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Monthly Archives: October 2016

5 Smart Business Ideas for 2017

Estate sales

People regularly need to liquidate the contents of their homes, whether it’s in the event of an inheritance, the result of a divorce, or just a regular old move. That’s where estate sales come in.

You don’t have to be a licensed appraiser (though it helps) to price out a home and organize a sale. Once you’ve established prices for all of the contents for sale, advertise and organize a day to bring in members of the public to buy the products. In the end, you can take a tidy percentage of the gross sales, and the homeowner walks away happy, without the headache of getting rid of all their stuff.

Cannabis licensing consultancy

With both the legal and medicinal cannabis markets continuing their rapid growth, now is a great time to start a cannabis licensing consultancy. Once you familiarize yourself with the different state regulations and the major players in the approval process, you’re ready to start helping dispensaries and grows attain their licenses and approvals.

According to Medical Marijuana Inc. the medicinal market alone in 2015 was worth nearly $600 million. Add to that the continuous legalization of recreational use in states throughout the country and you have a fledgling market with room to grow. Now is the time to get into this burgeoning industry.

Social media consulting

Sure, there are plenty of businesses offering social media consulting services, but you can stand out from the crowd by focusing primarily on networks that are still gathering steam with businesses. Facebook and Twitter are still the top networks, but businesses tend to struggle the most with platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge audiences but many businesses don’t realize how big they really are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their niche. Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming app, has more than 10 million active accounts, for example, and Snapchat has more than 100 million users, according to The Verge. Tumblr and Instagram have more than 400 million users, and Pinterest has over 100 million.

If you’ve got a background in social media and a deep understanding of these particular platforms, try starting a social consulting business that focuses less on the basics and more on helping businesses take advantage of the millions of users they’re not reaching by sticking solely with Facebook and Twitter.

Healthy fast food

If you’ve ever dreamed of opening a restaurant or a food truck, this just might be the time to do it. JWTIntelligence’s report noted that millennials are more health-conscious than ever, and “guilt-free” takeout food will become an increasingly popular culinary trend. Consumers are looking for competitive pricing on local, seasonal dishes that they can take on-the-go with them.

Multicultural marketing expert

All businesses are looking for new ways to connect with their customers, but many are missing the mark when it comes to connecting with minorities. Research from direct advertising firm AccurateLeads found that marketers who don’t target minorities are losing out on a $3 trillion market.

The study shows many companies fail at reaching minority customers because they don’t take the time to know that audience. To reach those targeted shoppers, businesses must recognize the places where the consumer resides and design a specific message not just for one ethnicity, but for cultures among those segments.

This has created an opening for marketers looking to stand out from the crowd. Lisa Skriloff, founder of Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc., said with minority populations growing at a faster rate than Caucasians, businesses that want to succeed must tap into the minority markets.

10 Great Home Business Ideas

Work from home

There’s no place like home, so how can you start a successful business that allows you to work from the comfort of your own abode? Working from home isn’t just a nice perk, it can also be lucrative if you break into the right line of work. In this countdown, Business News Daily takes a look at these 21 great ideas for home-based businesses to help inspire you to found the next big company right from your own living room.

Electronics recycling

Even though consumers are constantly upgrading their phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices, a lot of people still don’t understand how important it is to recycle their old electronics. According toDoSomething.org, 20 million to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide each year, and only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled. Allow people to drop off their unwanted electronics at your home, or go mobile and offer a pickup service. In addition, you could help your customers back up their files and clear sensitive information from their devices as well.

Massage therapist

Becoming a massage therapist requires proper training and licensing, but if you’re looking for a great career to pursue that you can also turn into a home-based business, massage therapy might be the right choice for you. And with a massage therapy business, you have options: You can either invite clients into your home for appointments, or make house calls for massages.

Translator

If you’re fluent in multiple languages, you can turn it into a business as a translator. Businesses that work with international partners need to make sure their documents are accurate and in order, so offer up your linguistic skills to translate their documents for them, and you can do so from the comfort of your home.

Music teacher

For the musically gifted, offering lessons to others who want to learn an instrument can be a great source of extra income. Unless you’re teaching piano, students can bring their own instruments to your home for hour-long lessons. Stock up on sheet music or songbooks in varying genres and aimed at various skill levels so you can offer a wide selection for your potential clients. Voice lessons can also bring in a lot of money if you market yourself to local high school and community theater groups.

