Monthly Archives: July 2016

How to Find the Best Business Ideas

If you’ve come to the conclusion that working for someone else isn’t for you, becoming an entrepreneur may be a shrewd move. While starting a business on your own may be difficult, the hardest part might just be coming up with an idea that can be successful.

The International Finance Corporation’s SME Toolkit advises potential entrepreneurs to create three separate lists to determine what might be a good fit.  The lists should focus on what you’re good at, what skills you’ve acquired over the years and the things you like to do.

“Keep these three lists in an accessible place (for instance on your desk) for several weeks, and when small business ideas come to you, jot them down in the proper category,” the SME Toolkit advises.

Jason Nazar, co-founder and CEO of Docstoc, believes the best way to generate a business idea is to think of a problem that can be solved. But, he also noted, it’s imperative the problem not just be your own.

“What’s a problem that a lot of people have?” Nazar says in a video on the Docstoc website. “That’s a really good starting point for a great business idea.”

Brad Sugars, founder and chairman of ActionCOACH, wrote in an Entrepreneur.com article that the best business ideas tend to be ones that are most narrowly focused.

“Category leaders tend to be highly focused, and many times, that focus can appear too narrow,” Sugars wrote. “But companies with focus grow precisely because their niche is so distinctive.”

While some like to be as secretive as possible when crafting new business ideas for fear of having a great concept stolen from underneath them, entrepreneur Chris Dixon believes the opposite approach is best.

In his blog, Dixon, the co-founder and CEO of Hunch, advises those who want to start a company to create a spreadsheet where they list every idea they can think of. He advises they then take that spreadsheet and get feedback from as many people as possible, such as venture capitalists, other entrepreneurs, potential customers and people working at big companies in relevant industries.

“The odds that someone will hear an idea and go start a competitor are close to zero,” Dixon wrote. “The odds you’ll learn which ideas are good and bad and how to improve them are very high.”

Money also needs to be taken into consideration.  When deciding the best business to pursue, author and franchising expert Joe Matthews believes any idea that is deliberated should also be measured by how profitable it can be.

Matthews encourages potential business owners to run three different financial scenarios — best-case, average case and worst-case — for their prospective business.

“Shoot for the best case, but make sure your decision is based on the average case scenario,” Matthews wrote on Entrepreneur.com. “Also, make sure you can survive the worst case.”

Many good ideas for a new business can be found where you’re already working.  In his book “The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By” (Yale Press, 2008), author Scott Shane writes that interactions entrepreneurs had with customers in previous jobs is a great source of inspiration.

He points to a study by the National Federation of Independent Businesses that shows that a business founder’s prior job was the source of the idea for a new business 43 percent of the time. In addition, 61 percent of new businesses serve the same or similar customers as their founder’s previous employer and 66 percent of the new businesses were in the same or similar product line.

While following all of the advice won’t necessarily lead you down the path to a profitable business, it will help you get on the right track.

Home Based Business Ideas

business-analysis-courses_600x600circleIn the book, Forest shares her journey to a successful home business and her experiences working part-time for an employer. Here, she gives BusinessNewsDaily readers 10 home-based business ideas that will help women – or men – achieve the perfect work-life balance.

Bookkeeping – So many people including  hate doing their accounts and tax returns. As a bookkeeper you are taking their pain away.

Media & Public Relations – Likewise many small business owners don’t know where to start with getting publicity or how to manage their social media. You can provide a solution to this problem.

[10 Signs You’ve Got What It Takes to Start a Business]

Human Resources & Recruitment  – From big to small business, many recruitment activities are outsourced to individual consultants or smaller firms. It’s a great opportunity if you are experienced in the field.

Professional Business Writing – This can take many forms from copywriting and media releases to big jobs like research reports and training documents. Source your clients through online sites and by real world networking.

Graphic Designer – It’s super easy to meet a client’s graphic design needs from a desk in your own home and there are diverse ways to find clients online or by word of mouth.

IT and Web Programmer – Many business owners aren’t skilled in designing their own websites or shopping carts and are very happy to outsource this.

Daycare – Working parents are actively looking for good quality care for their children. If you love kids and are skilled in education and creative play, this could be great work for you.

Online Retail – Finding your niche and the right platforms (e.g.: Etsy or eBay) may take time and practice but it can be highly flexible for moms who can also source good inventory.

Creative Teacher – From cooking and pottery to freelance writing and quilting, a dedicated and experienced teacher can book up the time she has by teaching at different sites online and offline.

