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Business Idea of the Day: Skin Care Products

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF:


Creating and marketing your own skin care product line could be a great business venture. There’s a lot of emphasis on natural, organic products these days, so a skin care line that’s transparent about ingredients could be a wise decision in terms of product marketing and consumer acceptance. The starting point for any business is research, which can include the local cosmetics counter. Most cosmeticians will be more than happy to explain the benefits of their products, including what certain ingredients will do for your skin. To keep business startup costs to a minimum, initially start with basic skin care products (cleanser, toner and moisturizer), and expand your skin care product line from there. You can promote your products online — particularly on social media — but your best advertising will likely be word-of-mouth referrals. To jump-start your business, offer free skin care analysis to customers, along with free samples of the natural skin care products you sell.


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make?


As is the case for many companies, there’s not much of a revenue ceiling here — it all depends on the popularity of your product line. For example, Maria Hatzistefanis built her skincare company, Rodial, into a $90 million venture over two decades.


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“A dirty little secret of the beauty industry is that Chanel No. 5 costs, like, $150, but to actually make the Chanel No. 5 costs, like, nothing… Making a bougie, expensive beauty brand wasn’t helping the mission, or very fun for me. We can all be united by that $12 coconut balm. You don’t need to charge an arm and a leg.” –Emily Weiss, Glossier


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


“Surround yourself with the best people, and make sure it is people with diverging views. And listen to them and trust them. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to give them carte blanche, but you have to realize that there is no way you could know everything that you need to know to do your business. Focus on where you are strong and put others in place where you need support and are not the expert. Know when you are in over your head.” –Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Rodan + Fields

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Business Idea of the Day: Virtual Ghost Kitchen

Startup Costs: $10,000 – $50,000

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF: 


With the popularity of food delivery services such as Uber Eats, Seamless, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates, ghost, or virtual, restaurants have sprung up to meet demand. These businesses focus strictly on delivery and takeout, and do not provide areas for dining, keeping overhead lower than a typical restaurant.


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make? 


With lower overhead and reduced staff, the earning potential for ghost restaurants will depend on how many orders you fill. And this segment of the industry is growing. According to McKinsey & Company, food delivery accounts for 1 percent of the total food market and 4 percent of food sold through restaurants and fast-food chains. It’s expected to grow 3.5 percent each year for the next five years.


What kind of experience do you need to have?


Prior restaurant experience is a given. You’ll need to be able to manage a kitchen staff to make sure orders are delivered in a timely manner. You’ll also need to maintain relationships with delivery services, and make sure your restaurant can easily be found online.


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


The greatest strength a ghost restaurant has is flexibility. You could operate these businesses out of a shared kitchen to reduce costs, or even run multiple ghost restaurants out of the same kitchen. That flexibility also extends to the menu, which can be adjusted and tinkered with on a regular basis.


“Since a ghost restaurant can’t rely on foot traffic for patrons, it is important that these businesses have savvy marketing approaches. This being said, flexibility and nearly-instant gratification are two things that make ghost restaurants the perfect foodservice business to cater to young customers. Especially if you choose to target teens and young adults as your customer base, it is best that your virtual restaurant has a strong online presence.”—WebstaurantStore Blog

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Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

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Business Idea of the Day: Image Consultant

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF:


As an image consultant, you’ll give clients makeovers, coach them on the right wardrobe style for the image they want to project and even weed out closets or go on shopping expeditions. You’ll also likely give hair and makeup advice, instructions on effective body language and tips for self-confidence. You can snag corporate clients by teaching tactics for better sales and customer relations, or you can work with clients facing media spotlight to help them look and act their best. Some advantages to this business: You can work at home, you can start part-time with low costs, and it’s often creative and satisfying — whether you’re helping someone advance in their career or feel good about themselves in their personal life. In some states, you need a cosmetology license to work on clients’ skin, so if you plan to offer makeup services be sure to check with your state board of cosmetology (and if you can’t apply makeup to your clients yourself, you can supervise while they do their own). As an image consultant, you’ll need an innate sense of style and up-to-the-second knowledge of fashion, hair and makeup trends in both personal and professional settings. You’ll also want to know the latest conventions in big- and small-business conduct. Your clients may feel vulnerable in coming to you, so you’ll need the ability to suggest changes in a kind, empathetic way. Last but not least, this is a practice-what-you-preach business — you’ll have to look polished, professional and dressed for success on all public occasions.


