prevent chemical, biological, and radiological threats to U.S. borders, railways, seaports, air travel, and industrial and nuclear plants.
Construction/Contracting”: BUILDING A FUTURE
New and existing home sales took a beating in 2006, thanks to increased interest rates and a downturn in the housing market. But commercial construction, contracting, and home renovations are still thriving, particularly in the Gulf States and other areas ravaged by the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.
According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2006 Construction Outlook, an industry study, new building projects were estimated to reach $654 billion in 2006, a 3% increase from the previous year. And this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded more than $600 million in contracts to three minority-owned firms in the Gulf region.
According to the June 2006 Global Insight/Home Improvement Research Institute Forecast, home improvement product sales are expected to increase by 8.8% to $312 billion. Another 2.2% increase is expected in 2007, and total market growth from 2008 to 2010 is projected to average an increase of 5% per year.
“It’s a good outlook for contractors because we’re seeing an increase of what we call buy-it-yourself, where the consumer buys it and has a pro install it,” says Richard Johnston, senior research analyst at the Home Improvement Research Institute. “We’re also seeing an increase in what we call the ‘pro.’ That’s where the homeowner hires the professional to buy and install the items.
That’s going to continue, with the baby boomers driving the market.”
Business Services: AT YOUR SERVICE
According to the latest figures, there are more than 25 million businesses in the U.S. — a figure that’s growing at a rate of 2% annually. Not every business keeps its services in-house. Many companies, large and small, outsource several services to save money. Cleaning services, for example, are extremely popular. According to the Freedonia Group, an industry market research firm, the U.S. commercial and residential cleaning service business is a $46 billion industry. The demand for the service is expected to grow by 5.5% annually through 2009. Cleaning franchises can cost as little as $1,000 to start (JAN-PRO Cleaning Concepts offers a package for just $950) and can be operated from home.
Increased outsourcing means increased opportunities for entrepreneurs. “Small businesses tend not to collaborate, form strategic partnerships, or leverage industry relationships and resources. This creates opportunities for new entrepreneurs to provide services that help other entrepreneurs save time and make more money,” says Franne McNeal, significant business results coach for HR Energy, a business coaching firm. “In my line of work, I’m finding that people are becoming business coaches and they are coaching by phone, tele-seminars, and Web-based seminars.”
Portable Technology: PORTABLE WAY TO GO
By now, it’s probably safe to say that anyone who doesn’t own — or who hasn’t used — a cell phone is living under a rock. According to technology research firm Gartner Inc., mobile phone sales in 2005 reached 779 million units, a 16% increase over 2004. Technology research firm IDC reports that in the first quarter of 2006 alone, 226.7 million units were shipped out to