Top 10 IT Consulting Business Opportunities

Over the past 20 years, IT consulting has become one of the largest industries in the world. Everything is now connected to the Internet, and nearly all businesses require substantial information technology networks in order to conduct their operations. For competent IT professionals, there are a number of profitable opportunities that exist as it relates to starting and expanding a business. In this article, we are going take a look at the top 10 business opportunities that exist in the IT consulting and general IT services market.

General IT Consulting

One of the best things about owning and operating a general IT consulting firm is that these businesses generate highly recurring streams of revenue. Most businesses usually contract with an IT consulting firm to develop their networks, maintain database systems, upgrade software, and ensure the security of these networks. These businesses are able to remain profitable and cash flow positive at all times given that they generally bill their clients directly via credit or debit card. Even in more rural or suburban markets, IT consulting firms are able to operate with a large number of small business to medium-size business clients.

Cloud Application Development

As more and more people use a number of devices to conduct their business operations, the cloud has become the most cost-effective way for an individual or business organization to manage their information. One of the nice aspects of developing a firm that focuses on cloud applications is that these businesses, much like general IT consulting, are able to produce recurring streams of revenue from these operations.

These businesses are able to develop substantial revenues from the initial development of the application while enjoying recurring revenues from the ongoing maintenance and upgrading of this technology. Once a client is secured for this aspect of operations, they will typically stay with the firm given that they have a substantial understanding of their developed cloud technology.

IT Training Services

As many large organizations use both in-house employees as well as third-party contractors for these services, many IT consulting firms have taken on the role of tutoring and providing education as a relates to people that will be directly managing installed systems on a day-to-day basis. In fact, IT training is one of the fastest-growing segments of the overall information technology market. As such, a strong ancillary revenue stream for an IT consulting firm is to provide these services to clients that use the company’s services on an ongoing basis. These revenue streams can be substantial, and some firms charge much $1,500 per employee for properly training them on how to use and manage installed network systems.

Remote Assistance Services

Given the ubiquitous nature of information technology, many IT firms will often act as a outsourced service desk for employees that have specific issues with their work computers. One of the best aspects of this, but like every other aspect of IT consulting, is that monthly fees can be charged to small, medium, and large scale businesses that have an IT consulting firm operate on a remote basis in order to manage support tickets. Due to the the constantly changing nature of technology, many firms feel that it is economically advantageous to use a remote help service desk in order to fulfill employee support tickets.

IT Security Consulting

There is hardly a week goes by where it is it announced that a major corporation has suffered a data breach. While many hackers typically target larger corporations and financial companies – any business that has their networks connected to the Internet is a potential risk for having their systems intruded.

As such, one of the most profitable aspects IT consulting is by rendering security services that include penetration testing, WiFi security, database security, and other protocols that ensure that a system can remain nearly safe at all times. IT security consulting businesses typically generate very high per hour fees for providing the services to their clients.

Website Development

Although it is usually uncommon for an IT consulting firm to maintain a web development arm, this aspect of operations can be just as profitable as any other aspect of information technology management. Nearly all businesses maintain some form of web presence, and as such, the demand for comprehensive web development is substantial.

In many cases, IT consulting firms will often act as a general contractor and outsource the actual development work to a qualified third-party. One of the important aspects of these operations is that companies that will frequently use a business for the web development needs will also use them for their IT management needs as well. Many smaller and medium-size businesses always want to work with one company as it relates to these types of operations.

IT Product Sales

Although most of the revenues generated from information technology consulting and management are from services, almost all businesses need to acquires computers, servers, monitors, and related peripherals for their installed networks. Often, given the myriad of products that are available, many small to medium-size business owners will often pick products that do not exactly suit their needs. As such, IT consulting really businesses can generate substantial secondary revenues by selling the specific products are needed to develop a full-scale network. Generally, the markup over the direct cost of inventory ranges anywhere from 30% to 50%. This can be a substantial additional revenue center for these types of businesses.

Network Architecture Development

For many large-scale businesses, it is very difficult to have internal staff maintain a multi-site network. By providing comprehensive planning specific for network architecture, medium to larger scale enterprises are able to operate their diseases much more effectively.

It should be noted that network architecture services are typically something that is only done by a highly qualified and certified professional. As such, integrating network architecture design and development services into an existing IT consulting firm can be a lucrative secondary or tertiary stream revenue. These fees are typically billed on a per project basis.

Onsite Assistance Services

Over the past 10 years, many people have turned to on-site assistance as relates to managing their IT needs. During outages, system failures, and other issues that may arise from operating a IT infrastructure, many business feel that it is imperative to have an individual or business that is contracted that will come to the location to remedy any issues at any time. Typically these fees are charged in a per hour basis, and monthly retainer may be required in order to maintain a service agreement contract. Generally speaking, only large-scale businesses typically require this type of attention given that they store substantial amounts of sensitive data.

