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9 hot businesses you can start now

In a lousy economy, startup ideas can be found in surprising places. We asked Thumbtack.com which opportunities are drawing the most interest from entrepreneurs and their customers.

Wedding cupcake chef

erica elia, solo entrepreneurs
Erica Elia, 35: Gave up her lawyer job to open cupcake bakery.
  • Searches by would-be customers: 1,989 in 2012, up from 843
  • Entrepreneurs listed: 132 in 2012, up from 63
  • Typical pay: $18 an hour

Who needs boring wedding cakes when you can have wedding cupcakes? Searches on Thumbtack for wedding cupcake chefs have surged 136% from last year.

When Erica Elia was searching for a bakery to make cupcakes for her 2009 wedding, she couldn't find one in Milwaukee to do the job. So she made them herself. "I don't advise staying up the night before your wedding baking cupcakes," she said.

But the experience gave her the idea to open Classy Girl Cupcakes -- an online business -- in 2009. "I booked my first wedding the same month and 35 weddings that summer," she said.

"With cupcakes, you can experiment with more flavors, be more creative than with wedding cakes, and they're also cheaper," she said.

As wedding orders picked up, Elia gave up her job as a personal injury attorney and opened her first bakery store in 2010. "When I started, there was just one other cupcake bakery in the area. Now there are five that cater for weddings."

- Last updated September 26 2012 11:04 AM ET