Online course instructor

You don’t need a degree in education to teach people how to do something you know inside and out. According to Fox, online courseenrollment on the rise, you can help others enrich their lives by offering classes in an area you’re passionate about, like yoga or baking. Create instructional packets and videos for download from a website, or schedule real-time Skype lessons with clients.

Software trainer

If you’re proficient in a highly specialized software, you can get paid to pass your knowledge on to amateurs and professionals looking to expand their skill sets. Technical manuals are available for programs like QuickBooks and Final Cut Pro, but these are often expensive and difficult for the average user to get through. Schedule small group workshops or private sessions, and charge by the hour for a full tutorial of the program. Patience and a great personality are a must.

Local Internet marketing consultant

Small businesses know they have to get online, but finding the time to figure out how is proving a real challenge for small business owners of every stripe. If you’re Internet-savvy and know how local businesses can harness the power of local search, coupon pages and social media, you could be working from home helping small business owners promote their companies online. Since your client base will be local to you, your commute to clients will be close to home.

Green consultant

Consumers want to buy from companies that are making efforts to turn their operations “green,” or eco-friendly. In fact, research has shown that consumers are willing to pay more for green products. Big companies often have whole staffs and outside consulting firms dedicated to that cause. Small business owners don’t have those kinds of resources, but many would still like to find ways to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. A home-based green consulting business allows you to travel locally to meet with clients, review their environmental impact and make recommendations on how they can cut their energy use, waste and costs. There’s no need for an office outside the house for this business.

Billing service

During the recession, many companies, especially contractors, had to lay off office workers. And, while the economy is recovering, many still can’t afford to hire a full-time office assistant. That leaves an opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to offer invoicing, bookkeeping, human resources and other clerical services to business owners on a contractual or part-time basis. With just a laptop and a few clients, you can get the ball rolling from home.

Tips to Start Photography Business

Quality photography equipment is notoriously expensive, so you’ll want to start off with the minimum: Buying a $5,000 lens doesn’t make sense if your business isn’t making money yet. Many professional photographers say to plan on budgeting about $10,000 to start your photography business.

According to professional photographer Austen Diamond, “building slow and smart” will help you stay nimble. Allow the organic growth of your business to fund gear improvements, and avoid debt if possible, he said.

Based on interviews with professional photographers, here is a basic budget for starting your business, not including studio or office space. All prices are yearly estimates or one-time purchases.

Our expert sources offered the following advice for building your personal brand and reputation as a professional photographer.

Your person and gear: If you work with people, you are your brand. Even the little things affect your reputation, and most of your business will come by word-of-mouth referrals. When you go to a shoot, dress appropriately. Iron your shirt. Wash your car. Be organized. Bring your own water and snacks. Charge your electronics. Thank-you and referral gifts should be classy. Being ready shows respect and professionalism.

Being timely: Always arrive to the shoot early, and don’t fail to deliver your product when promised. Print out directions so you don’t get lost. Ensure that your clients understand your production schedule and how long it will be for them to receive their proofs and final product, and stick to your agreements. Answer phone calls and emails in a timely manner.

Online: Anonymity is nearly impossible these days. Many potential clients will be searching for you and your work online. The images you post online should not only be high-quality but also the kind of images you want to be taking to attract the kind of work you want to be doing. Avoid contentious social media posts, and keep your language positive. Keep your LinkedIn profile and contact information on all sites up-to-date.

Many photographers have difficulties with setting their price and determining their value. Certainly, you should never price work to result in lost money or less than minimum wage, but many do. You can research your area to see what your competitors charge, but ultimately, you’ll need to charge what you are worth.

Generally, you’ll want to estimate 3 hours of editing time for every hour of shooting. Some photographers use a gauge of roughly $50 per hour to cover standard costs. Be sure to factor in travel and preparation time. Consider your ongoing costs, such as insurance, gear, accounting services and your website.

Once you start adding up the numbers, you can see why undercutting your competitors may not always be the best strategy and may result in you losing money on a gig. If you cannot seem to make the numbers match, you’ll either have to consider whether you are OK with having an expensive hobby or if you need to branch out into a different, more profitable market.

You should also always require an upfront deposit for high-priced gigs. To avoid credit card stop payments, you should require cash, cashier’s check or bank transfer for paying the deposit.

