Top 10 Recession Proof Businesses to Start

Is there really such thing as a recession proof business? That depends upon who you ask. I’d say the four safest businesses to own, even in a bad economy are a casino, strip club, liquor store or toilet paper manufacturing business. While none of those business ventures interest me personally, it just goes to show that there is plenty of money to be made, even when the economy is in rough shape.

That being said, I prefer more conservative business ventures. And I like businesses with small start-up costs, few or no employees and the ability to work from home (if possible).  I’m also a big fan of residual income and leverage.

In the paragraphs below, I want to share the ten best recession proof business models, as I see it.  Hopefully, these options will get you thinking and help you find a business model that is right for you.  They are listed in no particular order.

1. Vending Machines: Vending machines are typically a pretty steady business, regardless of the economy. I’ve talked with several vending machine owner/operators and they all told me that sales were pretty consistent, year to year.  Most people have a sweet tooth and bad eating habits.  If you can get access to a good location with plenty of foot traffic, you can make some good money in the vending/candy machine business.  Of course, the start up costs could be $10k or more, but that is still cheap compared to most other business models.  If you can make a small profit per machine, all you need to do is buy more vending machines and scale your efforts.

2. Thrift Store: People love to shop, even when they don’t have lots of money. If you visit any local thrift store or second hand store, you will find plenty of shoppers. Everyone is in search of a good deal and will gladly buy something used, for a fraction of what it would cost new.  The tougher times get, the more people will shop at thrift stores.  Where I live in Florida there are thrift stores or every corner.  If you have a passion for buying and selling old or vintage stuff, this might be a good match for you.  The only downside is that you will have to buy or rent a location, get employees and have some fixed overhead expenses.  However, most of your inventory will be donated, or low cost, so you can have high profit margins.

3. eBay: I’ve been selling on eBay for just about twelve years now and I have to tell you that my sales continue to grow each month and each year, regardless of the economy.  As I mentioned earlier, people tend to buy things used, especially in a bad economy.  If you can get access to a good inventory or drop shipper, you can make good money with eBay.  You can drop ship, sell items on consignment, or buy inventory at yard sales, flea markets and auctions like I do.  Best of all, there are no start-up costs, you can work from home and do it part-time or full-time.

4. Buy and Sell Used Cars: You can make good money buying and selling cars, even in a bad economy.  You can have your own dealership or just work from home and flip cars.  Plenty of people do this, especially people with good mechanical knowledge.  You can search eBay, Craigslist and your local newspaper for good deals, clean or fix them up, and resell them for a nice profit.  You can do it one car at a time or work on several projects at a time.  You will need some decent start up capital to make this happen.

5. Job and Head Hunter: If you have decent marketing skills and know how to run a business you could create a job/temp agency.  For a small fee you could get paid to help people find a job.  You could either work for the company/employer or the person looking for a job.  With more and more people out of work, this could be a very lucrative business model.  If you are going to choose this business model, I suggest you pick a targeted niche, so you have less competition.  For instance, you could have a job agency for construction workers, bookkeepers, janitors, or anything else.  

6. Network Marketing: More and more people are looking to start their own home based business in today’s economy. When people lose their jobs (or income) many of them will search the Internet in search of finding their own home based business. Depending upon your ambition or skill set you could make a nice part-time or full-time income with network marketing.  The secret is to find a company with products you are really passionate about and to team up with someone successful.  The biggest benefit of MLM is that you can build up a residual income, so you don’t have to start over at zero every single month.  This is my favorite business model.  I personally believe it is the best way for the average person to build wealth and attain financial freedom.

7. Hot Dog Stand: Some people might laugh at this one, but I’ve found that people have to eat. And hot dog stands are a great recession proof business. That’s one of the reasons that McDonald’s and Burger King do so well. When people can’t afford to go to a good restaurant, they get fast food instead. They offer cheap food. And a hot dog stand is a good alternative to a traditional burger joint. I know a couple people who make a substantial income selling hot dogs from a local stand, even in a bad economy.  You can get started for a few grand or less.  You can set your own hours and if things work out well for you, you can get a second or third location. Another good option might be to lease your stand to someone else, and let them run it, for a set amount each month.

