How to Come Up With a Business Idea

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Here are ten questions to ask yourself when trying to come up a business idea that will be realistic, sustainable, and profitable:

  1. Do I have any marketable skills or ideas for marketable products for which a demand exists or can be created?
  2. Do I have the money I need to start and develop a business, and, if not, can I borrow or otherwise raise the capital I need to get started?
  3. Do I possess the self discipline, motivation, organizational skills, temperament, and salesmanship skills needed to set up a business, handle setbacks, and persist until I succeed?
  4. Do I believe in myself and possess the ability to persuade others to believe in me?
  5. Have I proven to myself and others that I can start a project, enlist the help of other people if needed, and follow through on tasks that need to be performed until I’ve achieved my desired outcome?
  6. What am I passionate about and can I channel that passion into a money-making business, an online store, or a consultancy?
  7. Is there a particular group of people or set of needs that I can personally identify with and cater to?
  8. Do I have the ability, training, knowledge, credentials, or background to help people solve problems, achieve goals, discover more satisfaction in life, become safer or more secure, realize their potential, reduce or manage stress, improve their fitness or health, advance in their careers, start their own business, run a business more profitably and efficiently, enjoy life, have more fun, improve their relationships, or increase efficiency in any aspect of their lives?
  9. If I started a new business, would I be committed to providing superior service, quality, and customer satisfaction?
  10. Do I possess the experience and knowledge needed to effectively market and deliver products or services to a local or global marketplace?

In addition to doing a self assessment and determining whether the competitive climate would be conducive to offering a particular product or service, it can also be helpful to peruse lists of business ideas to explore possibilities, clarify your interests, open up your mind, and inspire yourself to learn more about different entrepreneurial options.

Books on Starting a Business

If you’d like to download  step-by-step guides to starting a business, I’ve posted links to several small business startup guides* at my website Marketing Survival Kit. Startup guides are available for the following small businesses: office cleaning, janitorial services, handyman business, pest control services, import/export car business, window tinting, vending machine business, roofing, roof cleaning, lawn care, flea market business, gift basket business, kettle corn business, cupcake business, fruit bouquets, candy bouquets, event planning, party rental services, record label business plan, t-shirt business, bail bond service, freight broker business,  professional organizing, Kindle book publishing,  transcription business, computer repair business, farming, aquaculture, and ranching. These and other books on starting a business are available through my website*. More startup guides will be added in coming weeks.

Thanks for checking out my latest blog post..

Best of luck in coming up with a winning business idea!

–Joel
Business blogger, freelance writer, marketing strategist
Feel free to post a comment on this blog or  email me if you have any questions.

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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of some of the websites, marketing software, digital products, templates, books on starting your own business, marketing services, and informational products features in this blog. With a couple possible exceptions, I am currently not endorsing specific products or services at this time.

Important: Starting a businesses of any kind involves an element of financial risk, so it’s always wise to thoroughly research a business idea before committing a lot of time, money, and other resources. It’s also advisable to consult a CPA, business insurance advisor, and a business attorney when setting up, expanding, or anticipating future needs for a new or existing business.

10 Reasons to Start a Business in 2017

road-363265_640Millions of people are thinking of starting their own business, right now.

Unfortunately, the majority of them are going to procrastinate, talk about it endlessly, and ultimately do little or nothing about their lofty goals.

So “Why,” you may be wondering, would the year 2017 be a good time to take action on your goal to be your own boss… or at least create a nice part-time business to supplement your present income (and set the stage for more financial freedom, security, and independence in the future”)?

Here are a few of my off-the-cuff thoughts on that very subject:

