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Monthly Archives: March 2018

6 Business Ideas Don’t Require Employees

Are you educated in nutrition but are still looking to get your career to go in the right direction? Turn your healthy lifestyle choices and education into lucrative business decisions by becoming a virtual health coach. You’ll be aided in your efforts by the myriad new health-related apps and devices being developed to help clients keep track of fitness goals and weight loss.

Anyone with aging loved ones knows how hard it can be to care for them without extra help. Elderly people living in their own homes need help with lots of routine chores like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and yard work. Why not start a business that offers senior citizens and their families the help they need to maintain their households without breaking their budgets? With word-of-mouth endorsements and social media targeted at the overworked baby-boomer set, you could get this business off the ground in no time.

Want to turn your love of beer into a viable occupation? Why not jump on the microbrewing bandwagon? With the popularity of craft beers on the rise in the U.S., the demand for innovative breweries is growing. Take a page from the successful owners of Brooklyn Brewery and start by focusing on branding and distribution of your beverages. With some thirsty investors and a few barrels of persistence, you could have your brewery up and running faster than you can say “cheers!” Learn more about starting your own craft brewery in this Business News Daily guide.

With employers and corporations looking to decrease health care costs and a greater awareness of diseases associated with obesity, America is looking to get fit. Freelance personal trainers make their own schedules and work for a diverse range of clients. If you’re a fitness guru with a head for business, this might just be the right idea for you.

Whether it’s a bouquet of flowers in celebration of a wedding anniversary or an ice cream cake delivery for a child’s birthday, there’s a need for businesses that carry out long-distance requests on behalf of those whose loved ones live far away. With the right website and a PayPal account, you could start building your reputation as a “special delivery” courier today.

Are you business-savvy with years of experience, and willing to pass that knowledge on to others? With the right marketing tactics, a strong personal network and a great website, it’s simple to become a business coach on your own. Work with small business owners or startup-hopefuls to carefully craft business plans, and advise those who need that extra motivation. If you know you can be a good motivator and not just a “yes man,” their investment in you will have great returns.

7 Online Business Ideas

Do you know the ins and outs of search engines and have skills in platforms like Google Analytics? The owners of a lot of smaller companies don’t realize how much of an impact search engine optimization (SEO) can have on their business. Educate those business owners on the power of SEO to help transform their websites into a more SEO-friendly property. Use your skills to show business owners how to read and use their analytics data the right way, and how to properly use keywords and structure content to get more traffic.

If you possess a great deal of business experience and knowledge, why not create a business that helps aspiring entrepreneurs find success? You can use your skills to help new business owners get off to a good start and help experienced entrepreneurs keep up with demand. To show off your knowledge and skills and bring in clients, you can also write articles about business on platforms like LinkedIn.

There’s an audience for everything, whether it’s making dollhouse furniture or creating organic dog food. With a specialty e-commerce store, you can reach those customers who are seeking your specific products. All you need is a web-hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or with e-commerce software, and your business will be operational in no time. You can even work with vendors to ship products to customers on your behalf, which means you don’t need to own a lot of inventory.

Larger companies can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but small businesses often have to handle their own social media marketing. With so many responsibilities, business owners are often too busy, overwhelmed or undereducated about the importance of social media to spend time developing and implementing a great social media strategy. As a consultant, you can help them determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. As their follower count grows, so will your business.

There’s nothing more off-putting than a poorly designed website, and often, it kills credibility. If you know HTML and have a good eye for design, you can launch a service to create attractive, easy-to-use websites for small businesses. Put your skills to good use for business owners who want to take their online presence to the next level. Build a comprehensive portfolio, and then create your own website to show it off and attract a steady stream of clients.

It’s a tough truth to swallow, but a standout resume and cover letter can make all the difference when you’re applying for a job. While listing career accomplishments might seem like an easy task, the fine art of “humble bragging” eludes some of us. Find work by helping others to get hired with the aid of stellar resumes. Capitalize on the increasingly important social media branding bandwagon and offer to fix LinkedIn profiles as well.