Managing your clients’ expectations is important to your success. Your clients should know exactly what to expect of you and also what is expected of them. For weddings, timelines and group pictures should be organized in advance. For infant photos, your customers should know what clothes and accessories to bring. If you are taking corporate headshot images, people should know how to dress.

For contracts, your clients should know how much is due in advance and how to pay it. You should set terms on how far in advance you need them to commit so you can schedule. Contracts should be explained carefully, and if applicable, your customers should know how they are allowed to use the images — and that should be in writing as well. While not everyone is comfortable with legalese, your professionalism will help make this necessary part of your business agreement go as smoothly as possible. You can find free contracts online, such as model release, photo licensing, wedding agreements and other common photography contracts, on sites likeLess Accounting.

Finding your niche market not only allows you to focus on a specific skill set but also offers the opportunity to find networking prospects in a specific genre. Wedding and infant photographers are abundant. You can still book these types of gigs, but if you can offer something that others do not, you may find more work.

The product you offer may cover a specific genre, such as sports, or even a style or mood, such as humorous photos. Or perhaps you are also a writer and can create beautiful picture books with family stories. Maybe you work in the medical industry and have the knowledge to create quality educational medical photography.

With weddings, you get only one chance to do it right. If you have issues with your camera or memory card and don’t have the proper backup gear, you may miss the whole thing and damage your reputation quickly. If you are not prepared for lighting challenges or the chaos of working with emotional, opinionated family members, you will not produce your best work. Although weddings are usually profitable gigs, many experienced wedding photographers recommend that you start as a second shooter with an established wedding photographer before going solo. Many part-time or freelance photographers are trying to get in the wedding game, but there are other ways to make money while you work on your skills and purchasing the proper gear.

It’s also important to note that the wedding market is seasonal, and business will likely fluctuate in the fall and winter. If you’re getting into this market, be sure to plan ahead and save for the off-season.

Not interested in competing in the oversaturated wedding or baby market? Here are some other avenues you can explore:

Stock photography: You can start your own stock-photo website or sign up as a contributor to popular sites such as Shutterstock or iStock. Pay may be low, but licensing is managed for you, and you can sell in volume.

Contract work: Some photographers have obtained contracts that pay a set monthly amount to cover local events or to be on call. For example, perhaps your local tourism or business development department may pay you monthly to cover local events.

Commercial photography: All businesses need web images these days. You may be able to find work capturing images of their products or services, facilities, and even headshots of their board members and management team.

Real estate: Oftentimes, real estate agents will contract with photographers to capture professional images of homes, business properties and land. They may also want you to capture 360-degree or interactive video footage.

Pets: People certainly love their pets, and some pet owners want professional images of their furry companions, either as portrait-style images or on location with natural movement and action.

Boudoir or glamour: Many people like sensual pics of themselves or images taken of them with their hair and makeup professionally done. These can be done in a studio with other professional artists if you cannot do hair and makeup yourself.

Sports: A wide variety of sports organizations want professional images and video. You may even be able to obtain contract work to cover a full season or a specific event, such as a local marathon, rodeo or bike race. Keep in mind that lenses for capturing sports moments can be costly.

Local news: Local print, TV and online news sources may pay you for images of local events, weather disasters or crime scenes. It would require you to go out and cover events upfront on your dime, but it could pay off later.

Image or video editing: A busy local photographer may need assistance with his or her workload. The pay may not be ideal, but it is a good opportunity to work on your editing skills.

Product images: Many local artisans and retail businesses sell products online and need good product images for their own websites or shopping sites, such as Etsy or Amazon. The pay per image would be low, but the work is relatively easy.

Food images: Like every other business, restaurants need to have an online presence. You may find ample work in helping restaurants create online menus and promotional images.

Music: Working bands need promotional images for their websites, CDs and media packages. Some also desire video of their live performances.

Paparazzi: To some people, “paparazzi” may seem like a dirty word, but someone has to snap pics of the Kardashians in their less-than-flattering casual moments. If you live in a city such as Los Angeles, New York or Las Vegas, you may be able to make money from selling your celebrity photographs.

Prints: Some photographers have found success selling their prints. It’s a tough way to make money but worth exploring if it fits your genre. Prints can be sold online and in galleries.

Contests: If entering a photo contest is easy and doesn’t cost you anything, it may be worth trying to garner a little extra income.

8 Business Ideas for the Pet-Obsessed

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 likeCamp 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.