Monthly Archives: June 2016

How to Start a Pop-Up Business

During the holiday season, most major U.S. cities open up temporary public marketplaces for people to purchase gifts, treats and other seasonal items. But pop-up stores aren’t just for the holidays — all year round, both new and established brands set up limited-time retail locations to generate buzz about their products.

Whether you’re an e-commerce merchant testing out your goods in a brick-and-mortar setting or an entrepreneur scouting out a good permanent location, a pop-up store can help you achieve your business goals. Business News Daily spoke with two industry experts about why pop-ups work, and how to open one successfully.

The pop-up model’s temporary nature offers several advantages over a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront.For one,pop-up store owners can afford to be more creative and experimental in the design of their short-term space, said Jeremy Baras, author of “PopUp Republic: How to Start Your Own Successful Pop-Up Space, Shop, or Restaurant” (Wiley, 2015). There are also fewer inherent risks when you don’t have the long-term commitment of a commercial lease.

Melissa Gonzalez, founder of the Lion’esque Group and author of “The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connections in a Digital Age” (Lioncrest Publishing, 2014), agreed that pop-up stores’ limited engagements give them an edge, especially when it comes to establishing corporate partnerships.

“You can test partnerships [with a pop-up],” Gonzalez said. “They can share a space [with you] and see if [you] work well together.”

Consumers love pop-ups, too. Gonzalez said that shoppers come into a pop-up store with a different mind-set — instead of expecting consistency as they do from regular retail stores, they’re coming into pop-ups to discover new things and “be surprised and delighted.”

“Customers love a F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) experience, and given the exclusive, ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ type of atmosphere that pop-ups offer, customers are naturally drawn to them,” Baras added.

Despite their benefits, pop-ups do have to deal with a few challenges that traditional retail businesses don’t face. One of the biggest issues relates to the process of planning and marketing. Opening any type of store requires an enormous amount of work to coordinate all the logistics. But whereas regular brick-and-mortars have time to build momentum, pop-ups need to generate tons of interest and sales right off the bat to make their investment worth it.

“Marketing is challenging because you’re there in a temporary space,” Gonzalez said. “If you’re Marc Jacobs and have millions of followers, you put it out on social [that you’re doing a pop-up], and people will show up. As a new brand … make sure there’s a proper plan to notify your following and build your digital footprint … throughout the duration of the pop-up, so people know.”

To achieve this goal, Gonzalez recommended a slightly longer pop-up time frame (several weeks instead of several days) to allow time for word of mouth to travel. She also said to set a large enough budget to give you room for the right location, décor, staff and promotional activities.

The other major challenge pop-up stores face is the ability to properly license their business. Pop-ups aren’t quite a mainstream retail concept yet, so there haven’t been any special licenses or permits developed specifically for them. Baras said securing the appropriate documentation will become easier as economic development and local government officials learn about the benefits of pop-ups and how they can affect communities.

Gonzalez and Baras offered the following advice for entrepreneurs looking to succeed with a pop-up model.

Have a goal. Don’t open a pop-up just for the sake of doing it, Gonzalez said. You should have a larger objective in mind for your brand.

“Be clear on your goal [and make it] something specific,” she said. “It should be to test a new product, enter a new market, educate [consumers], etc. Then, understand the customer you want to go after.”

Review your options. You don’t necessarily have to seek out a full-scale storefront for your temporary shop. Baras said that the “store-within-a-store” concept — setting up a small booth inside an existing store to sell similar, complementary products — is becoming popular, and Gonzalez noted that mobile units and kiosks are great ways to enter the pop-up space.

If you do decide to go for a brick-and-mortar location, apps like Storefront can help you find available retail space in the city you want to open your pop-up in. Storefront allows you to search by geographic location, and the rental fees for most of the locations are listed as the price per day.

Keep the customer relationship going. Your relationship with the people who shopped at your pop-up doesn’t end when the store closes. Gonzalez said it’s important to think about the long-term marketing implications of the data you gather during your pop-up event.

“Your pop-up is open for a week and you make some sales, but it’s the information you’re collecting about customers that drive sales throughout the next two quarters,” she said. “Where are they sharing information — Facebook over Twitter? Instagram over Facebook? What products, colors, etc. [did they buy]? How many people are coming inside [and] converting?”

Technology can also help you stay connected with customers after they’ve left the store. Customers often use pop-ups for “showrooming” — visiting a physical retail location to see and touch a product, and then purchasing it online later. With technology like in-store tablets and augmented reality, pop-up owners are able to extend their inventory offering without bringing the actual items into the store, Gonzalez said.

Enjoy the ride. As with any entrepreneurial venture, you’ll have a lot more success with your pop-up store if you’re passionate about it and truly enjoy what you’re doing.

