An actionable overview of business in USA is practically impossible in a small article. As the world’s largest and richest market, the diversity of business is overwhelming. From agriculture to space and defence, US business covers a vast range.
Small businesses could use this vast range as an opportunity by:
- Making ancillary products for the big units,
- Obtaining sub-contracts from big contractors, or
- Providing some business services to the large businesses.
Another opportunity is to identify a niche product with too low volumes to interest larger businesses.
Let us look at some (only some) major sectors of US industry. You might get some specific business ideas as you go through these outlines.
Agriculture includes not only grains, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables but also animals and animal/poulty/diary products, cotton, wool, sugar, rubber and spices. It excludes fish, forestry, manufactured tobacco and leather products.
US agricultural products such as almonds, sunflower oil, cattle hides, walnuts, wheat and rice depend heavily on overseas markets. US agricultural exports exceeded $61 billion in 2004. Imports amounted to $54 billion during the same year.
Manufacturing is generally defined as converting materials, components and substances into a different form through physical (say,by hand), mechanical (using machinery) or chemical processes.
In the US, manufacturing is a vast industry including food products, beverages, textiles, wood products, paper, petroleum, different kinds of chemicals & pharmaceuticals, plastics, metals, minerals, metal fabrication, a vast range of machineries, computers, communication equipment & other electronic products, electrical equipment, tranportation equipment, furniture and many other items.
USA has become a high cost economy and this has led to lean manufacturing practices. Manufacturing facilities were also moving to other countries. Both these resulted in job losses. This led to an outcry and creation of associations lobbying for restrictive trade policies.
In the long term, such restrictive policies are more likely to harm US interests, in the form of higher costs of goods and adoption of retaliatory restrictions by affected countries against US merchandise exports.
A better approach would be to focus on knowledge-intensive industries utilizing the advanced technical know-how of US. The country has an extensive R&D infrastructure and the spinoffs could create new products and industries.
There are institutions that support small businesses work with such technologies. For example, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program highlights emerging technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification and Nanotechnology.
Yet another strategy is to adopt advanced technology and excellent management practices leading to minimizing waste and reducing costs. Managers must learn to adopt strategic planning (including selection of best technology) and effective execution of the strategies. These could lead to competitive advantages for US industry.
Job losses at individual level are best tackled by becoming an independent income earner. You could start a small business producing niche products or rendering services in high demand. This Web site provides guidance for such small business entrepreneurs, explaining the implications of starting a business and the approach that would lead to business success.
One excellent self-employment opportunity is in the construction industry. There is a continuing demand for constructing new structures and for repairs, alterations and additions to existing structures. The kinds of structures include houses, apartments, business premises, educational institutions, hospitals, roads and other infrastructural facilities.
You could take up building contracts, infrastructural work contracts (such as building sewers, a simple example) or focus on a specialty construction trade such as carpentry or painting. General contractors with overall responsibility for a project usually sub contract many of the tasks and this is an excellent opportunity for the small businessperson.
Forests not only produce timber (destroying the forest in the process) but could also be used for scenic tourism & other recreational purposes and as wildlife habitat. Governments increasingly insist that timber felling be compensated through replanting and that forests be managed in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Forest produce are in demand for the numerous products that could be produced from them. These secondary products include plywood, paper and fuelwood, as well as produce such as nuts and ornamental plants.
An environmentally healthy forestry venture is forest nurseries, growing trees for reforestation. Another comparatively harmless venture is gathering forest produce such as seeds, berries, ferns and wildflowers.
Support to large trawlers, floating processors and other large-scale fishing facilities generally led to overfishing, and also greater levels of pollution. The emphasis is now shifting to smaller fishing vessels and traditional fisheries. These smaller scale operations help sustainable fishing instead of depleting fish stocks dangerously.
Non-polluting and eco-friendly aquaculture could also help in the effort to supplement fish stocks without risk of overfishing.
Predominance of the services industry characterises developed economies and as the most developed economy, US services industry is a huge one (estimated at $11 trillion excluding wholesale and retail services). US financial services, legal services and other service sectors have been seeking entry into the restrictive world markets for services.
Domestically, services cover a huge range – from computer & information services through wholesale & retail, banking & insurance, legal & medical, logistics, entertainment and waste-management to individual carpentry, childcare and house-painting services. If you could look around and find some service people need desperately, you could be in business with little investment.
There are other major business sectors in USA such as Mining & Minerals. Even small businesses could find business opportunities in such sectors. There are numerous associations and other information sources for each industry in the USA. By tapping just the free sources, you could find a business opportunity.
After narrowing down your options, you could get industry reports spending a little money. These reports would tell you about the marketing and operating practices in the industry. Armed with authentic key information, you could develop a sound business program. Use the resources of this web site in deveoping your small business in the US.