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15 Recession-Proof Business Ideas

Written by:

Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on August 26, 2022

Updated on November 22, 2022

15 Recession-Proof Business Ideas

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15 Recession-Proof Business Ideas

Though it requires a bit of courage, many entrepreneurs believe that the best time to start a business is in a recession, when costs are low. In addition, the economic outlook is sure to improve sooner or later.  

Businesses best started during a recession might include vending machines, a dollar store, appliance repair, and bookkeeping. As long as you work hard and stick to your budget, you’ll have a real shot at success, even in tough times. 

Check out our list of excellent recession-proof business ideas and start your journey to success.

1. Restaurant

How to start a restaurant business

Even during tough economic times, people don’t always feel like cooking. Americans love to dine out, which explains the steady increase in the number of full-service restaurants. With the lifting of pandemic restrictions, restaurant sales in the US are expected to return to a pre-pandemic growth path and approach $900 billion in 2022, according to the National Restaurant Association.  

Before you can launch your restaurant, you’ll need to comply with the licensing and regulatory requirements, find a suitable location, and secure enough funding. It’s also important to decide on the concept and theme of your restaurant. Do you prefer casual or fine dining? It’s a good idea to identify your target market and come up with a good marketing plan in order to survive in this highly competitive industry. 

Once you open, it’s important to be prepared for potentially long hours. Always making sure to serve the perfect dish and that your customers enjoy their dining experience can spell the difference for your restaurant.

2. Beverage Company

How to start a tea business

If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy a nice cold drink on a hot day, or a hot drink on a cold day. And what’s not to love? And there are so many drinks to choose from. If you’re thinking of starting your own drink business, you’re in luck. The US beverage industry is valued at $146 billion and expected to post steady growth through 2026. 

There are many ways to get started in the drink industry, so it’s important to do your research and figure out a good niche. Will you focus on carbonated drinks, wine and spirits, coffee and tea, water, juice, beer, or energy drinks? Once you have that figured out, find reliable suppliers and work on your regulatory requirements to make sure your business is legally compliant. Finally, an appealing website and strong social media presence would help promote your business and boost your chance of success.

3. Vending Machine

How to start a vending machine business

People are always looking for a snack, which is why vending machines are everywhere — hospitals and train stations, schools, offices, special events and beyond. That means good revenue, even in a recession. It’s a $9 billion industry that’s expected to see strong growth in the coming years. So you could start your vending machine business right now, grab a share of that market and give yourself a steady stream of nearly passive income. 

It requires a sizable investment to buy that first machine or two, but it’s a fairly low-risk venture. As long as you’re able to put your machines in locations with steady foot traffic, you should do decent business. A key decision will be the products you choose to offer; you could focus on candy and chips, soft drinks, or healthier options like trail mix and granola bars. Once that’s done, you’ll basically be able to sit back and watch your vending machine empire grow.

4. Dollar Store

Dollar Store

Think all dollar stores are the same? You might be surprised at just how many different types of dollar shops there are. From party supply to variety stores, there’s a dollar store out there for everyone. So, if you’re thinking about starting your own dollar store business, what are you waiting for? Dollar and variety stores were on an upward trend before the pandemic, growing at least 3% per year. With consumers becoming more price conscious, dollar stores are expected to thrive again now that most restrictions have been lifted. 

Starting your own dollar store business can be fun. But how to go about it? Consider focusing on a niche to differentiate your business. You can set up a small convenience store, a do-it-yourself shop or a bookstore. You can start by buying products from other dollar stores and reselling them. Another option is to start as an online retailer and use your website and social media accounts as your storefront.

5. Health Care Center

How to start a home health care business

Thinking of setting up a health care business? Good thinking. Demand for health care is on the rise as the US population ages. By 2030, more than 60 million Americans will be 65 and older. This means increased health care spending. And right now the segments seeing the strongest growth are medtech and health care IT. 

So what are you waiting for? Take the first step by finding a niche to focus on. Make sure you have the necessary permits and licenses, whether you start a medical practice, home health care company, or other business. You could also offer a value proposition that will set you apart from the competition and attract loyal clients.

