The Stats Guy: Demographic ideas to start a thriving niche business

Simon Kuestenmacher's Christmas gift for skilled and savvy entrepreneurs is five ideas for thriving niche businesses.

Simon Kuestenmacher's Christmas gift for skilled and savvy entrepreneurs is five ideas for thriving niche businesses. Image: TND

My Christmas present to you is five free business ideas based on demographic data. These businesses are operating in markets that are only going to grow over the coming decades. I truly believe that savvy and skilled folks can create thriving businesses in these niches.

Zoom Room consultants ready to cash in

Working from home is here to stay. At the height of a city’s lockdown about half of the workforce worked from home (compared to only 5 per cent as per the 2016 Census). Businesses and government departments were forced to put the relevant digital infrastructure in place to allow their staffers to work remotely. Zoom calls, digital and hybrid conferences, as well as online workshops are daily occurrences call

In business meetings it was the fancy suits, watches, dresses and shoes that workers utilised to showcase their status and hint at their competence. On video calls, the higher up the corporate food chain you are the more inappropriate it looks to have poor lighting or to use the built-in laptop camera and microphone.

The upper management class of Australia is waiting for entrepreneurial camera experts to help them set up their Zoom rooms. Cost isn’t a prohibitor here. I am thinking a $4,000 to $8,000 all-inclusive service should find countless customers. The package would include a decent but incredibly easy to use digital SLR camera that functions as a webcam, a fine external microphone and some studio-quality lights.

The Zoom consultant comes to your house, sets up the camera and microphone (on flexible arms if necessary), positions the lights, assesses the camera backdrop (a bit of interior design knowledge is needed here), teaches male customers how to use powder to avoid glow, teaches all clients how to prerecord a video on their computer (nothing fancy, open broadcaster software will do).

After everything is finished, a test call with the client ensures that all looks well. This service might sound excessively expensive, but it will increasingly be essential for the top leaders. There is good money to be made here.

‘Pink’ plumbers are in demand

Two parallel trends drive our next business opportunity. Firstly, young women live alone for longer as they push back partnering-up. Secondly, a growing population of older women live alone for longer as they outlive their male partners. This drives the demand for female-only businesses in trades that are almost exclusively dominated by men today.

Pink plumbersThere are already a few female-only plumbing services that are receiving great reviews online. The logic is that some women prefer having other women coming to their homes, either for security, privacy, or trust reasons.

It’s always worth considering entering a profession where your gender is underrepresented. Despite all the hurdles you might face, it’s easier to stick out in the crowd, and as more businesses strive for somewhat of a gender balance you might stand a better chance of promotion. You mustn’t be afraid to play a bit with the gender stereotypes to succeed here. Pink Plumbers, Sparky Sisters, Lumber Ladies are all business ideas that will find a growing market.

A new way of delivering healthcare

The ageing Australians of today are increasingly keen to continue living independently for as long as possible. In-home care services, based on a neighbourhood level nursing model, will become more and more popular. If that last sentence didn’t make any sense, I can only encourage you to read up on the Dutch nursing organisation Buurtzorg (first made known to a global audience through the bestselling business book Reinventing Organizations.

Independent flexible care services will be in high demand. The goal is to help ageing Baby Boomers to remain in their family homes for as long as possible. This includes opportunities for structural changes to the home, technology that makes independent living easier, all types of services to assist in the home, and most importantly, a new way of providing healthcare.

If you are an enterprising healthcare worker, I suggest you model yourself after the Buurtzorg model. Buurtzorg’s nurses provide not only medical services but also support services (dressing and bathing) that are usually delegated to lesser-trained and cheaper personnel. Self-governing teams of 10 to 12 highly trained nurses take responsibility for the home care of 50 to 60 patients in a neighbourhood. This permits flexibility in work arrangements to meet both nurses’ and patients’ needs.

The organisation has the most satisfied workforce of any Dutch company, is highly profitable, allows clients to live independently, and has better health outcomes than other healthcare models. Healthcare is in major need for positive disruption and I think an Australian Buurtzorg would find a massive market.

Supporting mothers returning to the workforce

deliveryThe workforce participation rate of women has only been going up over the last 50 years. Women return to work sooner after childbirth and increasingly do so in a full-time capacity. This means they have less time to spend with their kids. The number of families where both parents work full-time is only going up too. Any service that allows working parents to spend more quality time with their children will be in high demand.

Help with time-consuming drop-offs and pick-ups (the all-female ride share app Shebah is already working on this), home-cooked meals (to be honest, there are endless services out there already), cleaning, or simply make existing tasks more convenient.

Many of the job ideas here will be lower skilled and lower paid as high-income families continue to outsource undesirable tasks to low-income earners. I am not exactly sure where all the business opportunities are hiding here, but allow highly paid women to buy back family time and you have a lucrative business.

Tradies targeting progressive high-income earners

Let’s focus on two trends that could help tradies start a business. First is the hollowing out of the Australian workforce, resulting in a growing pool of high-income earners. Second is the housing boom of the last two decades or so. We have a growing number of high-income earners living in relatively poor-quality homes that will require several major renovations over the coming decades.

The first obvious business opportunity is for a group of relevant tradies, interior designers, and architects to band together to provide one-stop-shop home reno solutions.

If you want to operate your business with higher margins, I’d suggest operating your renovation services under the Australia-plus-Switzerland (or Australia-plus-Germany) model. You adhere to all Australian regulations but on top of this you adhere to all relevant Swiss or German building, insulation, ventilation, environmental etc. standards.

The demand for high quality renovations that turn homes energy neutral (or even positive) will be big among the most affluent of the wealthy and progressive households. The enterprising green tradie can make an absolute motza here.

The joy of analysing demographic data is that I can philosophise about potential business ideas without the laboursome (but potentially lucrative) task of running such businesses. Maybe a reader or two of this column will feel inspired to look into these ideas a bit further. Happy entrepreneuring!

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