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make?


Nationwide, the average salary for an image consultant is $42,431 per year, according to Glassdoor.


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“First of all, you need to have a background in fashion or a related field, but more importantly, you need to gain experience dealing with people on the retail side of business. Image consultants do need to understand fashion, trends and clothing, but the reality of the business is dealing with people — their fears, flaws and emotions. Some of the greatest fashion icons could never be an image consultant because they do not have the ability to deal with people on a personal level. Image consulting is direct and raw. Clients need to hear the harsh truth about themselves in order to course-correct. Aside from a relative degree, people skills is the most important experience someone would need to enter the field.” –Amanda Sanders, image consultant and personal shopper


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


“Any time I’m in a rut or needing new perspectives or something like that, styling is definitely one of my go-tos. I also ask myself, ‘What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?’ A lot of times as we think about creating solutions, we think about, ‘What do we have right now, and how can we make it better?’ I think a better question is just wiping the slate clean and saying… ‘In an ideal world, if we could rewrite everything, what would we do?’” –Katrina Lake, Stitch Fix

The Market

Your clients can be individuals who want to look sharp for a big social occasion, are looking for a new or better job, or have decided it’s time to turn over a whole new leaf. Your clients can also be corporations who may hire you to train groups of executives or employees or to give the company dress code a facelift. Place ads in local publications and offer coupons in direct-mail coupon books. Network in professional and civic organizations. Introduce yourself to wedding consultants, caterers and event planners, who can refer you to their clients. Give workshops and seminars for private and corporate clients. You should also target public relations agents who may refer their clients to you. Send PR people your brochure, then follow up with a phone call to cement your service in their minds.

Needed Equipment

All you really need to get started are mirrors, makeup, color swatches, and fashion books and magazines. You may want to purchase, either during startup or after your business gets going, computer software that gives your clients a virtual beauty makeover before they take the actual hair-cutting plunge. If you plan on going the corporate route, you may also want to invest in a video camera and VCR so clients can judge their before-and-after speech and body language performances. In some states, you need a cosmetology license to work on clients’ skin, so if you plan to offer makeup services be sure to check with your state board of cosmetology. If you can’t apply makeup to your clients yourself, you can supervise while they do their own.

Categories

Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

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Business Idea of the Day: Personal Shopper

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF:


If you love to shop, you may be able to turn it into a business venture with a service for those who don’t have time (or don’t enjoy) doing their own shopping. Many people hire personal shoppers to select gifts for any number of special occasions, including holidays, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. And it’s not just new products they’re after: Personal shoppers are also often hired by interior designers and collectors to rummage through flea markets, consignment shops, antique stores and garage sales for collectibles, art, books and unique decor. Corporations sometimes hire personal shoppers to purchase the perfect gifts for customers, prospects, business partners, investors, employees and executives, as well as to purchase products for gift bag giveaways at special events, ceremonies, and seminars. If you love to shop, are creative and don’t mind networking with business owners, corporate executives, and people from all walks of life, you’re likely qualified to become a personal shopper.


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make?


