Since the Covid-19 pandemic, tens of millions of people have been left without work. Working for a company that you thought was stable has suddenly become an uncertain proposition for many. During these unprecedented times, when your job is at stake, going into business for yourself gives you the power to be your own boss. It also helps you take control of your income and create a work-life balance. 

From experience, I know it is not an easy decision to start your own business. I was in a similar situation during the ‘01 recession, hanging on to a corporate job that I was afraid to lose. But, despite fearing the unknown, I took a plunge, left my job, and started my own business. Yes, it was a bold decision but one that I never regretted. 

The key was to choose a business idea that can weather the unpredictable markets. While many of the industries that we thought contained recession-proof business opportunities have changed, there are still some that are faring just fine—and even thriving. Let’s walk through some of them and take a closer look at the one I chose for myself.  

recession proof (small) businesses (ideas)

Top 5 Small Business Ideas to Ride Out the Recession—And Beyond

While many of us experienced past recessions, this Covid-19-driven recession is different.  Social distancing guidelines are affecting how many normal businesses work. That’s why you don’t want to develop a small business in travel and hospitality, retail, restaurants, bars, or personal care services. These small businesses have typically been considered recession-proof but are struggling right now. 

The most successful businesses in this Coronavirus economy have been able to pivot toward technology for contactless or remote delivery of their products and services. So, when considering a move to open a small business during this recession, it is important to recognize the need to be creative about your product or service so that you can best promote your particular talents and skills. 

Here are a handful of options for reimagining a recession-proof small business idea. 

Health and Fitness

With gyms closed down in many places, people are looking out for ways to stay fit and healthy. Yoga mats are ranking higher in Amazon’s best-seller list and so are the number of viewers watching health and fitness videos on Youtube. Here is your chance to start a small business by offering fitness tips or healthy lifestyle advice remotely. With more people focusing on their health and fitness nowadays, you can earn a loyal base of subscribers for your videos.   

Pro: There is a wide scope to expand your business by branching out to various aspects of the health and fitness training industry. Yoga, life coaching, nutrition, diet-specific recipes, fitness accessories, are just some ideas. If you are really good at it, you can partner with corporate firms as well who are offering in-person yoga classes online and organizing virtual fitness groups to ensure their employees’ well-being during this time.

Con: You may have to get certified or hire someone with the necessary credentials to start the business in the first place. There is a lot of competition in the space right now, so you would need a strong advertising budget and marketing strategies to promote your business.


A quick look at Etsy will make you realize that there is a large market for sellers with crocheting and sewing skills to make money. With a nominal fee per listing, artists have easy access to sell handmade goods on a platform that has a robust base of over 45 million active buyers. This simple and inexpensive business model of Etsy makes it easier for small-scale sellers to continue on this online marketplace regardless of whether or not brick-and-mortar stores are open. With face masks widely recommended as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, there is a huge potential online market for you to tap into. 

Pro: You can run the business smoothly from your home and even with kids around. Selling your goods on established online marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy reduces your marketing costs as well. 

Con:  There is growing competition in the online marketplace so it can be tough to stay visible with unique and creative items that would catch a buyer’s attention. And, postal services are not especially reliable, making it difficult to ship orders to customers.  


During a recession, as we are seeing, many employers minimize their workforce to cut down budgets. The low overhead cost of outsourcing many jobs compared makes freelancing a recession-proof career option. Depending on your knowledge set, you can freelance as a writer, tutor, consultant, accountant, graphic designer, even a virtual assistant, or almost anything you can imagine. 

Pro: You can enjoy working from your home office and making your own hours.

Con: On popular freelance networks, companies often hire the freelancer who bids the lowest hourly rate. Unless you are an experienced freelancer, you can’t demand a certain pay rate.   

Online garden supplies and services

Home gardening has gained popularity across the U.S. during Coronavirus. The Google search trends for terms like ‘home garden’ hit an all-time high in May this year when the pandemic was in full swing. Following social distancing guidelines and minimizing trips to grocery stores, people are trying to be self-sustainable with homegrown vegetables. This has led to an increased demand for seeds, soil, garden supplies, tools, and services. You can fill this need by setting up an online shop. 

Pro: Once established, garden maintenance is regular and necessary, so your online store can grow a steady customer base over time. 

Con: You have to make an initial investment in setting up an online platform and buy the products to sell. And, you may experience a seasonable drop in business. 

Real Estate Investing 

The real estate market has its own ups and downs yet, during a recession, real estate investments tend to fare better than other investments as they are less volatile than stocks and bonds. Recession is particularly the time when distressed homeowners facing foreclosure notices need to sell off their properties quickly. This gives you the opportunity to buy real estate, rehab the houses and then sell with potentially solid margins. So, you hold the potential to increase your financial security while working remotely. Nowadays, homeowners are offering tours of their properties by video camera and deals are getting closed remotely with e-signatures on documents.   

Pro: And, you don’t need any certifications or particular skill set to get started working in this year-round industry.  And, you can do it remotely.

Con: You will need some training, marketing, and support to get started on the right foot. Luckily, all that is readily available!

Comparing 5 Recession-proof Business Ideas 

Business Idea Pro Con
Fitness and health Ability to branch out to many different industry niches May need industry certification and a large advertising budget
Craft business  Rising demand for face masks, craft supplies, and DIY craft videos High competition to stay visible; unreliable postal services make it difficult to ship orders to customers
Freelancing Working from the home office, making your own hours Less income potential due to extremely competitive rates in the field, especially from overseas 
Online garden supplies and services Regular, reliable work with a specific set of customers Seasonal customer base 
Real estate investing Recession-drive opportunities for growth with year-round, remote work options Need one week for professional  real estate investment training


Looking at the above options, real estate investing seems to be the most stable recession-proof business idea. Of course, that’s why I chose it! 

How to Get Started With Your Best Recession-proof Business Option

When I started my professional real estate investing business back in ‘01, I knew I would need some training, tools, marketing, and support to reach my entrepreneurial goals. Fortunately, I found an opportunity that helped establish my business—even in tough market conditions. By joining the nationwide network of independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchises, I gained access to:

  • Comprehensive Training: The initial one-week of comprehensive real estate investment training helped me understand all the essentials including evaluating the ROI of property, managing the buying process, financing deals, and planning the best exit strategies. 
  • Qualified Leads: The nationally-known and trusted “We Buy Ugly Houses®” marketing campaign ensures that distressed homeowners know whom to call when they need help—me! This means that I have a steady pipeline of qualified leads to work on. 
  • Tools: The proprietary tools integrated on a single platform provide me with an end-to-end sales process. 
  • Support: From day one, I was connected to a seasoned mentor who was there to support me to work through even the most challenging questions. 

With the help of these tools and support of the HomeVestors® team, I was able to transform my small business idea into an established and stable business. 

If you are ready to build a recession-proof business too, call HomeVestors® today


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