What business to start in 2012: Career coaching

With unemployment still rising, start-ups helping candidates hone their CVs, interview or pitching skills look set to do well this year

1. Career coaching
2. Cycling
3. Dance and Zumba
4. Frozen yoghurt
5. Hobby and crafts
6. Independent coffee shops
7. Mobile apps
8. Smartphone repairs
9. Social gaming
10. The Olympics

Why is it so promising?

With more and more people being made redundant during the economic downturn, job searches are at an all-time high. According to research published late last year, online demand for jobs in the UK rose by more than 8% in 2011, and further growth is likely in the coming months.

In addition to creating a recruitment agency or job search site, you could set up a CV writing business, or an interview coaching service. There are plenty of opportunities to explore.

What are the specific opportunities?

If you’re thinking of setting up your own recruitment business or job board, the market is extremely congested. The recruitment sector is dominated by nationwide firms such as Adecco and Kelly Services, while the lion’s share of the online job market is split between a handful of huge sites. For example, the Monster job site, which was originally founded in America, garnered more than 150 million CVs in 2009, while Fish4Jobs receives more than 1.3 million job postings a month.

If you want to penetrate this bulging market, it’s best to focus on a particular industry. 2011 saw particularly high levels of demand in the hospitality, catering, accountancy and engineering sectors, so a company which specialises in placing staff in these industries may have success.

Otherwise, a CV coaching business could be well worth looking into. People often find it hard to promote themselves in print, and many would rather pass the task of writing a long and time-consuming resumé on to a specialist.

Robin Webb, who set up his own CV writing business, CV Master Careers, in 2004, says: “We are seeing a steady upturn in demand for CV coaching – a lot of people are out of work and many more are fearing it will happen to them. People are being forced to make career changes and many are worried about it, so there is a big market out there. But you have to be flexible, and be prepared to work very hard.”

Alternatively, you may want to think about setting up a pitch or presentation coaching firm. In the wake of Dragons’ Den, thousands of people are trying to start their own businesses, and secure funding or contracts from established players. This is very much an emerging specialism, and you could grab a huge slice of the action by getting in there early. However, to be successful you will need top-notch communication skills, both written and verbal.

“We are seeing a steady upturn in demand for CV coaching. A lot of people are out of work and many more are fearing it will happen to them” 

Who’s doing it?

Mai Davies, www.maidavies.co.uk

“My new pitch-coaching business is based on my experience as a national broadcaster and journalist. I’ve been an anchor for Sky News, I’ve presented for ITV Politics, and I still work for the BBC.

“My consultancy service has developed gradually, around my broadcast work. As a journalist I often get asked to run media training courses for multi-nationals and NGOs, and it’s just snowballed. Several PR companies have also approached me with celebrities needing media training for charity campaigns, and I train other presenters in the art of presenting talk shows.

“I’m in the process of formalising my pitch business right now, but I’m already seeing loads of demand. I was invited to provide specialist pitching advice at Tech Entrepreneurs Week in December, and my client base includes both businesses and individuals. It’s a real growth area, partly because people are finding it so hard to get funding. The banks are proving difficult, and competition is fierce. 

“My clients are based all over the UK and abroad, so much of the pitch training is done online. Small companies realise that it’s no good spending time and money on your business and then delivering a substandard pitch. If you’re asking for thousands, it’s wise to get your pitch perfect.

“As a coach, a lot of what I do is about timing. When you’re pitching, you can’t cover someone in a blizzard of information, you have to stage it so it’s heard in the right way. If you get it right, you’ll have them in the palm of your hand; if you get it wrong, you’ve lost them almost straightaway. As broadcasters, we get 10 seconds before someone picks up the remote control, so I’m well-versed in this challenge!”

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