Opportunities Business Best for 2007

mobile phone users, increasing worldwide shipments by 26%.

By 2009, mobile phone shipments are expected to surpass 1 billion units. All of this can translate into a wealth of opportunities for small business owners, particularly in the area of cell phone accessories such as phone cases, faceplates, headsets, and other items. The strong demand for feature-laden cell phones and mobile devices is providing revenue streams for entrepreneurs looking to cash in, such as manufacturers of cell phone add-on products, Web developers that deliver mobile content for media devices, or network operators and wireless developers offering systems and data services.

Credit Americans’ thirst for technology and convenience with helping to drive that trend. “If you can develop products and services to support the technology industry, you have a great business opportunity,” says HR Energy’s Franne McNeal, who points to a cell phone case maker as proof. “Instead of making handbags, the company looked at the growth of the technology industry and found a portable technology product that everybody uses. Now it has a very successful niche business.”

Leslie McNeal knows a good business opportunity when she sees one. In 2001, after seeing a need for qualified, technical staffers among major companies, she broke away from a corporate career and began contracting to provide such services.

Ready for a taste of entrepreneurship and realizing that big corporations were more apt to hire contract workers than full-time employees, McNeal, 35, and her husband, Nathan, 36, made an investment of $30,000 five years ago to start Kennesaw, Georgia-based McNeal Professional Services, which relies on a national network of technical contractors to fulfill the staffing needs of its corporate clients.

In 2002, Nathan left an engineering consulting position at another firm to join his wife and start a new division that would work with major telecommunications carriers to design, optimize, test, and improve wireless phone coverage. “When you see the ‘Can you hear me now?’ Verizon commercials,” says Nathan, “we’re the folks who are actually doing the work to optimize those cell phone networks.”

The gamble that the McNeals took when they kissed their steady paychecks goodbye and jumped into business ownership has paid off. Last year, their 40-employee firm brought in $3.8 million in revenues, and in 2007 it expects $4.6 million. “We see significant opportunity ahead in both sectors,” says Leslie, “and continued growth for our company, and for those that can ferret out the opportunities and fulfill customer needs in a professional, timely manner.”

McNeal Professional Services is sitting pretty in the high-growth technology business services category. To sustain that growth, the McNeals are always scouting for new clients and opportunities.

Estimating a startup cost of about $150,000 for the wireless engineering aspect of the business, the McNeals see opportunity for ambitious entrepreneurs who are willing to “put in a lot of hours” to start and grow companies in those sectors.
McNeal says that a tighter job market and the fact that companies are looking to augment their existing staff, without having to hire full-time