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Take the Plunge

[ 1 ] Jul. 1, 2008 | SBO Editor

Starting and growing a small business and maintaining its vibrancy are not easy things to do. Entrepreneurs must be willing to take risks others won’t, working around the clock if necessary, often acting not only as CEO, but as head of sales, accountant, and whatever else it takes to get the job done.

But it can be done, and the contributions of successful entrepreneurs are the stuff of legend in America; their effect on the American economy, on the fabric of our communities, and on our culture’s self-image is so great that we pause each year to celebrate their impact.

This year, the United States Small Business Administration gets ready to honor them by inviting the Small Business Person of the Year from every state, plus Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and Guam, to Washington, D.C., for the 44th annual National Small Business Week this month (April 23-27), when the National Small Business Person of the Year will be named.

Small businesses drive our economy. They create 60-80 percent of the new jobs every year and represent more than half of our non-farm private GDP. Since August 2003 more than 7.2 million jobs have been created – more jobs than the European Union and Japan combined.

Small businesses drive a tremendous amount of the innovation in our country: small patenting firms produce 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than their larger competitors do. Small business ownership allows people to realize dreams, not only for the owners and their families, but for those they employ and those they serve. It’s a win-win.
According to Steven Preston, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration
“Such growth occurs in large measure because of the perseverance and productivity of our nation’s entrepreneurs. I often say small business owners match every dollar of equity with $10 of sweat equity. But that’s also why they’re successful where others are not. America has an economy that regenerates, is flexible, and adapts to opportunity in large part because our entrepreneurial culture has taught us to dream, to see possibilities, and to act on these possibilities.

“I believe ownership anchors us in what is important. SBA not only works with start-up businesses, but with small businesses hoping to expand to the next level. Through training, contracting, and loans we can help entrepreneurs expand locally or even into new communities, or to start new businesses, creating more jobs.

“One of the goals of the Small Business Administration is to be a partner to entrepreneurs. Over the years, the agency has helped many of our best known corporate icons get their starts. Intel, America Online, Outback Steakhouse, Apple Computer, Amgen, Ben & Jerry’s, Callaway Golf, Staples, Under Armour, Nike, and Federal Express, to name just a few, all received help from one of SBA’s financing programs.

“Today, we help entrepreneurs in numerous ways:

The SBA lends or guarantees more than $78 billion in loans and investments;

It helps small business procure a fair share of government contracts, a record $80 billion in 2005;

Last year, SBA and its technical assistance partners counseled nearly 1.5 million entrepreneurs and its website received 26 million hits;

Through its Office of Advocacy, SBA helps protect small business from harmful new government regulations, and through its National Ombudsman it helps small business deal with unfair application of existing regulation;

“The SBA’s award-winning Web site www.sba.gov has recently re-launched with improved navigation, updated content, new features and a concerted focus on giving customers – small businesses – what they need. Called the “Best Stop for One-Stop Shopping” by Money Magazine, the website helps small businesses find information they need to plan, start, grow, and succeed.

“The SBA’s resources help underpin the entrepreneurial dreams of Americans. We work to nurture those dreams because entrepreneurs are the engine driving better jobs for Americans, greater competitiveness in the global marketplace, and transformation for our communities.

“I am convinced that this is the attraction of entrepreneurship. Americans start small businesses, put in long hours of hard work, risk their savings and make all of the other sacrifices necessary for success because they are building for their future and the future of their families. By doing so, of course, they are helping to build a brighter future for all of us.” Thank you, Administrator, Preston!

And now, our 15 top business startups for you to consider:

Start A Business Teaching Kids

Do you have a hobby, skill or talent that you could share with others? You could make extra money or even launch a full-time business teaching others what you know how to do. There is a large market for activities for children. You can start your own class or teach students on an individual basis. Everything from music lessons and art class to cooking, gardening, making crafts projects, sports, etc. You-name-it. If you have an interest in astronomy for example, you could set up classes where kids and their parents join you for certain celestial happening nights to observe the sky.

Author Stephanie Quinn has compiled a guide that could help you start a teaching business. It is “Start A Business Teaching Kids.” (The ISBN: 0977309908) Quinn includes a list of potential places to teach your business (such as PreSchools, Parks and Recreation Programs, etc.) and of course, includes information on different types of businesses you could potentially start. The book has some very helpful hints; for example, if you are not set up to take credit cards, consider setting up a PayPal account. Go to paypal.com.

Many people have them today because of eBay and other online purchasing actions.

Run A Dog Business
If you love animals, consider starting some type of pet business. Pets are a multi-billion dollar industry and there is room for you to step into the fray and launch your own mega-empire. We received a copy of How To Run A Dog Business. Putting Your Career Where Your Heart Is and recommend this little paperback (ISBN: 97819292474) if you are thinking of starting a dog-oriented company as your business.