Party Planning –  Working with an established and respected party planning company is great for women with a background in retail, keen to start their own business with support provided by the party planning team.

How to Start a Restaurant

For those with a passion for food, opening a restaurant is the ultimate entrepreneurial dream. Perhaps you’ve already envisioned it: You start off in a tiny space with a couple of tables and a small kitchen. Before you know it, your eatery has become a beloved local dining establishment with a line out the door every weekend.

Running a restaurant is certainly rewarding, but it’s no easy task. Like any startup venture, restaurant ownership takes a lot of hard work, unwavering dedication and a willingness to overcome the obstacles you’re sure to come up against along the way. Six industry veterans shared their tips for navigating the business and launching a successful restaurant.

In any industry, doing your due diligence before starting up is critical for success. This is especially true for the restaurant business, where simply knowing good food isn’t enough. Even if you have worked in a restaurant, there are still many legal, managerial and marketing lessons to be learned.

One area that many would-be restaurateurs overlook is local licensing and health-department regulations. Michele Stumpe, a Georgia-based attorney specializing in alcohol licensing and hospitality litigation, stressed the importance of knowing the legal policies in your restaurant’s location, especially since state (and even county) laws can vary. Aspiring restaurateurs planning a launch should factor in the time various permitting and inspection processes will take, Stumpe advised. Costanzo Astarita ran into this issue when opening his Atlanta restaurant Baraonda in December 2000.

[10 Business Ideas for Foodies]

“The first couple of months were hard,” Astarita said. “We didn’t have a liquor license, and opening when everyone was busy for the holidays proved very challenging. We scraped through until Valentine’s Day, when we received our license and got a review published in the local paper. We had a great weekend, and the restaurant finally took off.”

You might have an incredible concept, a well-trained staff and the best menu, but without a good location, your restaurant is doomed to fail. In the 30 years she’s been in business, Paola Bottero moved her Manhattan eatery three times before settling on her current location. Marco Pipolo, owner and executive chef of Marcony Ristorante in New York City has learned valuable lessons from each of the five restaurants he’s owned, but one of the most important is that location can make or break your business.

Daniel Shemtob, owner of Los Angeles-based TLT Food, got his start in the industry with his mobile restaurant called The Lime Truck. While lower inventory costs and the ability to move around mean a much lower risk when starting a food truck, location can still present an issue.

“On our first day, [my co-founder and I] were in the middle of nowhere — we didn’t have propane to cook, and the truck wouldn’t start,” said Shemtob, who recalled having to hotwire the truck and wait for someone to come help them. “Then, there are other factors, like traffic,” he added.

Getting your bearings in the restaurant industry as a first-timer can be difficult. If you don’t have any previous experience in the business yourself, it’s important to partner with or hire someone who does.

When Astarita started his restaurant, he and his partner had worked on both the food preparation and management sides of the industry, but he didn’t know much about commercial leases.

“I wish I had understood how to negotiate them when I started,” he said. “I think that any new restaurateur who is unfamiliar with commercial leases should hire a lawyer who specializes in that field.”

Tony Doyle, owner of HK Hospitality Group, has worked in restaurants since age 12 and has opened several successful restaurants, but he still had a lot to learn when he opened his first establishment.

“There were a lot of things I’d never dealt with before — employees, payroll, taxes, bank-account management, etc.,” Doyle said. “You need to get a general knowledge of the working of the business before you start. There are a lot of issues that people don’t see.”

While being consistent in food quality and service is important for success, the restaurant business is far from static.

“I have found over the years that you constantly need to be updating, renovating and evolving with the ever-changing taste of the public to be successful,” Pipolo said.

Shemtob agreed, noting that his menu is constantly changing to allow for newer, more innovative dishes. When you come up with your concept and menu, it should be flexible enough to adapt when your customers ask for something new.

According to a recent Ohio State University study, more than half of all restaurants fail within the first three years. If your venture does fail, assess what went wrong and try again, keeping those things in mind. When Highlands Restaurant Group co-owner Donal Brophy and his business partners founded their most recent restaurant, Whitehall Bar + Kitchen (New York City), they used the lessons they learned when one of their restaurants was forced to close in 2011.

“We learned so much from the closing of our restaurant, Mary Queen of Scots,” Brophy told BusinessNewsDaily. “The food must be spot-on from the beginning. The layout and flow of the space needs to work during a high-volume atmosphere. Most importantly, we learned how important it is to communicate well amongst the partners. It was such a tough time for all of us, but we made it through and opened Whitehall, which has been a massive success.”

