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Category Archives: Business

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.

7 Business Ideas for Couples

It’s not easy to run a business with your spouse or significant other. But for couples who have built up a solid foundation and who know how to handle conflict with each other, small business ownership could be a step toward financial independence and even a stronger relationship.

If you and your partner have made the decision to start a business together, you can choose from plenty of startups that are well suited for a two-person team. As with any partnership, these business ideas work best when you each take on roles that best fit your skills and strengths. An entrepreneurial relationship, like all business ventures, is truly a labor of love.

Some couples constantly fight over who has to cook dinner, but for others, preparing and sharing a meal together is an enjoyable bonding activity. If you and your partner fall into the latter category — and, of course, you’re actually good cooks — you may want to consider starting your own catering business. Let the resident gourmand take care of most of the food prep, while the other serves as customer service rep and sous chef.

For those foodies who also love to travel together, consider opening up shop as a food truck vendor. Whether its music festivals, block parties, or private events, food trucks are a great way to make some extra money while traveling and meeting new, interesting people. For many food truck vendors, the freedom of the open road and the appeal of their favorite activities has led them to strike out on their own; doing exactly that with the person you love might just be the best way to see the world together.

Crafty couples who share a passion for DIY projects can launch a successful e-commerce business on platforms like Etsy or Zibbet. One of you can handle marketing; the other can handle customer service, and both of you can work together to fill your orders. Not only does e-commerce represent a money-making opportunity, it also offers you and your partner a chance to be creative together; what’s better than having fun while turning a profit?

If you’re the type of couple that goes running and hits the gym together, launching a fitness business could be right for you. Whether you’re interested in personal training or class instruction, you can become certified through organizations like the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, and begin taking on clients. If you both specialize in the same area, you can double the number of sessions or classes you book. Alternatively, if one of you is a personal trainer and the other teaches a class, you can expand your client base through your service variety.

For working parents with long hours, cleaning the house can quickly fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Offer your weekends and evenings to these families, for everything from light housework like vacuuming and dusting to heavy-duty chores like cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. With you and your partner working as a team, you’ll be able to get these tasks done twice as quickly.

Do you and your partner love animals? Spread the word to friends and neighbors that you’re available to watch their pets while the owners go on a vacation or weekend trip. Pet owners often feel more comfortable leaving their furry friends in the care of a trusted homeowner rather than placing pets in a boarding facility, so getting referrals shouldn’t be too difficult. Offering two caretakers also means more individualized attention for your clients’ pets, which can be a great selling point.

SAT prep and subject-help tutoring are just as in-demand as ever for students across the country. With strong teaching skills, a wealth of knowledge and great personalities, you and your partner can make extra money educating local students in your home. While self-employed tutors are usually solopreneurs, this business can be even more lucrative for a couple if both of you can tutor. Otherwise, one of you can do the actual tutoring, while the other focuses on marketing and spreading the word.

Tips to Start a Photography Business

To build and grow your business, you need both raw talent and a knack for marketing. One photographer we spoke with said an ability “to market yourself” was one of the most important factors in success. You should continually be working to improve your craft and evolving your product, and work consistently on your own branding, online marketing and people skills. Without the two, the results will likely just be an expensive hobby rather than a viable full-time business.

Quality photography equipment is notoriously expensive, so you’ll want to start off with the minimum: Buying a $5,000 lens doesn’t make sense if your business isn’t making money yet. Many professional photographers say to plan on budgeting about $10,000 to start your photography business.

According to professional photographer Austen Diamond, “building slow and smart” will help you stay nimble. Allow the organic growth of your business to fund gear improvements, and avoid debt if possible, he said.

Optional expenses:

  • Business training, such as Lynda.com classes
  • Photography workshops and classes
  • Stylish camera bags and straps
  • Second computer
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Studio and office space

Other things you’ll need to do (that may be free or low-cost):

  • Market your business via social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to start)
  • Create your business name and logo
  • Research the best business structure (LLC, S corporation or other)
  • Acquire sales tax permit and employer identification number (EIN)
  • Obtain image licensing and usage contracts; Creative Commons offers free services
  • Set up business bank accounts
  • Find a way to manage client contact information and emails (see BND’s list of the best CRM software)
  • Choose a spreadsheets and scheduling solution (Google Docs is free)
  • Find an expense tracker (mileage, expenses, billable time), such as Expensify orBizXpenseTracker
  • Research credit card payment processing, such as Square or PayPal
  • Establish a referral program

Our expert sources offered the following advice for building your personal brand and reputation as a professional photographer.

