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Wheels Of Fortune! Road To Riches

[ 0 ] Oct. 1, 2012 | SBO Editor

20 Super Hot Start-Ups!

Our economy has been on a wide roller coaster ride, for the past few years, making first-time entrepreneurs and even seasoned business owners cautious about jumping into new territory to launch a business. But, the horizon is looking much brighter as we enter 2013. There are a number of business categories that are as close to a sure bet as anyone can hope to find. We’ve rounded up 20 such industries that show remarkable promise for the New Year and the decades beyond.  The businesses are presented in no particular order. Conduct your own due diligence research to see if these ideas could work for you in your area.

GOLF: According to the PGA America, golf rounds are up by 10% this year over last year. All things golf, from clothing and equipment, to facilities are ripe for the picking. Golf continues to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and the trend seems to be worldwide. Women, particularly, are entering the game and buying millions of dollars of clubs each year.

There are a wide range of businesses to consider from selling and supplying golf carts, a golf shop, golf artificial turf provider or golf course owner. Accessories, clothing, lessons, golf pro, and selling golf gadgets online are just a few of the businesses you can start in this booming arena.

PERSONAL CHEF: Americans with two-income families with a desire to eat healthier meals but who have no time to shop, prepare and serve meals has created a very large and lucrative market for a personal chef business.

If you enjoy cooking and are thinking about becoming a private chef in your area, here are 5 tips to consider when starting your personal chef business.

1.  Know your market. Go beyond dem-ographics and economics and find out what kinds of meals people in your area eat. Find out if they are predominantly vegetarian or if they prefer to eat only organic foods. Find out if your target market has young children who will require a slightly simpler menu in addition to the main meal. Understanding the eating habits of your market will help you to organize your marketing efforts.

2. Invest in the Right Tools. As a private chef you will, at the very least, need a good set of cooking knives, utensils and cookbooks. Depending on the situation, you may also need to have cookware as well. Before you begin offering your personal chef services, get organized about how you will transport your equipment so you always have everything you need for each job. Because start-up costs for your personal chef business are fairly low, purchase the best tools you can possibly afford with your start-up capital.

3. Provide Exquisite Customer Service. Even though you will be working alone, for the most part, make sure you provide great client relations.  Make a good impression with each of your clients and be responsive to all inquiries. Word of mouth for a personal chef can be the best way of generating new business leads. Likewise, one negative experience or review can ruin your business. As a personal chef, you cook in other people’s homes and handle their food. Dress neatly, always in clean clothing with a fresh, crisp apron.

4. Avoid Arty, Difficult Recipes. A good rule of thumb is to choose recipes that are easy to prepare in terms of following the recipe, acquiring the ingredients and preparation time. You can offer several more complex, and more costly, menu items, but your staple recipes should be relatively quick and easy.

5. Address Special Dietary Needs. Keep in mind that there are a wide range of eating habits in your community. Many people are now dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, just to name a few special needs. Perhaps you consume meat and dairy in your own meals and prefer to cook meals that contain these ingredients. Centering your personal chef business around one of these niche categories may open up business possibilities beyond your own mealtime preferences.

HOME HEALTH CARE: The “graying of America” is here and with it a need for care and services to help our senior citizen population. An increasingly in-demand service is caring for seniors at home so that they can avoid entering a nursing home.

“Home health care franchises are thriving due to a growing demand for their services derived from both demographic and economic factors, including an aging population, the rising cost of traditional care and a desire by many seniors to receive ‘in-home’ care rather than receiving care in a nursing home,” said Matthew Haller, vice president, public affairs and chief of staff to the president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, a member organization representing the franchising industry.

The Franchise Business Review, a national market research firm researching franchisee satisfaction, ranked home care franchises for senior care as one of the top five most profitable franchise sectors.

“The median initial investment required to open a single senior care franchise office in 2012 is $66,148, and the potential return on investment is significantly higher than many other franchise businesses,” noted FBR’s senior care franchises report. “It is not uncommon among the top senior care franchises to build gross revenues to a million dollars or more, with gross margins of 30 to 40 percent.”

