You don’t need a fortune to make a mint. Start a biz right at home from your kitchen table, garage, attic or your van for $100 or less!
How do you find a business to start that is right for you? Consider your talents, your skills and your passions. If you are good at numbers, and enjoy being detailed-oriented, you could start a freelance bookkeeping service. Love the outdoors and gardening? How about a landscaping enterprise. Do you play an instrument? You could teach classes to kids or give individual lessons in their home. If you love crafts and enjoy making quilts or scrapbooking, could you teach this talent to others?
Now you must consider whether or not your idea will work as a home-based business. If you love baseball and want to set up a batting cage, do you have the space? Is your property zoned to take on vehicles driving up and parking all over your street? You can’t start a manufacturing venture in a residential neighborhood. If you are thinking of baking bread and selling it to restaurants, make sure you call your county clerk’s office and find out if you need to get a “food handler’s license.” Requirements vary in each state so make sure you check it out!
Can you make a profit with the type of business you’ve selected?
If you want to start a pet-sitting business, for example, make sure your region has a client base to support your small business. Will people be willing to pay you for what you are selling? Next, ask yourself how much are people willing to pay for this product or service, and will you be able to make a sufficient income from that?
Write a business plan for your home-based business. There are many templates available online that you can use as a basis for your document. It can be 2 pages or 20 pages, but what the plan will do is help you answer all the questions you might have about your small business before you even launch the company.
The business plan is absolutely essential if you want to borrow money, so prepare the document. It will give you a great sense of security knowing that you understand every aspect of your venture.
PICK A BUSINESS YOU LOVE: In searching for the right business to start make sure you choose something that you love to do. You will be spending a lot of time making the business work, so you must enjoy what you do. There are probably business ideas that will occur to you that would do well in your community, but if you don’t love that particular type of business, skip that idea and keep thinking. Find something you love to do and how to get paid to do it.
MAKE A LIST OF HOBBIES, TALENTS & INTERESTS: In researching the type of business you’d love to start, make a series of lists of what you’re interested in and see what you’re good at. Are there common denominators? Do you like sports, pets, fixing things? What types of businesses could you start that relate to your interests? An individual who loves parties and music might want to consider starting a mobile DJ service.
CHECK OUT ZONING RULES: Com-munities have really relaxed their rules on residential and commercial zoning now that so many people are working from home. But if your home-based business means that you’ll have to have huge trucks delivering goods, then beware, your neighbors might not like it and might turn you in to the local authorities. You will not be able to set up a restaurant at home or a dry cleaning business or a commercial parking lot right on your front lawn. To find out about local zoning laws, call your town office and county clerk’s office.
REGISTER YOUR COMPANY: Take a trip down to your county clerk’s office and register your name. You will receive a Business Index number and can then use that Business Index number to open a business checking account.
ESTABLISH A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE: Most of your customers might never see your home office, so impress them with your professionalism and attention to detail by selecting a good-looking stationery system consisting of high-grade letterhead and business cards. Get a separate phone line so no one answers the phone and just says, “Hello,” which could turn off potential customers. Get a fax machine, an answering machine or voice mail and you are in business!
CHECK OUT YOUR IN- SURANCE COVERAGE: Ex- amine your insurance policy to see if you need to beef up your liability insurance or add on any other type of coverage. There are many add-ons to consider including: business interruption insurance, business property insurance, disability insurance, non-owned auto insurance, product liability and much more.
GENERATING BUS-INESS: Print up a flier, get involved in local clubs and other networking opportunities, send out a press kit to local newspapers, prepare a direct mail piece, try and place yourself as a guest—an expert—on local TV or cable, investigate advertising, become active in local civic groups and associations, offer to give a speech at a local club or gathering, send out discount coupons, send out holiday greeting cards, teach a class at adult education, attend trade shows as a guest or exhibitor.
ACCOUNTING FOR SUCCESS: Even though you might not plan to do your own taxes—and we do endorse the notion that you visit a professional accountant for tax assistance—it’s a good idea to get a grip on basic accounting principles and bookkeeping skills. Look into a local adult education course, browse through bookstores and find a “how to” manual or enroll in a local community college, but get a little accounting help under your belt
Check out our Home-Based 100. Conduct your own “due diligence” research to see if the business would work for you in your region of the U.S.
1. MAKE AND SELL A FOOD PRODUCT: Do you make sauce or salad dressing that people say you should market? Then do it! Investigate with local health officials whether you can produce your recipe at home. You might need a food handler’s license. Find out what information you must include on a label. Research marketing options.
2. KAYAK/CANOE RENTAL: If you live near a lake, pond, protected bay or gentle stream, you could make some nice cash renting your kayaks and canoes to your customers. Offer to drop off and pick up the canoes and kayaks and make sure your customers sign an agreement releasing you from all liability should any accidents occur. Check out this release form with an attorney.
3. PERSONAL ASSISTANT: If you are good, and we mean really good with details and you are a perfectionist about the jobs you do, you can start a business hiring yourself out as a personal assistant to your clients. You will do everything from problem solving, to writing letters to handling the caterer, the gardener and special events for your clients. Your clients might be small business owners who need an occasional right hand or they might be homeowners who have too much to do when they are planning to have their kid’s wedding in the backyard. A cell phone, a computer/printer and a fax machine are good tools for this job.
