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.)

Update: I’ve recently begun devoting more attention to the topics of personal development, human potential, and spirituality in a new blog (about life) called Mastering Life Takes Time!

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 your objectives, your skills, and the demand for your products or services.

Starting Your Own Business

Below are articles, online guides, training materials, books, software, websites, and other useful resources that offer ideas and proven methods for launching and succeeding in your own business:

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Starting an Internet Business

I started making extra money as a freelance writer and entrepreneur back in 1993, when the Internet was in its infancy. It took me a few years before I began to grasp its immense potential as a communication tool, a marketing vehicle, and a business opportunity.

Twenty-four years later, the Internet has taken on a life of its own and is a driving force in the business world, the media, and people’s personal lives. The existence and growth of the Internet has also spawned a new realm of business opportunities — many of which can be launched and operated from your own home.

The good news is that there are many legitimate, practical ways to make money online.
The obstacle for many entrepreneurs is that it’s difficult to sort through the choices
and determine what opportunity is viable, realistic, and potentially profitable.

To make money online, all you need is a viable business plan, a moderate amount of initiative, and the ability to persist until you succeed… and then keep going!

This is encouraging for entrepreneurs looking for ways to generate income online, expand the marketing reach of an existing business, and/or make money online as an e-commerce merchant (more details on that, below.)

However… The idea of starting an Internet business (or any other business, for that matter) can also be very daunting.

Not knowing where to begin or how to create an Internet presence are among the obstacles preventing many people from taking that all-important first step. The good news is that you do not have to waste time, energy, and money “reinventing the wheel.” It’s already been invented, refined, and successfully implemented.

For example: If you’ve been looking for ways to start your own online store, Shopify* can provide you with the tools, the software, and the marketing strategies to make it happen. [Try it for free!*]

In addition to helping you create your own e-commerce website, Shopify enables you to sell your products on Amazon and  social media sales channels, like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

FAQ: What is Shopify? It’s an integrated e-commerce platform for managing products, orders, customers, sales channels, and analytics. It can help you streamline, centralize, and effectively manage everything (in an online business) from product marketing and customer payments to secure online checkout and shipping.

Find out how you can accept credit card payments online, fulfill orders in a single step, monitor sales (and sales growth), keep track of your inventory, and create your own customized business website and blog. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’re off and running! Start your 14-day free trial today! *

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“What Business Should I Start

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

Hundreds of Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

The following list (below) of 250 business ideas is intended to help you come up with viable concepts for starting your own part-time or full-time business. (The list consists mostly of service-oriented business ideas, but also includes product-based self employment ideas.)

Your decision of what business to start (or whether to start a business at all) depends on a lot of variables, such as your professional skills, your level of motivation, experience, talents, personal contacts, existing reputation, market conditions, competitive factors, your financial resources, tolerance for risk, salesmanship abilities, people skills, willingness to persist and continually improve, and work ethic.

Luck” can also be a factor in business and personal success, but you’ve probably heard the often-repeated quote about the relationship between work and luck. The quote has been attributed to everyone from movie producer Samuel Goldwyn to former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson: “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

 List of 250+ Self Employment Ideas

Some of the more popular business ideas that people are now pursuing or researching include the following self employment options:

  1. Cleaning business: house cleaning, housekeeping, office cleaning, janitorial
  2. Photography:
  3. Catering business
  4. Consulting business: List of specialties.
  5. Landscaping business
  6. Lawn care business
  7. Dog walking business
  8. Online business (Get the tools to create your own online store with Shopify*)
  9. Real estate business (Visit my blog on writing real estate marketing letters)
  10. Academic tutoring services or music lessons
  11. Foreign language translation services
  12. Construction business
  13. Jewelry sales/jewelry making:
  14. Vending machine business
  15. Cupcake business
  16. Painting business (interior and exterior house painting)
  17. Retail sales
  18. Food businesses: restaurants, food trucks, Italian ice cart*, hot dog carts
  19. Recycling business
  20. Clothing business: [How to start your own clothing line*]
  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 [How to get your business up and running]*
  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 livestock, 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 [Tools and tips for getting started cheaply]*
  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 [Tips on selling thrift store items]*
  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 service
  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 [Helpful ideas for getting started]*
  194. Home healthcare business
  195. Liquor store
  196. Balloon business
  197. Horse business
  198. Voip business
  199. Direct sales
  200. Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
  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 [Sell your artwork]*
  225. Pet boarding business
  226. Pet photography business
  227. Motorcycle business
  228. Mobile dog grooming business
  229. Personal fitness training
  230. Dog bakery — [Check out this step-by-step business system*]
  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. Electronic dog fence installation
  246. Shoe repair
  247. Appliance repair
  248. Window tinting
  249. Foreclosure cleanups
  250. Dumpster rentals
  251. Concert promoter
  252. Talent agent
  253. Freelance writer [Online training available]*
  254. Roofing:

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 on this blog or email me your thoughts at prowriter30years@yahoo.com

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Home-Based Business Ideas to Consider

If the idea of a home-based business appeals to you, here are a few ideas, websites, and information kits* that can help you get started:

If you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for an income supplement or even a profitable home business idea, you’re not alone. It’s a common challenge that countless parents face every day, throughout the world.