According to the author, Veronica Boutelle, the demand for skilled dog trainers, dog walkers, dog sitters, and dog daycare operators has never been greater. To succeed in one of these fields, you’ll need more than dog expertise—you’ll need business savvy as well.

Written for the non-business person, Boutelle, gives readers the basic information on starting a business. She includes sections on determinining whether or not you are suited for self-employment and a review of what field might be right for you. You’ll get the basics of how to go from idea to reality and from concept to implementation.

The book will help you to learn how to:

• analyze your market, set prices and advertise your services
• determine what licenses, insurance, and professional affiliations are needed
• create systems that streamline your business and help you avoid burn-out
• establish sound business practices that will make your business run smoothly, keep
you profitable and balance your work and private life

Veronica Boutelle is the former Director of Behavior and Training at San Francisco SPCA. Through her business, dogTEC, (www.dogtec.org) she teaches sold-out seminars and consults one-on-one with dog professionals. She writes a column for the APDT Chronical of the Dog and is a speaker at dog training schools across the United States.

Cook Up A Catering Venture

If you enjoy cooking for others and are often told you give the best parties in the neighborhood, consider starting your very own catering venture. You can even start on a very small level by cooking something for a local caterer in your area. For example, we know of an elementary school teacher who started his catering empire by baking bread and dinner rolls for the local catering company in his community. He gradually learned about all aspects of catering and eventually hired some people and launched his own venture. You can do it, too.

Joyce Weinberg is a seasoned food industry professional with twenty years of catering and restaurant managing experience. She designed and managed her own acclaimed restaurant and catering company, Beyond Measure, in Philadelphia. She founded New York Tours & Events, a New York City-based food tour and guided tasting event. This well-qualified catering wiz has written “The Everything Guide To Starting and Running A Catering Business,” (Adams Media, $14.95).

The book contains information on how to get a food handler’s license and how to choose the perfect name. You’ll also get a handle on how to develop menus and how to get the word out about your new venture.

According to Weinberg, “The catering business is a dynamic, growing industry—and there will always be a demand for it. No one has figured out how to efficiently provide delicious food and drink in a festive atmosphere to hundreds—if not thousands—of guests without the old-fashioned hard work of a professional catering team.

“Catering is here to stay, and the industry is continually attracting new talent with innovative ways of bringing great food and drink to clients. From new food station concets to creative food display areas, the catering business is constantly evolving. Today, celebrity chefs are starting their own catering enterprises because catering is hot! It is a high-profile industry, filled with excitement and challenges.

“Many people around the country depend on caterers to bring their special events to life. Caterers do it all, drom serving the rich and famous in Los Angeles and New York to creating the wedding of a lifetime for a young couple in Milwaukee or Baton Rouge—and they never miss a beat. As a group, caterers are among the hardest working people in the country, especially during the holiday and wedding season.

“All caterers have two things in common: passion and drive. Whether they run a small off-premise catering company in Idaho or a large catering business in Florida, all caterers are in the business because they love it. Few enter the catering business to make money. Making an event is great, but it’s not what drives a caterer to wake up at 4 a.m. to prepare for a morning wedding. Seeing the smiling faces of guests enjoying a smoothly run event is what keeps caterers working so hard. Oh, and yes, getting paid for a job well done is very satisfying indeed.

“Caterers have to be good at a lot of things—from cooking to selling to precise planning. They must have people skills in spades in order to fulfill their role of buyer, seller, employer, and planner. Catering is an all-encompassing profession. It utilizes all of your abilities—both physical and mental. If you have a passion for food and for making people happy, you may well be suited to running your own catering business.

“By reading this guide and by taking stock of your skills and abilities, you’ll know by the end of Chapter 20 whether or not you’re up the challenge of the catering industry. By following the steps described in this book, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional caterer or growing your existing business to the next level.

“Only with dedication, passion and professionalism of creative food professionals like you will the industry continue to flourish and evolve. The future of the catering industy, dear reader, is up to you. May this guide inspire you, prepare you and hasten you to launch your own catering career.”

