Monthly Archives: July 2016

Some Business Ideas for the Pet Obsessed

Were you one of those kids who always dreamed of working with animals when you grew up? If you never made it to vet school, you can still make a living working with your favorite four-legged friends. If you love your pet but aren’t sure how to turn that passion into a business, here are eight great business ideas for animal lovers.

Pet care franchise

Want a ready-made business concept that lets you work with dogs on a daily basis? Consider becoming a franchisee of a top-rated pet care company like Camp Bow Wow, Dogtopia or K-9 Resorts. These doggy boarding facilities allow you oversee the care of dogs while their humans are at work or on vacation. While boarding and daycare make up the bulk of revenues, some franchises let you offer additional services like pet grooming to generate more income. Professional training is provided for franchisees, so your customers can rest assured that they’re leaving their pooches in good hands.

At-home pet boarding

Don’t want to open a brick-and-mortar location, or spend the money to invest in a franchise? Spread the word to friends and neighbors that you’re available to watch their pets in your own home. People often feel more comfortable leaving their pets in the care of an individual rather than placing pets in a boarding facility, so getting referrals shouldn’t be too difficult. Some states require a pet care certification to board animals in your home, so be sure to check and comply with your local ordinances before officially opening for business. Being certified can also put pet owners’ minds at ease about leaving their animals in your care. Visit the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters for more information on turning pet sitting into a career.

Dog trainer

Anyone with a love of dogs and a whole lot of patience can work toward becoming a dog trainer. There are currently no official state requirements to work as a trainer, so a basic education can start with reading books on the subject and getting some hands-on practice at local obedience classes with professionals. It’s also possible to apply to become a puppy trainer at a local pet store chain to help build credibility. According to the Animal Humane Society, the job of most professional trainers to teach dog owners how to train their pets, so great people skills are a must. For more information on becoming a trainer and acquiring the necessary skills to work as a professional, visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers or the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors websites.

Pet supply retailer

Know of some great pet products that aren’t carried by your local pet supply store? Open up your own retail shop and sell high-quality items made by small-scale manufacturers. Many small business owners would be thrilled to offer you a wholesale discount for carrying their products, and your customers would feel good about supporting local businesses.

Dog-walking

In larger cities with a lot of pet owners in apartment buildings, dog-walking is a great part-time business opportunity. City dwellers don’t have yards for their dogs to play in, and if they work long and/or irregular hours, they may not always have time to take their energetic pup for his daily walk. In addition to creating a website with information on your business, put up flyers in your building and see if any of your neighbors would be willing to entrust this task to you for a small fee. It’s important to educate yourself on not only the local dog walking market but also proper animal care and handling. Dogtec offers a four-day training workshop to become a certified professional dog walker.

Grooming

This business idea requires a working knowledge of animal health and anatomy, as well as training and some patience. Unsure of where to start? Gain experience bathing your own pet, then look into an educational program that properly trains you in the basics of dog grooming. From there, you can get some hands-on experience by working for an independent groomer or national pet store chain, until you feel confident enough to go out on your own. For more information on becoming a professional pet groomer, visit petMD.

Dog treats

The trend of healthy eating and recognizing the ingredients within food doesn’t stop at humans, people are generally more cognizant of what their pets are eating as well. If you’ve been making your own for a long time, capitalize on your talents, otherwise there are recipes for homemade treats online. They don’t require a lot of time or effort to make, and the ingredients for many of them are probably already in your kitchen. Experiment with different recipes and let your dog be the official taste tester. Once you’ve found a winner or two, you can bake them in bulk, package them and sell them online. List the ingredients on your website and packaging so pet owners can feel confident that your product is right for their dogs.

Handmade pet accessories

Pets often become like children to their owners, and many individuals are perfectly willing to invest in custom-made collars, food bowls, clothing and other accessories. Etsy and other e-commerce platforms are a perfect avenue to sell handmade items like these, so with some basic materials and a little time to spend on crafting, you could get this business up and running within a day or two.

Some Business Ideas That Don’t Require Employees

Are you ready to start your own business, but not ready to hire employees? There are plenty of options for people who would prefer to be “solopreneurs” and keep their business operations simple.

