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Monthly Archives: February 2017

7 Unique Business Ideas to Inspire You

Container-free local food shopping

Many consumers are concerned about how much resources are wasted in the food packaging process. Often, cardboard, plastic, Styrofoam and twist ties are not recycled, leading to environmental waste. In.gredients in Austin, Texas, solves this problem by offering container-less shopping for locally-sourced, sustainable, organic foods. The company claims to divert 99 percent of materials from the landfills and has produced zero food waste since 2012.

Odor-free sponges

Stinky sponges are disgusting. Folcroft, Pennsylvania-based Scrub Daddy solves this problem with a scratch-free, non-smelling sponge. This company had a rocky start when it was formed in 2012, but since their 2014 Shark Tank appearance and the assistance of Lori Griener the business has really taken off. Now you can find Scrub Daddy’s products in big box stores such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, Lowes and Walmart.

A four-course daily special

Located in the heart of the Napa Valley, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc offers a unique, four-course daily menu of comfort food dishes, such as spicy fried game hen, pot roast and coconut pudding. Each for-today-only menu is handwritten and posted in the restaurant and online.

Shareable office space

Every day, technology makes it more and more possible for employees and entrepreneurs to do their jobs and run their businesses from anywhere, which means businesses don’t necessarily have to invest in their own office space. WeWork provides office space for the office-less, with flexible month-to-month membership options for everyone from individual freelancers to large companies. Freelancers who prefer to work outside of their homes can have a more reliable work space than a local coffee shop, and companies and other teams can have a place to collaborate and hold meetings and events, for example.

Education a la carte

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could go back to school, or maybe even teach a course in a subject you’re skilled in? Skillshare, founded in 2011, makes both of these things possible. The company allows experts to teach online courses on any subject they choose via short videos, while students can watch classes at their own pace and use the community to get feedback. Students can even take classes off-line via smartphones and tablets if they’d like to learn on the go.

Individually packaged small items

While bigger might be better for some,Minimus takes a different approach. In operation for nearly a decade, the online company offers more than 2,500 different individually packaged products, including travel-size toiletries and individual servings of various food items — everything from chips to Tabasco sauce. When it was founded, Minimus did not have any employees and was housed in 500-square-foot space.

Serious sailing

While chartered boat cruises are not unique, the opportunity to rent out a world-class racing sailboat for your own use is. Based in Rhode Island, America’s Cup Charters rents out some of the country’s most prestigious racing sailboats for company outings, team-building events and family gatherings. During the outings, guests experience what it’s like to be an America’s Cup sailor by learning tasks like how to jockey for position at the start and sail upwind and downwind. Included in the fleet of ships are the 1962 America’s Cup winner US-17 Weatherly, two-time America’s Cup winner US-22 Intrepid and the 1980 America’s Cup winner US-30 Freedom.

7 Smart Business Ideas

Tech implementation consultancy

Are you an expert in all things IT? Do your friends come to you when their computers breakdown or their networks are compromised? Well, tech consultations might just be the line of work for you.

Huge strides are being made in technology, whether it’s in the realm of AI and machine learning, or big data analytics. And you can bet that means companies large and small will be looking to integrate new tech with their business operations.

Freelance copywriter

Do you consider yourself a wordsmith? Setting yourself up as a freelance copywriter could prove to be a lucrative side-hustle … or maybe even a full time job.

Companies will pay big time for someone who can write clean copy, whether its for advertisements, websites or blogs. Some will even pay you for your editing services.

Social media consulting

Sure, there are plenty of businesses offering social media consulting services, but you can stand out from the crowd by focusing primarily on networks that are still gathering steam with businesses. Facebook and Twitter are still the top networks, but businesses tend to struggle the most with platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge audiences but many businesses don’t realize how big they really are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their niche. Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming app, has more than 10 million active accounts, for example, and Snapchat has more than 100 million users, according to The Verge. Tumblr and Instagram have more than 400 million users, and Pinterest has over 100 million.

Healthy fast food

If you’ve ever dreamed of opening a restaurant or a food truck, this just might be the time to do it. JWTIntelligence’s report noted that millennials are more health-conscious than ever, and “guilt-free” takeout food will become an increasingly popular culinary trend. Consumers are looking for competitive pricing on local, seasonal dishes that they can take on-the-go with them.