As a work-from-home dad, myself, I can speak from experience when it comes to being a home-based entrepreneur, freelance writer, blogger, website owner, and online marketing affiliate. In my opinion, one of the best businesses to start from home — whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a college student, or a retiree — is freelance writing.

While you may find that searching for freelance gigs, self employment jobs, and work-at-home opportunities can be discouraging at times, your most important asset is your mindset: the ability to cultivate self confidence, determination, momentum, and the belief that you are surrounded by opportunities waiting to be discovered — opportunities that are often “hiding in plain sight.”

To quote Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

In the Internet Age, there are countless ways to get a job, make money online, or start your own business. While there are no guarantees of success in any endeavor, the path to starting a profitable home business begins with a good idea, a proactive plan, and the determination to persist until you succeed.

Whether you’re considering being a freelance writer, a tutor, a bookkeeper, a virtual assistant, a freelance photographer, a social media marketing consultant, an event planner, or an e-commerce business owner, there are a lot of opportunities out there waiting to be identified and acted on. Why not get started today?

A couple of my favorite inspiration quotes, which are attributed to Liam Linisong, are the following:

“A year from now, what will you wish you had done today?”

“No one can stop you but yourself!”

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

Small Business Marketing Ideas

One of the biggest challenges that face many entrepreneurs is finding customers. You can be the most talented graphic designer, event 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!

In addition to the freelancing and self employment ideas listed above, I ‘d also like to offer some basic business marketing ideas, which will hopefully help you attract and retain customers and clients (without having to spend a bundle of money).

Business Marketing Tools*

  • 20 free online tools for marketing and managing your business, including logo generator, slogan generator, business name generator, business card maker, profit margin calculator, and website templates.

Advertising, direct 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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What is Marketing?

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 think about and write 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 can think of, and pinpointing your business’s USP, which is often referred to as either 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 not 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 applicable and appropriate).
  2. Written business proposals: I’m a big proponent of using business proposals to solicit new clients, respond to RFPs, and to pursue corporate and government accounts. Here’s why: 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, templates, sample proposals, and frequently needed service contracts. They’ve been in business for 20 years and are obsessed with continually improving and fine-tuning their software products. For more information on how and why written business proposals are important (and can help you land more clients, customers, and lucrative accounts), check out their article “It’s All About Trust.”*
  3. Building up an Internet following, either through blogging, developing a social media presence, or inviting your website visitors to subscribe to your monthly newsletter, mailing list, 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, potential clients, and mentors. It’s old-fashioned, but it’s not going to go out of style anytime in the foreseeable future!
  5. Sending out newsworthy press releases to local media outlets, reporters, editors, bloggers, and websites. Press releases can often result in a free publicity in the form of a feature article, listing of an event, interview opportunity, or business profile in your local newspaper, regional magazine, miscellaneous websites, business blogs, podcasts, editorial pages, radio stations, and TV news and interview programs. Visibility in the media helps boost your credibility and recognition factor. [BTW… Did I mention that I worked in the public relations field for nine years and have been a journalist and news reporter — mostly on a freelance basis — for 34 years?]

Software for Creating Winning Business Proposals*

This is the proposal-writing kit I mentioned, earlier: “Accurately quote your projects, create winning proposals, negotiate your contracts, multiply your profitability, brand yourself as a top professional and close the sale. Proposal Kit helps you demonstrate to prospects and clients that you are the right professional for the job. It’s the mission-critical tool for writing effective business proposals on a moments notice. Proven for two decades to be fast, easy, and accurate.” [adv]

Order and download Proposal Kit software here.*

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

Best of luck in all your entrepreneurial pursuits!

–Joel

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Business blogger, freelance writer, *compensated affiliate marketer

Question: Are you interested in starting your own affiliate marketing business? It’s no get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s an opportunity to start your own potentially profitable Internet business. To learn more, read the inspiring success story of Rosalind Gardner.* It’s a great business model most people are unfamiliar with. (I’ve been doing it for 16 years.)

Update: I’ve recently begun devoting more attention to the topics of personal development, human potential, and motivation in a new blog (about life) called Mastering Life Takes 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.

*Note: I am a compensated affiliate of the e-books, courses on starting your own business, e-commerce software, membership websites, small business marketing tools, and other products and services featured on this blog.

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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.