Online Success: Click=Ca-ching!
You can make a fortune at home with your computer right from your kitchen table or while you are watching TV. Here are just some ways to do this and you can find many more if you conduct your research:

Read E-Mails: Paid-To-Read (PTR) programs are sponsored by advertisers who need prospects to view their products or services or use their search engines. Rates range from a quarter of a cent to a nickel per e-mail, programs offering more are most probably scams, primarily on account of low advertising fees. Study the payment section of the member agreement very carefully, because there are no set rules. Some webmasters will pay when funds are available, several will redeem earnings following a period of ninety days and few will require a minimum number of active referrals upon payout. However, most frequently, payments are effectuated through PayPal or E-Gold within thirty days. Random payments are popular in the field, but the amounts are usually not higher than ten dollars. Webmasters maintain total authority over their program and have the liberty to change the terms, e-mail rates and payment methods or anything else at any time. Most PTRs have paid-to-click and paid-to-search sections and toolbars with free offers paying diverse fees. It is also possible to earn from the efforts of your downline. As all affiliate programs, the more people you refer, the more money you will make.

http://www.gainmail.com, http://paidmailengine.com.

Complete Surveys: A multitude of companies need people to evaluate their products or services online. Most of them offer a sweepstake entry for a cash drawing or a prize as compensation. Don’t expect to earn too much money from surveys… unless you sign up with a lot of market research companies. An e-mail invitation does not guarantee participation. The companies send out more invitations than the required number of participants, because they know that for whatever reason, some people will not respond. However, once they have sufficient people in your targeted age, geographic area and occupation, it will be too late for you. Consequently, you must check your e-mail box often and respond very quickly. http://www.globaltestmarket.com. To have access to a huge database of paying companies, for a fee of $34.95 join http://www.paidsurveysonline.com.

Complete Tasks: As Paid-To-Read Programs, these opportunities are supported by advertisers. You will be paid for each accomplished task which consists of joining a free program. To prove your participation, you must correctly answer a question, submit a specific code and/or send a copy of the welcome e-mail. Offers are usually available in toolbars. You may unsubscribe later, preferably after a minumum period of 15 days. Rates are variable. Programs with high payouts award higher fees.

http://www.clixies.com, http://www.cash4action.com/. These participations are not free. You have to pay with your credit card. Offers are from internet companies, weight loss programs, entertainers (DVD’s, movie tickets) and credit cards issuers, etc. Some rewards are very high – $12.00 if you apply for a Discover card. Here again, you may unsubscribe at the end of your trial period. Many Paid-To-Read programs include a Paid-To-Sign-Up section. www.itpaystolearn.com, http://www.paidemail.com/.

Write Reviews: Write reviews for movies, books, electronic products, services, etc, to help consumers make better buying decisions. You won’t get rich, but if you are a good and fast writer, you might earn an interesting sideline. Search for write paid reviews in search engines. www.epinions.com, www.reviewcentre.com.
Sell Products or Services: You can sell your own or become a reseller and earn substantial commissions. Software packages, books and satellite dishes are just a few exemples of what you can market. Visit www.clickbank.com and www.shareasale.com for a huge selection of selling opportunities.

The following signals should help you decide whether you should join or quit a program.

Claims which seem too good to be true, such as high-paying e-mails with quick payouts.

Webmasters who repeatedly ignore your e-mails
Arrogant and bullying webmasters

Terms which change often, generally to the members’ disadvantage
Programs with frequent periods of inactivity

To know if an opportunity has a good reputation, check for participants’ feedback on message boards such as www.getpaidforum.com and http://www.gptboycott.com/forum/. Report scams at
http://www.better-internet-bureau.org/. You will find many programs that have respected their paying terms on www.beenpaid.com.

Referrals are the lifeblood of affiliate programs. People make money for you while you sleep. Free programs take longer to reach payout, but are easier to recruit. FREE, FAST, EASY are enticing words for advertising. Insert them in your subject line or headline. The same advertising vehicles may be used to reach buyers, but targeted towards a different audience.

You can send ads through safelists and reach thousands of people without being accused of SPAM. Usually, as a free member, you are allowed to post once a week. If you upgrade by paying a fee, you may send messages several times weekly while receiving very few messages in return. Some are credit-based; you accumulate them by clicking special links in the e-mails: http://www.adtactics.com, http://www.safelister.com. You can also send them through a safelist auto-submitter: www.thesubber.com, www.safelistboys.com. Open several e-mail boxes as you will receive a lot of messages! www.yahoo.com, www.hotmail.com, http://www.excite.com

There are an abundance of free and paid advertising sites on the net. It takes time and patience to post manually. In addition to their search engines, all portals – Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, etc – have classified sections.

www.ablewise.com. www.citynews.com, www.adlandpro.com are other popular classified ads. Grandfather Of All Links – http://www.ecki.com/links/cclsf.shtml – contains a comprehensive list of free classified ads sites, message boards, FFA (free for all) links and search engines. These submitters: http://www.worldwidepromoter.com/, www.submitline.com are also very effective.

