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[ 0 ] Feb. 6, 2012 | SBO Editor

50 online goldmines for you to start today.

There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world running businesses from their kitchen tables, their spare rooms, their cars/vans and sheds working part-time or full-time thanks to the Internet. The wonderful web has created millions of moneymaking websites and opportunities. Shouldn’t you get in on this gold mine?

Wouldn’t you like to make $1000 a day with your computer? This feature will help you learn how to set up and run your own online goldmine. You can create a plan to make hundreds, even thousands a day using a variety of techniques and tools on your computer. You can:

Sell wholesale merchandise on your website. You can start by tying in with SMC. The company has thousands of products you can purchase at rock-bottom prices and resell for a nice profit. There is something for everyone in their 28-acre warehouse. Visit www.smchomebiz.com or call for more information on how you can get started. They have helped successful entrepreneurs who are now making thousands of dollars a week with their inventory.

Start a website with help from companies such as 1and1.com and you will soon be selling your products online and making tons of money even while you sleep. Your site will do all the work!

Blog your way to $$$: You can make money selling ads and products on your blog. Check out blogspot.com or go to yahoo hosting opportunities and start your own blog today.

Host auctions on eBay and set a goal of $100 per day to start. What will you sell? Carve a niche on products of interest or just start emptying the attic, basement and garage. You might be amazed at what your “trash” and castoffs will bring at auction. Accelerate your eBay listings and try and pull in about $250 a day.

Before you know it, your combined efforts will add up to $1000 a day.

Start an Online Business

Establishing a business presence on the Internet can be a lucrative way to sell, market, and advertise your business’s goods and services. The following tips provide information on how to start and manage an online business.

1. Start a Business. Regardless of where you choose to operate your business, certain general requirements always apply. Before you can begin completing specific online business steps you must follow the basic rules for starting a business. This means do your homework. Research the business and the name. Get a tax ID number if you need one.

2. Register a Domain Name. A domain name is the web address of your online business. Choosing and registering a domain name is the first step to starting an online business.

Although registering a domain name is a relatively simple process, do not underestimate the importance of selecting an appropriate name. Your domain name represents the Internet identity of your online business and should take into account several factors. Review the following tips to help you choose the best name for your business:

Keep it Relatively Short. Short domain names are easier to remember or type into a browser, fit into logos, and generally recognizable.

Make it Unique. Unique names are easy to remember. Names that are too similar to already registered names could end up sending viewers to the wrong domain.

Include Keywords. Including keywords will help produce the most hits for your business in search engines and make your business’s purpose clear.

Dot Com. Although there are many different domain extensions the majority of Internet users either don’t know that or instinctively type.com. Other extensions such as .org, .net, and .info may cause your site to lose potential traffic.

After you’ve chosen the name you’d like to register, the process is simple and cost-friendly. Where to register your name is up to the discretion of individual businesses.

Visit http://www.internic.net/regist.html to get a list of places to register your name.

Be careful to avoid possible security risks by becoming aware of potential scams. The Federal Trade Commission issued a consumer alert about Domain Name Registration Scams. A new scam is targeting would-be website owners by offering the opportunity to pre-register new top level domain names. Domain names such as “ftc.gov” are the unique terms that enable Internet users to locate a specific website. The top-level domain is the final extension, such as “.com” or “.org.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, scam artists are taking advantage of the news that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has made new top-level domains available to the public. The new top-level domains are .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro.

The FTC says consumers are getting fax and email solicitations that offer a chance at a new top-level domain name, for a fee, as soon as it becomes available. Some registration services are guaranteeing new top-level domain names or promising preferential treatment in the registration process. But, the agency cautions, these offers may be misleading.

The FTC advises consumers to protect themselves by:

1. Avoiding any domain name pre-registration service that guarantees particular top-level domain names or preferential treatment in the assignment of new top-level domain names.

2. Avoiding doing business with people who send unsolicited faxes—regardless of the offer. Unsolicited faxes are illegal.

3. Staying on top of the news about top-level domain names at the ICANN website, www.icann.org.

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is the non-profit corporation that has technical oversight of Internet protocol address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions. It provides current news on issues surrounding domain names.

Select a Web Host. A web host provides you with the space and support to create your website. Choosing the host that best suits a business is up to the discretion of that business. Costs and abilities, such as site maintenance, search registration, and site development, vary from host to host but it is important for it to be both reliable and secure.