Your person and gear: If you work with people, you are your brand. Even the little things affect your reputation, and most of your business will come by word-of-mouth referrals. When you go to a shoot, dress appropriately. Iron your shirt. Wash your car. Be organized. Bring your own water and snacks. Charge your electronics. Thank-you and referral gifts should be classy. Being ready shows respect and professionalism.

Being timely: Always arrive to the shoot early, and don’t fail to deliver your product when promised. Print out directions so you don’t get lost. Ensure that your clients understand your production schedule and how long it will be for them to receive their proofs and final product, and stick to your agreements. Answer phone calls and emails in a timely manner.

Online: Anonymity is nearly impossible these days. Many potential clients will be searching for you and your work online. The images you post online should not only be high-quality but also the kind of images you want to be taking to attract the kind of work you want to be doing. Avoid contentious social media posts, and keep your language positive. Keep your LinkedIn profile and contact information on all sites up-to-date.

Many photographers have difficulties with setting their price and determining their value. Certainly, you should never price work to result in lost money or less than minimum wage, but many do. You can research your area to see what your competitors charge, but ultimately, you’ll need to charge what you are worth.

Generally, you’ll want to estimate 3 hours of editing time for every hour of shooting. Some photographers use a gauge of roughly $50 per hour to cover standard costs. Be sure to factor in travel and preparation time. Consider your ongoing costs, such as insurance, gear, accounting services and your website.

Once you start adding up the numbers, you can see why undercutting your competitors may not always be the best strategy and may result in you losing money on a gig. If you cannot seem to make the numbers match, you’ll either have to consider whether you are OK with having an expensive hobby or if you need to branch out into a different, more profitable market.

Managing your clients’ expectations is important to your success. Your clients should know exactly what to expect of you and also what is expected of them. For weddings, timelines and group pictures should be organized in advance. For infant photos, your customers should know what clothes and accessories to bring. If you are taking corporate headshot images, people should know how to dress.

For contracts, your clients should know how much is due in advance and how to pay it. You should set terms on how far in advance you need them to commit so you can schedule. Contracts should be explained carefully, and if applicable, your customers should know how they are allowed to use the images — and that should be in writing as well. While not everyone is comfortable with legalese, your professionalism will help make this necessary part of your business agreement go as smoothly as possible. You can find free contracts online, such as model release, photo licensing, wedding agreements and other common photography contracts, on sites likeLess Accounting.

Finding your niche market not only allows you to focus on a specific skill set but also offers the opportunity to find networking prospects in a specific genre. Wedding and infant photographers are abundant. You can still book these types of gigs, but if you can offer something that others do not, you may find more work.

With weddings, you get only one chance to do it right. If you have issues with your camera or memory card and don’t have the proper backup gear, you may miss the whole thing and damage your reputation quickly. If you are not prepared for lighting challenges or the chaos of working with emotional, opinionated family members, you will not produce your best work. Although weddings are usually profitable gigs, many experienced wedding photographers recommend that you start as a second shooter with an established wedding photographer before going solo. Many part-time or freelance photographers are trying to get in the wedding game, but there are other ways to make money while you work on your skills and purchasing the proper gear.

It’s also important to note that the wedding market is seasonal, and business will likely fluctuate in the fall and winter. If you’re getting into this market, be sure to plan ahead and save for the off-season.

Not interested in competing in the oversaturated wedding or baby market? Here are some other avenues you can explore:

Stock photography: You can start your own stock-photo website or sign up as a contributor to popular sites such as Shutterstock or iStock. Pay may be low, but licensing is managed for you, and you can sell in volume.

Contract work: Some photographers have obtained contracts that pay a set monthly amount to cover local events or to be on call. For example, perhaps your local tourism or business development department may pay you monthly to cover local events.

Commercial photography: All businesses need web images these days. You may be able to find work capturing images of their products or services, facilities, and even headshots of their board members and management team.

Real estate: Oftentimes, real estate agents will contract with photographers to capture professional images of homes, business properties and land. They may also want you to capture 360-degree or interactive video footage.

