23 Recession-Proof Startup Ideas
Last Updated: By TRUiC Team
Building a successful startup company is challenging enough in the good times, but how can you guarantee you’ll continue getting sales and acquiring customers when times get tough and a recession looms on the horizon?
One of the best ways to “recession-proof” your startup is to provide products and services that continue to be in demand, even when the economy is struggling.
In this guide, we’re going to walk through several recession-proof startup ideas you can consider. The market you serve and the products and services you provide are some of the most important factors of a successful startup.
If you can start a business that stays in high demand in a struggling economy, you’ll be better prepared than a vast majority of business owners out there today.
Recommended: Check out our full list of the best startup ideas and our guide on how to start a startup.
Startup Ideas to Launch in a Recession
You’ve likely experienced “writer’s block” at one point or another, but have you ever struggled to come up with a startup idea that fits your interests, targets a reliable market, and is recession-proof at the same time?
These startup ideas are intended to get your creativity flowing and spark ideas for what companies you can start in good and bad times. Having a recession-proof startup means that your products and services continue to be in demand, and you continue generating revenue and being profitable no matter what happens in the broad economy.
1. Online Courses
Online courses are a great way to monetize your knowledge and pass on your experience and everything you’ve learned to your students. No matter how the economy is doing, people will always be seeking knowledge about their hobbies, interests, and a wide array of other topics they happen to have an interest in.
If your business can create an online course and begin promoting it online, either to your audience or through partnerships and advertising, you’ll be able to build a solid base of customers in your niche, even if a recession happens to hit the economy. Having a group of customers who are all interested in your online course can be incredibly beneficial since you can sell them tangential and related products that also solve their needs, wants, and problems.
Related: See our full list of startup ideas for education entrepreneurs.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a flexible business model where you partner with companies and brands, sell their products or services, and receive a commission payment for every conversion and sale.
No matter what the economic situation might look like, there will always be companies willing to pay your startup a percentage of each sale. Since affiliate marketing is a win-win situation where everyone gets paid, it can be a great way to jump into any industry quickly and start using your marketing skills to begin acquiring customers as an affiliate from the get-go.
Freelancers have their own set of clients and have full control over how they work, where they work, and when they work. As a freelancer, you’ll be able to use your skills and knowledge to help clients in need and get paid on a job-by-job basis.
Starting a freelancing business can be an excellent idea if your skills are highly in demand in a recessionary environment. For example, if you help businesses troubleshoot critical networking infrastructure as a freelancer, you’ll be able to find work in any economic situation as long as companies are still having networking issues.
Freelancing is the ultimate form of flexible work, letting you operate when you want, where you want, and completely on your own terms.
4. Telehealth Services
No matter the economic outlook, medicine and healthcare will always be in demand as long as humans walk the earth. Starting a telehealth services company that allows patients to have visits with their doctor remotely can be a great way to build a lasting startup in the healthcare industry, especially if you can distinguish your telehealth services from the competition.
If your telehealth services are faster, more effective, easier to understand, or in any way better than your largest competitors, you’ll immediately have a competitive advantage and the ability to break into the healthcare sector successfully.
Operating a telehealth services company can be incredibly rewarding, as you’ll know that you’re helping patients get the care they need from anywhere in the world without having to visit their doctor in person (unless required for further follow-ups).
Get inspired by these innovative healthcare startups and health tech startups.
5. Logistics + Delivery Services
As long as online shopping continues to exist, logistics and delivery services will always be in demand.
Starting a logistics and delivery services company can be challenging at first, but it’ll become extremely rewarding further down the line when you realize just how important your role is in the supply chain.
Businesses, individuals, and communities all rely on logistics and delivery companies to make sure they receive their orders on time and without any physical damage. If you can break into this industry and make your startup stand out from the crowd, there’s no doubt that you’ll do well in any type of economic environment.
6. Baby Products
With approximately 385,000 babies being born every day, baby products are a great recession-proof industry to go into.
Your customer base will primarily be young moms looking out for their newborns and trying to give them the best life possible, meaning they are passionate buyers willing to splurge on something that significantly improves their baby’s life.
If you have a baby product to sell or an idea for a brand new product that’ll transform the industry, building a startup in the baby industry can be very lucrative and rewarding if done right.
7. Information Technology (IT) Startup
Corporations and businesses all over the world need information technology (IT) professionals to solve networking, infrastructure, and technological problems in their organizations. As long as their business is operating, there will be a consistent demand for IT companies who can help their clients solve problems in the Information Technology world.
Due to the certifications and training required for most IT roles, businesses are better off hiring a specialized firm to get the job done right the first time. Building a startup that specializes in IT work can be a great way to build a thriving business in any economy.
Related: See our full list of the best tech startup ideas.
Phones, text messaging, and video conferencing aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even in a recessionary environment, people still need to interact with their friends, loved ones, and work colleagues on a regular basis.
Building a startup in the telecommunications industry will allow you to help facilitate, repair, build, or even design the communications networks all of us use on a daily basis. Even though most people take these networks for granted, their lives would look very different if they weren’t well-maintained and carefully looked after every single day.
9. Pet Products
Our furry friends are considered family in both the good times and bad, and having our pets next to us can often help us relax, de-stress, and feel happier as a whole. During a recession, some people will become even more attached to their pets and even be willing to forego certain expenses for themselves to ensure their pets are well cared for.
If you love animals and want to provide products specifically designed for pets, creating a pet products startup just might be the perfect opportunity for you.
Related: See our full list of startup ideas for animal lovers and top pet startups to follow.