Internet-of-Things Product Development

More and more companies are seeking to develop proprietary products that can be seamlessly connected to the Internet. One of the challenges that these businesses often face is the connectivity issue as there are a number of protocols that must be addressed in order to have any specific device be able to communicate with other devices via the Internet. Product development can be a very profitable sideline for an IT consulting firm that has a substantial understanding of the Internet of things (“IoT”) and how devices communicate with each other. Product development is also one of the types of revenues is typically done on a per project in per hour basis.

Assisted Living Facility Industry Analysis

Assisted living facilities are rapidly growing given that many Baby Boomers are now entering the later stages of their lives. Several market studies indicated that nearly 50% of all people over the age of 65 will require some form of ongoing living assistance as they age. One of the best aspects of operating an assisted living facility is that these businesses’ revenues are relatively immune from negative changes in the economy. These companies are able to produce revenues directly from residents (or their families) as well as from private insurance companies and publicly funded healthcare systems. The month to month charges for a resident typically ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the level of care required by the resident. Many assisted living facilities are also integrating memory care services into their operations in order to treat residents that suffer from dementia or progressive neurological disorders.

Within the United States, there are nearly 50,000 locations that provide assisted living services. Each year, these businesses generate nearly $190 billion of revenue. It should be noted that these revenues do not include services that operate within a resident’s home. The industry employs over two million people (including both medical and general facility staff). The growth of the industry remains around 2% per year, which is expected to remain stable over the next twenty years (again, as a function of the aging Baby Boomer population).

One of the common trends within this industry is to have a number of specialized medical personnel on staff in order to render specific medical services to residents of these facilities. This can drastically boost the billings of the business given that these fees are often paid by private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Larger scale assisted living facilities retain a medical director (a physician) in order to provide consultation when necessary for a resident that has a specific medical issue.

Given the increasing level of competition among assisted living facilities, many of these businesses have begun to offer a broad spectrum of amenities in order to differentiate themselves from other market agents. This includes providing specialty meals as well as transportation services to local destinations (so that residents can enjoy time outside of the facility). Transportation services are important to residents that still maintain modest employment (among residents that are younger, able to work, and want to retain employment).

Overall, the industry outlook for the assisted living facility is very strong. The increasing age of the Baby Boomer population is continuing to increase demand for comprehensive in-facility services. This trend is expected to continue indefinitely especially as families have become busier, and cannot directly care for an elderly individual on an ongoing basis.

HVAC Contractor Industry Research and Analysis

Very few people can complete repairs on their own heating, ventilation, and air conditioner systems. These services generally can only be provided by a competent and licensed contracting professional. Although the bread-and-butter of HVAC contractors comes from the installation of new systems, these businesses are always able to remain profitable and cash flow positive from repair and maintenance services. Additionally, for commercial and industrial buildings – many state and municipal building codes require that these systems are inspected by a licensed professional from time to time. This lends to a great degree of economic stability for these businesses. Additionally, HVAC contractors enjoy readily available access to capital given that they can always generate profits from repair and maintenance services. Most financial institutions are willing to provide nearly all of the necessary capital in order to get these businesses often the ground (or for expansion purposes).

As it relates to the size of this industry, there are approximately 110,000 companies that are actively involved with HVAC services. The industry employs more than half a million people. Each year, the industry generates nearly $100 billion of revenue.

The growth of this industry has remained strong over the past five years given the strong demand for new housing (as interest rates have remained low). In each of the last five years, industry growth has remained above 2%. It should again be noted that even in times of economic recession – the industry remains profitable (although with flat revenue growth).

One of the common trends within the HVAC industry is to aggressively use online platforms in order to market these services to the general public. Almost all contractors maintain a proprietary website coupled with a moderate scale presence on social media platforms. As it relates to social media (with a focus on FaceBook), these businesses are able to develop profile pages that can feature reviews from prior clients. This is important given that many people will seek honest reviews on these pages. One of the other trends is to join independent review platforms such as Angie’s list in order to further boost the visibility of the business. Over time, positive reviews from these platforms can be an invaluable source of revenue for HVAC contractors. Many HVAC contractors will also engage in a regional search engine optimization (or “SEO”) campaign in order to ensure that their proprietary websites are frequently found in search results. Although this type of marketing has high upfront costs, the results can last for several years if this is carried out properly. Most companies outsource this type of work to a qualified digital marketing agency or web development firm.

Overall, the industry outlook for the HVAC industry is strong. Interest rates remain low, and many homeowners are taking advantage of low cost borrowing in order to upgrade their systems to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Many HVAC contractors maintain relationships with specialized lenders so that these systems can be financed by home and property owners. There are numerous companies that act as a financing partner for contracting businesses. Additionally, new housing demand remains strong (again, as a function of low interest rates). As such, the demand for new system installations by real estate developers is consistent.

It should be noted that one of the best features of the industry is that HVAC contractors can scale down their operations during difficult economic conditions. This allows for a core focus to be shifted to profitable maintenance services.