Everyone knows that a successful restaurant needs to serve impeccable food, but there are so many other factors that contribute to the success of your venture. If there’s one thing Bottero wishes she knew when she started out, it’s that creating a loyal following is difficult and takes time, even if your menu is top-notch.

“Customers make the place,” she told BusinessNewsDaily. “You have to earn their trust by making sure they’re taken care of and providing the best service possible. In today’s market, you also can’t succeed without social media. Good food is important, but so is good technology.”

How to Start a Pet Care Business

For entrepreneurial pet lovers, there’s almost no question as to what type of business they would want to start. Becoming a trainer, groomer or sitter is likely a dream job for those who want to spend their days working with and caring for dogs and cats. But, as any pet care professional can attest, being a part of this industry is no easy task.

“Pets are often regarded as family members, and the responsibility of caring for those pets is not one that should be taken lightly,” said Daryl Conner, manager of Yankee Clipper Pet Grooming and certified petcare dermatech specialist. “[Pet care professionals] don’t just play with puppies all day. We work with living creatures who can often behave unpredictably.”

Starting a pet care business is certainly an achievable goal, but you won’t succeed without a strong knowledge of both animal behavior and business basics. Before you start writing up that business plan, here’s what you need in order to work in the industry.

Regardless of what type of pet care business you want to start, a basic education in animal care and handling is the first step to working with animals. While you don’t necessarily need a degree in animal science, reading books, taking courses and attending industry events are essential to expanding your knowledge of animal anatomy and behavior. Groomers and trainers are responsible for more than simply washing and cutting fur and teaching tricks: They are often the first to spot issues like fleas and ticks, which they will need to know how to deal with.

Consider getting certified by a reputable industry organization with rigorous testing and training requirements, such as the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors or the National Dog Groomers Association of America. This will not only give you a good educational background, but also build up customer trust when you do start your own business. However, a good pet care professional knows that his or her education is never complete.

“Always continue your education,” said Mandy Massara, founder of All Aspects Animal Care. “Keep refining your craft. We don’t know everything, but we want to.”

While books and classes are a good start, a theory-based education can only get you so far. Firsthand experience handling animals is critical to starting and running a successful pet care business. Most groomers and trainers started out as apprentices under more experienced professionals before branching out and starting their own practices.

“A lot of pet owners don’t know what goes on behind the scenes,” said Teri DiMarino, president of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association. “[For groomers,] getting the cut right is one thing, but handling the pet is another issue entirely. What happens if a dog gets in a fight, or needs first aid? You have to be prepared.”

Linda Kaim, founder of Lionheart K9 Dog Training, said that many industry certification programs don’t include hands-on training to work directly with animals, and that knowledge-based tests are an insufficient assessment of how a trainer or groomer will perform when dealing with pets.

Similarly, Sandy Blackburn, author of The Everything Dog Grooming Book and owner of The Groom Room Pet Spa, noted that online courses are okay for refining skills once you have experience under your belt, but as a novice, this route is not recommended.

Because animal behavior can be unpredictable, protecting both yourself and your customers through proper licensing and insurance coverage is a must. Massara recommended doing thorough research into local ordinances and taking the proper steps to comply with them.

“Consumers should be wary of unlicensed businesses,” she told Business News Daily. “They have no recourse if something goes wrong.”

In the pet care industry, one must remember that professionals work with both pets and people. While the bulk of a trainer, groomer or sitter’s day-to-day activities involves the care and handling of animals, it’s the owners who ultimately drive your business. George Quinlan, NADOI member and founder of All About Dogs Behavior and Training Center, said that liking people and being able to communicate with them is just as important as loving animals.

“Without good communication skills, you’ll lose half of your clients,” he said.

A true love of animals and experience working with them only make up one half of the equation for an independent pet care business. The other side, of course, is knowing how to run a business.

“Having a good grasp of basic business principles is a must,” Conner told Business News Daily. “Many groomers [and other pet care professionals] do not understand how to figure out the cost of running a business, and because of that, they have no idea how to structure their pricing. They end up setting their prices to be comparable to other professionals in the area, with no way to compare overhead, and do not charge what their service is worth.”

Speaking with other entrepreneurs, both in and out of the industry, can help in determining pricing structure, hiring needs, necessary equipment (if any), marketing and other essential elements of starting a business.