  1. 2017 is a new year, a fresh beginning, and a clean slate!
  2. Well, if not now, when?
  3. Hey, you’re not getting any younger! 😉
  4. Ride the wave of your motivation at the beginning of the new year. It’s one of your most powerful resources, so tap into it while it’s at its peak. As the year progresses, your motivation to start a business may wane, so now may be the best time to take the plunge and allow your motivation to propel you forward. (It’s a winner’s strategy for “going with the flow.”)
  5. If you try to plan for every contingency and anticipate every possible problem, you’ll soon be suffering from a case of “analysis paralysis”! (I didn’t coin that phrase, but it’s a good one. Most people experience it at one time or another.) If you think about starting your own business for too long without doing anything about it, you’ll most likely talk yourself out of it. (Picture in your mind the image of a car spinning its wheels on the ice or in the mud. That’s you when you overthink something!) While an entrepreneur should do some basic planning and only take calculated risks before getting started, there is such a thing as “over planning” and “overthinking”! (Side note: In 2017, take personal responsibility for your life and make a commitment to succeed. It is up to you to develop your business idea within a reasonable period of time, determine whether there’s actually a market for your products or services, write and implement a realistic marketing plan, and secure the resources you’ll need, such as startup capital, supplies and equipment, a vehicle, marketing materials, office space, training, staffing or support from freelancers (independent contractors) and any necessary licenses or permits.) Every type of business is unique, so starting a business could either be complex and expensive or easy and cheap. It all depends on your goals and the business, industry, or profession you want to get into. Sometimes, starting a business is easy, but attracting customers and managing the day-to-day operation of the business is the challenging part.
  6. “He who hesitates is lost” — or, at least, is overtaken and left behind by those who are more decisive, ambitious, self-motivated, and goal oriented.
  7. There is no time like the present. Let’s face it: It is the only time you are capable of taking action, exerting power,  and producing an outcome.
  8. In general, you will always be surrounded by opportunities — but specific ones will come and go. In other words, when opportunity knocks, answer the door — otherwise it (“opportunity”) will get sore knuckles and go somewhere else! If you listen closely to your entrepreneurial spirit, it will whisper this message to you: “Now is the time; this is your opportunity; and YOU are the one who can make it happen! Keep trying… believe in yourself… don’t give up, and you will be rewarded!
  9. Conditions will never be absolutely perfect. If you wait for some future set of ideal circumstances to start your own business, chances are you’ll be waiting forever. If excuses are what you’re looking for, there’s never a shortage of them. The same principle applies to getting started in a business.
  10. Don’t forget… If you have a business idea that would serve the aging Baby Boomer generation, 2017 could be the ideal time to launch such an enterprise.

In 2017, there will be as many (or as few) opportunities to succeed in your own business as you think there are. As you contemplate your next move as an entrepreneur, remember the words of Dr.Wayne Dyer(1940-2015), one of my favorite inspirational authors and speakers:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!”

(This saying has also been attributed to Max Planck, a German theoretical physicist, who, in 1918, won the Nobel Prize in physics for his groundbreaking and original ideas about quantum theory.)

I also encourage you to ask yourself this question every day:

“What would I do; what would I say; and what thoughts would I think if I knew I could not fail!”

On that note, I wish you the best of luck in all your entrepreneurial pursuits in 2017!

–Joel
Entrepreneur, blogger, freelance writer
Creator of the website Marketing Survival Kit

Consider these small business marketing tools:*

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  • Proposal Kit: A user-friendly software package that includes business proposal templates, proposal-writing guidelines, sample business proposals, templates for contracts and services agreements, and other useful documents that will help you attract new clients, project a more professional image, and gain an advantage in competitive bidding situations. Learn more here about what a business proposal is, how it can benefit your bottom line, and why business proposal software can help put you ahead of the pack.

 

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Feedback: If you have any questions or comments about my entrepreneurial ideas, any aspect of this blog, or my freelance writing services, feel free to contact me for more information.

*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of the proposal software, digital products, marketing services, and related websites featured in this blog.

 

 

Essential Qualities of an Entrepreneur

startup-594091_640Being your own boss and starting a business is a very enticing idea — especially when jobs are hard to find and decent paychecks seem few and far between. In theory, running your own business means you can generate income without the benefit of a traditional job and a consistent paycheck. In reality, however, entrepreneurial success requires specific  attitudes, values, habits, qualities, personality traits, and skills. Here’s a list of some of the more important ones:

  • Strong work ethic: Running your own business is anything but easy, but if you get a sense of accomplishment from it, then it can be satisfying and profitable. There are a lot of details that need to be attended to, though, and business survival depends on being conscientious, service oriented, and mentally focused.
  • Good communication skills: Starting your own business and building a customer base requires you to clearly communicate to your prospects the advantages of choosing your products or services over the competition. Clearly spelling out what clients can expect from doing business with you — and then meeting or exceeding those expectations — is one of the cornerstones of building a successful business. One way to present yourself in a professional way and gain a competitive advantage is to prepare detailed, well organized business proposals — especially if you’re targeting commercial clients. If you’d like to learn more about proposal writing  and the impact of using well-prepared business proposals, read the article “It’s All About Trust.”*
  • Enthusiasm and a positive attitude: The energy and attitude you project to clients and prospects has a direct bearing on your credibility, your likeability, and your sales effectiveness. A positive attitude will also fuel your motivation to market your business on a consistent basis and provide people with superior customer service.