Design Your Website. The website of your online business is extremely important to its success. Because you don’t have a physical location, this is considered your “storefront.” Websites can be designed personally, by hiring someone to work as your site designer, or by using an independent design firm.

Be sure to comply with U.S. trademark and intellectual property laws. The same laws and regulations apply to online businesses as regular businesses. Search for trademarks currently in use to avoid infringing on another company’s rights on your website.

Begin Advertising and Marketing. Similar to the traditional market place, online businesses cannot be successful without customers. For online businesses, these customers come in the form of site visitors or viewers. Generating the highest amount of traffic possible on your website will create the highest chance that those visitors will become customers. Register with search engines and use keywords that will drive the most traffic to your site.

Advertising and marketing on the Internet is regulated very similarly to the real world, and many of the same rules apply. The Federal Trade Commission has created several guides to help online businesses comply with these regulations. Visit their website to learn more about online advertising.

Comply with Online Business Regulations. Online businesses must comply with special laws and regulations that apply only to them. A lawyer that specializes in internet law can assist businesses with all aspects of starting and operating an online business. Contact an expert at the Federal Trade Commission for more information. The following rules and acts are discussed at the FTC website (www.ftc.gov/):

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999

Selling on the Internet: Prompt Delivery Rules

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

Find State and Local Compliance Information. In addition to Federal requirements, businesses must know and comply with state and local laws and regulations. Select your state, county, and city to determine what’s required of your online business.

Learn Federal, State, and Local Tax Requirements. Online businesses are required to follow the same federal, state, and local tax laws as regular businesses. If you are operating your online business in a state that charges a sales tax; or levies a gross receipts or excise tax on businesses you may have to apply for a tax permit or otherwise register with your state revenue agency. Online businesses are responsible for collecting state and local sales taxes from their customers when applicable, and paying these taxes to state and local revenue agencies.

Understand International Trade Laws. Operating internationally requires many additional considerations, from finding overseas markets and suppliers to shipping and tax regulations. Follow international trade laws for online business to be sure you are in compliance with all regulations.

Additional Startup Resources. Visit business.gov and the website of the U.S. Small Business Administration for basic startup information on launching your first small business (www.sba.gov/).

Starting a business involves making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. This guide provides information to help you plan, prepare, and manage your business. Here are 10 basic steps:

• Research and plan your business.

• Get business assistance and training free from SCORE.org, for example.

• Choose a business location: home or outside facility, but make sure you understand and comply with local zoning laws.

• Finance your business: find government-backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

• Determine the legal structure of your business. Decide whether you are going to form a sole proprietorship,
partnership, LLC, corporation, non-profit or cooperative.

• Register a business name: “Doing Business As”: Register your business name with your state government.

• Get a Tax Identification Number: Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

• Register for State and Local Taxes: Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

• Obtain Business Licenses and Permits: Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

• Employer Responsibilities: Learn the legal steps you need to hire employees.

Before you take the plunge to start any type of business, here are a number of important questions for you to answer.

Do I like the idea of this business? You must enjoy the business because you are going to be spending quite a lot of time working on it. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you won’t enjoy succeeding at the business. This is a very important question to ponder.

Do I want to spend my days pursuing this business? It sounds like the first question but it is not really the same. Start to think about the mechanics of these businesses. Will you really like pursuing this activity? Will you enjoy the nitty-gritty of it? Would you rather be an owner, but not an operator of this business? Could you hire someone to do the work for you and you just book the accounts and collect the money?

Do I have the space available to conduct this type of business? Do I have a room or workspace set aside? Could I rig up space in the garage, attic, basement? Will my neighbors complain if I run a business from my apartment? You can always call the local town hall and ask. Many towns now have brand new regulations on home based businesses in residential areas. Many are now perfectly legal. If you’re in doubt, check it out.

Do I have any type of experience in this business? Many small businesses don’t require experience or skill to start. Others do. One wouldn’t want to start a business offering computer lessons if they just purchased their first computer, right? Do you have what it takes to run this business? Are you starting a business that involves talking to people a lot? Are you prepared for this and for dealing with the public?

What type of interests or skills do I have that could translate into running a small business? Do you work as a chef in a restaurant? You could start your own or open a catering business. Do you love holidays and gift giving? You could start a personal shopping service or launch a gift basket business. Do you love children? How about a day care center? Use your imagination. No one can tell you what business you can best start and run. That’s up to you.