“Home care in general is just exploding,” said Shelly Sun, the CEO and co-founder of BrightStar Care, a leading home care franchise. She expects continued rapid growth through 2050, due mostly to the aging population.

DANCE: The increasing appeal of contemporary dance highlighted in the popularity of TV shows such as Glee, Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, makes the entire category of Dance Businesses, hot for 2013.

Millennium Dance Studio, Inc., operator of the world-famous Millennium Dance Complex, announced in 2012 that it has formed a new subsidiary to develop franchised dance studios throughout the United States and eventually around the globe. Ultimately, the company plans to have studios throughout the country and around the world, providing classes, lessons, studio rentals and parties with a focus on jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet and contemporary dance.

The original Millennium Dance Complex was created in 1992 by Ann Marie Baker, who was later joined in the management of the studio by Robert Baker. The two initially met beneath the lights of Broadway in New York and then danced their way to fame as operators of one of the world’s premier hip-hop/modern dance studios.

Today Millennium is the place where L.A.’s headliners, backup dancers and their choreographers go to showcase, hone or check out new moves, or simply to get in a vigorous workout among top instructors and fellow professionals.

“Dance is a hot business and it is getting hotter,” said Millennium’s Co-Owner Robert Baker. “Everyone from young adults to parents to teens and younger children to fitness enthusiasts sees dance as an exciting way to shape up, socialize, learn some new moves and simply have fun. But there aren’t any national chains that truly capture the energy and essence of today’s most popular choreography. That is a big gap that we’re hoping to fill.”

Millennium franchisees do not necessarily have to be dancers themselves. If they lack professional training or significant experience in the art, they will be encouraged to bring in managers who possess such backgrounds.

For more information on Millennium, visit www.millenniumdancecomplex.com/franchise/ or call 818-645-5636.

VENDING: Even small business owners who have a successful business can enjoy the added revenue by adding a vending machine on their premises. Not only do clients use the vending machines, but employees as well. We can’t stress enough the importance of conducting your due diligence research when considering the vending business.

Some vending entrepreneurs purchase multiple machines only to find that they have a hard time placing the units. Make sure you investigate where the machines will go and what the costs will be, if any. We know one entrepreneur who owns a franchised hair-cutting salon in Florida and makes a small fortune each month on the vending machines she purchased for her facility.

To get started, visit our Business Opportunity Directory at www.sbomag.com. We include a wide variety of vending opportunities for you to consider now.

AUTOS, TRUCKS & RVs: Our culture is obsessed with automobiles and having them look just right.

Detailing, ding repair, vacuuming, gadgets, parking, services and more are just some businesses you could consider starting for your clients and their cars, trucks, RVs and yes, you could add boats to the mix. They all need to be washed, waxed, and detailed.

Take a survey of your community and see what services and products are readily available for your auto community. What could you offer that isn’t in the mix? If there is a lot of competition, could you offer the service faster, cheaper, and smarter? It’s a booming business that shows no signs of slowing down.

HANDMADE CRAFTS: Handmade crafted items have come a long way. Today they are sophisticated, elegant and can be sold to a global audience thanks to the wide and easy to create proliferation of websites.

Online sales tools such as Etsy and Made It Myself have opened up the marketplace for crafters who quilt, make jewelry, candles, you-name-it.

You can easily sell online today or attend one of the thousands of craft shows held each year in the U.S. alone. You can find out about them at www.festivalnet.com.

LAPTOP MILLIONAIRE: Thanks to the ease of technology and the ability to get online and connect with a global marketplace, it is fun and inspiring to consider a laptop millionaire lifestyle.

Go from ZERO to $10,000 a month in 28 days and discover financial freedom online, according to author Mark Anastasi.

Every day thousands of people are losing their jobs, their income, and their security—perhaps you are one of them. However, with the right strategies, you can easily achieve financial independence. The Laptop Millionaire (published by Wiley) provides easy to follow step-by-step strategies you can use to make real money online. Author Anastasi reveals the exact strategies he used to make millions and includes the success stories of other millionaire Internet entrepreneurs. Whether you need an extra hundred dollars a day or want to start an Internet Empire, this book gives you the tools and advice you need.