Thanks for checking out my latest ideas on self employment, starting a small business, and effectively marketing it. BTW… If you’d like to download step-by-step guides to starting specific businesses, I’ve posted links to several small business startup guides* at my website Marketing Survival Kit.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on entrepreneurship, small business marketing strategies, and cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset.

Visit some of my other blog posts for lists of ideas for starting a business.

Best of luck in all your business startups and self employment endeavors!

–Joel
Business blogger, entrepreneur, freelance writer

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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of many of the small business marketing tools, informational products and business services mentioned and linked to in my blog posts.

 

 

250 Ideas For Self Employment

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If you’re out of work, not meeting your financial goals, or frustrated with your present job, self employment is an option that may be worth considering. Self employment can either serve as an income supplement or an income replacement, depending on what your present situation is. One of the biggest challenges that face many entrepreneurs is finding customers. You can be the most talented graphic designer, wedding planner, consultant, or handyman in town, but if you don’t have any customers, your skills and talents aren’t going to do you much good — at least not financially!

Since marketing is a subject that I’ve been involved with for the past three decades, I’ll frequently be weaving it into my blog posts. Despite the fact that marketing campaigns can be and often are very costly (and not always productive), there are a number of relatively inexpensive ways to attract clients and promote your products and services.

Before I get into “part two” of this blog post, which is the actual self employment ideas, I want to offer some basic business marketing ideas, which will hopefully help you attract and retain customers and clients, without spending a bundle of money.

Advertising, sales, and marketing can be a bit of a rocky road if you’re not sure where to begin or how to go about it, but as the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

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Part One: Small Business Marketing Ideas

Marketing, which entails everything from advertising and public relations to blogging and SEO (search engine optimization), is one of the cornerstones of any successful business. The ability to generate leads, inquiries, referrals, and customers depends — to a large degree — on your willingness to create and implement a marketing plan for your business.

Marketing plans do not have to be lengthy or complicated to provide you with a practical and useful road map to customer acquisition, but should be well thought out, researched, flexible, and cost effective. A starting point to creating a small business marketing plan would be to do a “SWOT” analysis, which stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.” Two other components of a marketing plan would involve identifying your target market (demographics), listing as many feasible marketing tactics as you think of, and pinpointing your business’s USP, which is often referred to as a “Unique Selling Proposition,” “Unique Selling Points,” and/or “Unique Value Proposition (UVP).” Obviously, the operative word there is “unique.” To a large degree, marketing is all about two things:

  • Offering your customers unique advantages and benefits that they can’t get elsewhere
  • Being able to effectively communicate those unique advantages to as many targeted and “qualified” prospects as possible

In a nutshell, here is a handful of cost-effective and, in some cases, low-cost business marketing ideas that are worth considering.

  1. Handing out business cards, promotional flyers, brochures, inexpensive advertising specialties, door hangers, post card mailers, and coupons (if appropriate).
  2. Sending out newsworthy press releases to local media outlets and websites. Press releases can often result in a free publicity in the form of a feature article, event listing, or business profile in your local newspaper, regional magazine, websites, podcasts, and broadcast stations.Visibility in the media helps boost your credibility and recognition factor.
  3. Building up an Internet following, either through blogging, developing a social media presence, or signing up people on your website via an autoresponder to subscribe to your monthly newsletter, special offers, or special announcements.
  4. Face-to-face networking can also be an extremely valuable way to connect with prospective clients and develop mutually beneficial relationships with other entrepreneurs, organizations, influencers, and mentors. It’s old-fashioned, but it’s not going to go out of style anytime in the foreseeable future.
  5. Written business proposals: I’m a big proponent of professional business proposals for two reasons: First of all, back in the 1990s, I worked as a proposal writer for a major IT company for five years, so I can appreciate the pivotal role that a well-written business proposal plays in the competitive bidding process. Secondly, I’m an affiliate of a company that sells proposal-writing software, business proposal samples, and frequently used service contract templates. For more information on how and why written business proposals are important and can help you land more clients and customers, check out the article “It’s All About Trust.”*

“What Business Should I Start?”

For many entrepreneurs, the first hurdle to building their client list is not a lack of a marketing strategy, but something much more fundamental: deciding what business to start.