8. Information Marketing – I LOVE information marketing.  No matter how bad the economy gets, people are always looking for information to solve their problems or improve their lives. You can take your knowledge about a specific topic and create eBooks, DVDs, CDs, special reports, and webinars and sell them for a nice profit.  Most information products sell for a seven to twenty times mark up, so the profit margins are very high.  Of course, you’ll have to learn how to create your own information products and promote them.  This model might not be a good fit for everyone, but I can assure you that it is very lucrative.

9. Weight Loss – I added weight loss to the list because people are ALWAYS looking for ways to lose weight, even in a bad economy.  We live in a society where two out of three people are obese or significantly overweight.  You could sell weight loss products, be a personal trainer, a weight loss coach, create your own weight loss products to sell, conduct weight loss retreats and seminars, or anything else.  This is a huge niche with people who are willing to spend money to transform their health.  That’s why I think it’s a perfect recession proof business.

10. Lawn Care Business – I had to add lawn care business to my list of recession proof businesses.  My wife and I live in Florida and I can tell you that the lawn care business is booming down here.  Most people have no desire to mow their own lawn, pull weeds, or do landscaping. This offers a significant opportunity to build a successful recession proof business. I understand that every community is different, but I believe that most people will pay for a lawn care service, even when the economy is down and out and money is tight.

Bonus Idea

As a special bonus idea, I think starting a blog or website would be a perfect recession proof business.  It’s low cost and easy to get started.  You could pick a topic you are passionate about and create a blog or website about that topic.  The internet continues to grow every year and more and more people are now shopping online.  This trend will continue.  You can have your own website for less than $100 per YEAR, so it’s very inexpensive and easy to get started.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these the ten best recession proof businesses to start, as I see it. Obviously, these business models are just my opinion. Like anything in life, you should do your due diligence before you choose a business model. Find something that makes sense to you and matches your talents, budget and goals.  All businesses involve some type of risk.  There is no guarantee of success in any type of business.  Individual results will vary.

What are your thoughts? What do you think are the best recession proof businesses to choose from?  Leave a comment to tell me what you think!

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional

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7 thoughts on “Top 10 Recession Proof Businesses to Start”

  1. I believe there are a lot of opportunities for people business wise to defeat the recession issues. As a writer, I find my business booming, and people are buying my books, so that hasn’t been hurt. Here in Puerto Rico, there are many people who sell bottles of water and gatorade at street stop lights. I know they are doing quite well. A person can buy a case of water for $3.99 and sell them for $1 each. that is $20 profit on each case, and I have heard that many of these people sell 1 case of water on average every 1/2 hour. So in an 8 hour day, the profits add up to $320 which doesn’t even take in the gatorade or candy bars. I have even considered getting out and doing this, and if I throw in a card with my network marketing business, who knows??? LOL

  2. When I was a child my dad had a vending machine business. He had machines at about 6 office locations and even during times you’d expect sales to drop, my dad did always see relatively consistent sales. I think because people are only spending a dollar or so at a time, it doesn’t seem like a huge expense and so it isn’t something people consider cutting out as it won’t save huge amounts of money. My dad was able to us profits to restock the machines and still have a decent amount left over for saving or my allowance if I helped out.

  3. I’d choose Information Marketing. Making money while helping others by providing valuable information.

    Also I agree that starting a website is a ressession-proof business. I’m a believer in it being a business that requires minimum start-up capital. You have many options as far as monetization goes, as long as you work hard to drive traffic to your site, and post high quality content on it, you can make it a profitable venture for you.

  4. Very good post Chuck!

    I especially like the hot dog stand. Throughout time, people need to eat, and if you have a reasonably priced food item, no matter the economy, people will buy.

    Thanks for sharing all of these.

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