His no-fluff, no-filler strategies provide a blueprint to online success allowing you to discover the laptop lifestyle for yourself. His techniques suggest:

How anyone can make $700-3,000 a week thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other Social Media sites

The simple steps to creating an online business—featuring the 3 steps that led Mark to his first $10,000 a month business!

How the 21 Millionaire Secrets can transform your life

KIDDIE PARTY BUSINESS: Kid’s parties are big business. Harried, hassled parents don’t have the time and often lack the creativity to plan the big event. Birthday parties for kids can be simple affairs at home, or large moneymaking events for the entrepreneur complete with inflatable castles, entertainers and performers and even carnival-type games.

Decide what type of kid party planning business you will concentrate on launching. Market your business to your community during events and activities where children and their parents may be present. You can also create print advertisements for local newspapers and magazines. Day care centers, children’s boutiques and toy stores may also be good places to advertise your business.

There are a number of fun websites such as birthdayexpress.com and birthdaydirect.com from which you can buy party goods based on the latest trends. Check them out. Charge what your market will bear.

Identify the types of services you plan to offer based on the information you receive from the children and their parents. Price your services and keep in mind any competition you may have in your area. Are there other businesses that offer party services for kids? If so, how does your business differ? You need to think of ways to make your kids party business and services stand out from what your competitors are offering.

NAIL SALON: Nail salons offer women—and men—an opportunity to engage in an affordable luxury. No matter how the economy may ebb and flow, nail service businesses seem to enjoy the “recession-proof” status.

Often a nail technician also known as a manicurist or pedicurist working for someone else will decide to open their own business to enjoy the freedom, flexibility and self-esteem of being their own boss.

If you don’t have this experience, it doesn’t mean you can’t open a nail salon. You can learn the trade or hire technicians while you operate the business and market the services of your salon.

There are many ways to start a nail salon. You can open a neighborhood walk-in nail salon or an exclusive upscale salon. You can open a full-service nail salon with manicures and pedicures of all types, or specialize in particular nail care services such as acrylic nails, gels, wraps, or nail art.

As you investigate this type of business option in your area consider the following ways to get started:

Start a mobile nail salon service

Start a home-based nail salon business

Buy an established nail salon (including how to find nail salons for sale)

Buy a nail salon franchise

Open a new nail salon in a retail space

RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL CLEANING: Cleaning businesses thrive no matter what shape the economy is in and there always seems to be room for another go-getter to launch a residential and/or commercial cleaning concern.

Consider this case study: when Charles Cestaro was washing the floors of a Ferrari dealership in his twenties, he only dreamed he would one day be able to drive away in one of the models. At that moment, he decided he was going do everything he could to build his own company so that he could afford his dream car and dream life.

Fast-forward, Charles Cestaro’s cleaning service company Servco Industries is celebrating 35 years in the business. It’s an anniversary party that he is celebrating with friends, clients and staff who have been with him through dirt and clean. Servco Industries has grown into a thriving and growing company, which serves retail giants like Sears Holding Corp, Kmart, Sports Authority, Waldbaums Supermarkets, Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company and FAO Schwartz. The company now profits over $10 million annually.

“No one knows what it takes to clean a company or office — but it takes a lot of work, sweat and coordination. It was my dream to be able to own a company and see it grow. I put a lot of energy and hard work to build Servco and I’m so proud of where we are and how well we serve our clients,” Cestaro adds.

Servco’s 35 Anniversary celebrates a milestone for Cestaro. It is one man’s entrepreneurial dream come true. “If I can go from washing floors to owning a company that profits in the millions, the sky is the limit for anyone who works as hard.” Cestaro adds.

The Business Directory posted on our magazine website, www.sbomag.com, contains information on a wide variety of companies that can help you start a cleaning business including: Blind Butler, Clean Out Foreclosures, Cleanpro USA, Dr. Glass, The Grout Doctor, Hygienitech, Rotobrush, Rotovac and Von Schrader.

CATERING SERVICES: You don’t have to be a master chef to open a catering business. If you are a super-organizer, love hosting parties, are sociable and can work with any type of gnarly client, you have a future as a caterer.