4. ERRAND SERVICE: Charge by the hour to perform a wide variety of errands for your clients. You can market your services to moms, single parents, grandparents, seniors, etc.
5. MARKET YOUR ARTS AND OR CRAFTS: If you make jewelry, art, photography, distress furniture, make baskets, etc., figure out how you can be paid to do it. There are several books on the market available that can help you learn how to market your arts and crafts. Sell them at fairs or sell directly to stores or even to catalog owners.
6. KITCHEN DESIGN: Get out your computer, purchase some new software CD-ROMs and learn how to dazzle your clients with your new ideas in kitchen design. Local hardware stores or lumberyards that sell kitchen cabinets might want to suggest that their shoppers contact you for ideas. It could help build their business, too.
7. BED & BREAKFAST BIZ: Do you have an extra room or two that you could rent out? Congratulations, you’re in the bed and breakfast business. This is a great business you can start without too much hassle. You don’t necessarily have to provide a private bath, but it is a nice touch. You should call your insurance company and ask them to review your policy. Should you beef up your liability coverage? It just might be a good idea. If you live near a tourist attraction, the beach, a lake, a mountain for skiing, etc., it makes your bed and breakfast much easier to market.
8. CAR DETAILING: Americans spend more and more on their cars, and they are willing to spend an extra $50 to $150 a month to have the car hand washed and waxed. You can start this service with very little money. Spend a day in an auto products store and learn what products are available and learn how to use them. If you are tidy and detail-oriented by nature, this business is a natural for you.
9. PLANT SERVICE: Do you have a green thumb? Are you lucky with plants? Then consider starting a plant service. This business is similar to a pet-sitting business. You’ll care for plants when folks are away on business trips or on vacations. You can care for the plants in their home or yours. You can also start a plant business just geared to commercial customers. You sell the plants and then come by once or twice a week to maintain them.
10. PARTY PLANNER: If you enjoy people and parties, then this could be a great business for you to start. Do you have great organizational skills? Then you are one step closer to launching your own party planning service. You get to throw great parties spending other people’s money. You’ll have to develop a very good file of resources for music, catering, places to hold events, florists, invitation printing, and just about any other aspect of hosting an event. Charge by the hour or charge by the event. Some events take a long time to plan, so be cautious before you commit to do the event for one set fee. You might wind up spending many, many hours without being properly compensated. Once you do a few of these party planning gigs, you will learn the ropes. Check out local bookstores for information/books on party planning.
11. CHIMNEY SWEEP: Do you know how to clean a chimney? If you do, it’s money in the bank for you. If you don’t, you can learn. The equipment is available at hardware stores and home centers. You’ll need a long brush with a telescopic handle, gloves and a few other items. Wood-burning stoves are experiencing a great rise in popularity and sales. Wood burners can produce a substance called creosote that sticks to chimney walls. It needs to be cleaned or it can produce a chimney fire. Chimney sweeps earn anywhere from $35 to $100 for cleaning a chimney.
12. VENDING VENTURES: Look into the possibility of running your own vending machine empire—candy, soda, fruit, juice, clothing, cosmetics, condoms, you-name-it. You’ll have to find some good spots to place your vending machines. Most vending entrepreneurs must share a bit of their profits with the owner of the establishment in which the vending machine is placed. It could be worth your while, but check out the possibilities before you buy any vending machines. You’ll have to visit the machines once or twice a week for restocking and, oh yes, to remove your money.
13. MOVE-IN SERVICE: How many times have you or someone you know moved into an apartment to find the refrigerator in need of cleaning, the stove quite unkempt, the bathroom grout full of mildew, the walls in need of a paint job, etc. Well, you can make some money by starting a move-in service. You get everything ready for the folks before they move in. It is well worth the $250 to $1000 you’ll be charging for them to move into a clean environment. Many individuals (especially single parents) simply don’t have the time to get all this work done. They would gladly pay someone to take care of the cleaning and shaping-up of their new digs.
14. FIREWOOD DELIVERY: A few years ago, we interviewed three firewood delivery entrepreneurs who worked weekends only. They bought their wood a few counties away where it was cheap and tripled the price to sell it locally. They made profits of up to 400% on a cord of wood in some locations. They sold to residential customers and to the owners of restaurants, inns, etc. While this is not a business that could be run all year in most areas of the country, it could produce quite a nice profit during the winter months.
15. ANTIQUE CENTER: Yes, you buy antiques and collectible items and set them up on display right in your home. On weekends or even every day if you live in a well-trafficked location, you invite the buying public in to tour the room(s) in which you feature these items for sale. You can also sell antiques that belong to your neighbors and take a cut for your display and sales services.
16. HOLIDAY DECORATING: There are plenty of homeowners and business owners who just don’t have the time, the inclination or the design know-how to decorate their homes and businesses for the holiday season. This is especially true for the winter season, but you could expand this business into a four-season enterprise. You’ll be handling holiday lights (and purchasing them at wholesale rates and selling them at a whopping profit). You’ll also be putting up other decorative items. You could conceivably start this business all by yourself and then expand by hiring folks to work for you.
17. LIGHTING DESIGN: Whether you start this business for residential or commercial clients, you’ll be installing lights in backyards, walkways, lampposts, security lights, decorative lights around pools and gardens, etc. You buy the goods wholesale and then resell them to your clients for a profit. Check out what’s on the market and check through your Yellow Pages to see how much competition you have in your area.