The average salary for a personal shopper nationwide is $32,808, according to Glassdoor, and PayScale pegs a personal shopper’s typical hourly pay at just over $11.50


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“It’s just something I’ve always been good at–color, shopping, putting things together and knowing what someone else will like, what they can wear and what will make them look good and feel good,” she says. –Maggie McQuown, VisibleEDGE Resources


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


“You are at the mercy of the retailers. Even if a personal shopper made themselves available in the evenings for clients, there are not physical stores you can take clients to in order to get them their attire. Personal shoppers are personal, and that usually includes in-person shopping experiences.” –Amanda Sanders, image consultant and personal shopper

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Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

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Business Idea of the Day: Cannabis Photos and Imagery

This story appears in the
May 2019

issue of
Green Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You want in on the cannabis boom, but you don’t know a blunt from a bong. What do you do? For many entrepreneurs who’ve made the plunge, that question is also the answer: Whatever they did before legalization is the skill they brought to cannabis. And there are lots of skills needed in the new green world. 

Anytime a state legalizes, every business that “touches the plant” — think growing weed, baking edibles, distilling tinctures, packaging pre-roll — has to be confined within the borders of that state, creating exciting new opportunities for every sort of local business. Indoor grow operations need wiring and plumbing, dispensaries need architects and construction crews, entrepreneurs need local lawyers and accountants to guide them through the inevitable regulatory maze. On top of that, the onerous constraints required to do business across state lines for a product that is still illegal under federal law have generated demand for a whole new breed of legal, financial, and deal-making specialists, wherever they are.

Regardless of whether you’re in a big-city law firm or an entrepreneur hustling in your hometown, there is room in the cannabis industry for what you do. You just have to tweak it a little, according to these eight entrepreneurs who have converted their traditional careers into green success stories.

Related: She Runs One of The Biggest PR Companies in Cannabis. So Why Haven’t You Heard Of Her?

1. The Public Relations Switch

For 10 years, Rosie Mattio ran a thriving eponymous public relations firm in Seattle. She’d built a steady clientele of global food and technology brands when her first cannabis client came knocking. This was 2014, shortly after Washington State legalized adult-use marijuana. The client was the team behind The Stoner’s Cookbook (now called HERB), who were impressed with Mattio’s food and tech expertise and hired her to launch their first hardcover edition. The campaign was so successful, Mattio decided to pivot her company: “A lightbulb went off in my head,” she says. “Why not bring our mainstream approach to the cannabis sector?”

Representing the new and disruptive green industry was exciting but not easy. “When we worked with a popcorn company, we could FedEx a sample to Shape magazine to try the product for review,” she says. “We can’t just put cannabis in the mail, though. How is a reporter supposed to write a story about a product they have not tried?” And that was the least of her problems. Outside of The Stoner’s Cookbook, most cannabis companies were still skittish about exposure and reluctant to spend much on PR, often because they didn’t have the money. When they did? “I once had a client pay me five figures in cash out of a drawer in his office,” Mattio says. “This can often be an interesting business, to say the least.”

She isn’t the only publicist to go green. In 2013 Cynthia Salarizadeh was finishing up her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and researching sustainable development with the Department of Defense. In 2014 she decided to join the cannabis crowdfunding startup CannaFundr. As she got into the industry, she began imagining what it would be like to do PR for a product that was banned from broadcast TV and radio.

In 2015, with just a laptop, a cellphone, and $2,000 to live on until she got a client, she launched Salar Media Group, focusing exclusively on cannabis, including hemp. As with Mattio, the early days were hard. “Cannabis companies were still underground for the most part, so most people were hiding from exposure,” she says. Her first two clients were both nonprofits advocating for medical marijuana access — CannaMoms sought it for children, and the Weed for Warriors Project focused on veterans. “There is no money in advocacy,” Salarizadeh says. “I was working for a tenth of what I would be paid doing PR for commercial clients in any other industry, but I knew it was worth the time invested.”

Related: How the Green Rush Is Accelerating the Revolution In Smart Farming Technologies

She was right. Commercial cannabis companies did hire her. And after three years of growth, Salar Media was acquired by KCSA Strategic Communications. From there, Salarizadeh channeled her experience into a new opportunity: cannabis-focused media. Today her companies include AxisWire, her newswire service for the industry, and Green Market Media, a platform with publications like CannDex, which serves as a cannabis industry index. On the side, she’s launching House of Saka, which sells a cannabis-infused, nonalcoholic Napa Valley rosé.

