Top 7 Best 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.  In the paragraphs below, I want to share the seven 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.

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.  So if you can get access to a good location with plenty of foot traffic, you can make some money in vending/candy machine business.  Of course, the start up costs could be $10k or more, but that is still cheap compared to most 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 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.

recession proof business3. eBay: I’ve been selling on eBay for just about ten 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.  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.

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.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these the seven best recession proof businesses to start, as I see it. Obviously, these are just my opinion. Like anything in life, you should do your due diligence before you choose a business model. All businesses involve some type of risk.  And 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!

16 thoughts on “Top 7 Best Recession Proof Businesses to Start

  1. Dee Foster

    This is a great round up of recession proof businesses. Also, I think any service oriented/knowledge based business can also be very lucrative. Preparing taxes, financial advice. Pretty much any pain can be turned into someone’s gain during a recession if they have the foresight to recognize the opportunities. While we don’t like to capitalize on other’s misfortune, there is not denying that some of the greatest businesses were birth out of some ones pain during times of recession and depression.

  2. Diamond Grant

    Who would think that a hot dog stand would be a solid and profitable business to invest in? However, the reasoning behind the success of this business makes sense to me. People will always be hungry and people will always need to eat. This type of business is especially profitable in big cities where thousands of people (hungry people) walk the streets each day. Plus, I have often found that the hotdogs I purchase at those hotdog stands are better than the ones I buy in the restaurants for reasons I don’t quite understand.

  3. Greg Boudonck

    I have often considered opening a hot dog stand or something similar.

    In Puerto Rico where I have lived for the last 2+ years, many people have roadside stands and do quite well. they sell fruits and vegetables. Some do sell hotdogs, hamburgers or Puerto Rican foods such as Bacalaitos.

    Another recession proof business I have seen on this enchanted island are the people who stand at stop lights selling bottles of water and Gatorade. They are able to buy a case of water for $2.99 and sell each bottle for $1. That is a great profit margin.

    No matter what the economy is sitting at, there is always something people will need or want. It just takes ambition and a good attitude.

  4. Faith A. Coleman MD

    I hear the funeral business is just about a sure thing, if there is such a thing as a sure thing. There’s a tv show about insanely insane cheapskates. One couple paid for a cheap box, with the plan to bury the first one who dies in it, when the 2nd dies they’ll dig up the first and share the box, and only buy one plot. That doesn’t have much to do with business owning, or does it? The funeral director had to have an open mind for that one.

  5. Ty Ross

    Great business ideas, Chuck! Having 4 children, not working isn’t an option. I’m always looking for businesses that will allow me to spend more time at home while becoming financially independent.

  6. Ty Ross

    I think vending machines are a great idea. Look for businesses that would definitely benefit to having one, wouldn’t interfere with their customers in a negative way and offer them a percentage for allowing you to set your machine there. It’s a win for both. He gets to provide an additional service for his customers (especially if it’s a business where people have to wait like a salon or auto body shop).

  7. Brie

    The hot dog stand did make me smile, but it’s a great idea. I also saw someone mentioned a funeral director or a funeral home. One thing people are guaranteed to do is die. I also think child and geriatric care could be added to that list. These are great ideas.

    1. charlesholmes Post author

      Child care definitely has a lot of potential, even in bad economic times. I would also agree with funeral homes and maybe even accountants (since taxes aren’t going away any time soon).

  8. Faye

    I had always heard that liquor stores or beer & wine stores were a great recession-proof business. Perhaps because the worse things are, the more people think they need to drink. The thrift store business is a good one, but do you think that it would support the overhead cost of rent? I love shopping at thrift stores even when times are good.


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