18. PARTY ENTERTAINING: If you are a natural entertainer, consider starting your own entertainment business. You will be hired to perform at parties—parties for kids, for civic groups, for corporate sponsors, for town celebrations. You’ll need a good rapport with people. Think of the various personas you could create: gorilla, historian, clown, etc.
19. WOODCUTTING SERVICE: If you have a good jigsaw, a router, a good circular saw and a miter box or mitering tool, you could start a part-time business cutting wood or other items for your customers. How about those louver bi-fold doors that someone bought. They were just a hair too wide, but couldn’t be hung on Sunday afternoon, because the lumber yard was closed. Your small business could come in handy here. You might eventually start a business building bookshelves, cabinets, TV stands, etc., now that you’re hanging around your tools so much.
20. CAR-BUYING SERVICE: You interview your clients to determine what their needs are and then begin searching for their perfect car. You can establish relationships with a couple of car dealers so that they will help you get good deals for your clients. They’ll know you’ll keep customers coming to them if they offer good rates for your client. We know of one individual who paid $150 to a car-buying entrepreneur and said she would have paid $250 for the service provided. If you are a car buff, this could be a good business for you. Increasingly, consumers don’t want to deal with car salesmen.
21. CRAFTS CO-OP: Do you have the space to invite 50 or 100 craftspeople to set up tables and sell their wares? If you do, and your property is zoned to accept the amount of cars this type of sale can attract, you have the makings of an exciting crafts fair. You don’t sell anything but table or booth space. The crafts people are happy to pay for space and will fork over about $10 or $15 a day. Some crafts co-op entrepreneurs take a cut of their take for the day, too. Make sure you have enough parking space and bathroom facilities. It will also be your responsibility to advertise the crafts sale. After all, your merchants won’t want to come back and rent your space if the customers don’t show.
22. ART GALLERY: You can set up your very own art gallery right in your home. Hang the art of local artists on your walls and host a party once a month to show the work to potential buyers. Getting together a group of artists for a show will not be a problem. There are plenty of folks out there who are making art but who have no place to show their work. You will make a percentage of whatever the paintings sell for. For example, perhaps you’ll give the artist 60% of the sale price and you’ll keep 40%. You’ll have to spend time developing a good mailing list for your gallery openings and you’ll have to print up attractive announcement invitations for the shows. Contact the local media for possible mentions to help generate a crowd at the shows. Hang the art in your living room and you’re ready to sell.
23. WINDOW WASHING: Window washing is a business that, while you don’t actually work at home, you do run the business from home (sending out fliers, making calls to place ads, calling customers to get business). There is almost no one out there that doesn’t refer to the task of window washing as a disagreeable necessity. You come to the rescue and make some good bucks for it. Think of all the potential customers in your residential area; now consider all of the businesses that would avail themselves of your services. You will be booking clients on a steady basis if you do a good job. You won’t need much in the way of supplies: just a bucket, a cleaner, a window cleaning squeegee and elbow grease.
24. HANDYMAN: Are you handy around the house? Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for it? There are probably plenty of folks right in your own town who would love to avail themselves of your handyman services. You might think it’s simple to install a light socket, put up molding, change a doorknob, patch a screen, repair a broken door hinge or put up some bookshelves, but most people do not. Promote your business via word of mouth, fliers or a small advertisement in the local newspaper.
25. PET SITTING: Do you love animals? This could be a business dream come true. There are plenty of people out there who don’t want to leave their precious pets alone during the day. Or, maybe there is an individual who travels a great deal for a job and would prefer to leave their pet in their own home or in yours, rather than in a kennel. You might call a local insurance company and ask them what it takes to become “bonded.” This way, should a vase break or something else get damaged when you are in someone’s home, there will be a means by which it will be paid for or replaced.
26. JUNK REMOVAL: Many landfills across the U.S. are closing and giving way to recycling centers. It’s a great thing, but it has made it more difficult to get rid of a lot of junk. You can start a business removing items from people’s homes and yards that they can’t get rid of themselves. Maybe your customers have no way to haul their stuff to the dump; maybe it is too heavy for their car. You do the research and find out what dumping/recycling facilities are available in your county, but before you haul the stuff to the centers, check it out! It could be an item that an antique dealer would love.
27. DIRECT SELLING: We don’t usually feature multi-marketing businesses in this magazine because our readers don’t consider it having a business of their own, but it is something you might want to consider. Direct selling means that you sell your products directly to the customer without a store or shop. It’s the Fuller Brush or the Avon way of earning extra money. Today there are direct selling opportunities galore! There’s a direct selling venture for just about any type of product you would want to sell.
28. KEEPSAKE /CD-Roms/ALBUMS: You meet with your clients to review their photos, letters, keepsakes, mementos. You organize them into photo albums, scrapbooks or a DVD. If you are organized and have a bit of a flair for putting things together, this could be the perfect business for you. Charge by the hour or by the project.
