
Her coaching platform now works with aspiring virtual assistants, Pinterest managers, social-media experts, and other professional freelancers who want to launch their businesses.
“In order to teach people or guide people, you have to have done exactly what you’re helping them do,” she said.
After launching her services as a solopreneur in 2020, she hired a team to help her business grow.
Experts told Insider that for those looking to start a business, it’s best to capitalize on existing skills. Lisa Andrea, who has an MBA and experience working at a Big Four accounting firm, launched her side hustle, The Financial Cookbook, in early 2021 as a financial-services guide for women.
Now could be an especially important time for financial services as a swooning stock market and fears of a recession could push people to look for ways to save or invest their money.
“If you want to get your feet wet, start a blog and start driving traffic to your website,” she said. “From there, that’ll help you expand into other things.”
Andrea has scaled her content to Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram, each of which she said has brought her additional opportunities. She’s booked $7,000 in monthly revenue several times in 2022, according to documents Insider verified.
Virtual assisting is a good way to find out what remote business tasks you enjoy, said Grace John, who started her virtual-assistant business in late 2020.
“I started off as a virtual assistant, and initially it was whatever random thing somebody wanted to throw at me,” John said. These tasks included analyzing and increasing Instagram engagement, finding customers for her clients, and helping create courses and workbooks.
After spending time in business administration, she decided to specialize in Pinterest and Instagram management; she said those are the skills she enjoyed most. She said she’s expecting to book six figures in revenue for 2022.
Therapy and mental health services have become increasingly popular since the pandemic began. In fact, the American Psychological Association’s 2022 COVID-19 Practitioner Impact Survey found that demand for anxiety and depression treatment remained high for the third year in a row, and demand for trauma treatment and stressor-related disorders has grown.
However, some clients prefer a more casual approach to mental health and seek the services of life coaches. These professionals don’t have a specific license or degree and work with customers on issues like weighing job options, personal planning, or navigating difficult relationships.
Amy Lee is life coach based in LA who specializes in one-on-one coaching and group master classes for those struggling to heal from trauma and abuse. She discovered her love for coaching after fostering a community online where she shared her own experience breaking codependency and finding inner peace.
This content was originally published here.