FAQ: What Business Should I Start?

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I’d make an educated guess that there are millions of people, right now, who would love to start their own business, but they’re hindered by a lack of focus and resolve. In my opinion, a lack of clarity is one of the top reasons aspiring entrepreneurs do not follow through and take the first step to starting their own business.

The second reason is fear. They’re afraid to fail. They’re afraid of being criticized. They’re afraid of losing money. And that’s the short list!

Are those fears realistic? To a certain extent they are realistic, although people often magnify the risks in their minds and blow them out of proportion. Small business failure is a common occurrence, but there are many ways to reduce risks, capitalize on opportunities,  make the most of your resources, and tip the scales in your direction.

One thing’s for sure, though: Starting your own business definitely requires courage, careful planning, and a willingness to take calculated risks.

Why Do Businesses Fail?

There are dozens of reasons businesses fail, but I believe that the undercurrent of fear that I mentioned is one of the primary causes. Here’s why: When you go into any endeavor in a fearful or tentative way, that state of mind saps your energy, diminishes your creativity, reduces your drive, and clouds your resourcefulness.

The harsh reality of business is that not everyone is cut out to deal with the challenges of setting up, marketing, and managing a small business. Establishing a business is often an uphill battle — at least in the beginning — and it takes a tenacious, goal-oriented, self-confident person to surmount obstacles, overcome setbacks, and persist until they succeed.

So whether you want to start a home business, an online business, or a bricks-and-mortar establishment, you need to first assess whether you possess the motivation, self belief, and mental fortitude to make a go of it. If you possess those qualities, then you already have an edge over much of the competition. It might take some time to realize that advantage, but — to quote one of my favorite sayings — “persistence breaks down resistance!”

How Do You Choose a Business to Start?

There is no simple answer to that question, but here are a two guiding principles and ideas which may help point you in the right direction.

  • Experience and marketable skills: If you have specialized skills, professional training, practical experience, or college degrees, then you may have the basis for a potentially profitable business. There are countless possibilities to consider, including service businessess, distributorships, consultancies, website businesses, retail stores, product lines, inventions to market, or other entrepreneurial pursuits. Note: Although skills, knowledge, and experience can be strong starting points, a stumbling block for many entrepreneurs and business owners is marketing and how to do it effectively. Without effective marketing tools and strategies, such as well-written business proposals*, your chances for business survival and success are small. (For more insights into marketing techniques and tools, visit my website Marketing Survival Kit.) By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about the value and purpose of business proposals, then check out this article: “It’s All About Trust.”*
  • A passion for a product, service, or worthy cause: You’re probably familiar with the old expression (and book title) “Do what you love and the money will follow.” While that concept doesn’t necessarily hold water 100% of the time, it does contain more than a grain of truth. If you love what you’re doing and find it personally rewarding, then that enthusiasm will help win over customers and clients. A feeling of passion for a career or business also fuels your own motivation, resourcefulness, perseverance, and sense of purpose.

100+ Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

So getting back to the question of “What business should I start?”, here’s a variety of business ideas that will hopefully help you clarify your goals, narrow your focus, and trigger some actionable ideas for becoming your own boss.