Do you have impeccable organizational skills? What about cleaning skills? Can you quickly and efficiently carry out these tasks? Maybe it’s time to put those skills to good use by becoming an online personal assistant or task manager. Companies like TaskRabbit or Zirtual allow you to sign up for tasks you want to complete — including data research, virtual assistant or running errands — and begin building clientele.

4 Things Investors Really Want to Know

Customers rule

If you think your potential investors care most about what your new business sells, you’re dead wrong, said Randy Thompson, award-winning founder and CEO of angel investor firm VA Angels.

“Customers are the coolest way to validate that you are onto something,” Thompson said. “This is true for all industries.”

Thompson said the most important thing to him as a potential investor is the customer, and he pays close attention to the information the startup founders have on why customers will want this particular product or service.

“Ideally, they know exactly why the customer is dying to have [the product or service], and is not just mildly interested,” Thompson said.

As an investor, he also wants to see that the entrepreneurs have done their research and created a comprehensive customer profile, including as much detail as possible.

Problems may point to profit

Investors also want to know if the startup’s product solves a problem worth solving.

“The idea [for a solution] is much less important, as the solution often changes as you orbit around the problem,” said Sean Johnson, partner at Digital Intent and professor of marketing at Northwestern University. “Do we know the customer’s ‘jobs to be done’?”

‘Jobs to be done’ refers to a customer motivation framework constructed by Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen.

“It provides clarity to the fuzzy realm of ‘customer needs’ by focusing on the specific tasks or jobs customers are trying to accomplish, rather than focusing on particular solutions, features, specs, etc.,” Johnson told Business News Daily.

Asking this simple question helps business identify jobs that are extremely critical and underserved, and gives a good framework for knowing whether it’s a problem worth pursuing.

Your exit strategy matters

Depending on the firms you’re dealing with, you may have to make them believe that a bigger company will want to buy you out in the future — and you need to convey this during your pitch.

“As an angel investor, the most common way new companies try to get me to consider investing in them is via a pitch,” Thompson said.

Every pitch includes six critical items, Thompson continued: a product, a customer, a committed founder, a way to protect your idea from the competition, deal structuring and an exit strategy.

“Points five and six are the ones we really focus in on, because remember, the product does not matter,” Thompson said.

Johnson and his team look for startup characteristics that point to a successful exit strategy. Some of the questions they look at when evaluating a startup are: Do we have clear potential acquirers? Do we know at what size we become interesting? Do we have a good sense of what acquirers would gain from buying a company like this — data, client lists, talent, etc.? They also consider whether the founder is on board with the idea of acquisition versus “going for the home run.”

Investors want strong, committed founders and solid startup support

Investors also look for an engaged and enthusiastic founder with a passionate startup team.

“There has to be a compelling story and passion,” Thompson said. “I want to get engaged with the founders, and the ‘why’ that is more interesting than the product.”

Johnson also said that he carefully considers the attitude, commitment and passion of the founders.

“Does the founder have a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude to make cold calls, hit the pavement, do anything they can to move the needle each day?” Thompson said. “Are they passionate about solving the problem?”

In addition to a charismatic, committed and passionate founder, new ventures also need startup support teams.

“I think we should start teaching startups that [they need] boards and advisory boards, and that as a person building teams, you get known by the people you hang out with, and that becomes important,” Thompson said.

5 Business Ideas for Couples

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

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

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

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

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

5 Handmade Business Ideas

Custom clothing

Got a sewing machine, or even just a needle and thread? You can create custom clothing items for customers who want shirts, skirts, dresses or even baby items. Places like JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores sell everything you need to get started, from the fabrics themselves to sewing equipment and patterns. You can also track down free patterns online for some basic items.

Knitting and crocheting

Handmade scarves, hats and blankets are big sellers in the online marketplace. Wholesale yarn is relatively inexpensive, and depending on how quickly you can knit, you’ll be able to build up your inventory and spend more time marketing your store. Once you’ve mastered the basics of this art, you can move on to designing your own unique, colorful patterns. Don’t know how to knit or crochet? Sites like KnittingHelp.com are readily available to teach you.