For Mattio, the early struggles were also worth it. Today her roster is full of cannabis industry standouts like Canndescent, Flowhub, and LeafLink. And, she says, no one pays her in cash. 

2. Bed-and-Breakfast with a Twist

Russ Belville and his life partner, Lori Duckworth, were renters in a four-bedroom home in Portland, Oreg., when their roommates moved out. The duo, both marijuana legalization activists — Belville, a retired podcaster; Duckworth, from the marijuana healthcare world — decided to put the new vacancies on Airbnb. They’d never used the service before (and had to get a signed affidavit from the landlord, per city ordinance). But unlike gazillions of other listings on Airbnb, this one mentioned their cannabis lifestyle. “We wouldn’t want someone who was anti-pot to rent a room, then demand a refund when they found us smoking marijuana by the fireplace,” says Belville.

Business took off swiftly, and the experiment turned into the cannabis-friendly Delta-9 House, a two-bedroom, $42 to $79 per night bed-and-breakfast, which the couple still rents. It launched in 2017, three years after Oregon legalized recreational cannabis, and to date has hosted guests from 46 U.S. states and countries on all six continents and earned a place on High Times’ Best Bud & Breakfasts list.

Along the way, Belville and Duckworth definitely had to greenify their approach. A cannabis-friendly Airbnb, for example, is less friendly to the non-cannabis set, so Delta-9 expressly forbids children and adults younger than 21 unless they have an Oregon medical marijuana card. Besides letting people consume on the premises, they provide smoking accessories from the Daily High Club, share cannabis from their backyard garden, and offer vintage copies of High Times from the ’70s and ’80s. Now that they’ve got the model, they’re selling Delta-9 property management services in any state where recreational marijuana is legal. (They just opened three log cabins in the mountains of Eastern Oregon and are in negotiations with properties throughout Oregon, Northern California, and Seattle.) “If you are someone with the property to rent, then this is a fantastic way to cash in on your state’s Green Rush,” Belville says. “Even better, know the difference between an indica and a sativa, and have your own favorite strains you grow and consume.”

Related: 7 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Dope Accountant

3. Accountant for the Cannabis Crowd

About six years ago, after years in a successful corporate accounting career, Summer Wilkinson, a CPA in Plano, Texas, decided to buy her accounting firm. To her surprise, it made her miserable. When she later merged with a larger firm, it made her even more unhappy. “I just was not having a good time,” she says. “I was working constantly, missing time with family, and last year I turned 50, which got me thinking.” 

What Wilkinson thought about was Colorado. The state had ignited a business boom when it legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012, and that led her to think more about weed (as a business, not as an antidote for her job stress). She quickly realized there had to be a big demand for accountants who know cannabis. The IRS brutally taxes both adult-use and medical marijuana businesses. The agency treats state-legal cannabis companies as if they were drug dealers, forbidding them to deduct normal business expenses like marketing, travel, or rent. They are allowed to deduct COGS (cost of goods sold), which creates opportunities to avoid taxes through intricate business arrangements that attract close IRS scrutiny. Any misstep in structuring the business for tax advantages is almost certain to backfire and result in harsh penalties. 

“I thought that would be a very challenging and interesting niche to work in,” Wilkinson says, “but I just didn’t know how to go about it.”

If she’d been in any other business, she could have easily found professional guidance published online by the Big 4 accounting firms. Guidance for complying with GAAP — generally accepted accounting principles — also would have been readily available, as would plenty of industry-specific accounting, tax, and bookkeeping software. The IRS itself provides lots of information. None of that exists for the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry. But in 2017 she discovered a brand-new program called Dope CFO. “Every other industry — marketers, plumbers, attorneys, you name it — is in cannabis. CPAs are last to the party,’’ says Andrew Hunzicker, Dope CFO’s cofounder and managing partner. 