You’ll be tasked with assembling a great team of cooks, sous chefs, a baker and a serving staff and you should also have great resources at your fingertips including DJs, bands, floral experts, drivers with limos, balloon companies, invitation designers and other graphic artists and specialty party goods, such as a Tiki Bar or a makeshift waterfall if your clients demand it.

You can morph this catering operation into a full-blown out Party Planning Service. Do some research in your community to discover what the competition is doing. Fine-tune your services to trump their offerings. Place ads, build a website, or at least a Home Page with contact information, and start developing your teams of employees and resources.

PETS: We pamper them. We bring them wherever we go. We surprise them with something new on special occasions. They even get holiday presents. They are our pets! According to the 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 millions homes. That translates to a $52.87 billion market in the United States alone. There has never been a better time to launch your own pet service or products enterprise.

From high-end items to high-tech items, products for our companion animals now extend beyond traditional necessities. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) presents top pet product trends:

Reducing Your Pets: Carbon PAW print Around the world people are making conscious efforts to help our planet Earth, and the pet industry is no exception. From natural litters to toys, accessories and organic food options, earth-friendly pet products are sprouting up everywhere.

Going to the Dogs: More and more companies traditionally know for human products are going to the dogs, and cats, and reptiles. Big name companies including like Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of pet products ranging from dog shampoo, pet attire, and name-brand toys to gourmet treats and food.

Pets Welcome: Many hotels across the country are adopting pet friendly policies. Several chains have announced new pet-friendly policies that include everything from oversized pet pillows, plush doggie robes, to check-in gift packages that include a pet toy, dog treat, ID tag, bone and turn down treat. Some even have a licensed dog masseuse on staff.

Pet Products Sold Here: Shopping for pet products is becoming easier than ever with an increasing variety of retail outlets now selling pet products. Right along side fertilizer and shovels, shoppers can now find pet products such as doggie doors and yellow lawn spot removers sold at many lawn and garden stores, nurseries, and major home improvement stores including Home Depot.

Ultra-Clean…: Pet-owners take grooming one step beyond a haircut, a quick bath and a nail trim. Mouthwash and an electric toothbrush for canines are routine steps in a beauty session for some pooches. Birds receive daily pedicures with special cage perches, while others enjoy manicures complete with nail polish. Pet-owning homes stay cleaner with automatic, self-flushing litter boxes, cleaning cloths for muddy paws that mimic traditional baby wipes, and scented gel air fresheners to keep rooms free of pet odors.

State-of-the-Art: High-tech products including computerized identification tags, digital aquarium kits, automatic doors and feeders, enhanced reptile terrarium lighting systems and touch-activated toys help pet-owners take care of companion animals with ease and precision.

Loosen Up: As pet owners meditate in yoga class, cats relieve stress by frolicking in a toy gym or relaxing in a feline spa before enjoying herbal catnip packaged in a tea bag. Dogs sip fresh water from flowing fountains after a soothing rub with a doggie massager.

Straight from the Catwalk: Faux mink coats, hipster lumberjack vests, designer plaid jackets, matching jeweled and leather collar and leash sets, Halloween costumes, and holiday outfits keep pets in fashion throughout the year. Upscale leather carriers complete with a cell phone and water bottle holder are the perfect accessories to keep the pet owner in style as well.

Keep on Truckin’: Whether it’s a quick trip to the supermarket or a long ride to the beach, companion animals are now traveling animals too. Buckled up in a harness, seat belt system or a portable carrier, these pets stay safe and secure while on the road. Food and water along with safety supplies are on hand in all-in-one kits, waste disposal systems make for easy cleanup on quick stops and motion sickness aids are available too.

Hello, My Name Is…: From monogrammed sweaters and personalized food and water bowls to digitized collar tags and hand-made treats, owners embrace their pets as true members of the American family celebrating their fluffy, finned and feathered companions with their very own belongings.

USED CAR INSPECTION: Auto-mobiles cost a small fortune today and these escalating prices have created a large used car market. But how does a consumer know if they are getting a good deal? Even “Certified Cars” have flaws. Today’s cars are computerized and require some basic diagnostic equipment and mechanical know-how to make a true evaluation.