29. PASTRY PROFITS: You can turn a recipe you’ve refined into a hot moneymaker. We know of one elementary school teacher who perfected a dessert. He offered the dessert to catering companies. They loved it and were soon ordering them by the dozen for weddings and other events they catered. He soon had to move out of his own kitchen and rent a bakery at night to produce
his tasty treats. You can do the same. Make a batch of your favorite bread, cookie, cake or tart and offer it to the appropriate business. For example, offer your homemade bread to local restaurants, etc. Check out requirements for a food handler’s license in your state. It varies state to state, so check it out.
30. CLOSET RENOVATION: You can make anywhere from $100 to $1500 remodeling closets. You’ll have to brush up on some of the new organizer systems that are available, and if you have a knack for installing things, you’ll be good at fixing up closets and giving people more of what everyone wants: more closet space. You don’t have to be a design genius to be good at this very practical business.
31. SOCIAL MEDIA SERVICE: You help individuals set up accounts at MySpace, face book, twitter, etc., and you maintain them.
32. CART VENDING: If you live in a busy area—near a bunch of outlets, for example, build a small cart and start selling. Sell lemonade, fruit salad, cookies, sunglasses, suntan lotion, but start selling. If you live en route to a busy beach sell your goods to drivers sitting in traffic. Sell vegetables from the roadside. Sell ski wax. This is a four-season business. Pick and choose the items that you will sell for each season. Buy them wholesale. You are in business.
33. HORSE BOARDING: Some areas across the United States are known as “horse country.” If you live in or near a region that qualifies, you might consider building a stable on your property and renting it out to people who own horses but who don’t have anywhere to keep them. Once again, call your insurance company and inquire about the possibility of beefing up your liability coverage. You wouldn’t want one of your boarders to stumble in the stable at any rate, but particularly not if you don’t have the proper coverage to protect yourself.
34. TOOL RENTAL: Do you have a basement full of tools that you are not using all the time? If you do, why not start a business renting them to people who need them for a limited time and limited use? Do you really need that sander hanging around all day next to your dusty wet saw? How about that dry/wet vacuum? Or that giant wheelbarrow used only once to mix concrete?
35. GARAGE CLEANING: Just about every garage in the United States could use a cleaning. Some need a complete overhaul. You can offer this service to homeowners in your community and by the time you get all the garages cleaned and straightened up, it will be time to start all over again. You can offer additional services, too, like stain removal, painting, building shelves, etc.
36. PET PHOTOGRAPHER: If you like animals and enjoy taking pictures, consider starting a business in which you photograph people’s pets. Ask local pet shops if you can display a flier offering your service. If you own a pet, drop by your vet’s office and ask if you can hang a flier there, too. If you have patience and a knack in handling animals, this could be a great business.
37. RESIDENTIAL CLEANING SER-VICE: It is not uncommon to hear that people start this business and make $60,000 in six months. They then start farming out the cleaning jobs to employees and sit back and just book the jobs. You can do it, too. Pick up a batch of cleaning supplies, place an ad and get ready to make money. You can charge $50 to clean a one-bedroom apartment and up to $150 for a house. What will your market bear? Remember you are not doing the windows and other tasks that are only done occasionally. Your clients can hire you back and pay you additional fees to do those jobs. You are straightening up, washing the floors and doing the dishes. Place an ad and watch your business grow. Word of mouth is an excellent way to build this business.
38. ASSEMBLY SERVICE: Along the same track as business number 21, but this one has you assembling items such as bookshelves, armoires, dressers and just about anything else that people buy that needs to be assembled. Must people are too frustrated to read directions. This is where you come in and offer your services. If you have the patience, you can do it. You can also pick the items up and assemble them at home and then deliver them to your clients. This way you can do it on your own turf and listen to the music you like while you assemble the goods.
39. TEACH YOUR CRAFT: Do you engage in a hobby or craft that people have told you they would love to learn? Then why don’t you start offering classes or lessons in this hobby/craft? Do you make quilts, do stained glass or build small sailboats? There is probably a market to teach this service in your community. If you don’t want to teach at home, call your local high school. You might be able to teach this class at a local high school adult education class.
40. HOWDY NEIGHBOR SERVICE: Is your area booming with new homeowners? Consider a welcoming service. You make your money from all of the local merchants that pay you to include them in your “get to know the neighborhood” package. You drop in or make appointments with new neighbors and tell them where the local video rental store is, whether or not the local deli delivers, where the best pizza place is, and how late the bank stays open on a Friday night. The merchants often give you coupons to present to these newcomers to help generate business. To round out all of this commercialism, you can also give the
new neighbors tips on where the bus routes are, how late the library stays open, and directions to the post office.
41. NEWSLETTER: You don’t have to be a genius or even a great writer to start your own newsletter. To newsletter readers, it is much more important to digest the information that’s in the newsletter, rather than analyze the writing style. For example, choose something you’re interested in, as you’ll have more fun this way, and uncover better information for your subscribers. Say you like scuba diving, but there are already too many magazines and other newsletters that focus on scuba. What if you narrow your focus to Weekend Scuba Divers—those that don’t have the time to take long vacations once a year, but who want to go every weekend. If you’re based in Atlanta, Georgia, there are probably a few places one could fly to in a weekend and go scuba diving. OK, maybe scuba isn’t for you. What about astronomy? Car detailing? Start a newsletter focusing on something you love, something you are obsessed with and you will enjoy your business every day. You can start out by purchasing a mailing list and sending a sample of your newsletter to everyone on the list, or you can prepare a direct mail letter. Subscriptions to newsletters cost anywhere from $20 to $350 a year.