6. Commercial Cleaning Business

How to start a commercial cleaning business

A clean environment is good for mental health, but many Americans are too busy to clean their homes and offices. That’s why starting a commercial cleaning business is an excellent choice. 

The US cleaning services industry is set for impressive 10% annual growth through 2027. The industry currently employs nearly two million people. More jobs are expected to be created because of the increase in demand, particularly among the single-person households. 

When starting a commercial cleaning business, you’ll want to stand out from the competition. You can do this by offering eco-friendly services and green cleaning products and techniques. Instead of chemicals, you can use baking soda, vinegar, lemons, and more, and clean with old toothbrushes and plastic bottles.

You’ll need to make sure your business is legally compliant. But if you plan carefully and work hard, your commercial cleaning business can provide a strong and steady income.

7. Clinic

How to start a physical therapy clinic

Are you looking to start your own clinic? It’s a great way to help people in your community and earn good money. The US clinic industry is growing fast, mainly thanks to an aging population that needs health care services. Total spending on physician and clinical services exceeded $800 billion in 2020. Even retailers are putting up walk-in clinics to provide convenience to its customers.

The first step in starting your clinic business is to choose a niche. What kind of clinic are you looking to open? Is it going to focus on urgent care, or primary and preventive care? Is it going to be a mobile clinic? Who is your target market? You will find the answers to these questions as you do your research. Make sure to comply with licensing and insurance requirements. You will also need to be innovative in marketing your services to reach more prospective patients and achieve success.

8. Appliance Repair

Appliance Repair

Are you looking for a business opportunity with low overhead costs? Consider appliance repair. The market suffered a pandemic decline but recovered in the latter half of 2020 because of low consumer confidence and supply disruptions. The market is expected to continue growing in the years ahead.

Before you get started, you should know that an appliance repair business covers household appliances like televisions, washing machines, dryers and refrigerators. You could also repair and maintain outdoor equipment like snowblowers and lawn mowers, but not cars or computers.

Be sure to look into local licensing regulations, acquire the necessary tools, and devise a strong marketing plan. You can start small and work alone, then hire an assistant as your customer base grows. With a little planning and hard work, you can be on your way to serious appliance success!

9. Skincare

How to start a skincare business

Obsessed with healthy skin? If so, you’re in luck, as the US skincare market is now worth $20 billion and still growing. You could start a skincare business, help people look and feel their best, get in on the beauty industry boom and make a good living all at the same time! 

Starting out as a solopreneur, it’s probably a good idea to link your product line to your own needs and interests. If you have dry skin, for instance, a smart approach for your skincare business would be to focus on moisturizing and anti-aging products, as these would be areas in which you’d be seen as having expertise, given your experience. If you’re concerned about the environment, you could offer a skincare line that uses only eco-friendly, sustainable ingredients. 

The skincare market and the broader beauty industry are expected to continue to expand in the coming years, so whichever market segment you choose, there is likely to be considerable opportunity for the entrepreneur.

10. Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping

You probably think bookkeepers and accountants do largely the same work, and in some areas their work does overlap. But for the most part, bookkeepers perform the minute recording of day-to-day financial transactions, while accountants use bookkeepers’ data to create financial statements and review a company’s financial standing. The work of bookkeepers is, in fact, crucial to financial stability, which is why the US is home to 1.5 million bookkeepers and a growing $55 billion industry. 

If you’re hard working and good with numbers, you could start your own bookkeeping business and grab a share of that market while helping countless companies keep better track of their financials. What’s more, you could work from home to start, and market your services to clients around the world. 

Keep in mind that you will need to become a certified bookkeeper, which requires a good deal of training and experience. But once you’ve cleared that hurdle and begun building a reputation through great service, you’ll be well on your way to success.

