5 Best Businesses to Get In for 2012

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- What are the hottest industry segments going into 2012?

The overall economy may have a stubborn gray(ish) cloud above it, but there are a more than a few industries with significant expectations for growth in the new year.

>>How to Grow a Successful Franchise Business

"The recent economic conditions have been a game changer, redefining the term 'job security,'" says Brian Miller, president and COO of The Entrepreneur's Source, a franchise consulting firm.

Many unemployed workers are turning to entrepreneurism, specifically owning a franchise, as a way to become self-sufficient, Miller says. A typical question from clients: What industries are expected to grow the most over the next decade?

"One of the things I often tell people is 'Think about what's happening in society and you will see emerging business models that follow suit,'" Miller says.

He also recommends pursuing businesses that are recession-proof, such as disaster and restoration services, or businesses that are low in initial investment, such as home-based businesses.

According to the International Franchise Industry's 2012 Business Outlook report, the top franchise business lines for 2012 include personal care services, such as laundry and dry cleaning, entertainment and recreation, personal transportation and credit intermediation -- for which output is expected to rise 6.2% next year. That's followed closely by retail products and services (driven by a steady, albeit slow, rise in consumer spending) and real estate, though this is off a low base, the December report says.

"There's opportunity for anybody who is entrepreneurial enough to go out and start a business," says Terry Mackin, managing director at Generational Equity, a mergers and advisory firm that focuses on privately held and family-owned businesses as clients.

Whether part of a franchise or truly on your own, here are five other industries with significant growth potential in 2012:

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