What types of businesses are needed in your community? Look at all of the offerings in your region, both brick and mortar and online. Is there too much competition in the field you are considering? Can you perform the service better, faster or cheaper? Are you bringing a new twist to an old product?

Where should I look to find a need or a niche to fill? Take a drive or take a walk. How will you promote your new business when you zero in on a true need that should be filled? What’s missing?

Do I have the discipline to run a business? Would I make a good employer, or should I remain an employee? You’ll have to file documents, pay taxes, handle insurance, write letters, hustle, generate business, and then some. Are you ready for this experience?

Should I start from scratch or buy a business? You can buy an already established business, but it won’t be on a shoestring budget! You can also purchase a shoestring operation in the form of a business opportunity, but remember, let the buyer beware! Know what you are sending for before you part with your hard earned money. You can visit our website at www.sbomag.com to read our feature on “how to investigate a business opportunity.”

Should I think about taking on a partner? There are a lot of reasons to turn to another individual to start a business. Maybe you have a friend in mind with whom you could start a business. Maybe he or she offers something you can’t really bring to the table, such as accounting skills, computer skills, wacky ideas or an uncanny ability to deal with people.

Think about taking on a partner if you think you can work with this person and view them as a partner in the sense that you will be wedded to your business partner for as long as you have the business. It’s an important step to take, so tread lightly. Once money gets involved in a friendship, it can often mean the end of a meaningful relationship.

What is the economy like in my area? Ask yourself how others are doing and if they have the money available to support your business venture. If you live in a depressed economy, then opening a thrift shop for baby clothes would probably work well, whereas designing custom kitchens and bathrooms on your computer would not work well. What can your market support?

Do I have enough money to support this type of business? Yes, you can start a business on a shoestring, but what if the business doesn’t take off immediately. Do you have some money saved or a means of support until the business takes off?

Do I plan to work weekends or am I going to launch this new business on a full-time basis? Many successful entrepreneurs started businesses out of their garages working on a part-time and weekend only basis. You can do this too, and test the waters until you’re ready for full-time action.

What will my friends and family think of this entrepreneurship-thing? It does matter what our family and friends think because these are the folks we turn to for love and support, especially when the chips are down. You might find your family and friends are highly supportive when you first mention that you want to start a business, but they change the day you actually file that “doing business as” with the county clerk’s office.

Chalk it up to human nature. They might become naysayers because they are a little jealous of you. Afterall, you are living and you are pursuing the American Dream. They are still stuck in their jobs and have long-since stopped dreaming. Be prepared for this type of reaction. It happens very often. If you are prepared for it, you will be able to deal with it.

We’ve rounded up 50 service business suggestions for your online goldmine:

VACATION PROPERTY RENTAL AGENT: Live in a busy tourist area? That’s prime for you to contact homeowners and launch a vacation property rental service. Rental work is time consuming and many condo owners, apartment owners and homeowners don’t want to face the hassle of renting out their homes while they are away even though they would love to have the extra cash. Some of these condo owners are thousands of miles away from their properties. You rent the properties to individuals and you take a cut of the rental income. You will have to engage a person to clean and maintain the properties in between renters if you don’t want to do it yourself. Develop a sales letter and send it to potential renters offering your services.

START A B2B BUSINESS: Launch a website selling services and products to other small businesses. Sound simple? It is. Come up with a name, go to a domain registering site, such as godaddy.com, lock in the name, build a website, get it hosted and you are good to go!

BECOME A SUPER AFFILIATE: There are sites ranging from amazon.com and MusiciansFriend.com to BikeBandit.com that will pay you to place their ads/information on your website. Every time one of your visitors clicks on their site, you make some money. And, if they buy a book, say, at amazon.com, you can even make a percentage of the sale. Do a Google search on companies that offer affiliate programs and put them on your website. Sit back and make thousands of dollars a day while you sleep!

START A PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS BIZ: Every small business, doctor, tradesman, etc. likes to provide some type of personalized product to their customers: a pen, a calendar, a mug. You can be the middleman who takes the orders and supplies these clients with the goods. Visit our website at sbomag.com and check out the Business Opportunity chart under Personalized Products. We also list a few in the resource sidebar within this feature.