Traffic Exchanges: A traffic exchange program enables members to exchange links and visits. In other words, you agree to view sites in exchange for traffic to your own website. Each time you click on a member’s site for a certain amount of seconds, you earn credits which, based on an established ratio (for instance 2 for 1) are converted into visitors to your site. www.trafficswarm.com, www.nomorehits.com.

Purchase Leads: Leads are prospects who have shown interest in an income opportunity by answering an advertisement. Frequently these names are rented for a one-time use only, but many companies will allow you to make a few follow-ups. Orders are accepted in large quantities. Make sure the names are fresh.
http://www.home-business-signups.com, http://www.e-clicksmedia.com.

Bulk Mailing: Use the services of a bulk e-mail program to send your ads to hundreds of thousands of targeted recipients. Here again, prospects have agreed to receive mailings so nobody will be accused of spam. The bulk e-mail company will advise you when the mailing has been effectuated. You can request a test mailing – approximately 300,000 addresses.
http://www.myopt.com/. You can also purchase bulk e-mail software. www.infacta.com, http://www.mailworkz.com.

e-Bay: eBay is the world’s largest trading community where millions of transactions occur every day. Most of the selling happens in an auction or Buy It Now format. The seller posts an item for a specified duration of time (3, 5, 7 or 10 days). Prospects then place bids. The person who chooses to Buy It Now or the person who placed the highest bid at the close of an auction gets the item. Familiarize yourself with the concept by browsing the ads, taking the site tour and reading the policies.

Gift Basket Business
You can start your own gift basket business for about $500.00 and you don’t need to have experience to do so. You can purchase a complete packaged program on how to get started, how to market your business and learn about resources and suppliers from which you can purchase just about anything to include in your gift baskets. It’s wide open.

Int’l Basket Boutique sells a program for $499.00 that includes a training DVD, marketing and startup manuals, supplier directories and training and support. The company has been in business for nearly two decades and has helped many entrepreneurs launch their own business. You can learn more by visiting their website at: www.intlbaskets.com and you can call 888/301-8800.

Personalized Products
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t enjoy reading about their name, their family tree or seeing some special phrase, quote or passage that has been customized for them and preserved in a special gift presentation? You can start a business with Personal Touch Products customizing a variety of goods.

The startup package begins at $249.00 and you’ll be creating custom and personalized gifts with the help of the company’s five-in-one personalized gift software. The software can help you offer first name meaning gifts, personalized poetry gifts, popular Bible verse gifts, famous quotation gifts and family tree gifts.

To learn more how you can do this with you existing computer, call the company at 877/593-1249 or you can visit their website at: www.personaltouchproducts.com/bizopp. The site is comprehensive and easy to navigate. Check out the other opportunities, too, though some are more than $500.00 to start.

Friendly Folks is another personalized product company. This one helps you start a business printing key chains, mouse pads, magnets and much more. The offerings are adorable. You can start for $495.00. To get more information, call the company in Belleville, New Jersey at 800/963-6557 or visit www.friendlyfolks.com.

Kids’ Juke Box is a business opportunity package for $499.00 that will help you launch your own personalized music business for children. You will be selling CD story books, personalized music for children, personalized singing alarm clocks, personalized singing plush and other hot products kids adore. If you’d like more info how you can tap into this market and offer top name branded products like Care Bears, Barney and Marvel, visit the website at: www.kidsjukeboxinc.com or call 800/383-2935.

Junk Removal
So many businesses have so much trash at the end of the week, it would be nice if they could call someone with a pickup truck and pay them to haul it all away. Why couldn’t that someone be you? If you already have a good truck to use then you can certainly start this business for $500 or less. Use some of your budget to place an ad in the weekly newspaper and then create a flier or direct mail letter that you will send to real estate offices, commercial and residential cleaning companies, local caterers, bakers, deli owners, and just about any other business you can think of.

Charge by the hour or charge by the truckload. There might be some jobs that require a visit to the site. For example, a realtor might be about to list a house but needs to have the home thoroughly emptied of junk. You can charge for cleaning, too, and your clients will understand that clean-up is not a part of your price quote. You can charge additional money and make bigger bucks. You might find that you are so busy, you will need to hire others to take on jobs for you. Pay these workers by the hour for their services.

Call your local insurance company and see if you should get any additional liability coverage. Your local county clerk’s office can help you to learn how you can become “bonded”. Being “bonded” means that you have been ‘checked out’ and that you are know a felon or any type of criminal. Many people want to know that the person who is entering their home or workplace to provide services is “bonded.” Some companies, such as, www.1800GOTJUNK.com and www.trashbusters.com have made a treasure out of trash and you can do it, too!