42. AQUARIUM MAINTENANCE: When people buy tropical fish and put the fish in that gleaming fish tank with the special lighting and that cute little plastic skindiver, it really does look great. But who wants to maintain the beauty of the tank on a regular basis. This is where tropical fish maintenance entrepreneurs come in handy. There are fish that can be selected for a tank that require little care and tenderness. You can learn these breeds and select them for your clients. Of course, we don’t advocate this business unless you are really concerned about the little fish. You’ll need to drop by once or twice a week, clean out the tank and feed the fish. If you maintain the tanks in, say, doctor’s offices, you’ll have steady customers. There are very few doctors or nurses who want to take on the additional responsibilities of managing the fish!
43. CAPTURE SPECIAL EVENTS: Do you enjoy making videos of special gatherings for your family and friends? Why not get paid for it? Take your video camera and start a business recording special events around town for your neighbors and business associates. Your jobs could range from a corporate retirement dinner, a school picnic, a wedding, a special town club event, a marathon, a local bands’ gig, you-name-it. You might need to pick up a tripod or some special lights to start this business, so save the receipts. These supplies are tax deductible.
44. BICYCLE REPAIR: You can turn your love of bicycling into a moneymaking enterprise by advertising that you repair bikes. This type of business can translate into any hobby or love. If you ski, you can offer to wax and repair skis, you can refurbish rollerblades, fix or shape surfboards, etc. Take a look at your hobbies and see if there is one with similar marketable potential.
45. VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE: You can set up a vintage clothing store in your backyard or attic. Check with the local zoning board and make sure this is all right in your neighborhood. Some towns require that you get a permit to do this occasionally. Hang the goods—they can be yours, you could have bought them, or they could belong to friends and neighbors—on a few garment racks. Host nostalgic weekends such as Return To The Seventies and display all your polyester pants, tightly knitted sweaters, platform shoes and 8-track tapes.
46. DISC JOCKEY: Do you love music and parties and people? Try starting your own disc jockey service. You’ll need a good sound system and perhaps some lights to get the ball rolling. Look into a karaoke system so the partygoers can get up and sing. Try and tie in with a local catering company so that they can turn you on to jobs. Don’t forget local parties and local events, too.
47. CALLIGRAPHY SERVICE/SPECIAL INVITATION MARKETING: Calligraphy is still used for special invitations and corporate events. It is available in software form for personal computers, but many prefer to hire a calligrapher that can do the job by hand. Research other special options such as using dried flowers, etc. Drop into a local art or crafts store and research the possibilities.
48. PARTIES FOR KIDS: You can start a business planning parties for children. You can buy all the party fare and drop it off, or you can also provide the cake, the entertainment and even be on hand to supervise these events. You’ll need good resources for the cake, entertainment and party goods. Advertise in local papers and at local clubs that cater to moms.
49. HOT TUB MAINTENANCE: Hot tubs are still a big item when people build a new home. It takes less than 15 minutes a week to maintain a hot tub. You can start a business offering this service. It could be a great add-on to a pool cleaning business. If you have a hot tub already you know what to do. Drop into a local hot tub shop or purchase a book on hot tub maintenance and get ready to distribute a flier to get your client list ready.
50. STEPPINGSTONES: If you can make concrete steppingstones from a simple mold, you can start a lucrative business making garden paths for your clients. You can dye the concrete to have a wide variety of color offerings, too. Mix in some decorative stones or pebbles and you are really on to something. You can practice in your own backyard and even sell the stones you create to help build your business.
51. POOL CLEANING: Do you live in an area with a lot of swimming pools? You could start a pool cleaning and maintenance service. Pool cleaners drop by once a week to vacuum the pool and distribute the chlorine. They charge about $40 for this service. There are plenty of motels and hotels that need this service performed, too. Most pool owners have a lot of the equipment (vacuum and nets to skim the surface) so you really don’t need to cart around a lot of equipment. You can grab clients from other pool cleaners by doing a better job for a little less—or offer to do the first job at a drastic discount.
52. FURNITURE REFINISHING: Even if you’ve never done this before there are scores of books out now on the topic and dozens of magazines that teach one how to refinish furniture. You can offer this as a service and do it at your place, or theirs. You make anywhere from $20 to $75 per house, depending on your location and on the project.
53. DECK BUILDING: If you are handy with carpentry, then starting a deck-building specialty business could be the right one for you. Specialize in just a few styles and build some for your friends (Let them supply the materials). Use these “models” for your photo brochure or deck album. This will be your selling tool to generate business. Charge for materials and labor. Local deck builders in the northeast charge anywhere from $15 to $30 per hour to build a deck.
54. INSTALLATION SERVICE: If you are handy at putting together items or if you have a knack for installing VCRs, laser disc players and whatever, then this could be a lucrative, fun and easy business for you. You can advertise in local newspapers, put up a flier and drop into stores that sell these items and ask them if they can refer you to their customers. The store might be convinced that they will sell more items if they have a person to hook them up!
55. WEDDING PLANNER: Planning a wedding is tough for the harried bride who has enough on her mind. A wedding planner sits down with the bride and the groom and plans a wedding that they want. The wedding planner must work within a budget and should have good resources in the community to find a location, a caterer, band or DJ, flowers, invitations, etc. Patience is a virtue for this business.