Great Places to Find a New Business Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange and Unusual Foodie Businesses

When you think about food businesses, your first thought is likely restaurants and retail stores, but some companies have taken the foodie trend to a whole new level. From the weird (bacon-flavored envelopes) to the inspiring (a food truck that gives back to the community), here are nine unique food and beverage businesses you probably didn’t even know existed.

If regular ice cream just isn’t unique enough for you, Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery will likely hit the spot. Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery is an Oregon-based ice cream parlor that serves liquid nitrogen ice cream, and every order is custom, so you can have any flavor you want.

According to the company’s website, the liquid nitrogen “freezes everything so fast that ice crystals don’t form,” making its ice cream extra smooth and creamy. Customers choose a base — premium milk, nonfat sugar-free milk, or vegan coconut milk — then from more than 30 different flavors like caramel, cheesecake, coffee, gingerbread, and mint. From there, customers can choose from dozens of different mix-ins like almonds, bacon, gummy bears, pineapple, sprinkles, cereal and chocolate chips. Mix ‘n’ Match makes the ice cream right there in front of you, with a blast of liquid nitrogen.

Opaque, a restaurant in California, promises to put a whole new spin on your dinner plans. How? By letting you dine in the dark. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—you eat your meal in a pitch black dining room. But don’t worry, you do get to look at the menu first.

When you arrive at Opaque, you’ll get to look through the menu in a lighted lounge and order your food. The restaurant’s staff will then check your coats and bags and lead you to your seat in the dark. According to the restaurant’s website, Opaque’s wait staff is made up of blind and visually impaired individuals who have been specially trained to serve food in the dark.

Dining in the dark may seem like a strange concept, but according to Opaque’s website, it’s all about having a more in depth sensory experience with your food. And, the dining trend is all the rage in European cities like Berlin, Paris and Vienna. Opaque has multiple locations in California, with restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

The food truck trend is nothing new at this point — it’s not uncommon in major cities to see long lines of eager customers waiting outside on their lunch breaks at the nearest taco truck, for example. But Drive Change, a hybrid profit/nonprofit organization, is taking food trucks to the next level by using them to give back to the community.

According to the organization’s website, Drive Change is “a social enterprise [that is] building a fleet of trucks that serve delicious, inspired menus with a side of social justice.” The organization hires, trains and mentors formerly incarcerated young adults, and the food trucks serve as a form of transitional employment with the ultimate goal of preparing these young people to go back to school or start full-time employment.

The organization currently operates only one food truck, located in New York and called Snowday. It serves Canadian-inspired, maple-syrup-themed foods using ingredients from local New York City and upstate New York farms. Drive Change plans to open more food trucks in the future, and each truck “employs and empowers 24 young people per year.” All food truck sales go back into the organization’s re-entry program to help more former inmates get on the right track.

Who doesn’t love a good slice of pizza? Whether it’s Chicago style or New York style, white or red, plain or covered in every topping imaginable, pizza is the one food that just about everyone can agree on.

Pizza Brain, located in Philadelphia, isn’t just an artisan pizza restaurant with a delicious menu — though it is that: Their “Forbes Waggensense” pie, a red pie with fresh crushed tomato sauce, fresh basil, smoked pepperoni and mozzarella, fontina and grana padano cheeses, was recently named one of the 15 best pizzas in America by NYLON magazine. What makes the business unique is that it’s also the world’s first pizza museum and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest pizza-memorabilia collection. Basically, it’s a must-visit for pizza fanatics everywhere.

And a bonus for those pizza lovers with dietary restrictions: Pizza Brain is vegan-friendly, too.

Back to the Roots has quite a unique backstory. It was started by two college students who were inspired by something they learned in a class: You can grow mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez wrote of their experience, “After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers.”

In an effort to get people more connected with their food, Back to the Roots created an easy, 10-day grow-your-own organic-mushroom kit. Their organic mushroom farm comes in a small box (the mushrooms grow right out of the box) and simply requires watering twice a day.

The company also sells a “garden in a can” product that makes growing organic herbs at home even easier, a self-sufficient water-garden aquarium (the fish feed the plants and the plants keep the water clean), and ready-to-eat organic cereals.

Do you love cheese? Bet you don’t like it as much as Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann, who makes her living as a traveling cheese sculptor.

She creates cheddar-cheese carvings for grocery stores, sporting events, festivals, photo shoots, and any other business or event that needs a giant hunk of cheese. Kaufmann has carved everything from a scene of the first moon landing to the Chicago skyline.

Though she makes most of her money carving cheese, Kaufmann also hosts seminars, where she informs audiences about the art and traditions of cheese making.

Want a little wine to go with that cheese sculpture? If you still haven’t found your favorite go-to bottle, Tasting Room can help.

Tasting Room is a wine club subscription, but unlike similar services that send you whichever bottles they want, this service allows you to taste various wines to find the ones you like before you buy, so that you only get shipments of wine you know you’ll enjoy.