Used-car inspectors can help steer clients away from “lemons.” Word of mouth will mean a lot and building a group of appreciative customers will help catapult the business to success. If you’ve been a car mechanic, love cars or can partner with someone who does understand their engines and frames, consider starting this in-demand service business.

Custom TAILORs: Sewing is an art and entrepreneurs who have this talent can create a lucrative business offering custom services to a wide variety of clients.

Tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers (also called seamstresses) design, fashion, alter and repair garments, accessories and other useful items made from textiles in shops, factories, dry cleaning establishments and department stores.

In the world of textiles, tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers work behind the scenes fashioning different types of fibers, textiles and cloth into industrial goods, household goods, consumer fashions, accessories, costumes and other wearable goods used by businesses and consumers.

In addition to creating custom pieces of apparel, tailors and dressmakers make alterations and repairs to clothing as required by customers. Tailors, dressmakers and custom sewers often add embroidery to their list of services. We know of a custom tailor in San Diego who purchased an embroidery machine and now almost exclusively caters to the boating community offering canvas bags, towels, napkins, hats and other goods embroidered with the name of the boat to clients.

Many custom tailors work from their homes and don’t require an outside facility to conduct a healthy business.

HANDYMAN SERVICES: Home-owners—whether they have a large property or a small condo or coop—need help! The handyman industry competes with the contractor industry for home repair jobs. Handymen are typically used for small items, contractors are typically called in for more extensive projects.

Word of mouth referrals will be very important. Potential customers will ask neighbors/friends and other property managers for recommendations on handyman service providers.

One doesn’t have to be a master carpenter or repairman to launch a Handyman Services business. Consider Angie’s List, an online referral service that includes that includes thousands of consumer reviews on businesses. According to the company, “Angie’s List is where you’ll find thousands of unbiased reports and reviews about service companies in your area. Our members share their experiences with each other so that you can choose the service company that’s right for your job the first time around.”

This is a way to cash in the booming home services market without ever lifting a hammer or fixing a broken faucet! Consider what you could bring to your local market in this lucrative field.

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, etc. You do the research and find out what’s 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 once you fix it up a bit, that is.

BOTTLE YOUR OWN: The best business your can start in 2013 is to launch your dream enterprise. Do folks always tell you that you made the best pasta sauce or the best salad dressing?  Then bottle it! Sell it to local merchants. You need labels, bottles and lots of information from your state department of health on requirements.

Some states will require that you get a food handler’s license. Others will want to ensure that you include very specific information on your labels rather than just “Mom’s Hot Tamale Chili Sauce.”  So do a lot of homework in your own state, as requirements are different all over the country.  Find sources for label printing and research where you will get your glass jars.  But before you do anything, take your product to local markets and ask the store buyers, owners or managers to sample. Call the department of health in your county and they will refer you to the proper state office to inquire about food handler’s licenses.

PLANT MAINTENANCE: Your customers will be residential and commercial. Restuarants, office complexes, real estate offices, private schools, etc. will hire you to care for their plants—and possibly deliver weekly floral arrangements as well.

You’ll have a knack for plants and handle the regular watering, light pruning, and fertilizing are all in a day’s work. You can also offer to sell real plants and silk plants to your clients. Develop a brochure with your list of services and mail it to office managers in your region, or drop it off at various businesses, apartment complexes and office industrial parks.

FOOD FROM CARTS: Street food or food vending is hot as evidenced with the growing number of food trucks, kiosks and carts popping up all over the country. Even corporations in New York City, have food vendors enter their buildings’ service elevators to deliver the snacks and delicious foods to their employees. It’s a booming business! The food can range from ready to eat meals or drinks and can be sold right on the street or at fairs, flea markets, beaches and other gathering places.

Food carts are popular because the menu items tend to cost less than if purchased from a restaurant, fast food franchise or deli. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day.

According to Wikipedia, evidence of a large number of street food vendors were discovered during the excavation of Pompeii. In Renaissance Turkey, many crossroads saw vendors selling “fragrant bites of hot meat”, including chicken and lamb that had been spit roasted. As of 1707, after previous restrictions that had limited their operating hours, street food vendors had been banned in New York City. This certainly has changed and today’s food trucks and carts are extremely popular at lunchtime and feature long lines.