Hunzicker, a CPA in Oregon, had made his way to founding Dope CFO after the state legalized and he began taking cannabis clients. Like Wilkinson, he quickly realized that none of the normal resources were available for the green industry, and consequently, there are very few accountants adequately trained for the thousands of cannabis companies desperate to shrink their tax burden to something bearable. 

Hunzicker gradually began building some of his own templates to help his new clientele, and he freely shared his advice with bewildered bookkeepers and CPAs from around the country who’d heard about him. Initially he launched Dope CFO with one of those CPAs, Naomi Granger, with the idea of creating an accounting firm just for cannabis businesses. But they pivoted the company to provide training and resources for CPAs, CFOs, and bookkeepers like Wilkinson, who was the first person to enroll in the program. 

Since then, Wilkinson has gotten out of the business arrangement she so disliked and is working with cannabis clients in Oregon and Oklahoma. (“Cannabis accounting is a good option for working remotely,” she says.) Texas has a minimal medical marijuana program, but Wilkinson is attending cannabis events and networking there to have a foundation for when the state goes legal.

There’s a huge opportunity for accountants who want to go green, according to Hunzicker, who says that since 2018, nearly 200 professionals from 40 states have enrolled in Dope CFO. “We had one guy come into the program, he’s in Massachusetts, and he got 12 clients in three months, all of them in California,” he says. “We tell people, ‘If you want to grow a cannabis niche practice, it will be a great niche for the next 10 to 20 years.’ ”

4. Cooking Up Green Cuisine

It’s an understatement to say Matthew Stockard, a.k.a. Chef Matt, was prepared when California legalized adult-use cannabis in 2016. By then the world-traveled chef had been experimenting with cannabis in the privacy of his home kitchen for more than 20 years.

“I’ve been making a cannabis barbecue sauce for friends since 1994 or ’95,” he says, recalling that back in those pre-sinsemilla days, he routinely sifted lots of seeds from crumbled buds before cooking with them.

Stockard grew up in Long Beach, Calif., but went to Oklahoma for college and in 1998 opened his first restaurant during freshman year. It was called the Langston Lounge, and it launched Stockard’s career as Chef Matt. He returned home to Long Beach to open The Beach Cafe, and he kept it open while demand for his talents led him to travel the globe and master various cuisines. When he returned he sold the café to concentrate on catering and stints as a personal chef.

Related: How This Food-Delivery Entrepreneur Pivoted to Cannabis-Delivery

Life as a chef was good for Stockard, but prohibition limited his cannabis cooking to a passionate hobby. That changed in 2014, and it was not in his plans. At the time he was preparing to leave for a lucrative job running an upscale restaurant at a hotel in Dubai when a friend and fan of his cooking (particularly the infused barbecue sauce) gave him a call. His friend had moved to the hills to grow pot professionally. “He asked what was next for me,” says Stockard, who told him about Dubai. “He remembered the barbecue sauce and asked if I’d ever considered cooking with cannabis. I told him yes, and he showed up at my front door a couple of weeks later with two bags of bud and trim.”

With an ample supply of the raw ingredient, Stockard began experimentally infusing any ingredient that seemed infusible — olive oil, peanut butter, vegetable oils, jellies, soy sauce, and, of course, barbecue sauce — and cooking with them in all his favorite dishes. Somewhere in the process, he canceled the Dubai gig. “I gave up a nice salary and a chance to go work overseas again,” Stockard says.

Cooking up a storm, he developed a long list of recipes with precisely measured doses of THC and CBD. By Stockard’s estimate, he has spent $15,000 standardizing the recipes to have consistent dosing and use only the whole plant, a much more demanding process than if made with isolates. In 2015 he quietly launched Ganja Eats to cater private parties with his new cannabis cuisine derived from organically grown California marijuana strains. 