  1. Photography business
  2. Consulting
  3. Residential or commercial cleaning business
  4. Lawn care, lawn mowing, or landscaping
  5. Construction
  6. Graphic design and/or website design
  7. T-shirt business
  8. Real estate sales or investing
  9. Tutoring business
  10. Catering
  11. Retail
  12. Computer repair
  13. eCommerce*
  14. Jewelry business
  15. Pet-related business: grooming, dog walking, pet sitting, boarding, breeding, dog training, or making dog treats*
  16. Clothing business
  17. Trucking
  18. Food business: restaurant, food truck business
  19. Home health care
  20. Personal training/coaching
  21. Carpentry
  22. Wedding planning
  23. Event planning services*
  24. Payroll service
  25. Tax preparation
  26. Handyman services*
  27. Medical billing and coding
  28. Vending machine business
  29. Gym/ fitness center/ health club
  30. Painting business
  31. Greeting cards
  32. Marketing and advertising agency
  33. Party bus business
  34. Carpet cleaning
  35. Daycare business
  36. Craft business
  37. Wholesale business
  38. Cake business
  39. Non-emergency medical transportation
  40. Mobile oil change service
  41. Property preservation or management services
  42. Junk removal
  43. Plumbing
  44. Silk screening
  45. Paintball business
  46. Bookkeeping
  47. Tax preparation
  48. Security guard business
  49. Bail bonds business
  50. Contracting business
  51. eBay business
  52. Flea market business
  53. Window cleaning
  54. Pressure washing
  55. Rental business
  56. Swimming pool cleaning and maintenance
  57. Taxicab service
  58. Photo booth rental
  59. Lead generation service
  60. Virtual assistant business
  61. Mobile locksmith services
  62. Print shop
  63. Roadside assistance services
  64. Wine business
  65. Spa
  66. Welding services
  67. Background check services
  68. Staffing and employee recruiting
  69. Moving company
  70. Home inspection services
  71. Furniture business (retailing, woodworking, being an antique dealer, etc.)
  72. Manufacturing
  73. Social media marketing
  74. Balloon business
  75. Hair salon
  76. Food delivery
  77. Financial planning services
  78. Personal chef services
  79. Fashion business
  80. Boat charter business
  81. Senior care services
  82. Decorating business/ interior design
  83. Massage business
  84. Candy business
  85. Trash removal
  86. Shoe store
  87. Floral business/ flower shop
  88. Courier services
  89. House flipping
  90. Gift baskets
  91. Sign business
  92. Counseling practice
  93. Snow removal
  94. Recycling
  95. Pest control
  96. Gymnastics business
  97. Contracting: Home remodeling, roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical services, HVAC services (heating/ventilation/air conditioning)
  98. Resume writing
  99. Makeup artist services
  100. Solar panel installation

Is There a Market for Your Business Idea?

If you have reason to believe there’s a market for a particular product or service you’re considering, then you may have the basis for a viable small business. Keep in mind, however, that a viable business idea is only the “raw material” for a successful small business.

To succeed, you may also need resources like marketing skills, specialized knowledge, funding, permits and licenses, salesmanship ability, customer service skills, equipment, machinery, supplies, vendor relationships, a physical place to do business, insurance coverage, employees, additional training and education, and the advice of a qualified accountant, attorney, and business insurance advisor.

For more entrepreneurial and small business startup ideas, I invite you to check out other posts on this blog, such as 250 Ideas For Self Employment.

Feel free to link to this post or pass it along to other entrepreneurs you know.

Contact me if you have any questions!

Thanks!

–Joel
Freelance writer, blogger, Internet entrepreneur

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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of some of the websites, training materials, software, and marketing tools mentioned (linked to) in this blog. Unless otherwise noted, I am not currently endorsing specific products, services, or websites.

Entrepreneurial Success Begins in Your Mind

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How powerful are your thoughts? Psychologists, philosophers, and spiritual teachers have been saying that the quality and content of our thoughts has a direct bearing on our potential for happiness, success, and self realization.

Many books, such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, go into great detail about how this power can be harnessed to achieve success in any endeavor. The title of the book intrigued me, as did the first chapter:”Thoughts Are Things.” Even though that’s an ancient metaphysical concept that’s been around since forever, it may seem like a revolutionary concept when you first stumble upon it. For most people, it’s an unfamiliar premise because society and even pop culture tends to instill beliefs in us that run counter to the entrepreneurial spirit.

When I was growing up, there was a trendy expression which said “What you see is what you get!” It was kind of catchy (and it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously), but it also represents the kind of self-limiting, short-sighted attitude that prevents a lot of people from reaching their true potential.