HOME INVENTORY SERVICE: Everyone needs to compile a list of items in their home, apartment, vacation home or business for insurance purposes. You can do this with your laptop and a Flip Video Camera. Make hundreds of dollars a day helping clients protect their assets.

EBAY SELLER: Powersellers on eBay—and they are growing in numbers every day—sell more than $150,000 on the site each month. You can do this for yourself with your own goods, or you can find a product to specialize in, develop an online eBay store, or sell goods for other people. There are a lot of people who have an attic to empty or a garage to clean out and don’t know where to begin. You can sell their goods online and take a commission for your efforts.

LOCAL SPORTS SITES: If sports are big in your region, consider launching a website that focuses on local sports teams—high school and college. You can sell ads on the sites, and even post personal messages from fans for a modest fee. You don’t have to be a web wizard to build a website, either. Visit Yahoo.com and check out their Web Program. They provide templates that can have your site up and running in an hour. Make sure you can sell advertisements on the system you choose.

PERSONALIZED BOOKS FOR KIDS: Every kid—and grandparent—loves personalized books for kids. You can make them right at home and sell them online with your computer. You can do it all from your kitchen table. The Resource Sidebar lists several companies that can provide you with the necessary software so you can pop in the appropriate kid name into the storybook and print them out. You can also get a kiosk at a mall, or a booth at a flea market and sell, sell, sell.

SMALL BIZ ASSISTANT: There are many entrepreneurs in your area that can never take a vacation or get away for a day because there is no one to man the phones, watch the email, take orders, and run the business in their absence. You can start a small business “filling in” for your clients when they need to attend a funeral, visit a family member or attend a function. Develop a website, print up a business card and a mini-brochure that lists your expertise and experience. Post it, tweet it, facebook it!

KEEPSAKE ALBUMS & SCRAP-BOOKS: You can gather treasured items from your clients, scan them and create wonderful digital scrapbooks. Who needs to keep a ton of photos, matchbook covers and metro tickets collecting dust. Digitizing memories is a lucrative business and easy to run from home. You can also gather the goods and put together books the old-fashioned way if your clients want to hang on to their memorabilia.

NANNY FINDER: You develop a list of quality kiddie caregivers in your area and take a portion of their fee every time you book them for a babysitting or day-care-type situation. You will need to check references, as your reputation will be on the line. Finding qualified help for children is a very big concern among parents today. You come to the rescue with your referral service. You can also charge the kiddie caregivers a fee just to be listed each month with your service.

AGENT FOR LOCAL TRADESMEN: It is frustrating for homeowners to find good landscapers, handymen, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. You start a service that pre-screens the workers and posts them on your website. The workers pay you a fee to get listed after they provide you with great references that you check out. You also establish that they are licensed and have insurance if your community demands that. You can also sell other ads on your website.

HOST YOUR OWN TALK SHOW: Thanks to tools like blogcast.com, you can develop your own radio show online and sell ads to generate revenue—or, get a sponsor to host your show. You can also try video, but get your feet wet with a blogcast program first and see if you enjoy hosting discussions, creating lively banter and even taking phone calls from your listeners. Visit blogcast.com to learn how to get started.

CRUISE SHIP TRAVEL AGENT: Cruises are booming! You can work from home planning and booking cruises for your clients. Travel experience is recommended. You can also train with the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents to learn more about launching this type of online service business. There are various franchises you can find to help you get started, too. Marketing is likely to take you right to the top. Consider specializing in a niche—teens, seniors, adventure travelers, singles-only, etc.

GIFT BASKET BIZ: Start and run a gift basket service from home. First develop your attractive website with options. Purchase materials from wholesalers. Create your baskets and ship them out. You can have fun building basket themes for sports lovers around the Superbowl, Gifts for Mom on Mother’s Day, Graduation Baskets, Vacation Send-Off baskets, Back To College, and many more. The sky is the limit.

COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER: Write on topics of interest to your community—local sports, theatre productions, civic events, parades, etc.—and sell ads to local businesses. The weekly paper can be dropped off to restaurants, pubs, diners, coffee shops, fitness centers, and more.

TRANSLATOR: If you have a gift for another language, you can start a business working at home as a translator. As you build your business, you can add on other individuals on a freelance basis who speak and write other languages that are needed. You can eventually act as the agent who books the work, but does no actual translation assignments.