Here are some ideas to inspire you to start working on your solo business plan right away:

Virtual Health Coaching

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.

Chore/Errand Service for Seniors

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.

Microbrewery

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.

Personal Trainer

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.

Special Deliveries

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.

Business Coach

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.

How to Test New Business Idea Before Launching

Do you have an idea for the “next big thing”? You may think your idea is perfect the way it is, but it’s wise to test it out before you spend a lot of time and money developing a business or product for which there’s no market. Here are six steps to help you make sure your product is something the world wants, before you launch it.

1. First wait; then build a prototype or test service.

Although you’re excited about your new business idea, you might want to wait a while before testing it, Greg Isenberg, a venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, said in a 2014 interview.

“After I’ve gone through the process of writing down a bunch of ideas, I don’t like to rush into building a business plan or recruiting the team,” Isenberg said. “I like to wait a few weeks, [to] see which ideas really stick with me.”

Isenberg said he only moves forward if he has a burning feeling that the world really needs his idea.

“Once I’m through that, the best way to test a business idea is to build some prototype and show it to people to get some honest and authentic feedback,” he said. [Looking for a business idea? Visit our Business Idea Page]

2. Build a minimum viable product.

A minimum viable product, or MVP, is “the simplest form of your idea that you can actually sell as product,” said Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and the author of “The Lean Startup” (Crown Business, 2011). Using the principles of Lean Six Sigma, Ries’ book advocates having a version of the product to test and market early in the development process so that any tweaks or changes are in response to real feedback from the target audience.

3. Run it by a group of critics.

When you have your first prototype or test service ready, take it to your potential target customers.

“You should talk [to] and/or survey at least 50 potential customers, to see if they identify with the problem the same way you do,” said Wayde Gilchrist, a startup consultant and host at TechStartRadio.com. “In other words, you need to find out if this is a real problem for a majority of your target market, or just a few,” he said.

However, to really put your new business idea to the test, select your 50 potential clients or customers carefully.

“Identify people in that target you know to be skeptical and critical,” said Chip Bell, founder of the business consultancy firm The Chip Bell Group. “These people could be irate customers from previous encounters, or friends who always take the glass-half-empty perspective.”

Bell advised handpicking your test group and then asking these people to pick your ideas apart.

4. Tweak it to suit your test market.

Isenberg took a similar approach to testing 5by, an Internet video finder app he developed and has since sold. Isenberg and his team went to college campuses and showed mock-ups of what the product was going to look like. They found the feedback from students invaluable in fine-tuning the original idea.

“We were able to quickly gauge that people … were frustrated that they couldn’t open an app and just be able to find the best Internet videos in whatever they were interested in with just a tap of a button,” he said.

Isenberg realized that although his initial business idea and mock-up were a good start, they needed tweaking.

“We quickly knew we were onto something, and then focused on building out the product, raising money, etc.,” he said.

5. Create a test website with social media tie-ins.

Once the word is out about your product or business, the target market needs a place to get more information about it or to show it to their friends. Building a simple website and using social media are ideal tools to provide information and monitor how many people are interested in what you are selling.

“You’ll be able to tell if the idea will get traction from the number of click-throughs on the ads, and the number of people who fill in your form,” Gilchrist said.

6. Create a marketing plan and use it.

All of the preparatory work means nothing if you do not perform enough actions to get a good measure of response. Once you have a viable product, you need to be able to act on the interest in it, said Ryan Clements, a consultant to entrepreneurs on marketing and sales strategy.

“Having worked with many startups — both on my own account as entrepreneur and as an adviser to others — I like to use a rule I call 100 / 1,000,” Clements wrote in a blog post on IvyExec. “Make a list of 100 things you can do to market the product, and then execute that list of 100, and in the process, speak with 1,000 people about the product.”

If you do this, you will have data on your product, Clements said. You’ll know who is interested in it, what marketing strategies worked and didn’t work, and how you can improve, all of which are invaluable steps in getting your idea and business off the ground, he added.