The title of a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, “You’ll See it When You Believe It,” captures the essence of what it means to be a visionary and design your own future. The sequence of believing something before you see it is counterintuitive — but if it was logical, then everyone would be doing it! (That may explain why so few are willing to put their faith in an outcome that hasn’t materialized, yet.)

Inspiration Is The Starting Point

Since most people in this world are affiliated with religions that are “faith based,” it’s surprising that more of them aren’t able to apply the power of faith to more areas of their personal lives, such as careers and business goals. While I’m not promoting organized religion in any way, I do believe that we can accomplish more when we open our mind to the possibility that we’re part of something much larger than ourselves and that we’re not alone.

I subscribe to a daily inspirational email from Abraham-Hicks Publications. One of their recent messages focused on this affirmation: “By [giving] my attention to things, I am making choices.” I interpret that to mean “Choose your thoughts with care and cultivate only the ones that serve you.”

I’d also like to pass along a meaningful quote from personal development author Debbie Ford. In her book “The Right Questions; Ten Essential Questions to Guide You to an Extraordinary Life,” she writes about a vision she experienced while participating in a spiritual retreat. While meditating, she came to the following profound realization :

“Each of us has an internal flame that is the keeper of our life force. Each choice we make either adds to this force, making it stronger, igniting and feeding our flame, or diminishes the force, dampening our internal flame, reducing its power.”

Here’s my take on that concept: Since it requires a lot of motivation, mental fortitude, and inspiration to succeed in a small business, it’s necessary to continually feed your inner flame with uplifting thoughts, positive imagery, and self-affirming words. Once you’ve identified a potential opportunity and created a realistic marketing plan to build your client base, then self belief and persistence play a key role in creating momentum and setting a positive course for your business.

131 Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

If you’re still looking for a business idea that inspires you, here are some possibilities to consider…

  1. Photography business
  2. Consulting
  3. Lawn care business
  4. Cleaning business
  5. Non-emergency medical transportation
  6. Landscaping
  7. Construction
  8. Graphic design
  9. Real estate
  10. T-shirt business
  11. Tutoring
  12. Catering business
  13. Retail
  14. Event planning
  15. Computer repair
  16. ecommerce (online retail business)
  17. ebay business
  18. Pet sitting
  19. Franchise business
  20. Clothing business/ Clothing line
  21. Trucking
  22. Food business
  23. Home health care business
  24. Personal training
  25. Web design
  26. Carpentry
  27. Wedding planning business
  28. Interior design
  29. Handyman business
  30. Medical billing and coding
  31. Cupcake business, bakery, cakes, cookies, etc.)
  32. Vending machine business
  33. Gym/Fitness center/Health club
  34. Painting business
  35. Greeting card business
  36. Marketing or advertising agency
  37. Party bus business
  38. Carpet cleaning
  39. Daycare
  40. Jewelry business
  41. Bookkeeping
  42. Craft business
  43. Recycling business
  44. Wholesale business
  45. Web hosting
  46. Mobile oil change service
  47. Property preservation
  48. Junk removal/ Trash removal
  49. Silk screening/ screenprinting
  50. Dog walking
  51. Paintball business
  52. Import/export
  53. Food truck
  54. Tax preparation
  55. Security guard services
  56. Bail bonds business
  57. Flea market business
  58. Window cleaning
  59. Pressure washing
  60. Rental business
  61. Coaching
  62. Delivery services
  63. Real estate investment
  64. Swimming pool maintenance/cleaning
  65. Taxi service
  66. Photo booth business
  67. Lead generation business
  68. Virtual assistant services
  69. Locksmith services
  70. Printing business
  71. Roadside assistant business
  72. Restaurant
  73. Wine business
  74. Spa business
  75. Welding services
  76. Background check business
  77. Recruiting business
  78. Cell phone business
  79. Moving business
  80. Furniture business
  81. Janitorial services (commercial cleaning)
  82. Cell phone business
  83. Manufacturing business
  84. Social media services
  85. Balloon business
  86. Dog breeding business
  87. Hair salon
  88. Home inspection business
  89. Financial planning
  90. Personal chef services
  91. Property management
  92. Crime scene cleanup business
  93. Boat charter business
  94. Senior care services
  95. Candle business
  96. Dropship business
  97. HVAC business (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
  98. Distribution business
  99. Candy business
  100. Shoe business
  101. Plumbing
  102. Courier service
  103. Floral business/ flower shop
  104. House flipping
  105. Gift basket business
  106. Remodeling
  107. Sign business
  108. Answering service
  109. Snow removal
  110. Pest control
  111. Roofing
  112. Gymnastics business
  113. Resume writing services
  114. Cell phone repair
  115. Horse training
  116. Solar panel business
  117. Car rental business
  118. Rental property
  119. Sewing business
  120. Tour business
  121. Pizza shop
  122. Electrician business
  123. Hotel business
  124. Tax preparation / accounting business
  125. Limo business
  126. Soap business
  127. Home staging service
  128. Linen rental business
  129. Used car sales
  130. Lingerie business
  131. Dog grooming