Coworking Space Industry Research and Analysis

As opposed to twenty years ago, many more people are making their living as a freelancer or independent entrepreneur. Given the prevalence of the internet, the ability for individuals to make a living on their own has expanded rapidly. As such, many of these people require a small amount of office space if they need to meet clients/customers and do not want to conduct these operations out of their home. Additionally, some independent entrepreneurs and freelancers prefer to work outside of their homes in order to avoid distractions while enjoying the camaraderie of people that operate in a similar capacity. This strong demand has allowed real estate firms to develop coworking styled office spaces that allow for low costs for small office space.

One of the most important aspects to this industry is that these firms generate much higher returns on investment as opposed to standard commercial leases. However, on a per square foot basis – the rental fees are generally much higher. This is primarily due to fact that most coworking spaces (or shared office spaces) do not require long term commitments. This creates a moderately higher degree of risk for the owner-operator of the coworking space. Additionally, most coworking spaces include numerous amenities as part of a flat rate program. These amenities often include high speed internet, complimentary snacks, access to conference rooms, and other benefits. This is usually done in order to create a competitive advantage over other coworking space providers.

As it relates to geographic location, these types of businesses are very popular in major metropolitan area markets where large scale commercial office space is extremely expensive. Major metropolitan areas where coworking spaces are prevalent include New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. In markets where startups are popular, coworking spaces can be found frequently.

As it relates to the industry, there are approximately 2,000 companies that provide office space in a “coworking styled” capacity. Each year, these businesses aggregately generate $3 billion per year. The year-on-year growth of this industry has remained near 6% in each of the last five years. This rate of growth is substantially higher than that of the economy as a whole as well as for the commercial real estate leasing industry. This trends is expected to continue for at least the next ten years. It should be noted that the revenues of coworking space industry is very sensitive to negative changes in the economy. During recessions, many freelancers will turn to becoming employees of established businesses. This causes demand for rentals to drop substantially. As such, coworking space companies often need to keep a substantial amount of cash on hand to deal with low occupancy rates.  

In order to remain economic stability, well capitalized firms will often seek to purchase the building that houses these operations. This allows for a mix of coworking space rental income coupled with standard long-term leases. This often alleviates the risk associated with leasing a facility with the intent to subdivide it into coworking spaces. Most financial institutions are very welling to provide the necessary capital in order to acquire a commercial building for this purchase given that real estate is excellent collateral for a debt obligation.

Overall, the industry outlook for this industry is moderately strong. The returns on investment can be substantial during times of strong economic growth. As more people become part of the “gig economy”, the demand for shared office space should remain stable. Only severe and prolonged economic recessions have a major deleterious effect on these businesses ability to generate revenues and profits.

Insurance Agency Industry Research

For all aspects of life, most people want to have some form of insurance. This includes home insurance to protect a residence against catastrophe, car insurance for the same reason, as well as ancillary insurance lines including general property & casualty, life insurance, and supplemental insurance. Given this demand, the number of underwriters and insurance agents has exploded over the past thirty years. Additionally, as many more people are now entrepreneurs – the demand among business owners to have comprehensive insurance is substantial. Almost all businesses need to carry some form of business liability insurance while concurrently having often state-mandated workman’s compensation insurance. Nearly all states require that purchases of insurance are conducted through licensed insurance agents that have production licenses.

Within the United States, there are more than one million actively engaged in the sale, marketing, and production of insurance. The aggregate revenues generated by these agencies remains around $150 billion per annum (which includes fees from the issuance of new policies as well as recurring fees). One of the strongest aspects of this business is that recurring fees are continually generated when an initial customer renews their policy on an annual basis. For established insurance agencies, this allows these businesses to remain profitable and cash flow positive in any economic market.

One of the other core trends within this market is to maintain an expansive presence online. This is due to the fact that most people now find local and regional service providers via internet searches. Most independent agencies aggressively use search engine optimization campaigns coupled with social media in order to boost traffic to their respective websites. This is a highly competitive market, and any online marketing advantage that an agent can have always provides them with a strong foothold within their respective region. Many insurance agencies often spend nearly 8% to 10% of their aggregate revenues on marketing expenditures. This includes traditional marketing costs such as sponsorships of schools and local charitable organizations. Many insurance agents maintain very strong connections with their local community.

It should be noted that the vast majority of insurance agents operate in an affiliated capacity with a major underwriter. The draw to this method of operation is that the ongoing marketing expenses are substantially reduced given that the agent can use the brand name of the underwriter in conjunction with their marketing operations. However, this does limit the types of insurance lines that can be offered given that the affiliated underwriter requires that only their products are offered to prospective and ongoing clients. By operating in an independent capacity, an insurance broker or agent can provide a much greater spectrum of choice to customers. This is one of the reasons why independent insurance agents and brokers are able to have a competitive advantage over affiliated agents. Given the complexity of insurance, the demand for agents that understand this market, how to properly insure property, and how to do this cost effectively – is substantial.

Although many people now use online based portals for specific types of general insurance (such as auto, home, and whole/term life insurance), more complex scenarios and business insurance nearly always requires the assistance of an insurance agent. This need will continue indefinitely.