Healthcare consulting

There has never been a greater need for a people who can understand and navigate the complicated world of healthcare. As changes continue to roll out under the Affordable Care Act and as users try to navigate the complex system of enrolling for insurance, people who can help make the transition easier will be in great demand. A healthcare consultant needs to have a background in healthcare and insurance, but doesn’t need a fancy office or a big staff.

Crowdfunding consulting

Crowdfunding lets groups of people pool their contributions to invest in startups. With the concept still in its infancy in the United States, entrepreneurs need help finding the best way to tap into this new source of investors.

Crowdfunding consultant Victoria Westcott said she helps others understand the practice and raise more money by helping plan, strategize and run campaigns to attract new backers.

“The fact is, crowdfunding is not quite fundraising and it’s not quite pre-selling either,” Westcott told Business News Daily. “Crowdfunding is a whole new thing.”

Multicultural marketing expert

All businesses are looking for new ways to connect with their customers, but many are missing the mark when it comes to connecting with minorities. Research from direct advertising firm AccurateLeads found that marketers who don’t target minorities are losing out on a $3 trillion market.

The study shows many companies fail at reaching minority customers because they don’t take the time to know that audience. To reach those targeted shoppers, businesses must recognize the places where the consumer resides and design a specific message not just for one ethnicity, but for cultures among those segments.

Business Plan Tools for Startups and Small Businesses

Have a killer business idea? A killer business plan can help you turn it into a successful business. Creating a well-crafted business plan is no easy task, however. You’ll need to not only flesh out your idea, but also have a deep understanding of the different aspects of running a business — before you even start one.

Figuring out how to do this correctly is hard enough, but there are several tools available to make this arduous task a little bit easier for would-be entrepreneurs. Instead of starting from scratch, here are a collection of business plan templates, software, apps and services to help you start a business the right way with a professional business plan.

Business plan templates show you exactly what a business plan is supposed to look like and what goes in each section. You can find them as downloadable sample business plans that you can copy and modify to fit your business, or as fill-in-the-blank or question-and-answer forms. There are also different types of business plans: simple business plans that cover the essentials, comprehensive ones that cover every aspect of a business, and those designed for a specific purpose, such as to raise funding or find business partners. Here are some business plan templates worth considering.

The $100 Startup One-Page Business Plan. One-page business plans take the fuss out creating a business plan by getting down to the basics of what your business is about and how you intend to meet its goals. Think of it like writing down your business on a napkin, but with a purpose. The $100 Startup’s One-Page Business Plan is one such business plan template. Simply answer a few questions like “What will you sell?” “What will you charge?” and “How will customers learn about your business?” in a couple sentences and you’re good to go.

SCORE Business Plan Templates. Small business resource SCORE has a collection of free PDF and Word business plan templates for startups, established businesses and even nonprofits. The organization also offers additional types of business planning resources and templates, such as financial projections, market research, sales forecasts, SWOT analysis and more. Once your business plan is finished, you can meet with a SCORE mentor for feedback and guidance.

Bplans.com. Looking for free sample business plans? Bplans.com offers a wide range of them for all types of businesses, including retailers, online businesses, service providers, restaurants and more. These sample templates come complete with a table of contents and sections like executive summary, company summary, products and services, financial planning, market analysis and other standard business plan sections. Bplans.com offers more than 500 sample business plans that can be downloaded as Word, PDF and other file formats.

Rocket Lawyer. If you need to make your business plan a legal document, check out Rocket Lawyer. Rocket Lawyer lets you create your own legal documents and provides access to various legal services. Its business plans section lets you create business plans in three steps: build, save and sign. You can also print and share your business plans for easy access. Rocket Lawyer business plans come with standard parts of a business plan, as well as sections for funding requests and appendix for supporting documents.

Find more using our list of free business plan templates for small businesses.

You don’t have to be glued to your desk to create a business plan. There are several business plan mobile apps that will let you write a business plan anytime, anywhere right on your smartphone or tablet. Here are two worth checking out.

StartPad. Recognized by Entrepreneur and Forbes, StartPad is one of the top business plan apps available for the iPad. This app offers a wide range of business planning resources, such as strategic business planning tutorials, professionally made sample business plans, financial projections and other reports. Business plans created on StartPad can also be exported as high-resolution PDFs or printed out. The basic version of StartPad is free to download and use, but requires in-app purchases for additional features. Get StartPad from the Apple App Store.