MUSIC SONG CDs FOR KIDS: The CDs for kids are personalized and family and friends love to give them as gifts. See the Resource Sidebar for information on companies that offer a business opportunity package to start this business. You don’t need any musical talent to run this business.

GREETING CARD SERVICE: Customer service mavens know that regular contact is a key to keeping buyers coming back for more. You can start and run this type of service right from home. Clients give you their customer lists and you follow up on every detailed holiday: birthday, biz anniversary, holidays, etc. with a greeting card from the business owner. Your clients will be car dealerships, lawyers, doctors, dentists, restaurants, bars, and more.

BOTTLE YOUR RECIPE: Start a food business from home bottling and selling your favorite recipe: salsa, pasta sauce, pickles. Make sure you call your local county clerk’s office to find out if you need to get a food handler’s license. The requirements vary state by state, so check it out. You will also have to investigate getting a food label for your business. If friends and family members have told you that you have a great recipe waiting to be discovered, consider launching this business. Eventually you might need to branch out to a large industrial kitchen to help meet the demand for your special food item.

MEDICAL CLAIMS BILLING: Just about everyone agrees that the healthcare system is confusing and demanding to many. Even doctors and dentists have a hard time keeping all of the records and procedures straight and up to date in their practices. You can start a Medical Billing Service processing the claims. You will need to get diagnostic and procedure codes to indicate the type of service being billed. See the sidebar for information on how to contact companies that could help you launch this type of business.

EMBROIDERY EMPIRE: If you love to personalize products, why not start an embroidery business? You develop a website that reels in the buyers and then you create their custom items at home on your embroidery machine. You can find sources for these units online or at embroidery trade shows. We know of one company in San Diego that started a business catering to sailboat and powerboat owners. They make embroidered napkins, canvas bags, towels and more for the upscale harbor community. It’s a wonderful niche. What would work in your community?

BUILD AN ONLINE STORE: Have a passion? Love pets? Love to make hats and scarves? Whatever your passion is, consider building a website that will sell your items directly to your customers. If you build it, they will come!

ELECTRONIC PET PHOTO ALBUMS: People love their pets and will pay you to create a fun, digital photo album. They send you the photos and you compile a DVD. Combine great graphics and titles and you will likely get more business via word-of-mouth. Post some of your samples on your website to generate business.

CAR BUYER: Buying and selling cars online is a hobby for many—why not turn it into a lucrative business? Get a Blue Book and start visiting sites and dealers and scanning local papers for your clients who need to buy a used or new car. You earn your fee by providing your clients with three perfect cars to buy and earn more if you negotiate the deal and deliver the car.

MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTIONIST: This service transforms a physician’s notes or tape recordings into hard copy or onto a CD. You’ll need to become familiar with medical technology and terms. There are companies that will help you start this business. Do a Google search and remember to check them out before you invest. Visit our website at www.sbomag.com and read the feature on “How To Investigate A Business Opportunity.”

SELL YOUR CRAFTS: Thanks to websites like Etsy.com, anyone can have a professional looking store for their crafts. It doesn’t cost any money to set up a presence at Etsy and your work will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of shoppers a day. Consider taking out ads on Facebook to promote your new Etsy page. If you love to make something from home, consider turning it into an online moneymaking opportunity.

CYBER SCHOOL FOR SENIORS: You can start a class for senior citizens who want to learn how to get online, set up an email or Skype account and start connecting with their distantly-located family members and friends. Contact the directors of assisted living communities in your region and call the presidents of local senior clubs and organizations to talk about your classes. If you charge per person and have ten people show up for a $25 class, you’ve made $250 for your one-hour talk.

FROM BRICK AND MORTAR TO WEB WONDER: If you currently have a business that could generate more revenue by adding computers, consider putting in a few terminals and then rent them to your customers. Ideal locations are car fix-it shops, coffee bars, dentist offices and bookstores.

DIRECT SELLING: If you are involved in any type of multimarketing or direct selling business such as Herbal Life or Avon, you should start a website to develop more business.

ONLINE MUSEUM: Are you passionate about baseball, vintage cars, a celebrity, or a particular period in history? Start an online museum. Have fun while you teach visitors about your passion. Promote the site and sell ads.

MAINTAIN SITES FOR OTHERS: You become the web guru for local small businesses, clubs, community groups, etc. and maintain/update their sites with press releases, photos, news, etc.