10. Repairs Startup
Nothing we buy is ever permanent, and things tend to break after enough wear and tear. A startup company specializing in repairs, whether mechanical products, electrical products, or even household appliances, can be a smart idea given that there’s no shortage of customers needing items repaired.
Having an item repaired, especially a costly one, can be significantly less expensive than purchasing a brand new item of that same type. Customers understand this and will seek repair companies if they know they can get a better deal there rather than replacing the item altogether.
11. Digital Marketing
In today’s modern world of rapidly advancing technology, digital marketing will continue to be a business that can operate in any environment. As a digital marketing startup, you’ll find yourself helping clients sell their products and services online through websites, paid advertising, social media marketing, and other similar techniques.
If you love technology and want to jump into the world of marketing, digital marketing can be an excellent industry that’s at the intersection of both of these exciting paths.
12. Cybersecurity Startup
As unfortunate as it is, individuals and companies continue to be hacked, infected with viruses, and threatened with ransomware and malware on a regular basis.
Cybersecurity startups are in demand in every type of economic environment due to their ability to fight back against cybercriminals and help businesses restore data and prevent hacks from occurring in the future.
For any founder who has had an interest in cybersecurity, this is a great field that continues to see increasing demand, especially as cybercriminals continue to target larger organizations who have the budget to hire professional firms to implement protection systems, firewalls, and other countermeasures.
Get inspired by checking out our interview with the founder of Aadya Security.
13. Meal Replacement Products
Meal replacement products are always in need, especially if someone wants to lose weight or have a delicious shake they can consume that has all of the nutrients and calories they need to get through the day.
Meal replacement product startup companies will be in demand as long as people continue searching for meal replacement solutions, making this a great industry to jump into.
14. Ecommerce Startup
We all shop online these days, and starting your own ecommerce business can be a great way to jump into the industry and begin selling your products to millions of potential consumers.
Most ecommerce startups sell directly to consumers and drive traffic to their stores by partnering with influencers, utilizing advertising, or through digital marketing.
Related: See our full list of ecommerce startup ideas.
15. Clean Beauty Products
Building a startup that offers clean beauty products will be in demand even in a recessionary environment.
Bad chemicals, parabens, and other pollutants plague many of the beauty products on the shelves today, and there will always be customers searching for optimal solutions that are clean and free of these negative additives.
16. Online Resource Platform
We all need resources and references to pull from once in a while, and starting a company that creates these resources can be lucrative in any economic environment.
Whether you decide to build a simple website or a detailed database of helpful resources, it can be monetized through advertising or charging a monthly fee for access to the resources provided. Overall, starting an online resource platform can be great for entrepreneurs who know how to aggregate and compile resources and knowledge into simple-to-understand formats.
17. Mental Healthcare Startup
Mental health affects millions of adults worldwide, and by building a startup that aims to help patients arrive at better outcomes, you’ll be sought after and praised by both patients and their families.
Mental health companies will continue to thrive no matter the economic outlook due to the fact that they are actively helping patients make their way toward recovery and assisting them with their mental health concerns, problems, and ailments.
18. Cleaning Products
No matter what the economy is doing, cleaning products will always be in demand. There’s never a shortage of spills, stains, or dirt to clean up in households and businesses around the world.
If you have an idea for a new or improved cleaning product that can transform the industry, building a startup in this space will allow you to reach millions of customers who need better cleaning solutions in their daily lives.
19. Fintech Startup
Financial technology has been an industry that’s seen rapid growth in recent years, especially as more and more banking customers want to take their finances into their own hands and understand where they’re spending their money.
As a fintech startup, you can help customers navigate their finances, set budgets, or see spending data in an easy-to-understand manner. Furthermore, some Fintech startups service large corporations or organizations, giving them the tools they need to simplify their accounting or make their business operations more efficient.
The fintech space will exist in a recession and in a great economy since organizations are always looking for ways to optimize their finances and accounting departments.
Get inspired by checking out our interview with the founders of fintech startup Debbie.
20. Candy Products
Your sweet tooth won’t go away during a recession; in fact, it might only grow larger! It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t like candy products.
By building a startup that either provides candy wholesale to retail stores or sells boutique candy boxes online directly to consumers, you’ll be helping satisfy the sweet tooth of millions of happy customers around the world.
21. Virtual Assistant Services
No matter the economic outlook, virtual assistants will always be in demand for certain industries, especially when it’s easier for a company to hire VAs on a contractual basis instead of onboarding a brand new full-time employee.
Most virtual assistants do administrative work, scheduling, and minor tasks for companies or individuals who want to save time.
By building a virtual assistant service startup, you’ll be providing virtual assistants to the companies or individuals who need them and monetizing the connections you make and the work the VAs do for your clients.
22. Home Security Products
Many people regularly worry about theft, something that a well-intentioned home security startup can potentially provide a solid solution for.
Homeowners are always looking for the best security products on the market, and if you can prove to them that you’ve developed an innovative new security solution or improved your current home security products in a significant way, customers will want to do business with your company over and over, even if the economy is in a recession.
23. Subscription Startup
Subscriptions are a great business model, even in recessions, due to the monthly recurring revenue you generate.
You can create a subscription box that provides customers with boutique dog treats every month or perhaps assemble a box of unique chocolates from around the world that satisfies their sugar cravings. If subscription boxes aren’t your thing, you can charge customers monthly for an information product, or have a subscription built-in to your software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup.
There's no shortage of ideas within the subscription space, and having a product people are willing to pay for on a recurring basis is one of the best ways to generate cash flow over time.