56. DISH RENTAL BUSINESS: Ever throw a party and not have enough dishes to go around? Or rather, dishes that matched? There are plenty of folks in that predicament including many catering businesses and you can start a business just renting your dishes to them. You’ll have to buy a few sets of dishes that can accommodate up to 100 place settings—or more. You’ll also have to have a van to deliver and pick up the dishes at the end of the event. Make sure you have one or two heavy-duty dishwashers or invest in a restaurant-type dishwasher if you expect to be doing a lot of really big jobs.
57. GIFT BASKET BIZ: The gift basket business is still booming, as Americans have discovered a tried and true solution to the “what should I give” blues. Gift baskets aren’t just for those get-well times, either. They come in all shapes and sizes. They can be customized for a wide variety of recipients from the golfer who finally hit par to the single mom who just got a great promotion. It’s key to develop a good list of resources of where you can purchase the items at wholesale rates. Look into getting a “resell number.” This will enable you to purchase goods at rock-bottom wholesale prices. It will also help you get into “trade only” shows where many manufacturers come and show their wares. You can start a gift basket business out of your home or tie in the service with a local florist, card store, sports shop or just about any other type of business you can think of that might want to offer gift baskets to their clients.
58. RV & BOAT DETAILING: If you live near a trailer park, campground or harbor, you can establish a washing, cleaning, detailing service for RV and boat owners.
59. HERB GARDEN: You plant an herb garden for your clients. It can be indoors or outside. You supply the equipment, soil, herbs and give them a plan to keep the herbs going, or they can hire you to come back once a week to maintain the garden.
60. LAWN SERVICE: Cutting lawns is something that every homeowner must do. You can start a business offering this service. If there is lot of competition in your region, offer a discounted price for new customers.
61. BEDS FOR PETS: If you are handy and can build, you can create fun beds for pets that resemble couches, carriages, and even sports cars.
62. BLOG FOR MONEY: If you have a knack for writing and work quickly, you can make money as a blogger. You write blogs for others, or create your own blog, and post ads on it. It is easy with blogger.com and Google’s AdSense. Check it out!
63. DRIED FLOWER WREATHS: You can gather dried flowers from your own garden and make your own wreaths from dried flowers, herbs, and ornamental grasses, hollies and pines. These could be sold at crafts fairs, flea markets or via mail order. You can also customize the wreaths to meet special needs: a wreath for a gardener could come with a pair of gardening gloves attached; a wreath for a golfer could come with golf balls or tees; a wreath during the Christmas season could come with an ornament.
64. BIRDHOUSE BUILDING: If you can build birdhouses, start turning them out and sell them at local fairs and flea markets. Make sure you investigate what types of birds like what types of houses. Some birds prefer a small entry hole for their doorway and others like a larger one. Some don’t like certain colors. Everyone loves to feed birds these days, it seems, and there should be a good market for your birdhouse collection.
65. ORGANIZING KITCHENS: You take on this task that apartment dwellers and homeowners don’t want to face.
66. FLEA MARKET ENTREPRENEUR: Do you have goods to sell? Then you can become a flea market entrepreneur. You’ll need to research locations in your region where you can set up shop and sell your wares. Some flea market entrepreneurs empty their homes and attics or get their products from neighbors and friends. You’ll need to find sources for your goods. Invest in a good chair, too.
67. SERVICES FOR SENIORS: There are plenty of senior citizens out there who could use some help in getting chores done, answering mail, helping out with seasonal duties around the house and much, much more. You can start a senior service business where you help them do all of these things. Post notices around town and ask the local newspaper if they would consider putting your flier in every paper. You might have to pay a little for this type of distribution, but you will be reaching senior citizens as well as the sons and daughters of many seniors who could use a break from all the work they take on for their aging parents.
68. COLLECTIBLES DEALER: Do you love old things and love collecting? Old toys, Barbie dolls, Mickey Mouse watches, snowglobes, lunch boxes are all valued collectible items and dealers will pay a tidy sum to have these goods in their collections. We recently saw an ad for Ty Beanie Babies. Collectors looking for the one or two they don’t have will pay a fortune to complete their set. Not all collectibles, therefore, are old. Another example is the Swatch watch.
69. FLOWERS TO GO: If you live on a street that harried executives travel on their way home, consider growing flowers and selling them right from your front yard. It’s an easy start business and once you reel in a few customers it will attract more and more. You should have some attractive wrap handy to wrap up the flowers, too. At some point you might consider branching out and selling potted plants and vases.
70. PERENNIAL GARDENS: If you have a flair for gardening and if you are good at design, start a perennial garden business. You visit the home of your clients and design a perennial border for them. You purchase the plants—or transplant them from your own divided perennial garden—and actually dig and plant the garden. There are many design books available that can help you get started, but if you are already a gardener, this could be the greatest small business you could consider starting.
71. COMPUTER TUTOR: If you have a knack for working on your computer, then you might want to start a business that enables you to earn money while helping folks learn how to operate a computer. Take out a few ads in local newspapers or distribute fliers on bulletin boards around town. Don’t forget schools and local corporations. Charge by the hour or group students together and offer a group rate.
