Here's a map for wanna-be owners

score If you're dreaming of owning a business but not sure which direction might be best, it helps to read the future.

Entrepreneur magazine has identified several fields that are likely to heat up in the next few years:

  • Juice bars are gaining popularity as more Americans become health conscious. Recent statistics reveal taht revenues are in excess of $500 million annually. One good way to get into the business is through franchising. So if this type of business excites you, you'll need to research franchising.
  • Children's photo studios. The indstry's newsletter, Photofinishing News, has reported that photographs of children 5 or younger was $1.2 billion in 1997. Of course, there's plenty of competition, but small firms are finding that they often are able to add a unique touch to their approach and keep the big players, such as Olan Mills and Wal-Mart, at bay.
  • With the aid of digital cameras, the smaller shop is able to scan and tailor the images on a computer to the unique needs of the customer, particularly when that customer is sitting at your side.

  • Specialized staffing services is hot because a growing number of firms are focusing their efforts on their core business. If something is not part of this core, it's farmed out. So when companies realize that in many cases they don't know how to recruit and evaluate people with specialized talents, they turn to specialized stafffing service firms to help them do this work.
  • I talked to Professor Richard Hodgetts at Florida Atlantic University about all this.

    "My surveys indicate that companies are buying this service because they are able to get better people than they could on their own, because staffing agencies really know their business," he said. "It was not because firms wanted to save money. It often cost them more money to have others help staff their company. So the clients were willing to pay more because they received the expertise they needed."

    No wonder there's a growing demand for these services - and from clients who are willing to pay.

  • Other possibilities include concierge services, personal chefs and human-resource consultants.
  • If you don't like any of these, look around your community and figure out what the customer needs and were there is no place to fill the need. There's your opportunity.

    If you want to learn more about these opportunities, go to the library and look at all the issues, recent and back, of Entrepreneur magazine. You'll get some useful information about franchising opportunities.

    If you are going to use the Rockford main library on Wyman Street, go to the second floor research desk and ask for Jean Beeman, the senior reference librarian. Tell her I sent you and I'm sure you'll get a lot of help and knowledge on how to use the library resources to meet your needs.

    Also ask for the franchising books, which will provide a lot of information on individual franchises and what's required to enter the game.

    Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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