The following list consists mostly of service business ideas, but also includes product-based self employment ideas, as well. Your decision of what business to start depends on a lot of variables, such as your professional skills, experience, talents, personal contacts, existing reputation, market conditions, financial resources, tolerance for risk, salesmanship abilities, people skills, and work ethic.

Part Two: List of Self Employment Ideas

Some of the more popular business ideas that people are pursuing or thinking about starting  include the following options:

  1.  cleaning business (housecleaning, housekeeping, office cleaning, janitorial)
  2. photography business
  3. catering business
  4. consulting business
  5. landscaping business
  6. lawn care business (lawn mowing, etc.)
  7. dog walking business
  8. online business (website/web-based business)
  9. real estate business
  10. academic tutoring services, music lessons
  11. foreign language translation services
  12. construction business/contracting
  13. jewelry sales/jewelry making business
  14. vending machine business
  15. cupcake business
  16. painting business (house painting)
  17. retail sales
  18. food businesses, such as restaurants, food trucks, cafes
  19. recycling business
  20. clothing business
  21. transportation
  22. carpet cleaning
  23. trucking
  24. party planning business
  25. pet sitting business
  26. home health care business
  27. courier business
  28. bookkeeping services
  29. daycare/childcare services
  30. wedding planning
  31. computer repair
  32. IT consulting
  33. web design and/or graphic design business
  34. handyman business
  35. greeting card business
  36. craft business
  37. pressure washing
  38. baking, bakery or cake business
  39. repo business
  40. credit repair business
  41. fashion business
  42. limo business (limousine service)
  43. marketing/advertising agency
  44. social media marketing services
  45. pizza shop
  46. gym/fitness business
  47. shoe business
  48. bar business
  49. pool hall business
  50. wholesale business
  51. ebay business
  52. pest control business
  53. bail bonds business
  54. medical transportation
  55. tax preparation
  56. cell phone business
  57. gift basket business
  58. cookie business
  59. manufacturing
  60. laundry business
  61. delivery service
  62. car rental business
  63. car detailing
  64. dj business
  65. scrap metal business
  66. junk removal business
  67. concierge services
  68. boutique business
  69. party rental
  70. dog boarding/kennel
  71. swimming pool cleaning and maintenance
  72. plumbing services
  73. magazine publishing
  74. medical supply business
  75. medical billing business
  76. lingerie business
  77. life coaching
  78. career counseling
  79. background check business
  80. agriculture: farming, ranching, raising poultry, aquaculture, growing crops
  81. greenhouse business
  82. coffee shop and/or coffee roasting business
  83. check cashing service
  84. hotel business
  85. hot dog cart business
  86. printing business
  87. candle sales/candle making
  88. travel agency
  89. storage business (storage unit rental/self storage)
  90. event planning
  91. mail order business
  92. dropship business
  93. security services or consulting (residential, commercial, personal security, etc)
  94. dog training
  95. dog grooming
  96. laundromat business (coin laundry business)
  97. senior care business
  98. real estate investment business
  99. property management business
  100. fast food business
  101. furniture business
  102. massage business/massage therapy
  103. fundraising business
  104. resale business
  105. sewing business
  106. consignment business
  107. spa business
  108. web hosting business
  109. home staging business
  110. home party business
  111. locksmith business
  112. website design
  113. import export business
  114. bottled water business
  115. hair salon
  116. call center
  117. dump truck business
  118. house flipping
  119. grocery delivery
  120. ice cream business
  121. HVAC business
  122. lead generation business
  123. window washing
  124. dog kennel
  125. non medical home care business
  126. stationery business
  127. soap making business
  128. paintball business
  129. rental car business
  130. coaching business
  131. chocolate business
  132. popcorn business
  133. smoothie business
  134. matchmaking business
  135. flea market business
  136. BBQ business (barbecue food catering)
  137. eCommerce business [Create an online store with Shopify*]
  138. franchise business
  139. moving business
  140. freight brokerage business
  141. logging business
  142. remodeling business
  143. personal chef business
  144. bed and breakfast
  145. beauty supply business
  146. nursing home business
  147. nail salon
  148. hauling business
  149. handbag business
  150. hair bow business
  151. gas station
  152. video game business
  153. frozen food business
  154. financial planning business
  155. horse boarding
  156. telemarketing
  157. laser tag business
  158. floral business (flower shop)
  159. clothing business online
  160. multi level marketing/network marketing business
  161. referral business
  162. decorating business
  163. nursery business
  164. concrete business
  165. car wash and/or hand card wash business
  166. staffing/recruiting business
  167. perfume business and/or cosmetic business
  168. powder coating business
  169. go kart business
  170. sign business
  171. interior design business
  172. bowling alley
  173. rain gutter cleaning business
  174. PC repair business
  175. computer consulting
  176. beverage business
  177. car audio business
  178. insurance agency
  179. tanning salon
  180. professional organizing business
  181. catalog business
  182. pet store
  183. group home business
  184. paralegal business
  185. dollar store
  186. nanny business
  187. dry cleaning
  188. mystery shopping business
  189. gardening business
  190. export business
  191. senior home care business
  192. mobile oil change business
  193. fashion design business
  194. home healthcare business
  195. liquor store
  196. balloon business
  197. horse business
  198. voip business
  199. direct sales
  200. non emergency transportation business
  201. T-shirt business [Free Course: How to Build an Online T-Shirt Store*]
  202. wedding chapel business
  203. retail clothing business
  204. silk screen business
  205. sporting goods business
  206. security consulting
  207. day spa business
  208. feed store business
  209. fishing business
  210. home inventory business
  211. honey business
  212. hunting business
  213. coffee cart business
  214. boat charter business
  215. bookstore business
  216. beauty salon business
  217. taxi cab business
  218. cabinet making business
  219. car transport business
  220. chair massage business
  221. knife sharpening business
  222. psychic business
  223. pet cremation business
  224. pottery business
  225. pet boarding business
  226. pet photography business
  227. motorcycle business
  228. mobile dog grooming business
  229. personal fitness training
  230. dog bakery
  231. recruitment business
  232. animal rescue business
  233. answering service
  234. barber shop
  235. bpo business
  236. business card printing
  237. pet shop
  238. mailing service
  239. loan broker
  240. skateboard business
  241. gift shop
  242. newspaper publishing
  243. stained glass business
  244. woodworking
  245. freelance writing/editing/proofreading
  246. electronic dog fence installation
  247. shoe repair
  248. appliance repair
  249. window tinting
  250. foreclosure cleanups
  251. dumpster rentals
  252. concert promoter
  253. talent agent