Sometimes great foods are created for the streets. Cracker Jacks started as one of many street food exhibits at the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair.

Street foods can also be regional in nature.  Victorian London street food vendors sold tripe, pea soup, pea pods in butter, whelk, prawns and jellied eels.

You don’t have to consider exotic fare to be a food cart vendor. How about hot dogs and Italian ices?

Looking for a food product that is delicious, contains no fat, no dairy and no cholesterol or high fructose corn syrup? Look no further. Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices & Push Carts offers a startup package that is less than $4300. The cart is easy to transport and fits in most mini vans or SUV’s. The high-tech cart requires no electricity or dye ice to keep the inventory cool. No experience is needed to run this business and the company will help you with the startup. Little Jimmy’s has become one of our favorite business opportunities to feature in our magazines. The business has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and you can learn a lot by visiting their website at: www.ItalianIce.net or by calling 800/763.4348.

Hot dogs are another option! You can launch your own hot dog vending cart business by contacting Ben’s Carts. Ben says he had a successful life and then lost everything and moved his family from a large estate into a trailer. He finally got it together to get a hold of one hot dog cart and his life turned around. Weeks later he expanded to 3 carts and now he wants to help others get started on their way to being their own boss and making $200 a day having fun in the great outdoors. You can make more with the right location.  To learn more about starting your own hot dog vending business, go online and visit: www.benscarts.com.

RATE YOUR BIZ AGAINST THE COMPETITION

Make up a sheet for each competitor and rate yourself as better, equal or worse in each category. As you score yourself, ask how you could improve your score in each area by changing your marketing strategy, and think about how potential customers perceive you.

Better / Equal / Worse

  • Prices
  • Quality
  • Product selection
  • Customer attention
  • Service/repairs
  • Reliability
  • Expert advice
  • Guarantees
  • Customer credit
  • Credit cards
  • Location
  • Store hours
  • Store appearance
  • Advertising

SBOMAG ROUNDUP: Business Plan for a Startup Business– Advice From SCORE

The business plan consists of a narrative and several financial worksheets. The narrative template is the body of the business plan. It contains more than 150 questions divided into several sections. Work through the sections in any order that you like, except for the Executive Summary, which should be done last. Skip any questions that do not apply to your type of business. When you are finished writing your first draft, you’ll have a collection of small essays on the various topics of the business plan. Then you’ll want to edit them into a smooth-flowing narrative.

The real value of creating a business plan is not in having the finished product in hand; rather, the value lies in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way. The act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly, study and research if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically.

It typically takes several weeks to complete a good plan. Most of that time is spent in research and re-thinking your ideas and assumptions. But then, that’s the value of the process. So make time to do the job properly. Those who do never regret the effort.

If you need assistance with your business plan, contact the SCORE office in your area to set up a business counseling appointment with a SCORE volunteer or send your plan for review to a SCORE counselor at www.score.org. Call 1-800-634-0245 to get the contact information for the SCORE office closest to you.

SBOMAG ROUNDUP: Using Twitter as a Valuable Customer Service Tool

Today’s customers are increasingly comfortable in the digital world.

Smart companies actively monitor Twitter for both positive and negative tweets about their products and services. That allows them to respond to the tweets in real time, address issues and enhance their brand reputation for responsiveness.

In 2011, it was estimated Twitter had 200 million users, who generate 138,888 new tweets an hour and 1.6 billion search queries every day. A 2010 survey found 20 percent of all tweets mention a product or service.

Twitter is all the more vital a tool in that it allows almost instant feedback. A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” study of more than 1,300 customers found 41 percent expected fast response, either immediately (22 percent) or within an hour (19 percent).

Few companies use Twitter more effectively than H & R Block. The company actively monitors Twitter comments, both pro and con. Its Twitter bio explains its Client Care Team on Twitter, answers question about H & R Block, and provides the team’s online hours. The team responds to a tweet within minutes, begins addressing the issue, offers to continue contact by email, phone or private Twitter message, and follows up until any problem is ironed out.

The following steps can help you employ Twitter to almost instantly respond to customers and make your customer service even more attentive.