DIGITIZE VIDEO TAPES, CASSETTES & LPs: There are plenty of tools to help computer owners digitize their old tapes and records. You can start a business doing this right from home. Offer to pick up and return items to customers in your area, for a fee, of course. For those clients who are out of your region, have them mail or FedEx the package and you’ll return all items with the DVD and/or CD within a week.

BIRTHDAY IN A BOX: Busy parents always need to host parties for their kids and increasingly don’t have the time. Many party stores have closed during the recession because the rents skyrocketed. But, the need is still there. Start this service with no overhead from rental of an expensive outside facility. Run it from your home with a website that lists all your services and themes. You provide everything the harried parent needs and it comes in one convenient box. Buy your products online at a discount and have the company ship them directly to your clients—for a nice profit, of course.

CONTENT PROVIDER: There are plenty of websites and blogs out there that need constant updating to satisfy readers and advertisers who rely on the sites. You can start a business providing daily or weekly updates to a wide variety of websites. You can also choose to specialize in those sites that interest you to keep your level of commitment up.

WEBSITE DESIGN: A lot of great, talented web designers are out of work right now, let go from their firms during the economic downturn. You can start a business creating websites for small business owners who don’t have the expertise to do it on their own. You can also create websites for organizations such as local theater groups and clubs in your region.

VIRTUAL CEMETARY & MEMORIAL SITE FOR PETS: You set up a website where pet owners post photos and write-ups to honor their deceased pets. You charge a fee per year for the virtual tomb. You can also make money by writing the pet obituary for the client. Clients email you the material and you post it. You can sell ads on the site, too, that relate to people and pets.

SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS: There are companies that will provide you with everything you need to launch your own online sporting goods store. They will even ship the goods directly to your customers so that you don’t have to take up a room in your home or apartment stocking inventory. You can even offer personalized jackets, hats and more to sports teams. See the Resource Sidebar for more information and visit our website at www.sbomag.com for more information in the Business Opportunity section.

VIDEO STUDIO: If you enjoy making videos, consider starting a video studio right at home. There are companies that will assist you in establishing this business and give you pointers and leads on how to generate clients. Some of your potential customers include: Brides, Party Planners, Caterers, Bands, Realtors and local clubs and organizations.

E-COMMERCE SPECIALIST: You assist small business owners in maintaining their online presence. You help build and grow their online business venture. Your client could be a local hardware store, spa or hair salon that is now looking to branch out to buyers by having an online presence listing their service and product options, hours, etc. A local doctor’s office might want to feature their specialties. You can help businesses add on shopping carts, blogs, mailing lists, increase search engine rankings, develop effective ad and pay-per-click programs and more to reach more potential buyers.

RESEARCHER: Have a knack for finding information? You could start a business doing research for organizations, non-profits, legal firms, private investigation services, small business owners and foundations. Get paid for the time you spend online. Collect data and facts and package it in a DVD, a CD Rom or a written report. Charge by the hour, about $25-$90 depending on what your market will bear.

PERSONAL ASSISTANT: Everyone is busy today and many harried workers and parents could benefit from the help of a personal assistant, but no one wants or needs to hire someone on a full-time basis. You come in and work as a part-time personal assistant handling everything from grocery shopping, paying bills, mailing packages and booking restaurant reservations and party planning. And, you can do it all online from home.

LAUNCH A MONEYMAKING BLOG: Blogging is here to stay. You can start one for $0 at blogger.com and even sell ads. Sign up with an email address and a password. That’s all you need to get started. You can then develop an advertising program by starting with Google’s AdSense program. The blog templates are easy to navigate and you can change them at any time.

BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICE: You handle all of the chores, errands, mailings, phone calls, that your clients don’t have time or staff to take care of. You are a super assistant but you can work in the privacy of your own home in your PJs and flip-flops. Start by contacting local businesses and send them a reference or two.

If they need help but can’t afford to hire a full-time employee and provide them with benefits, they might jump at the chance to have you work for them on a part-time basis. Consider a monthly minimum so you can budget your own revenue.

ENERGY MANAGEMENT CONSULT-ANT: Businesses of all sizes are looking to cut costs and waste. They are spending a fortune to heat, light, air-condition and power their homes and businesses. You come in and conduct audits and help your clients reduce their energy use. Research all of their options. You could save them lots of money by simply switching their business to other providers that they don’t have time to discover on their own.