While this list of self employment ideas is far from all inclusive, I think it does cover a lot of possibilities. If you can think of any other unique ideas for starting a small business, feel free to post a comment or email me at prowriter30years@yahoo.com

Stay tuned to this blog for more ideas, resources, marketing strategies, and guides to starting your own business.

Books on Starting a Business

BTW… If you’d like to download  step-by-step guides to starting a business, I’ve posted links to several small business startup guides* at my website Marketing Survival Kit. Startup guides are available for the following small businesses: office cleaning, janitorial services, handyman business, pest control services, import/export car business, window tinting, vending machine business, roofing, roof cleaning, lawn care, flea market business, gift basket business, kettle corn business, cupcake business, fruit bouquets, candy bouquets, event planning, party rental services, record label business plan, t-shirt business, bail bond service, freight broker business,  professional organizing, Kindle book publishing,  transcription business, computer repair business, farming, aquaculture, and ranching. These and other books on starting a business are available through my website*. More startup guides will be added in coming weeks.

Thanks for checking out my latest small business marketing tips and self employment ideas.

Best of luck in all your entrepreneurial pursuits!

–Joel
Business blogger, freelance writer, marketing strategist
Feel free to post a comment on this blog or  email me if you have any questions.

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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of some of the websites, marketing software, digital products, templates, books on starting your own business, marketing services, and informational products features in this blog. With a couple possible exceptions, I am currently not endorsing specific products or services at this time.

Important: Starting a businesses of any kind involves an element of financial risk, so it’s always wise to consult a CPA, business insurance advisor, and a business attorney when setting up, expanding, or anticipating future needs for a new or existing business.

What Constitutes a Good Business Idea?

