Tarkenton, now 73, notes that one of the biggest groups who are launching businesses are baby boomers and seniors, who are living longer and in some cases aren't ready to leave the workforce.

"This is a great growth market," Tarkenton says. "We're not talking about a group that wants to start Google ( GOOG) or Microsoft ( MSFT) or a high-tech company that needs venture capital. We're talking about Ma and Pa who needed to start something" to continue their cash flow as they live their senior years.

Another group is military veterans.

Veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed. Approximately 2.4 million, or 9%, of small businesses are veteran-owned, according to the SBA. That number is expected to rise dramatically as more than 1 million veterans are expected to transition out of military service by 2015, the International Franchise Association has previously said.

The SBA, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as well as trade groups, like the IFA are looking to encourage more veterans to own their own business.

Franchising is a particularly good choice for veterans returning to civilian life, the IFA says.

Owning a franchise means following a plan and structure that has already been laid out and proven successful by the parent franchisor, similar to life in the military. A number of franchises also take part in the IFA's VetFran program to offer discounts and other resources to returning military vets looking to become franchisees.

Still, business owners say not to jump feet first into just any industry. It's important to look for opportunities where small businesses can fill a specific need.

Brian Altomare, co-owner of LugLess.com, a small luggage shipping company, which was featured on ABC's "Shark Tank."

Altomare ultimately didn't get chosen by the show's investors but said that business has jumped 150% since being on the show. The show also caught the eyes of Caeser's Hotel in Las Vegas and the Professional Golf Association, both of whom want to form partnerships and offer LugLess' service to their guests and pro golf players, respectively.

In the travel industry, "there is a lot of growth and potential for a lot of new products to speed up the travel process to make it easier and more enjoyable" for travelers, Altomare says. "We have a great situation with the airline industry nickel-and-diming everything. That opens up opportunity for someone who wants to do it better."

Araya Clean franchisee Dana Litman recently purchased his second franchise location, roughly 18 months after opening his first location.

"We've been growing like crazy. We've already quadrupled our sales for last year and it's the beginning of June," Litman says of the commercial pressure washing franchise. "We added 10 new technicians to the cleaning staff and are in the process of adding more."

The Minneapolis-St. Paul-based franchise owner is the highest performing owner for Araya Clean.

"I think this is a uniquely good time to start a business," he says. "I think the economy is starting to turn around. If you can find an industry or niche where you can be successful now while people are still little bit tepid then when the economy is really rolling you will be in a unique position."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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