BOOKKEEPER: You become the freelance bookkeeper for businesses, clubs and organizations in your region. You work from home performing such tasks as paying bills, filing and remitting tax forms, balancing books. You should be a master at QuickBooks, a trade tool of every accountant.

REUNION CONSULTANT: Love to plan parties and other get-togethers? Start a reunion planning service online. You create a website that brings the customers to you. Families, Schools, Clubs and more will be your potential clients. Develop a list of resources in the communities you will service: caterers, limousines, bands and DJs, florists, hotels and chartered yacht services to offer to your clients.

SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST: A lot of small business owners want to master social media but have no idea how to get started and keep the tweets going. You approach businesses with a menu of options and help them get going on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other forums that are appropriate to their particular business. You can develop this into a regular assignment once they are launched—they need someone to provide them with fodder for Facebook posts and Twitter updates. Come up with a monthly retainer that works for you and your clients and start helping them build their business through Google, Ping and more!

WRITE & SELL YOUR BOOK: The Internet has created a wonderful opportunity for writers to sell their books without having an agent or a publishing company. You can write away and then sell them as an eBook or have them printed one at a time on demand, every time you take an order. Visit amazon.com and cafepress.com to learn more about their programs.

LOGO DESIGN: If you are great at various software programs used to create logos, consider launching such a design service. Check out cooltext.com if you are a novice. You can turn this business into a virtual printing firm, too. You can expand to take your logo to letterhead, business cards, and more.


Personal Facebook pages number in the millions and an increasing number of small business owners are establishing what Facebook calls “Fan Pages.” You should start one for your small business because more than 4 million Facebook users a day become fans of various pages.

Here is how to do it:

Create your personal page first. To create a “business” (or “fan”) page, log into your personal account—only logged-in users can create a fan page—and then go to the following URL: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

Determine what category your business falls into. Brand? Product? Organization? Artist? Band? Public Figure? Pick the one that best fits your company.

Create your business page. Post photos, contact information, services, products, etc.

Promote your business page. Post a link to it from your personal page.

Buy social ads on Facebook directing users to your business page.

Promote your Facebook business page using Twitter, LinkedIn, your email newsletter to customers, your website and your blog.

Create a sub-domain of your Facebook business page (facebook.yourcompany.com) on your main domain that sends users to your Facebook business page.

Study Facebook ads and the specific demographics that will get buyers to your business page. For example, you can target various economic groups and geographic locations.

Strategies To Help You Get Organized-

By Barbara Hemphill

Making time for what’s important at work and in life takes careful planning and organizing skills.  Here are strategies that can help…

• Write a “to-do” list every evening for the following day.  Then put the tasks in order of importance.  That way, you’ll hit the ground running first thing in the morning.

• Don’t put all your “to-dos” on a single list.  It’s more efficient and less frustrating to list different types of activities separately. Example: Along with my daily agenda, I have a separate list of errands plus an annual list of long-term projects.

• If you aren’t getting a lot done-make a “what I did do list. You may find that you hand to handle many last-minute crises.  Or you may have spent too much time on things that could have waited days or even weeks. This list will help you see how you got off track and will start you thinking about how to better handle or adjust your workload.

• Choose your reading materials carefully. Nearly half of what goes into most people’s bags each night is never read-either because there’s nothing of true importance in the material or because there isn’t enough time at night. Helpful: Before packing up your reading material to bring home, skim the table of contents.  Tearing out the “must read” articles will save you the time it takes to wander through the other pages.

• Place different types of reading materials in different parts of the house. This will enable you to read many different types of things rather than becoming completely absorbed by one item, which may turn out to be not very useful.

• Schedule weekly “reading appointments” with yourself. Block out real time in your calendar each week for reading materials that both inform you and help you come up with new ideas.

• Create a “must read” file folder. Put business documents, letters and other material requiring your prompt attention in a letter-sized manila folder.  Take the file with you wherever you go, and go through it whenever you have a few minutes.

• Have a written agenda for each business call that you make-and for each meeting. The conversation will be more efficient, and you won’t have to call back later to cover points you forgot to raise.

BARBARA HEMPHILL is the author of Kiplinger’s Taming the Paper Tiger series and Simplify Your Workday.  She is a professional speaker and consultant for individuals and companies who wish to boost their productivity. Find her at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com.

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities May 2012