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There are a lot of good business ideas out there, but there are none that offer a guarantee of success or a road map to riches. Whether a business startup idea could be considered good or great depends on a lot of variables. Here are a few of them:

  1. Demand for the product or service: Do you have reason to believe that there is a strong and ongoing demand for the product or service you’re thinking about offering? Feedback from one or two people (or a “hunch”) is usually not enough of a reason to forge ahead with an idea for a new business.
  2. Competitive factors: If there are already several dominant and well established competitors in your market — whether local, regional, national, or global — ask yourself if you genuinely believe that you have a realistic chance of penetrating that market and gaining a sufficient market share? If there IS stiff competition in the marketplace, then it’s especially important that you offer your customers unique benefits and distinct advantages. Developing a marketing plan* and a unique selling proposition (USP) is one of the first and most important steps to entering a competitive business environment. To put it bluntly but accurately, you have two choices in the business world: “Differentiate or Die!” A marketing book of that title, written by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, elaborates on how and why it’s essential to stand out from the crowd to survive in “an era of killer competition”.
  3. Budgetary factors: Although this would not apply to starting a business with no money (and there aren’t a lot of good business ideas that fall under that category), most business startups require (at the very least) a computer, an Internet connection, a phone line (preferably a dedicated one), a supply of business cards, and a couple hundred dollars for miscellaneous marketing and other business expenses. Small business survival depends on a lot of factors, including having enough money to fuel your business growth while meeting your living expenses and financial obligations. Assuming you meet the requirements for a business loan, such as creditworthiness and relevant business experience, financing can often be obtained from financial institutions, the U.S. Small Business Administration, crowdfunding websites, and/or family, friends, or other investors. Writing a business plan is often the first step to securing financing and creating a realistic, goal-oriented business strategy.
  4. Do you have the right stuff? Everyone and their brother talks about starting their own business some day, being their own boss, and escaping the rat race, but only a small percentage of those people have the initiative, the practical experience, the organizational skills, the tenacity, the entrepreneurial mindset, the salesmanship abilities, and other qualities necessary for small business success. Before starting your own business, it’s highly recommended that you have that candid conversation with yourself, as well as with people whose opinions you value.

So there are no quick and easy answers to the questions “What business should I start?” and “What is the best business to start?” It all depends on what you’re good at, what you have a passion for, your tolerance for risk, your financial resources, whether there’s a sufficient demand for your product, service, or idea — and, or course, the positioning of the stars (only  kidding about that last one!)

Whatever type of business idea you decide to pursue, remember to get expert advice on tax planning, choosing a business structure, business insurance, meeting legal requirements, and so on. When starting a business, one of the most authoritative websites to visit for is the U.S. Small Business Administration. As I mentioned, the SBA is also a potential source of small business loans. Free small business advice and entrepreneurial mentor programs are also available from SCORE.

Best of luck in all your small business pursuits!

BTW… If you’d like to download a step-by-step guide to starting a specific business, I’ve posted links to several small business startup guides* at my website Marketing Survival Kit.

–Joel
Business blogger, freelance writer, marketing strategist
Feel free to post a comment on this blog or  email me if you have any questions.

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*Disclaimer: My business ideas blog and small business marketing website feature links to websites, digital products, and services for which I am a compensated affiliate. Although there are a few exceptions, I do not currently endorse specific products or services.

Small Business Marketing Ideas for Entrepreneurs

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Marketing Ideas for Small Business

How you market your business depends a lot on the kind of business you’re pursuing, who your target market is, and whether your marketing your business on a local, regional, national, or global basis.

If you’re in the process of developing a service business, for example, one of the most important marketing tools that will help you win clients in the commercial, government, and organization sectors is a well-written, professional business proposal.

A leading sources of business proposal templates is a website I’ve been affiliated with for a decade or so, called Proposal Kit. For more information on what an effective proposal consists of and why it’s a necessary marketing tool for service businesses (and many product-based businesses, too), check out this article: “It’s All About Trust

Good marketing ideas can run the gamut from distributing coupons, flyers, and business cards to amassing a large following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Attracting a loyal and responsive following on social media can be a difficult feat to accomplish — but more and more people are developing a knack for taming the social media beast. Cross promotion is often a key aspect of building a social media following, so having a well-designed, content-rich website to attract and engage customers is one of the cornerstones of an effective  integrated marketing program.

Here are a few small  business marketing ideas to consider as you plan your customer acquisition and lead generation strategy.

  1. Print and distribute promotional flyers, door hangers, and posters
  2. Build a list of opt-in email subscribers through your website or blog and send them periodic newsletters and announcements.
  3. Place free ads on Craigslist, if appropriate
  4. Hand out business cards at every opportunity
  5. Create and develop a blog that focuses on topics of interest to your target audience
  6. Mail targeted sales letters to prospects, acquaintances, and past customers
  7. Write and distribute press releases to relevant websites and media outlets when you have something newsworthy to publicize.
  8. Cultivate relationships with other entrepreneurs with whom you can exchange leads, referrals, and promotional materials.
  9. Distributing coupons, money-saving offers, and information about seasonal specials can help attract repeat business, word of mouth advertising, and new customers.
  10. Depending on the nature of your business, you might also want to be an exhibitor at trade shows, community events, fairs, and festivals.

