Careers Business Ownership The Best Small Businesses to Start in a Recession Share PINTEREST Email Print Business Ownership Operations & Success Business Insurance Sustainable Businesses Supply Chain Management Operations & Technology Marketing Market Research Business Law & Taxes Business Finance Accounting Industries Becoming an Owner By Rosemary Carlson Rosemary Carlson Rosemary Carlson is a finance instructor, author, and consultant. Along with teaching finance for nearly three decades at schools including the University of Kentucky, Rosemary has served as a financial consultant for companies including Accenture and has developed online course materials in finance for universities and corporations. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 04/09/20 Yes, you can still start a small business during a recession. Some small businesses even thrive in a difficult economy. These businesses are called counter-cyclical or recession-proof businesses. Starting any small business during a recession is a baptism by fire, but if you can survive, you will thrive as the economy recovers. The following business ideas are viable during a recession. As the economy recovers, they will still be sustainable businesses that will prosper. 01 of 11 Accounting Services krisanapong detraphiphat / Getty Images Who would guess that accounting services would prosper in a recession? Rich Walker, an executive with Intuit, once said in an interview that having an accountant as a close business advisor during uncertain economic times gave the.small business more confidence in handling its financial affairs, particularly at tax time. 02 of 11 Bulk Food Sales When economic times are tough, many people buy food in bulk. They buy large quantities of items like flour, sugar, laundry detergent and any other staple products they use on a long-term basis. A good idea for a small business is a bulk foods operation that services these bulk shoppers. 03 of 11 Affordable Luxury Items Kryssia Campos / Getty Images Affordable luxury items seem like a contradiction, but they don't have to be. During a recession, people tend to feel deprived. Starting a small retail operation that sells a mid-level luxury chocolate instead of a top-level luxury chocolate, for instance, might do very well. An ice cream shop that sells a cut-above regular ice cream, but in small quantities, might prosper. You could start a travel agency that specializes in affordable, yet luxurious or special vacations. 04 of 11 Debt Collection Agency gustavofrazao / Getty Images An obvious business to start during a recession is a debt collection agency since many people can't afford payments on credit cards or other debt during a recession. To reduce your overhead costs, you can run this type of business out of your home. 05 of 11 Resume-Writing Services During a recession, unemployment is high. Many people lose their jobs. Along with unemployment, underemployment (where people aren't working up to their potential) is also rampant. Everyone is looking to polish up their resume. There is a demand for experienced resume writers, another business you can run out of your home. 06 of 11 Auto Repair Services Rafal Rodzoch / Getty Images Auto repair services grow by leaps and bounds during a recession. The last thing people want to do during a recession is to make a large purchase like a car. They try to keep their current cars running instead. If you are an unemployed auto mechanic or if you are a business manager who wants to start an auto repair business, you're in luck during a recession. It's probably one of the best businesses you can start. Even when the recession is over, there is always a demand for auto mechanics. 07 of 11 Home Staging jodiejohnson / Getty Images Plus Staging a home before you sell it has become a hot business. During a recession, it is especially difficult to sell a home. A home stager is very important. Simply put, a home stager makes your house look good and appealing to possible buyers. They know what buyers want and how to make your home appeal to them. If you are an interior decorator, this is a recession-resistant business for you. 08 of 11 Virtual Assistant It wasn't that long ago that the job of Virtual Assistant simply didn't exist. During a recession, this job tends to grow as companies may choose not to hire expensive support staff people on site. As a result, they have had to outsource many functions. The Virtual Assistant may serve as an administrative assistant to executives, CEO's, entrepreneurs, or entire businesses. The communication is done online and on the telephone. Virtual Assistants are cheaper and can be just as efficient for businesses as in-house assistants. The job is nearly recession-proof. 09 of 11 Tutoring Services PeopleImages / Getty Images Tutoring services is another job that is virtually recession-proof. Many individuals go back to college when the job market is tight. As different sorts of jobs become available, such as jobs in green industries, tutoring services are going to be even more in demand. If you are a tutor, you can conduct your business online, in person, or both, which makes it very versatile. If your field is a popular field, then all the better as your services will be in high demand. 10 of 11 Food Truck Would you like to start a business serving food but you feel like the entry costs of starting the business are too high? Consider a food truck. You don't have the cost of buying a franchise or an existing sit-down restaurant. You may be able to find a used truck that you can spend a minimal amount fitting it to suit your needs. In the time of social distancing, your customers can order and eat at a comfortable distance from each other. If one location doesn't suit you, you can drive to another one. 11 of 11 Repair Services Professional During a recession, people need repair services because they don't usually have the money to buy new things. Maybe someone has a leaky roof that can be patched instead of the entire roof replaced. There are clogged sinks and clogged plumbing. Problems with appliances. Any number of small things that don't require licensed professionals, at least not in the short-run. This is a business where there is almost no initial investment unless you need to add to your tool collection, and you can earn money fairly quickly.