Lamps

With do-it-yourself lamp kits available online and in most major home improvement stores, you can make a lamp out of anything from mason jars to wine bottles. A little bit of spray paint or plastic beads are all you need to make colorful, customized lights. You can even create lamps out of old plastic toys, like in this DIY Network tutorial.

Bags

Handmade bags can be made out of a variety of materials. Using recycled fabrics and other materials from around your home, create bags and purses in different sizes, styles and colors to appeal to a wide customer base. Better Homes and Gardens has a few ideas to get you started.

Jams and preserves

There are few foods that are easier to hand-make and package in large quantities than jam. With access to a steady supply of high-quality fruits and mason jars, you can go into the jam-making business in no time. First, build a repertoire of tried-and-true jam recipes. Then create branded labels and sell your goods online or at local fairs, farmers markets and events. Almanac.com has some tips for making the perfect preserves.

What Does the Age of Big Data Mean to Your Business?

 Big data is the term used to describe the enormous datasets that have grown beyond the ability for most software to capture, manage and process the information.  But volume is not the only way to define big data. The three Vs generally used to describe big data also include the multiple types – and sources – of data (variety) as well as the speed (velocity) at which data is produced.

If you need more perspective, think about this for a second: According to IBM, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created over the past two years. That amounts to 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day.

How can big data help me?

Big data may seem to be a bit out of reach for SMBs, non-profits and government agencies that don’t have the funds to buy into this trend. After all, big usually means expensive right?

But big data isn’t really about using more resources; it’s about effectively using the resources at hand. Take this analogy from Christopher Frank of Forbes who likened big data to the movie Moneyball: “If you have read Moneyball, or seen the movie, you witnessed the power of big data – it is the story about the ability to compete and win with few resources and limited dollars. This sums up the hopes and challenge of business today.”

Specifically, it shows how organizations with limited financial resources can stay competitive and grow. But first, you have to understand where you can find this data and what you can do with it.

Big data strategies

Ideally, big data can help resource-strapped organizations:

  • Target their market
  • Make better decisions
  • Measure feelings and emotions
Targeted marketing

Small businesses can’t compete with the enormous advertising budgets that large corporations have at their disposal. To remain in the game, they need to spend less to reach qualified buyers. This is where it becomes essential to analyze and measure data to target the person most likely to convert.

There is so much data freely accessible through tools like Google Insights that organizations can pinpoint exactly what people are looking for, when they are looking for it and where they are located. For example, the CDC used big data provided by Google to analyze the number of searches related to the flu. With this data, they were able to focus efforts where there was a greater need for flu vaccines. The same can be done for other products.

Decide

Big data can be like drinking from a fire hose if you don’t know how to turn all the facts and figures into something useable. But once an organization learns how to master the analytical tools that turn its metrics into readable reports, charts and graphs, it can make decisions that are more proactive and targeted. And only then will it have an intimate relationship with the “big problems” affecting the business and an understanding of how to improve its situation.

Social eavesdropping

A majority of the information in big data comes from social chatter on sites like Facebook and Twitter. By keeping a close eye on what is being said in the various social channels, organizations can get a bead on how the public perceives them and what they need to do to improve their reputations.

Take the paper “Twitter mood predicts the stock market” as an example. Johan Bollen tracked how the collective mood from large-scale Twitter feeds correlated with the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The algorithm used by Bollen and his group predicted market changes with 87.6 percent accuracy.

Imagine what you could do for you organization if you could track how people felt about you.

Considerations

Data has always presented a problem when it comes to security; it’s a primary target for cyber attacks because the bad guys know that it is one of the most valuable resources a company has.

And with the growth of mobile devices used to access, analyze and input all of this data, the threat is even greater. Throw in the need for endpoint security and some big picture protection issues come into play.

However, with proper planning companies can secure data stores, on-site resources and mobile devices while harnessing big data as a tool to help them reach their goals.