Adopt a uniform Twitter process. To ensure your brand is well represented, your company should have a consistent process governing how your employees monitor Twitter comments.

Offer the human touch. If your Twitter account is managed by more than one employee, name them in your Twitter bio and have them use their initials to close tweets. Use everyday language.

Move to other channels. It’s unlikely you’ll resolve every issue in Twitter. That’s why companies should seek the right time to move the exchange from Twitter to their online support desks.

For more on making Twitter work for you, contact Walt Denny Inc. at 630-323-0555, email walt@waltdenny.com or visit www.waltdenny.com.

SBOMAG ROUNDUP: Forming A Partnership

There are several options available to business owners who want to set up their business as a partnership. A general partnership is a business owned and operated by two or more persons. Partners can contribute capital, specialized knowledge, marketing or management skills and other valuable help. They also share the risk.

Generally, partners share equally in the rights and responsibilities of managing the business, and by law each partner is responsible for all the debts and obligations of the firm. This means you are personally liable for the full amount of the partnership’s debts — even if the debts exceed your investment and you did not personally consent to the debts. Partnerships are easy to start, but they can run into trouble if the day-to-day stress of running a small business leads to friction between the partners. A written partnership agreement, which should be drawn up by a lawyer, is your best protection. In it you can spell out such issues as the capital contributions of each partner, duties and responsibilities of each partner, changes in partnership structure, dispute resolution methods and financial management.

The partnership itself is not taxable. Instead, you report the firm’s income and expenses on federal and state “information” tax returns and you are taxed on your share of the profits or loses at your individual income tax rate. The deduction of losses from your personal income tax statement could be a tax advantage.

Limited Partnership

A limited partnership is a partnership formed by two or more persons having one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. Personal liability is joint and individual for the general partners who are responsible for the obligations of the partnership. Limited partners are liable to the extent of their capital contribution to the partnership. The life-span of the limited partnership is for the period stipulated in the Certificate of Limited Partnership; or until a dissolution event occurs. For purposes of taxation, a limited partnership is not treated as a separate taxable entity; business income is taxed through each partner’s personal tax return. If you want to operate a limited partnership, you must file a Certificate of Limited Partnership (following an agreement of the partners) with the Department of State.

SBOMAG ROUNDUP: Types Of Bank Loans

Talk to your accountant or mentor to discuss financing options for your business. A banker can review the various types of loans for your

business and circumstances.  A short-term loan must be repaid in 30 days to six months. Small businesses with an established track record use this loan for working capital. For example, a manufacturer or retailer might use a short-term loan to build up an inventory for a seasonal increase in sales. If your credit rating is good, you can sometimes get the money without collateral.

A line of credit, sometimes called a revolving line of credit, allows you to borrow and repay repeatedly to meet your business needs. At the end of the year or season, the line of credit may be renewed. The benefit of this type of loan is that it allows you to maintain an even cash flow, which in turn can help you take advantage of special discounts offered by suppliers or make up for shortage of working capital.

A seasonal line of credit is a variation designed to help businesses that have a strong cyclical nature. When you apply for a seasonal loan, resist the temptation to borrow more than you need. Like most other types of lines of credit, you have to repay this type within a year or possibly at the end of selling season. An intermediate term loan may run as long as three years and usually requires collateral. You might consider it for a business start-up, the purchase of new equipment, the expansion of a store or plant or an increase in working capital.

A long-term loan typically runs for more than three years, requires collateral and may be granted for business start-ups, purchasing major equipment or moving a plant or store. It is commonly repaid on a monthly or quarterly basis out of cash flow or profit. The loan agreement may contain provisions that limit your company’s other debts, dividends or principals’ salaries or that require minimum equity or working capital levels. A long-term loan also may require that a percentage of the firm’s profit be used expressly for repayment. ates of deposit or other business assets.

One long-term loan commonly used to finance a new business is a home equity loan. A home equity loan is based on 70 to 80 percent of the equity difference between the market value of your home and the amount you owe on it. It usually requires regular payment of interest only during the first five to 10 years. While this makes it an attractive loan for small business owners, there is the risk of losing your home if you cannot keep up the payments.


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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities Jan 2013