Nursery Décor
If you have a talent for decorating, and love kids’ rooms, you can start a Nursery Décor business. It will help if you know parents with young children. You can ask them to purchase the supplies you recommend and you perform the labor at no charge in order to develop a portfolio of your work. Three or four rooms should be sufficient to start your business. Consider getting a website so that people can click on your home page and see what type of work you do.

Yahoo hosting services for small business offer a very nice basic package that is affordable. You can start a website and Yahoo will host it for less than $15. a month.

That is a great deal so check out the Yahoo service at: webhosting.yahoo.com. There are many templates from which to choose for both Windows and Mac computers and you’ll be guided every step of way.

Think green and offer toxic free paints. See what other innovations you can provide to set you aside from the competition, that is, if there is any competition in your market. Scan the Internet and check out the Yellow Pages to see if there is another company offering this fun service.

Operate A Home Inventory Biz
A home inventory business is a valuable & in-demand service that can be easily started in your area. Recommended by insurance companies and financial planners, a home inventory offers the homeowner protection and peace of mind by providing a detailed record of their personal property to maximize & simplify insurance claims.

Recent natural disasters & media attention has raised homeowner awareness making a Home Inventory Business an excellent opportunity. Most homeowners are now aware of the importance of a home inventory but simply don’t have the time or patience to perform one themselves.

Just as the practice of home inspection has become a standard practice in recent years, home inventory services are in high demand as homeowners realize the necessity of having a comprehensive home inventory.

Now is the time to take advantage of this unique opportunity. You can be the first in your area to offer homeowners protection & peace of mind by starting your own home inventory business today!
“Our unique LOW cost program offers you the opportunity to start your own successful home based business working either full or part-time.

No experience is necessary, we provide you with all the materials needed to begin your very own profitable business. Our system has allowed thousands of entrepreneurs nationally to break away from unfulfilling jobs and has provided a means for stay at home moms/dads to generate a significant part-time income. You’ll have the security of having your own in-demand business & no longer worry about changes in your company or your job being outsourced.

You can easily start this business on a part-time basis and expand to full-time as your business grows. Our program provides you with all the materials needed to start your very own business that you fully own. You simply pay one low start-up fee and you keep all of the profits, there are absolutely no franchise or yearly fees.

We make it easy for you to be your own boss & start a business that you’ll be very proud to own. Join the growing group of individuals who are making $100+ per hour by starting your own home inventory business today! You can easily partner with other home related businesses to provide a steady stream of referrals. Successful partners include Insurance Agents, Financial Planners, Accountants, Attorneys and Moving & Storage companies … just to name a few!

Once your business is established, you can easily expand and add others to your staff. Many individuals start and organize their business then simply sit back & schedule appointments while others visit clients and perform home inventories. Your profits and potential growth are unlimited,” says the biz.

Startup packages begin at $349. For more information, software requirements and other information, call Home Journal Business at 800/999-2734 or visit their website at: www.homejournalbusiness.com.

Everyone is worried about their valuables in the case of a fire or theft. You can start a business offering peace of mind to home owners by launching a home inventory business. Basically, you will record and document all of the items in the home or apartment and compile a complete list of serial numbers, etc. in case the items are stolen or lost in a flood or fire. According to the folks at KC Home Inventory, “We have seen first hand the benefits this service provides. We have assisted our customers making claims to settle faster and for fairer amounts with their insurance company by providing a comprehensive home inventory that was professionally prepared and we will show you how to do the same.”

It is not a complicated process. With your digital camera and camcorder your home-based business will provide a homeowner, apartment dweller, small business owner and others with complete documentation of their valuables.
The finished product you’ll create is presented to them in a handsome binder complete with video, digital stills and printed documents and on CD.

According to KC Home Inventory, your earnings, like any business, depend on the amount of time you devote to your business. Estimating the fee for an inventory on the average home between $200 and $400 you can project your potential earnings. You decide how many appointments you can handle per week to reach your income goals. This can be a profitable business as you can see; plus don’t forget to include the income from your annual updates.

Some of the individuals and businesses that need and want your services:
• Homeowners and Renters
• Insurance Companies
• Financial and Estate Planners
• Lawyers
• Collectors
• Couples combining two households
• People planning to move
• Business owners
• Antique Dealers

There are several packages available for under $500 that can help you get started with help from KC Home Inventory. They provide: an operations manual and business plan, strategies on setting up and operating your home inventory service.

Information on registering and licensing your new business and choosing a name and how to become bonded and insured.

They will help you with business record keeping tools and will help you get business cards and letterhead templates. They will help you obtain credit card merchant status and will also provide color brochures that you can distribute to your potential customers.

You can learn more at: www.KCHomeInventory.com or call the company at 800/631-7022.