Pets: People certainly love their pets, and some pet owners want professional images of their furry companions, either as portrait-style images or on location with natural movement and action.

Boudoir or glamour: Many people like sensual pics of themselves or images taken of them with their hair and makeup professionally done. These can be done in a studio with other professional artists if you cannot do hair and makeup yourself.

Sports: A wide variety of sports organizations want professional images and video. You may even be able to obtain contract work to cover a full season or a specific event, such as a local marathon, rodeo or bike race. Keep in mind that lenses for capturing sports moments can be costly.

Local news: Local print, TV and online news sources may pay you for images of local events, weather disasters or crime scenes. It would require you to go out and cover events upfront on your dime, but it could pay off later.

8 Crafty Culinary Businesses

These 8 businesses have succeeded because of their off-the-beaten-path approach and delicious delicacies.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and Philly pizza jointRosa’s Fresh Pizza truly lives up to its hometown’s name. The restaurant is decorated with a wall of colorful sticky notes worth $1 (or one slice), which feeds its homeless visitors.

“One day, a customer asked to buy forward a slice for a homeless person,” Mason Wartman, the owner of the shop, said in a video for the Ellen DeGeneres show. He then purchased sticky notes, which now cover the wall of the restaurant. “Then a homeless person takes a sticky note and trades it in for a slice of pizza.”

According to the video, Rosa’s feeds approximately 40 homeless persons a day. Visit for a slice of pizza and the gift of giving back. If you’re not in the Philly area but still wish to help out, the restaurant has set up a donation page.

Since the growth of subscription services, items for dogs (made by the humans obsessed with them) have gotten really popular. The Farmer’s Dog is a subscription service which delivers healthy farm-to-dog bowl dishes carefully formulated for your dog’s breed.

Answer a questionnaire about their breed (mixed or otherwise) weight, activity level, current dog food, and The Farmer’s Dog suggests the perfect combination of healthy ingredients, all of which are sourced from restaurant suppliers and human food purveyors. According to the site, the dog food is never frozen and delivered days after it is cooked. Furthermore, the recipes are tested on humans, for a happier and healthier pup.

If basic, store-bought ice cream isn’t unique enough for you, Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery will likely meet expectations. Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery is an Oregon-based ice cream parlor that serves liquid nitrogen ice cream, and every order is custom, so you can have any flavor you want.

According to the company’s website, the liquid nitrogen “freezes everything so fast that ice crystals don’t form,” making its ice cream extra smooth and creamy. Customers choose a base — premium milk, nonfat sugar-free milk, or vegan coconut milk — then from more than 30 different flavors like caramel, cheesecake, coffee, gingerbread, and mint. From there, customers can choose from dozens of different mix-ins like almonds, bacon, cereal and chocolate chips. Mix ‘n’ Match makes the ice cream right there in front of you, with a blast of liquid nitrogen.

Opaque, a restaurant in California, promises to change your view of going out to eat by wining and dining you in the dark. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—you eat your meal in a pitch black dining room.

When you arrive at Opaque, customers look through the menu in a lighted lounge and order food. The restaurant’s staff will then check coats and bags, and lead you to your seat. According to the restaurant’s website, Opaque is staffed by blind and visually impaired servers who have been specially trained to serve food in the dark.

Dining in the dark may seem like a strange concept, but according to Opaque’s website, it’s all about having a more in-depth sensory experience with your food. Opaque has multiple locations in California.

The food truck trend has hit its stride. Popular trucks in major cities have long lines of eager customers waiting outside on their lunch breaks. ButDrive Change, a hybrid profit/nonprofit organization, is taking food trucks to a new, socially-responsible level by giving back to the community.

The organization hires, trains and mentors formerly incarcerated young adults, and the food trucks serve as a form of transitional employment with the ultimate goal of preparing these young people to go back to school or start full-time employment.

Drive Change currently operates only one food truck, located in New York and called Snowday. It farm-fresh foods prepared in their kitchen in Brooklyn and served at the truck. Drive Change plans to open more food trucks in the future, and each truck “employs and empowers 24 young people per year.” All food truck sales go back into the organization’s re-entry program to help more former inmates get on the right track.