Thanks for checking out my latest blog post on small business ideas. I hope it’s sparked ideas and motivation for getting started on a path of entrepreneurial success!

Feel free to bookmark this site, follow this blog, pass it along to others, or add business ideas to the comments section.

Contact me if you have any questions, inquiries, or feedback!

Best of luck in all your marketing and small business pursuits!

–Joel
Freelance writer, blogger, Internet entrepreneur
Visit my website Marketing Survival Kit

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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate of some of the websites, software, digital products, and services featured (and/or linked to) in this blog.

Note: Starting and owning your own business entails a degree of risk that can be affected by a number of things, including competitive factors, timing, your financial resources, relevant skills, business management ability, the local economy, and other conditions. To properly set up and run a small business, it’s often necessary to consult with a qualified accountant, an insurance professional, and a business attorney.

Mentoring programs and free small business advice is available from SCORE. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers online training modules, articles on starting and managing a small business, and information on loan programs, government contracting opportunities, and getting local assistance.

4 Basic Steps to Starting a Business

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If you’ve ever read about or reflected on Zen philosophy and the Law of Attraction, you realize that pursuing and achieving goals is more of a journey than a destination. If you don’t find the journey itself to be engaging and motivating, then there’s a good chance you’ll lose your momentum and quit.

Having faith is also a component of making progress in life and getting ahead: faith in yourself… faith in your unlimited potential… and faith in unseen forces that motivate, inspire, and propel you forward every day.

Did you ever see the Christmas classic movie Miracle on 34th Street? A line spoken by the character Fred Gailey distills the essence of what faith is and why it’s so fundamental to our existence:

“Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris [Kringle] that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles”

When it comes to pursuing any goal or dream, I think a lot of people get so overwhelmed by all the details and tasks they have to do, that they get discouraged and stop trying. Not only do they undermine themselves with their own self-defeating thinking, but they also allow themselves to be influenced by the negativity from others.

The best, most concise advice I’ve ever heard, thus far, is Nike’s brilliant three-word slogan:  “JUST DO IT!”

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Granted, it’s possible to create problems for yourself and others by taking those words too literally. For example, it’s not wise to just plunge into an undertaking or pursuit without giving it a little thought and consideration.