Sporting Goods
You can establish your own sporting goods business right in your home and start selling promotional items, clothing, screen printed t-shirts and more, embroidered items and even custom uniforms. You don’t have to do all the work yourself: SportsLife Enterprises will help you get started and will work with you to complete every order.
The startup cost is $495.00 and they will help you with marketing suggestions. Go online to www.sportslife.com or call 800/909-5433 to order your information package or to learn more about the business opportunity.
Pro Star Athletics also has a sporting goods business opportunity. For a limited time they are offering a startup package for $395. So contact the company and see if this discounted rate is still available. You can offer a wide variety of goods including volleyball, hockey, football, soccer, softball and basketball items along with licensed gifts, caps and jackets and much, much more. Visit www.Prostarathletics.net or call 866/390-7732 to learn more.

Sunglass Sales
Looking for a business you can run from your van, a flea market table, mall kiosk or part-time right from a suitcase? Sell sunglasses. Buy them at a discount from Solar Sunglasses and then sell at a huge profit. The startup pack that consists of 32 pairs of sunglasses in assorted styles and comes with two display cases is just $99.00. Sell them for $10.00 a pair and you’ve made a nice profit of more than $200.00. For more information, visit www.solarsunglasses.net or call 877/765-2732.

Invention Enterprise
How many times have you seen a product selling like hotcakes and have thought, “Gee, that is so simple. Why didn’t I think of that?” The popular American Inventor television program demonstrated that there are people out there with no experience in manufacturing or marketing who just followed through with their idea. The ideas, many wise men and women say, is the easy part. It is the follow-through that is tough!

If you have the sticktoitiveness to bring your product along, you could become a millionaire selling a simple gadget, etc. If you want to learn more about what it takes, go online and read about various inventors and their products. If you are ready to take the next step and start formalizing your invention, get a copy of The Inventor’s Notebook by Fred Grissom and Attorney David Pressman (NOLO, $24.95).

Creating an official record is crucial to proving that you are the first and true inventor of the product you have conceived. If your invention is ever challenged, your completed notebook will be the foundation of your legal rights to the idea.

The wonderful Inventor’s Notebook is designed to help you document the key steps of the invention process, including conceiving, building and testing your invention; legally protecting your project; and financing and marketing your brainchild. The book will help you track every important step in the process.

You can use this valuable book to not only document the development of your invention but to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of your invention so that you can make refinements while building and testing it. You can also use the guide to help you take a critical look at your product to assess the commercial potential of your invention.

The guide will also help you calculate how much capital you are likely to need and will also organize your search for funds to build, test, manufacture and distribute your invention.

Fred Grissom has developed and implemented high-technology training programs around the world, and worked as a new product design engineer for computer simulation equipment. He is currently a business development consultant and multimedia producer.

David Pressman has more than 30 years of experience as an attorney, a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent Office and a university instructor. His book, Patent It Yourself, is the most highly recommended guide available to patenting an invention. It’s a gold mine.

Nolo Press has, for thirty years, published the most reliable self-help legal tools available. Their more than 300 books, software and eProducts are clearly written and regularly updated. Visit www.nolo.com to order these books or others and definitely bookmark this site for future reference!

Open A Store on eBay
Each year the ranks of eBay Power Sellers grows. A Power Seller is someone who sells $150,000 a month on eBay. With more than 2 million auctions ending each day on this popular site, it is easy to calculate how you can join the profit action. All you need to do is find a great product that you will enjoy selling. We recently intereviewed a gentleman who sells yo-yo’s and makes $1 million a year. And how about the retired Grandma who is emptying her attic while earning $500.00 a week on eBay? All you need is a computer, an email address and a PayPal account to accept credit card payments.

Visit the eBay site and learn how you can become a Power Seller with your own store. It’s easy and fun.
Ebay takes a small percentage of your earnings, (as does PayPal) and there is a fee to list your auction, but in the end, you will make money if you have something great to sell and are committed to making it work. There are many eBay auctioneers who make a six-figure income. Many have quit their jobs and now conduct eBay business on a full-time basis. Do you have a special interest in TV collectibles? Clocks? Hawaiiana? Guitar accessories? Gardening equipment? Find wholesale sources for your items, buy at low prices and sell for a whopping profit. Get started today by visiting ebay.com and start selling!

Reunion Planning
Get-togethers are the rage whether they are high school reunions or families or members of a certain club or former military unit. Perhaps it is a desire to connect with a heartfelt time that is fueling this trend. Any service business that sells the luxury of time and convenience to its clients is a hot commodity. Time-strapped Americans don’t have any extra space in their lives, it seems, to get things done. This is where you come in: you can start a Reunion Planning service right from your home with your computer. Get a website and start emailing away to every club, institution, school, college, etc. that will post your business.