Back to the Roots was started by two college students who were inspired by something they learned in a class: You can grow mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez wrote of their experience, “After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers.”

In an effort to get people more connected with their food, Back to the Roots created an easy, 10-day grow-your-own organic-mushroom kit. Their organic mushroom farm comes in a small box (the mushrooms grow right out of the box) and simply requires watering twice a day.

The company also sells a “garden in a can” product that makes growing organic herbs at home even easier, a self-sufficient water-garden aquarium (the fish feed the plants and the plants keep the water clean), and ready-to-eat organic cereals.

Do you love cheese? Bet you don’t like it as much as Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann, who makes her living as a traveling cheese sculptor.

She creates cheddar-cheese carvings for grocery stores, sporting events, festivals, photo shoots, and any other business or event that needs a giant hunk of cheese. Kaufmann has carved everything from a scene of the first moon landing to the Chicago skyline.

Though she makes most of her money carving cheese, Kaufmann also hosts seminars, where she informs audiences about the art and traditions of cheese making.

Want a little wine to go with that cheese sculpture? If you still haven’t found your favorite go-to bottle, Tasting Room can help.

Tasting Room is a wine club subscription, but unlike similar services that send you whichever bottles they want, this service allows you to taste various wines to find the ones you like before you buy, so that you only get shipments of wine you know you’ll enjoy.

How does it work? When you sign up, you’ll receive a tasting kit complete with six different wines in special mini bottles. Simply log in to your Tasting Room account and follow the instructions; the site will generate a “wine profile” for you that tells you more about the types of wine you like, such as where they come from and what foods pair well with them. After that, you’ll receive shipments of wines you like (and if you get one you hate, just tell them and they’ll replace it or give you a refund).

7 Places to Find Businesses For Sale Online

BizBuySell.com boasts that it is “the Internet’s largest business for sale marketplace” and offers users options to buy a business, buy a franchise, sell a business, get help with financing and more. Users can search for businesses by category, state and country, and even set a minimum and maximum price. You can also search franchises by type, state, and amount of capital you have available to invest. Or, you can search for a business broker near you.

Search on BizQuest.com for your desired businesses, franchises or business brokers by location and business type or industry. And perks for sellers are good, too: BizQuest.com allows you to post ads in just five minutes. The ads are then shared on the company’s partner websites, like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. BizQuest.com also gives you the option to browse listings in top cities as well as the most popular franchises and industries.

BusinessBroker.net has more than 30,000 business-for-sale listings just waiting for you to sift through. As with the other websites, you can search for businesses and franchises, find brokers and see listings by industry and location. BusinessBroker.net also has a finance and loan center that offers professional help to guide you in your business purchasing decisions.

MergerNetwork.com has more than 15,000 active business-for-sale listings around the world. It allows sellers to post ads for their business for free and connect with over 14,000 entrepreneurs, investment bankers and business brokers.

This website currently has more than 62,000 business listings in the United States and around the world, including available franchises. Users can search by business sector and location to find the perfect business for them.BusinessesForSale.com also has features like email alerts and a services directory for those who need accountants, brokers, lawyers and more.

With more than 800,000 listings available, it’s easy to understand whyLoopNet.com is a reliable resource for discovering businesses for sale in your region. If you’re already a business owner or an entrepreneur with a busy schedule, LoopNet is available in app form (on Google Play and in the App Store) to peruse listings on your schedule, from wherever.

Additionally, the site is partners with commercial real estate firms like Century21, Chusman & Wakefield, CBRE, Sperry Van Ness, and Re/Max Commercial.

On the other end of it? If you’re looking to sell your current business, LoopNet provides the opportunity to list your business.

BusinessMart.com, like many of the other websites, has both businesses and franchises available as well as resources and services to help you get funding. It also allows you to search by location and business category, or search franchises by your available capital.

7 Great Small Business Ideas

Online retailer

You don’t have to be a big-box retailer to start an online store. Whether you sell directly to consumers or use a drop-shipping service, all you need is a website and the right e-commerce software to get started. You can sell your own products or items from niche suppliers.

Yard work

Got rake, will travel? Most landscapers will cut grass, but they don’t necessarily do the stuff that most homeowners don’t have time to do themselves, such as weeding, planting, leaf raking, snow shoveling, hanging or removing holiday decorations. With little more than some work gloves and a ladder, you could be in business in no time.