In my opinion, the underpinning of that philosophy is that entrepreneurs need to be action-oriented and spontaneous, but it’s also vital to base your spontaneity on planning, research, personal integrity, ethics, and other values. If that sounds like a contradiction, then all I can say is “Life is a paradox! — so deal with it ;-)”

Clarify and Live By Your Values

Speaking of personal values… If you’re not sure what your values are — or if you feel they need clarification — then check out these free worksheets from Russ Harris, the author of the book The Confidence Gap. He lists and describes 58 personal values and provides exercises to help guide you in your quest to identify and live by your own set of personal values.(Note: I’m not affiliated in any way with the author or publisher of this book. I’m just passing along this resource because I believe it’s useful. BTW… I did read the book The Confidence Gap, and I’m ready to read it again! Like many self-improvement/personal development books, it contains strategies and ideas that need to be reinforced. If you read any self-help book just once — especially if you don’t take notes — it probably won’t change your attitudes, negative belief systems, and behavior patterns. While it may be true that “old habits die hard,” they can be changed and replaced with productive ones. One of my favorite motivational quotes is “Persistence breaks down resistance!”)

The minute you fully grasp the power of persistence , you’ll no longer be searching for the secret of success.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for more inspiration and motivational quotes, visit Brainy Quote.com. (I’m not affiliated with them, but I love their website! It’s meticulously organized, contains a wealth of meaningful quotes, and is presented in a lighthearted and visually appealing way.)

Steps to Starting a Business

So getting back to the title of this blog post, the four most basic steps to starting your own business are as follows:

  1. Do some self reflection to make sure you have the tenacity, motivation, personality, and initiative to start your own business. Most people are much more suited to working for someone else than being self employed.
  2. Decide what type of business you want to start, based on your interests, talents, passions, skills, and financial resources (and needs).
  3. Create a plan and implement it (Oops! That’s actually two steps, if not much more!)
  4. Persist until you succeed and then keep going … assuming that you’re finding the work and the results you’re producing to be fulfilling, rewarding, and personally satisfying.

But, What Business Should I Start?

The question “What business should I start?” is something only you can answer. Everyone has a different work ethic, marketable skills, knowledge, ambition, financial needs, money to invest, and opportunities.

Since that question is a stumbling block for many entrepreneurs, I’ve created a list of small business ideas that will hopefully help you narrow your focus and identify some possibilities worth pursuing.