I’ve written an overview of several small business strategies and marketing tools on the home page of my website, Marketing Survival Kit. Another article you’ll find helpful is how to avoid avoid 11 common marketing blunders that trip up many a small business owner.

Those are a handful of marketing ideas for both new and established small businesses. Stay tuned to this blog for more tips, tools, and strategies for advertising, marketing, and promoting your business.

–Joel
Business blogger, marketing strategist, freelance writer
Email address: prowriter30years@yahoo.com

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*Disclaimer: Many of my blog posts feature links to digital products, small business marketing services, and commercial websites for which I am a compensated affiliate.

 

 

Questions to Ask When Starting a Business

 “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
― William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894)

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That quote by 19th century theologian William Shedd sums up what it means to be an entrepreneur.While it’s true that there’s a lot of risk involved in starting your own business, it can also be an opportunity for growth, prosperity, and self determination. There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else — and a lot of people need the security of a steady paycheck and company-provided benefits.  Entrepreneurs are a unique breed, however, and are not content having someone else call the shots and place a limit on their potential.

There’s Nothing Easy About Starting a Business

Starting a new business in not unlike preparing for a triathlon, sailing across the Atlantic, or climbing Mount Everest —  well maybe it’s not quite that grueling and treacherous!

In all cases, however, it pays to go into it with as much knowledge, training, preparation, supplies, equipment, and mental toughness as possible. Survival and success in any of these undertakings also depends on the cultivation of self belief, determination, and persistence.

While tenacity and preparation are usually prerequisites to success in any undertaking, one has to acknowledge, early on, whether or not they’re really up to the challenge.

Before taking the plunge into self employment or small business ownership, it’s wise to temper your enthusiasm with a reality check. In the same way that you wouldn’t want to attempt swimming the English Channel without being 100% sure you had the strength, endurance, and motivation to go the distance, it’s also inadvisable to attempt to start your own business if you’re ill prepared or poorly suited to the challenge ahead.

The First Step in Starting a Business

Although many entrepreneurs do not take the time to really think things through, doing a self assessment is a step that should precede all other steps. In the same way that a job interviewer assesses a candidate’s readiness or capability to handle the demands of a particular job, someone considering starting their own business should evaluate their own readiness.

Here are a few of the key questions one should ask themselves when starting a business:

  1. Do I possess the knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary to succeed in this business or profession? (And if not, would I be able to acquire them within a reasonable period of time?)
  2. Do I have access to the money I’ll need for startup costs, operating costs, and living expenses? (If not, have I explored options for obtaining a small business loan, government grant, or other forms of financing?)
  3. Have I demonstrated to myself and others that I can handle setbacks, work through frustration, and overcome obstacles in the pursuit of my goals?
  4. Do I possess the organizational skills, the “people skills,” and the work ethic to handle everything from sales and marketing to customers relations and record keeping?

One you’ve given serious consideration to those kind of probing questions, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether self employment and small business ownership is really the right path for you.

Although there are a lot of different ways one can approach self employment, it’s always best to make sure you’re a good match for the demands of an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

What Do I Need to Start a Business?

Once you’ve decided that you have what it takes to start and succeed in your own business, the U.S.Small Business Administration offers some additional points to ponder that will help you pinpoint your objectives, clarify what you need to do to start a business, and hone in on your strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and priorities. I would strongly recommend reading the SBA’s list of 20 questions to ask yourself before starting a business.

If you’re stuck on the answer to question #2, which is “What kind of business do I want?” then perhaps the following list of startup business ideas will help you narrow down the possibilities. I’ve gathered more than 100 small business ideas that include everything from property management to cake decorating.

What Business Should I Start?

Other than fear of failure, one of the biggest mental barriers to starting your own business is a lack of clarity about what kind of business you should start. There are literally hundreds of self employment options available to you, and each one has its own individual costs, challenges, potential rewards, and startup requirements.

So with that in mind, here’s a list of over 100 of the most popular business ideas — some of which may help you gravitate toward the best small business idea for your temperament, capabilities, tolerance for risk, market conditions, geographic location, and budget.