72. HOME INVENTORY BIZ: The horrible storms and tornadoes have taught homeowners the importance of keeping a good inventory log of all possessions. This audit is necessary in case of fire, storm, mudslides, robbery, etc. Insurance companies want to see documentation before they start writing their checks to help homeowners recover from tragic losses. You can do this by hand, or with the help of a laptop computer. Purchase a Polaroid camera or use another type of camera or even a video camera. You record everything your clients own and organize it into a written and photo/video report.
73. HOME DELIVERY SERVICE: Home delivery is predicted to be one of the hottest business opportunities of the decade and beyond. People are lazy and pressed for time. The population is getting older and more consumers want stuff delivered right to their doorstep. We’re referring to prescriptions, grocery goods, hardware, lumber yard, etc. You’ll need to tie in with stores and shops in your region that don’t deliver.
74. KIDPROOF HOMES: You can set up a business in which you go into homes and conduct a troubleshooting session for parents who have young kids and babies. Are the outlets exposed? Is there bleach under the sink or other harmful chemicals within reach of the children? Could a child fall down a staircase or from a deck? These are the types of situations you’ll be looking to uncover as you help parents childproof their home from potential disaster.
75. MEDITATION GARDENS: Create a calming space in your own backyard: fountain or other water feature, bench, flowers, etc. Photograph it and use it to get gigs in your neighborhood and beyond.
76. PERSONAL SHOPPER: Do you like to go shopping? Can you imagine how much fun it would be to get paid to do this! You can, as a personal shopper. Lots of busy executives and harried single parents don’t have the time to shop for themselves or for others. Your service comes to the rescue. You select and choose and maybe even wrap the gifts for your clients. When you start shopping around for clients don’t forget to call on local corporations for their business.
77. GARAGE SALE: It is possible to host a garage sale every weekend. You don’t have to come up with all of the merchandise; you can sell things on consignment or buy up the contents of homes for sale and then re-sell them at a profit. You’ll need to advertise your mega garage sale to generate a steady flow of customers. Try to come up with unique items to display such as a horse from a carousel. These crowd grabbers will help attract people to your garage sale.
78. HOMETOWN GUIDE: If your hometown features some unique historical monument or water mill or windmill, or if your town is steeped in history that others would find fascinating, then why don’t you put together a tour and offer it as an option whenever tourists come to town. You can dress up like a character from that period to make the tour more accessible, amusing, fun for your clients. Contact the local chamber of commerce and ask them if you could give them the tour.
79. BUY A PRODUCT WHOLESALE & SELL: There are thousands of possibilities online. Find something you love like a yoyo or a gadget and start selling at fairs, mail order, etc.
80. JEWELRY OF THE MONTH CLUB: Start a jewelry-making business and offer a piece each month to your customers who sign up for a yearly subscription. Sell at flea markets, fairs, community centers and online. Consider other “product of the month” businesses you can start.
81. FAMILY TREES: Do you enjoy history? Do you like to do research? Then you can start a business tracing family histories. Advertise your service in a local newspaper or even in a regional magazine. There are software programs on the market that can help you trace family histories by plugging in a few items. You interview your client, get the answers to the right questions and tap out a fortune with your home computer.
82. ASTROLOGICAL CHARTS: You can use your home computer (along with the appropriate software) to prepare astrological charts for your clients. They might want their charts done for their friends too, of course, and you can build a nice clientele via positive word of mouth. Advertise in the local newspaper and try and book yourself as a guest on a local cable TV show. Use the Internet to search for software to help you execute this business.
83. WEED REMOVAL: That’s it. Just weeds, o.k. and maybe some vines, too. You advertise in local papers, offer prices that are lower than landscapers and you take on clients. You don’t need much equipment at all, just some weed-digging tools and a pruner. You’ll need barrels to cart away the weeds and vines and you must have a destination for this compostable material.
84. COMPUTER BIZ WIZ: If you are great with a computer, consider starting a business in which you help small business owners and residential customers set up computers and perform tasks. You could compile mailing lists for them, set up their bookkeeping and accounting systems and help homeowners install software systems for their kids. You can also work on special projects for your clients, too. It might seem simple to you, but you could make money for your talent, skill and know-how.
85. BALLOON DELIVERY SERVICE: Everyone loves balloons and they are gaining on flowers in terms of items to be delivered to home or to office. Balloons are festive and fun and you don’t need to be an artist to learn how to arrange them. Blow them up or purchase a helium tank. Take out an ad in your local paper and start buying balloons.
86. VIDEO TO DVD SERVICE: Everyone has old VHS tapes around. You take them and transfer to DVDs. There are transfer machines available for around $200 or less.
87. MEAL DELIVERY: You purchase sandwiches at a local deli and resell them at the roadside or at a busy intersection or in a corporate or industrial park. Some meal delivery businesses started out on a shoestring and have grown into franchised ventures with vans and uniforms and the works. You can also make arrangements with several local restaurants and deliver their dinners or lunches to corporations or to individuals who are too busy to cook at night. You charge a 15% service charge on all items to make your profit.
88. SPECIAL EFFECT DECORATING: You don’t need to be a master artist to learn the tricks of special effects decorating. Look at the wide variety of stencil kits available in the marketplace today. Marbleizing is hot, too. Practice your skills and photograph the results. Use this as a portfolio to get jobs. You can do the work on their premises or take it home to complete the work. Check out bookstores for information on these techniques and visit home centers.