Errand service

With most people working long hours and juggling personal responsibilities, there’s a lot that gets left undone in the modern household. There’s a growing demand for errand services (picking up dry cleaning, going grocery shopping, etc.), and it only requires having a car and cell phone. Start small, do a good job and word of mouth will spread quickly.

Virtual assistant

If you’ve got a background in administrative work but want to work for yourself, this might be a perfect opportunity for you. Virtual assistants work remotely and do all the things a business owner or manager doesn’t have time to do, such as open and answer emails, follow up with customers, invoice customers or pay bills.

Computer maintenance

Got a tech background? With the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and laptops for every member of the family, there are lots of opportunities to provide private computer services such as anti-virus software installation, desktop cleanups, software downloads and printer hookups.

Bookkeeper

Very few businesses can live without a bookkeeper. But that doesn’t mean they have to have one on staff. If you’ve got a background in finance, you can offer affordable bookkeeping services as an independent contractor. You may have to log a few in-office hours during tax season, but in most cases, the work can be done remotely.

Social media consultant

If using social media comes as naturally to you as breathing, you may have a career as a social media consultant. There’s no doubt that social media offers unprecedented marketing opportunities for businesses, but only if they know how to use it. Offer your services to help existing businesses integrate social media into their marketing plans.

7 Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face

Entrepreneurship was once considered a man’s domain, but the tide has shifted: More than 9 million U.S. firms are now owned by women, employing nearly 8 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales, according to 2015 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners. “While the numbers are growing, there are still too few female investors and startup entrepreneurs, which can make it more challenging to raise capital and find mentors,” said Megan Smyth, CEO and co-founder of FitReserve. “Network and you will discover that there are plenty of women and men who are eager to advocate for and mentor female entrepreneurs.”

Although more women are embracing entrepreneurship, they often face challenges not typically shared by their male counterparts. To shed light on some of these disparities, female CEOs spoke with Business News Daily about the key challenges women entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them.

1. Defying social expectations

Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario: You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When women entrepreneurs talk business with primarily male executives, it can be unnerving.  In this sort of situation, women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh. But successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations. “Be yourself, and have confidence in who you are,” said Hilary Genga, founder and CEO of women’s swimwear company Trunkettes. “You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like.” Some women also may worry about coming off as too aggressive. But Alexandra Pierson, founder and CEO of social media app springpop, urged fellow female entrepreneurs not to be concerned about this. Pierson noted that, during early negotiations for app development deals, she often was afraid to be firm and clearly state what she believed to be fair. “I eventually learned that, woman or not, my business would fail if I refused to defend or fight for it,” Pierson said. “Since then, I no longer worry about being seen as aggressive.” [See Related Story: 17 Reasons Women Make Great Leaders]

2. Limited access to funding

Not all startup founders look for investors to help get their businesses off the ground, but those who do know how difficult the pitching process can be. Raising capital is even more difficult for women-owned firms: A 2014 Babson College report found that less than 3 percent of venture-capital-funded companies had female CEOs. Bonnie Crater, president and CEO of sales and marketing analytics company Full Circle Insights, said venture capitalists tend to invest in startups run by people of their own “tribe” — for instance, a Stanford-educated investor will want to back a Stanford alum’s business. This means that VC firms with female partners are more likely to invest in women-run startups. But according to the Babson report, that accounts for only 6 percent of U.S. firms. Women looking for business investors should build confidence through a great team and business plan, Crater advised. Investors typically look for businesses that can grow their valuation to over $1 billion, Crater said. “Think about how to do that,” she advised. “If you have experts on your founding team that can execute the business [operations] well, investors will have confidence in those people. [You also] need a good product market fit.” Another way to overcome this issue is by working to get more female investors involved in supporting one another, said Felena Hanson, founder of Hera Fund, a female angel investor group. According to Hanson, groups like hers are “looking to not only inspire and encourage female investors, but to grow and support other female entrepreneurs through both funding and strategic educational workshops.”

