Best Businesses to Start in a Recession

Counter-cyclical businesses do well in economic recessions and offer entrepreneurs a unique start-up opportunity.

Best Businesses to Start in a Recession
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If you're in the right business, a recession could be the best time to get your start-up off the ground. A number of businesses, known as countercyclical businesses, do better during hard times than when the economy's in good shape.
Repair Service
Repair services do well in a down economy simply because it's cheaper to repair something like a microwave, computer or car than it is to buy a new one. Keep in mind, though, not all repair businesses do well in a recession. Home owners may delay nonessential repairs to items like roofing or bathroom tile. Services specializing in essential repairs to plumbing and wiring, however, should do fine. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2007, the average small appliance repair person earned $16.92 an hour.
Résumé writing
Recession-related layoffs leave many employable people searching for work. Those who want to tip the odds in their favor seek out professional resume writers who can cast their qualifications and experience in the best light possible. If you have strong writing skills and are willing to learn what makes a good resume, you can help job seekers by preparing resumes for them. Check into which industries have been hit hardest in your area and tailor your services and marketing to these. As of mid-2009, resume writers charge $100 to $300 per resume.
Education
Better education and increased qualifications can open the way to more job opportunities. If you can teach marketable skills like foreign languages, computer skills, filing or adult literacy, you have a business opportunity. Resume writing and interview tactics will also be in demand. Another option is to teach a skill that can provide a side income, like how to make money selling handmade crafts. You might also teach money-saving skills like cooking on a budget or using coupons efficiently. As of mid-2009, self-employed tutors grossed between $20 and $50 an hour.
Funeral-Related Services
No matter how tight cash is, families of the deceased still pay what they can to give their loved one a proper burial. Funeral homes aren't the only business option in this field. Florists can specialize in funeral arrangements like casket sprays. Stone, bronze and ceramics workers may want to focus on memorial sculptures, picture frames, grave markers and urns. Writers can offer eulogy and obituary writing services. For example, as of mid-2009, casket sprays go for around $150 to $300.
Low-Cost Foods
Food stands, carts and kiosks are among the best businesses to start in a recession because they offer something everyone needs at a low price and in affordable quantities. Hot dogs and hamburgers, falafel or baked goods like cinnamon rolls are all options. Location significantly influences profit potential, but a hot dog stand can net upwards of $80,000 a year. If you don't want hassle with health department regulations, a simpler option is to sell packaged foods to office workers too busy to go out for lunch.
Virtual Assistant
Companies may be downsizing full-time employees, but somebody still has to do the work. Virtual assistants (VA) fill the gap by providing services like appointment setting, data entry, customer service, bookkeeping and arranging travel. VAs work from home, charge on a pay-as-you-go or monthly retainer basis and cover their own taxes, so they're cheaper than employees. As of mid-2009, the average virtual assistant earned between $25 to $75 an hour.
Resources
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Entrepreneur Magazine
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U.S. Department of Labor
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Starting a Resume Writing Service
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Food Cart Business Advice
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Starting a Virtual Assistant Business