89. BLIND CLEANING: Almost every American home has at least one blind hanging in the window and we’ll guarantee you that about 100% of all of those homeowners hate cleaning those blinds. You can establish a business in which you clean mini and micro blinds for your customers. You can take the blinds home or clean them on the premises. Charge by the blind or charge by the hour. You can also target this business to industrial clients.
90. CHILD CARE CENTER: You care for children during the day while their parents are at work or otherwise occupied. You can start a day care center right in your own home. You’ll need to purchase small chairs, a table, toys, games, outdoor play items. Maybe you already have a lot of this stuff because you have small children of your own. There are about 75,000 day care centers in the United States that are licensed. The price charged for each child ranges from $45 to $200 a week. You’ll only need a half dozen kids to make this a high-profit venture. Most states require a license to run a day care center. There are several steps involved in getting a license. Call your local State Department of Health and Human Resources to determine the correct office that regulates child care in your state. Call that office and ask for a copy of regulations governing child care centers. Arrange a meeting with a licensing specialist to review the procedures to obtain your license.
91. SEWING ENTREPRENEUR: If you have a knack for taking up a hem or altering a jacket, it might not be a big deal for you. But for millions of Americans these tasks are a hassle and they would gladly pay whatever it costs to get these jobs done. You can get paid for it these services. If you can make slipcovers and drapes, that’s a super bonus business opportunity for you.
92. COSTUME EMPIRE: If you are handy at sewing and have some good ideas, you can start a business creating costumes for children and for adults. Costumes are big all during the year, not just at Halloween time. Kids wear costumes all the time, or wish they could. Adults could use them for special events, parties, benefits, etc.
93. COMMERCIAL CLEANING: You can start a weekends-only business cleaning offices. Most offices are closed during the weekends so you will be able to get in and do a good job. There are a wide variety of potential businesses that could hire you: legal offices, tax services, medical offices, and just about any other small business. You could generate business by creating a flier and distributing it. Chances are good word-of-mouth will help get you even more jobs.
94. INTERIOR DESIGN FOR KIDS: You can establish an interior design business that specializes in creating great themed rooms for children and for babies. Nursery set-ups are a natural add-on to this business. There are so many themes from which to choose, parents-to-be can get overwhelmed. Do the research of what’s available and create a brochure of several offerings. Make over a room in your own home or do one for a friend. Photograph it and it will act as a “reference” for your new design business.
95. GARDEN SHEDS: If you are handy with tools and can create a few basic shed designs, you can offer them to your clients. Master a few different types of sheds. Make sure you check out local zoning codes. Some towns don’t permit new sheds to be built, they only permit the “renovation” of sheds. Advertise in local newspapers and you are in business.
96. POWER WASHING: It’s not hard to use and master power washers, but everyone seems to need them and dreads having to find a place to rent them and get to know how to use them. You can buy one and use it for a wide variety of services for your clients.
92. MAIL ORDER: To start a mail order business you need to find a product or series of products to offer for sale. Then you place ads to advertise these goods or have them placed in someone’s catalog. Sit back and wait for the orders to roll in. There are a wide variety of sources for wholesale mail order products. You’ll need to get a “resale number” in order to purchase goods wholesale. Your local county clerk’s office can help you establish that.
97. BOOKKEEPING FOR SMALL BIZ: If you are handy with numbers and can master some of the accounting software programs available, you can start a business offering bookkeeping and accounting services to small business owners who don’t have the time or the inclination to set this type of system up for themselves.
99. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: If you are good with that computer, check out the various landscape and garden design programs available on CD-ROM. You can use these to help start and run a landscape design business for your clients. You don’t have to be the one to do all the planting, either, as you can farm that out to another business that specializes in plantings.
100. BACKYARD PONDS & WATER GARDENS: These are increasingly in demand. Homeowners want to have this type of sanctuary in their yard. They love the sound of water splashing over rocks and would love the idea of having some fish in the backyard, too. These ponds are very easy to build today. There are kits that can help establish them very quickly. Pumps keep the water going and lights are available to keep them looking their best at night. Do some reading and bone up on fish.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWERS & FANS “LIKE” YOU
No matter how small your business is, it is key to develop an online presence with sites such as Facebook, twitter, Digg and Ping. To nurture your social media following, you need to know what your fan base wants and why they “like” or “follow” you. With the answers to these questions, you can develop an effective social media strategy. Then you can motivate your online devotees to help you launch products, foster brand loyalty, and spread positive word-of-mouth conversations about your business.
Innovative companies use social media as a PR tool to create buzz around a new product launch. According to reports, nearly 40% of social media users follow brands online for updates on future products and new product developments. To quench their thirst for product updates, supplement your news releases with a tweet, Facebook and LinkedIn post or a video release. The more engaging your content is, the more followers will spread the word about your latest inventions.
Today’s research studies indicate that 67% of social media users are more likely to purchase products from brands they follow on Twitter and 51% are more inclined to buy brands they “like” on Facebook. To capitalize on this trend, reach out to prospective customers with strategic messaging that highlights the benefits of your products & services.
This info was compiled by the fine folks at Walt Denny Inc., a full service public relations and ad agency based in Hinsdale, Illinois. Visit their site @ www.waltdenny.com.