  1. Cleaning business, such as housecleaning, office cleaning [Business manual]*, janitorial services [How to get started*]
  2. Photography business [Learn wedding photography techniques*]
  3. T-shirt business [Get 700 T-shirt designs*]
  4. Consulting business
  5. Catering
  6. Landscaping
  7. Dog walking/pet sitting business
  8. Lawn care/lawn mowing [Tips and techniques*]
  9. Online business
  10. Construction business
  11. Real estate
  12. Clothing business
  13. Food truck business
  14. Tutoring business
  15. Vending machines
  16. Website business
  17. Event planning business [Steps for getting started*]
  18. Jewelry business
  19. Painting business
  20. Retail
  21. Trucking/transportation business
  22. Ebay business
  23. Cupcake business [Startup plan*]
  24. Bookkeeping
  25. Craft business [How-to get started info*]
  26. Credit repair business
  27. Handyman business [Startup manual*]
  28. Party planning business
  29. Property preservation business
  30. Recycling (metal, plastic recycling, etc.)
  31. Import/Export
  32. Home health care
  33. Cellphone business
  34. Marketing
  35. eCommerce
  36. Wedding planning business
  37. Computer repair
  38. Personal training
  39. Web design business
  40. Baking  business/ cake business/ bakery/ cookies
  41. Blog business
  42. Daycare center [Helpful tools: Daycare management software*]
  43. Fashion business
  44. Marijuana business/medical marijuana
  45. Pest control [Startup manual*]
  46. Shoe business
  47. Restaurant [Strategies and techniques*]
  48. Tax business
  49. Window cleaning
  50. Carpet cleaning
  51. Candle business [Learn how to make candles*]
  52. Delivery services
  53. Franchise business
  54. Gift basket business [Startup tips and resources*]
  55. Graphic design services
  56. Greeting cards
  57. Hair salon [Professional hair styling video tutorials*]
  58. Gym, fitness club
  59. Home staging business
  60. Manufacturing
  61. Medical transportation
  62. Photo booth business [How to get started*]
  63. Recruiting/staffing/employment business
  64. Rental business
  65. Welding
  66. Interior design
  67. Pressure washing
  68. Contracting business
  69. Distribution business
  70. Dog breeding [Intructional guides and videos*]
  71. Dropship business [Resources: Tools, data, marketplaces*]
  72. Furniture: woodworking, sales, retailing, manufacturing, etc.
  73. House flipping
  74. Life coaching
  75. Limo service
  76. Massage business
  77. Pizza business
  78. Plumbing services
  79. Printing business
  80. Property management
  81. Rental property
  82. Screen printing
  83. Virtual assistant business
  84. Candy business [Info on candy bouquet business*]
  85. Dog grooming
  86. Flea market business [What you need to get started*]
  87. Freelance business
  88. Hotel business
  89. Junk removal
  90. Medical billing [Resource: medical coding study guide*]
  91. Party rental [Startup manual*]
  92. Real estate investment
  93. Sewing business
  94. Spa business
  95. Art business
  96. Home inspection business
  97. Interior design
  98. Paintball business
  99. Party bus business
  100. Social media business
  101. Web hosting
  102. Wine business
  103. Soap business
  104. Bail bond business
  105. Carpentry
  106. Crime scene cleanup
  107. Floral business
  108. Lending business
  109. Locksmith services
  110. Non-medical home care business
  111. Non-emergency medical transportation*
  112. Personal chef services
  113. Resume writing
  114. Snow removal
  115. Vacation rental
  116. IT consulting
  117. Swimming pool cleaning/maintenance
  118. Roofing business [Startup kit*]
  119. Accounting services
  120. Car dealership or used car business [How-to videos]*
  121. Lead generation business
  122. Lingerie business
  123. Music business [Record label business plan template*]
  124. Party business
  125. Security guard services
  126. Tour business
  127. Web development business
  128. Background check business
  129. Financial planning
  130. Senior care business
  131. Sign business
  132. Solar energy/solar panel business
  133. Home remodeling
  134. Linen rental
  135. Princess party business [Business guide*]
  136. Answering service
  137. Sports business
  138. Gymnastics business
  139. Moving company
  140. Repossession/ repo business
  141. Trash business
  142. Video game business
  143. Balloon  business
  144. Mobile oil change business
  145. Entertainment business
  146. Charter boat business
  147. Horse training business
  148. Roadside service business
  149. Safety consulting
  150. Silk screening
  151. Professional organizer [Resource: Business guide and advertising templates*]

I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s no shortage of startup business ideas, only a shortage of self confidence, training, marketable skills, motivation, knowledge, and startup capitol. Many of those barriers are easily correctable, while others require tenacity, persistence, and sometimes help, mentoring, support, participation, and money from other people.

Need Help Starting a Business?

Just remember the words of 17th century English poet John Donne, who wrote that “No man is an island.” The moral of the story is, if you need help, support, or mentoring, don’t be afraid to seek it out.

BTW… Free mentoring, helpful in formation, and other small business help is available from government agencies, such as SCORE, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and various state small business development agencies.

Inspirational Business Quotes

Even though I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person (I’m more “spiritual” than “religious,”) I do find some of the verses in Matthew 7:7 to be very inspiring:

“Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

(I did a little minor editing, there, but there are dozens of different versions and interpretations of those wise words.)

Anyway… Thank you for checking out my latest entrepreneurial thoughts, musings, and business ideas.

I invite you to “follow”, link to, “like” or recommend this blog to others if you found value in the information and ideas I’m offering.

Best of luck in all your entrepreneurial pursuits!

–Joel
Blogger, freelance writer, entrepreneur
Send me an email

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*Disclaimer: I am a compensated affiliate for most of the entrepreneurial, inspirational, and marketing materials, books, templates, software, and courses that are linked to in this blog.

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.