  1. Cleaning business
  2. Photography
  3. Catering
  4. Consulting
  5. Landscaping
  6. Lawn care
  7. Real estate
  8. Construction
  9. Jewelry
  10. Tutoring, giving group or private lessons, seminars
  11. Vending machine business
  12. Event planning services
  13. Painting services
  14. Retail
  15. eBay business
  16. Carpet cleaning
  17. Clothing business
  18. Fashion business
  19. Shoe business
  20. Food businesses: restaurant, deli, food truck, hot dog cart, ice cream shop
  21. Bakery, cupcake business, cookies, birthday and wedding cake baking and decorating
  22. Pizza shop
  23. Party planning
  24. Bar business
  25. Lawn mowing
  26. Recycling business
  27. Transportation or trucking business
  28. Bookkeeping services
  29. Computer repair services
  30. Courier services and/or delivery services
  31. Daycare center
  32. Home health care
  33. Senior care business
  34. Medical transportation
  35. Wedding planning services
  36. Limo business
  37. Import export business
  38. Wholesale business
  39. Craft business
  40. Gift basket business
  41. Handyman business
  42. Janitorial services
  43. Pressure washing
  44. Laundry business, dry cleaning service, laundromat
  45. Repo business
  46. Web design and/or graphic design business
  47. Printing services (print shop or print broker)
  48. Advertising or marketing business
  49. Credit repair
  50. Cell phone business
  51. Gym business
  52. Bail bonds business
  53. Manufacturing
  54. Pest control
  55. Tax preparation
  56. Insurance
  57. Financial services
  58. Home and business security services
  59. Chiropractic services
  60. Massage therapy
  61. Boutique business
  62. T shirt business
  63. Car detailing
  64. Car rental
  65. Concierge/personal assistant business
  66. DJ business
  67. Junk removal
  68. Scrap metal business
  69. Coffee business: coffee roasting, cafe business, coffee retailing, distribution
  70. Hotel or Bed and Breakfast business
  71. Candle business
  72. Dog boarding
  73. Dog training
  74. Dog grooming
  75. Farming, ranching, growing produce, aquaculture, greenhouse business
  76. Professional practices, such as medical, legal, dental, eye care, CPA, veterinarian
  77. Life coaching
  78. Magazine publishing
  79. Medical billing
  80. Medical supply business
  81. Storage business
  82. Secretarial services
  83. Travel agency
  84. Consignment business
  85. Lingerie business
  86. Party rental
  87. Interior design
  88. Swimming pool cleaning, opening and closing, and maintenance
  89. Fundraising business
  90. Dropship business
  91. Home staging services
  92. Furniture store (new or used), furniture making, woodworking
  93. Fundraising
  94. Mail order
  95. Recruiting business
  96. Property management business
  97. Spa business
  98. Web hosting business
  99. Sewing business, being a seamstress, tailor, clothing alterations
  100. Contracting business, such as construction, home improvement, remodeling, electrician services, HVAC services, plumbing, excavating, roofing, etc.

BTW… If you’d like to download a guide to starting a specific business, I’ve posted links to several small business startup guides* at my website Marketing Survival Kit.

Cool Business Ideas

So if you’ve been asking yourself and others “What kind of business can I start?” I hope the above list will help you generate some great business ideas.

If none of these entrepreneurial ideas resonated with you, then perhaps you’d like to peruse 999 more business ideas developed by the creative minds from Seth Godin’s Alternative MBA program. Whether you’re looking for so-called “crazy business ideas,” fun business ideas, or innovative business ideas, this list is sure to get your creative juices flowing!

If you’ve stumbled across any other cool business ideas that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post a comment on this blog or contact me via my email address at prowriter30years@yahoo.com

Thanks for checking out my latest thoughts, observations, and opinions about the ever-challenging and exciting world of self employment and business development. It kind of brings to mind the opening lines from the old TV show The Wide World of Sports: “The thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat.” (The memory of the skier who took that nasty spill at the beginning the program still makes me cringe decades later!)

As you pursue your entrepreneurial goals, may you experience many more victories than defeats!

–Joel
Business blogger, freelance writer, marketing strategist

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*Disclaimer: This blog, as well as my website Marketing Survival Kit, contain links to digital products, websites, and marketing services for which I am a compensated affiliate. Although my mission is to feature only high-quality products and services, at the present time I am not personally endorsing any of them.

Business startup tip: Always consult with licensed business advisors, like Certified Public Accountants, business attorneys, and insurance experts when seeking advice on starting, expanding, and protecting your business.