Business Plan & Start Startup. Are you an Android user? Business Plan & Start Startup is the app for you. This app isn’t just for creating a business plan, however. It also aims to do three things for entrepreneurs: help start a business the right way with a well-crafted business plan; keep them motivated and on track; and provide a community of fellow entrepreneurs, small business owners and experts to help guide users in creating their business plan and running their businesses. Business Plan & Start Startup can be downloaded from the Google Play marketplace

Don’t want to use any of the above? Try an online business plan service, which guides you throughout the business plan writing process. The services offer similar tools as business plan software — such as document collections and chart generators — with the difference being that they typically offer business and legal specialists who can help you better understand complex aspects of your business and business plan. Two online business plan services to consider are LivePlan and the SBA Business Plan Tool.

Bizplan.com. Need funding? Check out startup.co’s business plan service, bizplan.com. This web-based business plan comes with a step-by-step guide to help you build your business plan and optimize it for investors. Business plans can also be completely tailored to your business with logos, graphics, layouts and custom designs to fit your brand. After building your business plan, you can share and publish it on startup.co’s crowdfunding site, fundable.com, where you can connect with investors and add elements like photos and videos to highlight your business.

LivePlan. LivePlan is a cloud-based business plan service that offers everything from document generation to planning tools, financial calculators, guidance resources and more. The service guides you through each component of the business plan and provides step-by-step instructions and advice based on the objective of your business plan (starting a business, business development, funding, etc.)

SBA Business Plan Tool. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Business Plan Tool covers everything from executive summary and company description to market research, product line, marketing and sales, and financial projections in detail. You can also personalize your business plan with your company logo, as well as save, print and update your business plan as needed.

8 Businesses You Can Start with Your Kids

If you’ve always wanted to start a business yourself, why not take the opportunity to encourage your young entrepreneur and launch a company together? Here are a few ideas for businesses you can start with your children.

If your teen excels in a specific subject or has exceptional grades, encourage him or her to assist those in need of help through tutoring services. Your child can get paid for his or her knowledge and time spent helping others learn a skill or subject matter. This type of business is scalable, and live videoconferencing and electronic payments can bring your child’s skills online as well.

Kids are absorbing tons of social media knowledge at a young age. They’re becoming YouTube and Instagram stars with millions of followers for just being themselves. This could be invaluable knowledge for small businesses in your area. Encourage your child to apply his or her understanding of social platforms to consult for local shops and restaurants.

As long as houses come with lawns and outdoor maintenance, there will be a need for landscapers.The simplicity of the job, from mowing the lawn to trimming trees, means it can open doors to college degrees in the field, which can lead to jobs with theme parks or college campuses.

Technology has brought traditional job choices for teens into the modern age. Sites like SitterCity, Care.com and Rover.com have made it easy for people to hire and pay child or pet sitters. Encourage your child to gain some experience by babysitting for family members or neighbors. After they’ve gotten some experience, they can set up an online account to allow them to truly grow their business in an accessible way.

Sites like Etsy have transformed the way crafters bring their talent to the world. They no longer have to rely on fairs and events to show off their creations; instead, they can sell their products online to customers around the world. If your child has a knack for crafting and creativity, Etsy may offer a great business opportunity. Etsy has a comprehensive guide on fees and owning your own business, along with guidelines for minors.

Bringing your child’s passion for cooking or baking to the world can prove to be fruitful. There are competition shows on Food Network dedicated to the skills of young teens, as well as Shark Tank entrepreneurs who have used their baking skills to satiate the palates of people (and dogs!). Depending on your home state’s regulations, it could be fairly simple for you and your child to start a home catering or bakery business.

Your child’s business doesn’t necessarily need to check off the for-profit box. If you and your child are passionate about a social cause, starting a nonprofit charity may be a great start. There are hundreds of ways to raise money to profit those in need. Sit down and have a conversation about how to raise money for the cause. It is also a great opportunity to teach your child about the 501(c)(3) tax exemption and how it works.

Public interest in upcycling and recycling clothing and other items has led to the success of stores such as ReStore and vintage clothing shops. Collect unwanted items from neighbors, friends and family members, restore items to better quality, and sell them for fair prices. It’s a great way to be green and make some money from previously unwanted items.