How do your charge for this service? Many experts recommend that you charge per person based on how many would attend the reunion.

If you are a detailed-oriented planner, and if you love people and throwing parties, than this could be the dream business for you. Check out various book and software that might be available. Here are some sites that could help point you in the right direction: www.reunionplanner.com, www.reunioncelebrations.com, www.reunions.com.

You can make additional money on each reunion if you have videographers, photographers, etc. available at each venue, too. Don’t spend a lot of money on your startup. Use the Internet and a website that you build yourself with help from webhosting.yahoo.com or other lowcost webhosting options.

Car, Van, RV, Boat Detailing
As a culture, we love our cars. It is easy to have a new car these days thanks to all of the rental programs available to drivers. We cherish our automobiles and this is a way for you to make a nice income: keep cars washed, waxed and detailed to perfection. There are a lot of programs and packages you can find online to purchase car detailing business opportunity programs but you could do it yourself. You will care for the car at the site of the home owner. Same for vans, Rvs, but most of the boats will be handled where they are docked.
Advertise in the local newspapers and in stores that cater to the automotive market and boat owners. Charge by the hour and determine what your market will bear by calling similar car detailing services and asking about their rates and also do a search to see what similar cleaning services charge.

You will need special supplies so spend an afternoon at the local auto store to determine what are the best cleaning product options. You can start this business on your own, but then you will probably want to add staff as you grow. Eventually, you will sit in your home office and just book workers to head out to jobs. You’ll spend a little time buying supplies and sending out invoices, but basically the work will be handled by others. Isn’t it nice to be the boss? Start your research today.

Wholesome Organic Profits: The Six Keys to Growing Your Company the Old-Fashioned Way
Recent corporate financial scandals have called into question the quality of corporate earnings. A book by Edward D. Hess profiles twenty-two big companies that thrive and prosper by consistently producing high-quality organic, homegrown profits.

When the average Joe thinks “big corporation,” the images that spring to mind are primarily negative: backdating of stock options . . . fat cat CEOs who jet around in luxury while workers barely scrape by . . . huge mergers that spawn both big bonuses (for executives) and layoffs (for lower-level peons) . . . companies reporting record profits while cutting employee health benefits. Watch the evening news and you’ll see why so many people take such a grim view of the corporate world. But the depressing stories also lead us to believe that there just aren’t any good companies;those that prosper and grow the old-fashioned way;left.

Professor Edward Hess begs to differ. Just because we don’t often hear about companies that thrive via positive, healthy, organic growth; by growing their customer base, creating new products, and mastering operational efficiency;doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They do. What’s more, he adds, these companies convincingly demonstrate that you can be a high-performance organic growth company without resorting to accounting and earnings manipulations and without commoditizing and devaluing your employees.

“Intrigued by the financial scandals of recent history, I researched how many companies succeed by generating earnings primarily through organic growth,” says Hess, author of the new book The Road to Organic Growth: How Great Companies Consistently Grow Marketshare from Within (McGraw-Hill, February 2007, ISBN: 0-0714752-5-7, $22.95). “I found that in three separate studies of over eight hundred value-creating public companies, only twenty-two of them;less than 4 percent;consistently created substantial economic value and out-competed their industry competition primarily by growing internally or organically.”

Surprised at the staggeringly low number of companies growing organically, Hess was motivated to find out exactly how the twenty-two high-performance organic growth companies could do it so well. That research resulted in his new book.

So what is necessary if you want to grow a successful big business organically? Hess discovered that there are six areas in which many of these twenty-two companies excel. He calls them the Six Keys to Organic Growth and explains them in his book, supporting his findings with detailed case studies of seven of the twenty-two high-performance organic growth companies from his study.

1. Live by an elevator-pitch business model. Companies that grow organically have a simple, easy-to-understand strategy and business model. The strategy model can be easily explained to and understood by employees at any level. These companies are disciplined and focused. Big innovations and new business models are not prevalent. Examples of these elevator pitches are:

Best Buy: Best Buy sells and services branded customer electronics, appliances, home office equipment, and entertainment products.

Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson manufactures and sells motorcycles, motorcycle parts, and related apparel and accessories.

SYSCO: SYSCO sells food and restaurant-related products and services to food service establishments.

Tiffany& Company: Tiffany designs, manufactures, and sells fine jewelry and luxury goods.

2. Instill a “small company soul” into a “big company body.” A small company soul is entrepreneurial. Employees have a sense of ownership of the customer, are held accountable for results, and share in the rewards of those results. Entrepreneurial employees are like, well, like entrepreneurs. They are energized and engaged in the day-to-day business because they feel they have some control over their destiny, they have autonomy and respect, and they feel rewarded for their efforts.