11. Virtual Assistant

How to start a virtual assistant business

The job didn’t even exist 20 years ago, but now, thanks to new technologies and the sharp increase in remote work during the pandemic, the virtual assistant industry is booming. After years of strong growth, the market is expected to be worth more than $4 billion by 2025. That means now is a fantastic time to start your own virtual assistant business, even part-time.  

To be clear, we’re talking about a human, not a digital or AI-powered, assistant, who provides administrative, technical, and creative services to clients remotely, via the internet. If you have a strong business skillset, you can get started with a minimal investment and run the company out of your own home while serving clients anywhere in the world. You could also add more skills over time, increasing your revenue streams and the rates you’re able to charge. 

With hard work and a bit of luck, you’ll soon be helping businesses run more smoothly and efficiently while making good money for yourself.

12. Taxi

How to start a taxi business

Considering all the ride-sharing apps out there, you might be surprised to know that old-school taxis are not only surviving, but doing quite well. The US taxi and limo market is worth more than $66 billion and expected to see steady growth in the coming years. If you don’t mind driving and enjoy meeting strangers, starting a taxi business might be a great start to your entrepreneurial journey.

Getting started will require some real effort and investment. You’ll need to buy a reliable car, if you don’t already have one, plus reliable insurance and all the necessary permits. In some cities the car hire license can be a major expense, for instance a New York City taxi medallion costs $80,000. In other places, like $300 in Cleveland, not so much. Once you’ve all set up, it’s a good idea to build a website so people can find you, and you might want to offer an app as well, as most car services nowadays offer on-demand ordering. 

Finally, get creative with your marketing to stand out in a competitive market, provide excellent service and steady driving to your first few clients, and the good reviews and revenues should start pouring in.

13. Staffing Business

How to start a staffing agency

In boom times, companies add staff. In a recession they’re looking for independent contractors and part-time workers. Put it all together and staffing is always a good bet.

It doesn’t take rocket science to start a staffing business. But it’s to your advantage to have an expansive network. If you have a lot of connections, you can set up your own staffing business and help companies find the right employees while raking in some profits. The US staffing market was estimated at a little more than $150 billion by the end of 2021. The market is expected to grow as job openings reach record highs in the US, following the so-called Great Resignation which saw millions of Americans quit in late 2021.  

To get your new business off the ground and running successfully, you will need to define your business model. Will you provide a full-time staffing service, which means you will get a one-time commission for recruiting candidates for full-time positions? Or will you be providing temporary and contractual workers? Your commission will vary depending on the business model that you will adopt. Niche recruitment and having a big candidate base can spell the difference for your business.

14. IT Consulting

How to start a consulting business

As our world becomes increasingly digital, it’s no surprise that more and more businesses need guidance and insight on how to adapt and take advantage of the new technological landscape. This helps explain why IT consulting in the United States has been growing fast and is already worth more than half a trillion dollars. The industry is expected to expand further in the years ahead, which means now is a fantastic time to start your own IT consulting firm and get in on the action. 

The crucial element is expertise. If you have a computer science, IT or engineering degree and have spent a few years doing related work at a respectable consulting or tech firm, you have the resume needed to become an IT consultant. You’ll need to build a strong website and register your business, but you could soon be offering your tech insights to top businesses. Provide quality consulting for the first few clients, and you’ll be well on your way to building a reputation, getting referrals and being a successful entrepreneur.

15. Courier

How to start a courier business

If you’re looking for a way to make extra money, starting your own courier business could be the perfect solution. You can work as much or as little as you want to start off, and there’s no need for expensive equipment or training. You’ll just need a reliable vehicle, good insurance and decent driving ability. 

Best of all, the market is growing fast, thanks to people spending more time at home and the rise of delivery apps like InstaCart and DoorDash, so there’s real opportunity in this line of work. Particularly if you already have a car, this is a low-cost venture with little risk and strong profit potential. To get started you just need to sign up as a driver and start making pick ups and deliveries. 

Once you’ve built a reputation, you could start offering your courier services to area businesses, which tend to pay more. If your services are reliable, you’ll likely get referrals and, sooner than you might imagine, you’ll be able to set up your own courier business.