How does it work? When you sign up, you’ll receive a tasting kit complete with six different wines in special mini bottles. Simply log in to your Tasting Room account and follow the instructions; the site will generate a “wine profile” for you that tells you more about the types of wine you like, such as where they come from and what foods pair well with them. After that, you’ll receive shipments of wines you like (and if you get one you hate, just tell them and they’ll replace it or give you a refund).

J&D’s Foods makes a huge variety of edible products — mayonnaise, popcorn, croutons — and all of these products have one thing in common: They taste like bacon.

Founded in 2007, J&D’s was started by two friends whose mutual love of bacon led them to the logical conclusion that everything in life should taste like this savory meat product.

They started by creating a bacon-flavored salt that could be added to nearly any food to lend it that distinct, cured-meat flavor. Since then, J&D’s has expanded its offerings to include much weirder products, such as bacon-flavored lip balm and sunscreen and, of course, its highly popular Mmmvelopes (that’s right: bacon-flavored envelopes) though they are currently out of production.

What do you give to those who have recently lost a loved one? You’re probably thinking flowers. But although flowers are pretty, they’re ultimately useless to mourners. This is why David Storke, a former funeral director from Virginia, founded MealGifts (formerly known as Sympathy Food).

Storke’s company delivers family-style meals to grievers all over the United States. So, if you want to send a little comfort food to someone far away, there’s no need to cook and ship your famous lasagna. Whether it’s a full pot roast or some vegetable stir-fry, MealGifts delivers all the goodness of a home-cooked meal without requiring any of the home cooking.

Businesses You Can Start with Your Kids

It may be easy to underestimate someone who’s not old enough to drive a car or vote, but many kids today have a strong work ethic and are willing to be creative to achieve success. The knowledge, passion and skills they’ve acquired, both in school and through their daily interaction with technology, make them perfect candidates for entrepreneurship.

Starting a business has a host of benefits for a young mind. A child or teen can learn the importance of financial responsibility, how to build professional relationships and how to be independent. But depending on their age, they likely won’t be able to get a business off the ground by themselves.

If you’ve always wanted to start a business yourself, why not take the opportunity to encourage your young entrepreneur and launch a company together? Here are a few ideas for businesses you can start with your children.

If your teen excels in a specific subject or has exceptional grades, encourage him or her to assist those in need of help through tutoring services. Your child can get paid for his or her knowledge and time spent helping others learn a skill or subject matter. This type of business is scalable, and live videoconferencing and electronic payments can bring your child’s skills online as well.

Kids are absorbing tons of social media knowledge at a young age. They’re becoming YouTube and Instagram stars with millions of followers for just being themselves. This could be invaluable knowledge for small businesses in your area. Encourage your child to apply his or her understanding of social platforms to consult for local shops and restaurants.

As long as houses come with lawns and outdoor maintenance, there will be a need for landscapers.The simplicity of the job, from mowing the lawn to trimming trees, means it can open doors to college degrees in the field, which can lead to jobs with theme parks or college campuses.

Technology has brought traditional job choices for teens into the modern age. Sites like SitterCity, Care.com and Rover.com have made it easy for people to hire and pay child or pet sitters. Encourage your child to gain some experience by babysitting for family members or neighbors. After they’ve gotten some experience, they can set up an online account to allow them to truly grow their business in an accessible way.

Sites like Etsy have transformed the way crafters bring their talent to the world. They no longer have to rely on fairs and events to show off their creations; instead, they can sell their products online to customers around the world. If your child has a knack for crafting and creativity, Etsy may offer a great business opportunity. Etsy has a comprehensive guide on fees and owning your own business, along with guidelines for minors.

Bringing your child’s passion for cooking or baking to the world can prove to be fruitful. There are competition shows on Food Network dedicated to the skills of young teens, as well as Shark Tank entrepreneurs who have used their baking skills to satiate the palates of people (and dogs!). Depending on your home state’s regulations, it could be fairly simple for you and your child to start a home catering or bakery business.

Your child’s business doesn’t necessarily need to check off the for-profit box. If you and your child are passionate about a social cause, starting a nonprofit charity may be a great start. There are hundreds of ways to raise money to profit those in need. Sit down and have a conversation about how to raise money for the cause. It is also a great opportunity to teach your child about the 501(c)(3)tax exemption and how it works.

Public interest in upcycling and recycling clothing and other items has led to the success of stores such as ReStore and vintage clothing shops. Collect unwanted items from neighbors, friends and family members, restore items to better quality, and sell them for fair prices. It’s a great way to be green and make some money from previously unwanted items.

Whatever new opportunity you and your child choose, this is a great time to teach the importance of work-life balance, responsibility and the importance of taxes. Encourage young entrepreneurs to try their best and seek success with their new business. Even if it doesn’t turn out as planned, you can show them that adversity is a part of life, and that failure is an opportunity to retool an idea or open a door to a new opportunity.