“Take a look at a company like SYSCO, the largest wholesale food distribution business in the United States,” says Hess. “SYSCO has infused its employees;from truck drivers to salespeople;with a sense of ownership.

“SYSCO salespeople also take pride in the role they play in the company’s success,” he adds. “Each salesperson visits his or her customer an average of three times a week. They develop friendships with their customers, who are usually chefs or food establishment owners, and they feel a sense of responsibility to help them succeed, going so far as to bus tables or wait on customers if the need arises.”

3. Measure everything. Without measurements, companies have no way to gauge performance. That’s why organic growth companies measure everything, not just financial results. Operational and behavioral metrics make accountability more transparent, fair, and objective. They are mission critical to long-term organic growth.

These companies are measurement maniacs. What do they track? Metrics include people behaviors, detailed customer metrics, logistic/distribution chain metrics, supply chain metrics, customer satisfaction metrics, quality metrics, and basic financial metrics, to name just a few.

Best Buy, one of the study’s twenty-two winners, started relying on measurements as a key to growth more than ten years ago. The company provides its retail store managers with in-depth financial training so they understand store return on investment (ROI) and can recognize which customer segment produces the most profit;not sales, profit. Each store manager receives thirty operational metrics daily. They are coded green (good), yellow (caution), or red (problem). Managers are coached on how to eliminate red problems and mitigate yellows. The company has five key customer segments;named Jane, Buzz, Barry, Ray, and Jill;that are profiled in great detail, and store salespeople are trained to identify, qualify, and meet those individual customer needs.

“Think about it,” says Hess. “If there is a task that you want your employees to focus on, all you have to do is measure and reward it. We’ve all heard that line from Field of Dreams, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Well, in business, if you measure and reward it, it will get done.”

4. Build a people pipeline. Organic growth companies have a deep bench of engaged employees. Employees of these companies have generally bought into the system in a committed way. And in business there is no greater advantage than committed, loyal employees.

“One example of a well-built people pipeline is Tiffany& Company,” says Hess. “Tiffany’s employee satisfaction surveys are outstanding, employee retention is over 90 percent, and the company generally promotes from within. In our study we found that the company rarely hires a vice president-level candidate from the outside and at least 50 percent of its managers and 65 percent of its store directors are promotions from within.

With high-performance organic growth companies, there is an implied social contract between the corporation and its employees that the rules of the game will not change mid-stream.”

5. Make sure leaders are humble, passionate, focused operators. CEOs at high-performance organic growth companies don’t fit the stereotype of the high-flying, bigger than life, charismatic, all-knowing corporate leader. Like the leaders of any major company, they face intense challenges, manage thousands and tens of thousands;or, in one case, millions;of employees, and struggle to maintain their competitive edge. Yet there is something special about organic growth CEOs. These leaders value their employees. There is a sincere respect for line workers, and no wonder: many such leaders began their careers on the factory floor. In fact, of the twenty-two corporations profiled in the study, fifteen of their CEOs have each spent twenty years or more climbing the ladder to the top of their company.

Clearly organic growth leaders want their companies to operate as teams. At Best Buy, all executive offices are modest in size (barely big enough for a desk and two chairs) and windowless. (The company founder’s office is the one exception.) The company reserves windows for team spaces;showing that teams are a higher priority than management.

6. Be an execution and technology champion. Interestingly, high organic growth companies don’t tend to have unique strategies, products, or services, nor are they market-leading innovators. What they are is execution champions.

Harley-Davidson is a prime example of an execution and technology champion. Although the company has a respected brand and product and loyal customers, its operational excellence is what makes it viable, stable, and resilient. It has survived the ups and downs of being sold to American Machinery and Foundry (AMF), then being repurchased by management, and ultimately going public . . . and it continues to grow organically.

Harley-Davidson has three simple rules: 1) Know the customer; 2) Take nothing for granted; and 3) Never stop learning. But its technology is what helps drive productivity and metric-tracking. After investing heavily in building technology systems, it turned to its supply chains to efficiently integrate its more than six hundred suppliers into the manufacturing process. Technology and execution excellence have allowed Harley-Davidson to keep all of its manufacturing operations in the U.S.

“You can build a sustainable and successful big business without playing accounting games or engaging in financial manipulations,” adds Hess. “And you can do it without commoditizing and devaluing your employees. The twenty-two companies studied and outlined in the book, in their own individual ways, reaffirm the American entrepreneurial spirit. They show us that if properly engaged, U.S. employees can out-perform any and all competition.” •

Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities July 2008

  • john thorley

    How can I get people to look at my website?