How to Make a Million

Entrepreneur

These 7 industries hold seven-figure potential. Find out how to get started in each one--and take one step closer to a richer life.

So you want to be a millionaire. You dream of going from rags to riches with money to spare. You brainstorm ideas, searching for the one that's going to catapult you to success and add six zeros to your bank balance.

Though we can't do the work for you, we can direct you down some promising paths. Here are seven industries hand-selected not only for their position in the current economic landscape, but also for their potential. And since the best ideas often spread nationally thanks to entrepreneurs who transform them into franchise concepts, opportunities abound.

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Exciting as it may sound, don't leave your job too hastily, thinking that the path to $1 million magically bypasses rocky terrain. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have. It's the commitment, perseverance and dedication you bring to your business that will allow you to reap the rewards later on. Read on for a glimpse into seven flourishing industries as experts offer tips on how to reach the million-dollar milestone.

Wine

One industry that's ripe for the picking is wine. You'll find opportunities in everything from wine bars to wine tastings to the wine aftermarket. And depending on your particular interests, there's a wide range of positions, from making wine to distributing it to selling it. Thanks to consumers' growing interest in more sophisticated foods and beverages, higher-end wines in particular are growing, says Mike Fisher, a partner with Global Wine Partners LLC, which provides business and financial advisory services for the wine industry. Consequently, Fisher predicts this segment will be trending upward for the long term.

However, the wine industry can be intimidating. Competition can be stiff and startup costs steep, but that's not to say such obstacles are insurmountable or unavoidable. "In this industry, there is a tremendous amount of entrepreneurship, and with that creativity comes an opportunity that doesn't necessarily involve a great deal of startup costs," says Michael Green, 44, who's proof that the industry can accommodate all types of entrepreneurs.

Green's appreciation for wine started at the age of 6, when he would accompany his father to the wine store. As a co-founder of Best Cellars, a wine retail store, and a wine and spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine, Green has built a lifetime of experience. A decade ago, his expertise fully matured when he took the natural next step and launched Liquid Assets Consulting Group, an experiential marketing and consulting group centered on wine and food. Since then, Green has nurtured New York City-based Liquid Assets to a projected $1.4 million in sales this year.

College Planning

At one time, applying for college was simply the first step in getting a higher education. Now it's a competitive process that has given birth to a whole industry aimed at preparing and positioning students for college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2013 college enrollment is projected to increase by 9 percent to 19.7 million students. Meanwhile, the American School Counselor Association reports that the national average ratio of students to counselors is only 476 to 1.

Indeed, the college application and admission process has morphed into a science, offering entrepreneurs with substantial knowledge of the industry unique opportunities to capitalize on their expertise--and incentivizing those who don't yet possess the know-how to hit the books.

"There will be more than 3 million [students] graduating from high school next year," says Katherine Cohen, founder of IvyWise, a decade-old educational consulting company that provides comprehensive admissions counseling services. It's projected to be the largest graduating class in the history of the country, so demand is greater than ever for Cohen's New York City-based business, which employs 10 counselors and serves about 250 clients in 27 states and 17 countries a year.

The IvyWise brand is strong, but that's largely a result of the solid foundation on which it was built. Cohen had read applications for Yale College, taught SAT prep classes and obtained a certificate in college counseling from UCLA before venturing out on her own with IvyWise. And while sales are impressive--a projected $1.5 million this year--she's had to maintain a high level of quality control to hit that mark. Shortly after launching the business, Cohen recorded her methodology into a manual, and about three years ago, she brought in business advisor, Liz Hamburg (who is also the "Launch Pad" columnist for Entrepreneur's StartUps), to implement systems that were crucial for moving forward.

Earlier this year, Cohen and Hamburg launched ApplyWise, a sister company that exists solely online. "We're able to leverage the experience and feedback we've gotten with one-on-one clients and translate it into a much more scalable, robust version that's applicable to people all over the world," says Hamburg, who expects sales for ApplyWise to reach about $400,000 this year.

Ready to put your skills to the test? Then be sure you know your stuff. "Really take the time to study the universities," advises Steven Roy Goodman, author of College Admissions Together and an expert for College Parents of America, an association dedicated to advocating for and serving on behalf of parents of college students. "While it seems like Harvard and Stanford are a lot alike, they're actually quite different, and it's important to understand the subtleties among the schools. Do your homework and spend time on research, because it's research that makes all the difference."

Staffing

If you're a people person and don't mind being caught in the middle, the staffing industry might be the perfect fit. Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association, reports that about 3 million people go to work every day thanks to staffing companies. "The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment services industry will add 691,500 new jobs by 2016. That's close to 20 percent growth over the period they're measuring, and it's about twice as fast as the projections for employment growth overall," says Wahlquist, adding that employment services is projected to be the second-fastest-growing industry as measured by new jobs created.

But the power behind staffing is far from secret, and many players have already cast their nets. Therefore, the best way to establish your business is to carve out your own niche. If you've worked as an accountant, attorney or paralegal, chances are you already have a good network of contacts from which to launch your business, so specializing in those niches will put you ahead of the game. Otherwise, the segments with the most promise, according to Wahlquist, are engineering, IT, legal support, accounting, finance and all the disciplines within health care. Wahlquist also recommends providing search and placement services and partnering with businesses to assist with their short-term and long-term projects and temporary and permanent talent.

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Jill Ater, 45, Jodi Olin, 49, Liz Norwood, 45, and Heidi Crum, 37, have specialized in part-time placement since 2003. They are the founders of 10 til 2, a staffing company based in Denver that earns more than $1 million in annual franchisor sales. "As we study the trends of employees going forward, people are looking more and more for alternative work/life balance opportunities," says Olin. "Studies show that some of the newer members of the work force are looking for work hours that fit for them. They want to have the ability to play a little bit, and they want the ability to work from home. Telecommuting is huge, and the whole idea of flexibility with their business world is very, very important."

In 2006, in response to numerous requests to expand the business, the four founders decided to franchise the concept. Aware of their limitations, they hired a franchise specialist to work out the kinks and outsourced the task of developing a proprietary database. Today, they have safely secured their niche and expect to have 30 franchises sold by the end of this year.

Interested in putting people to work? Begin today by registering for Staffing World, the American Staffing Association's annual convention taking place at the end of this month (October 22 through October 25) in San Diego. Make sure to also visit ASA's website at staffingtoday.net to educate yourself about employment and labor law, which are the basics for succeeding in the industry.

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