The Great Places to Find a New Business Idea

All successful entrepreneurial ventures have one thing in common: They solve a specific problem. Whether they fill a gap in the market or improve upon what’s already out there, good business ideas demonstrate what the issue is and why they have the unique ability to address it.

If you’ve been racking your brain for a way to start your own business but keep coming up short, you might just need a change of scenery. You never know where inspiration will strike, so get up and explore these 10 places to find solvable problems — and, therefore, great business ideas.

Think you’ve found your perfect startup? Do some research to make sure the idea is legal and feasible, and then visit our step-by-step guide to starting a business.
Your smartphone

In the “there’s an app for that” era, it may seem like every mobile application under the sun has already been thought up and built. But that’s not necessarily the case, as many people discover when they scour their smartphone’s app store searching for something that doesn’t exist. Perhaps an app you recently downloaded doesn’t function the way you’d hoped it would, or doesn’t offer a certain feature you wanted. To find out if there’s interest in the newer, better app you want to create, ask friends, family and others in your network. Once you’ve done your due diligence, you can use a DIY app maker or, if you have very little tech experience, hire freelancers to build it for you.

Search engines

If you’ve ever done an exhaustive Internet search for a specific item that returned no results, you have three options: settle for something close enough, give up entirely or do it yourself. If you’re the kind of person who chooses the DIY method (and can do it well), you have the opportunity to turn a frustration into a lucrative business. Check forums to see if others are searching for the same product(s), and then open up an online shop to sell them. This can also work well for specialized service-based businesses.

Social media

If there’s one thing people like to do on social media, it’s air their grievances about everyday life. Most of the time, these types of updates are mundane (and probably a little annoying), but if you pay close enough attention to those hashtags and status updates, you might start to see some patterns emerging. Look for phrases like, “Why isn’t there a … ” or, “I wish there was a …” — you may be able to offer a solution.

Online reviews

As with social media, people love to talk about the products they’ve purchased and places they’ve visited on sites like Amazon, Google and Yelp. Most consumers will read and use negative reviews to determine if they should avoid the product or establishment, and that company’s loss could be your gain. See what people are complaining about, and try to come up with a business idea that would fix the problem.

Your home

Look around your house or apartment. What are some of the frustrations you encounter there? Dusty air vents? A messy bathroom? Unraked leaves on your lawn? If you’re noticing these things in your own home, there’s a good chance other people are experiencing the same problems. By launching an in-home service business, you can help others take care of these time-consuming household tasks.

Your neighborhood

The people who live near you can be a great inspiration for business ideas. Think about the demographics of your neighborhood or local community. If your town has a lot of working parents, a service that offers to run errands or provides child care might be in high demand. A neighborhood with a lot of senior citizens could use independent home health aides. Are there a lot of dog owners nearby? Try a pet-care business like pet sitting or dog walking.

Your office

If you want to start a part-time business outside your current job, ask your co-workers what kinds of products or services they’re missing in their lives. Maybe someone else with a side business is looking for a bookkeeper or financial adviser. Others might be looking to enroll their children in affordable art or music classes. Small talk in the break room is bound to lead to at least a few viable ideas.

The grocery store

Are you a food lover? Seeing what’s missing from the shelves at the grocery store or farmers market could help you come up with a made-to-order culinary business idea. Jams, baked goods and specialty diet items (gluten free, vegan, etc.) are especially good choices for an artisanal food startup. Alternatively, you could test your gastronomic skills with ingredients from the supermarket and open up a restaurant or food truck.

The mall

While you might not actually open up a brick-and-mortar retail location, perusing your local mall might give you some ideas for a business of your own. You could launch a line of homemade natural cosmetics to rival the pushy salespeople from that kiosk, a clothing line to produce something different from the same old items in every apparel store window or an online craft shop to offer personalized alternatives to generic card-store knickknacks.

Your child’s school or day care

If you’re a parent, you know that any product or service that will help your child is worth the money. Think about the gaps you see in the market, and next time you pick up the kids from school, ask other parents if they feel the same way. Not a parent? Ask family members or friends with children what kinds of things they want (or want improved) but can’t currently find for their kids.