3. Playing with the boys

Most would consider any given field to be male-dominated. It’s even more of a challenge when you’re coming in as a female having to give direction to males that may not want any direction. Alison Gutterman, CEO and president of Jelmar learned just that early in her career. “As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, earning respect has been a struggle,” she said. Early in her career at Jelmar, she was managing men in their 40s when she was only 25. “They were more experienced than I and often dismissed my new ideas about marketing and sales, and some assumed I didn’t have the drive to put in the long hours and hard work they did.” She notes she’s heard it all: from being dismissed as just the boss’ daughter to presumptions that she was living off her father’s and grandfather’s reputation, as they were the previous owners. “I was more than willing to put in the work to create my own reputation for being a hardworking, honorable businessperson in my own right,” Gutterman said.”To overcome this, I have had to learn to build my confidence and overcome my negative self-talk, or as I like to call it, ‘head trash.’” Gutterman defines “head trash” as all the negative comments from yourself, likely stemming from others, you have let build up in your head. “They’re stopping you from reaching your full potential. One of the best things I’ve done to help me in this area is joining a variety of women entrepreneur groups,” she said. “These groups have provided me mentors and peers to inspire me, hit me with reality checks on my capabilities and successes and help be grow and learn from their outside perspectives and experiences.”

4. Owning your accomplishments

The communal, consensus-building qualities encouraged in young girls can leave women unintentionally downplaying their own worth. Molly MacDonald, founder and CEO of The Mobile Locker Co., a startup that provides personal storage for events, said she has always found it difficult to convey her own worth as a leader. “When I talk about the company … I always find myself saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I,'” MacDonald said.

“I know I have fallen into this pattern for two reasons: Using the first person to discuss successes feels to me as if I’m bragging, and I cannot shake the idea that if someone knows it’s just me in control, the value of what we do will go down. As I grow the business, I am making an effort to own what I’ve accomplished.” Similarly, Shilonda Downing, founder of Virtual Work Team, advised women to recognize the value of their creative ideas.

“I’ve had to catch myself on occasion when I noticed that I’m giving away too much without a financial commitment from a potential client,” Downing said. “[I] recommend other women value their knowledge as well.” Sharon Rowlands, CEO of digital marketing firm ReachLocal, agreed that confidence is the key to success, even when you’re up against a boardroom full of men. Rowlands noted that when she was a newly appointed CEO, she often felt her ideas received more scrutiny than those from her male colleagues. However, she didn’t let that discourage her from being a great business leader.

5. Building a support network

Forty-eight percent of female founders report that a lack of available advisers and mentors limits their professional growth, according to Inc. “With the majority of the high-level business world still being dominated by men, it can be hard to blaze your own path and facilitate the introductions and connections into some of the more elite business networks,” said Hanson, who established the Hera Hub co-working space to foster support and collaboration among female entrepreneurs. “As most of business today still rings true with the philosophy that ‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,’ this can be a huge factor in your ultimate success.” Knowing where to find the right support network isn’t always easy. A few good places to start include women-focused networking events — such as Womancon, Women in Technology Summit and WIN Conferences— as well as online forums and groups created specifically for women in business, such as Ellevate Network.

6. Balancing business and family life

Work-life balance is a goal of many entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, but mothers who start businesses have to simultaneously run their families and their companies. And in this area, traditional gender expectations often still prevail. “Being a mother while running a business is very challenging,” Genga said. “There are ways to balance your time, but the perception is that you could be more effective running your business if you didn’t have to deal with kids.” Genga said she has learned not to take shortcomings on either front too seriously, and to not beat herself up over the little things, such as missing a class trip with her children. “Mompreneurs” have dual responsibilities to their businesses and to their families, and finding ways to devote time to both is key to truly achieving that elusive work-life balance, she said.

7. Coping with a fear of failure

According to Babson College’s 2012 Global Entrepreneur Monitor, the fear of failure is the top concern of women who launch startups. Failure is a very real possibility in any business venture, but Delia Passi, CEO of WomenCertified and founder of the Women’s Choice Award, said it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative. “You need to have massive failure to have massive success,” Passi said. “You may need 100 ‘noes’ to get one ‘yes,’ but that one ‘yes’ will make you more successful tomorrow than you were today.” Pierson offered similar advice for female entrepreneurs, encouraging them to work through the moments of self-doubt that every business owner faces. “I have stopped worrying if people will treat me differently in business because of my gender … and have stopped comparing myself to others, including men,” she said. “The bottom line is, if you’re successful, no one cares whether you are man or a woman.”