Ganja Eats took a quantum leap when California voters legalized adult use marijuana in 2016. “While everybody was doing Rice Krispie treats and brownies,” Stockard says, “I was infusing steak and chicken, working more on the savory side. I was killing it with ribs, mac and cheese, stir-fry. The phone still rings off the hook. I turn down as much business as I accept.”

Because Stockard has developed his recipes to professional food preparation standards, a person feasting at a Ganja Eats gathering can expect to imbibe around 25 milligrams of THC (as a reference, California limits a packaged, single-serving edible to 10 milligrams of THC), so they know what to expect. “I take dosing very seriously,” he says. “I believe there’s a difference between 25 milligrams of flower and 25 milligrams of distillate. I prefer introducing people to the flower high. It’s more natural and body-relaxing versus the shock of distillate.”

The focus, he says, is wellness and pleasure, not escapist intoxication. “My coffee creamer is for people who want to start their day with cannabis, not drink their coffee and their day is over.”

After learning that many of his customers wanted just the medicinal benefits, Chef Matt unveiled CBDaily Eats in 2017, a CBD-only version of his Ganja Eats cuisine for private groups. He has since begun online sales of hemp-infused oils, sauces, and honey, and calculates that 75 percent of his sales are “white label” products sold by others.

Looking ahead, if Stockard can get the necessary licenses, he’s planning a parallel line of Ganja Eats foods with measured doses of THC; he’s also exploring how to license his own name for sale in other states as they legalize. “I know my website says ‘cannabis chef,’ ” he’s quick to note, “but I am a chef first. A chef who cooks with cannabis and CBD.”  

5. Photography Through a New Lens

Ophelia Chong had spent 25 years shooting for fashion and high-style magazines (she worked for the seminal design publication Ray Gun) when an illness in her family drew her to medical marijuana. Her sister was using cannabis to relieve the pain of scleroderma, an incurable autoimmune disease that hardens the skin and other parts of the body. “She tried cannabis to alleviate some of the symptoms,” says Chong, “and as she was ingesting, I looked at her and thought, Oh, my God, my sister is a stoner! Then I started crying because I was stereotyping my own sister.” That’s when she got the idea to take her camera into the world of cannabis and change the picture. 

Chong discovered that the traditional stock photo agencies trafficked in stereotypes. When she searched for “cannabis,” she says, “I found images of African American men with keywords like addict, illegal, and criminal. I was shocked, and I thought, I’m going to start my own agency to fight against all this stuff and put out images of real people with cannabis, like my sister.

She launched StockPot Images in 2015 with about 25 photographers and 3,000 images. And today the company has grown to include more than 240 photographers and 24,000 images, including plant shots of hemp (with and without human models), along with the most extensive collection of distinct cannabis strains in the world. Chong recently added psilocybin (contained in magic mushrooms) after reading about efforts in Oregon and Colorado to legalize it.

Cashing in on the green boom requires knowing the plant as well as you know your craft, Chong says. “A lot of mainstream companies are trying to get into cannabis,” she says, “but if someone says the wrong word or thinks they know it when they don’t, they can come off very badly to a client.” 

With that in mind, Chong sees nothing but a growing demand for talent of every sort. “Whatever you’re great at,” she says, “just add cannabis.”

Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

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Business Idea of the Day: Interior Design

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF


Interior designers make people’s homes and workplaces more beautiful but also more functional. They do this by selecting and blending colors, fabrics, furniture and lighting, in cooperation with the client. Developing the aesthetic sensibilities and business acumen needed for interior design, however, takes a commitment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, candidates for this profession must first earn a degree in the field, then pass the National Council for Interior Design [NCIDQ] qualification exam. Along the way, they’ll learn in depth about building codes, regulations and accessibility standards and specific skills like reading blueprints. And of course no one is going to hire a raw beginner, so taking on some pro bono projects, building a portfolio and working for architectural and design firms is a must, as is ongoing education. Certainly, there is a healthy market here: According to the American Society of Interior DesignersState of the Industry report in 2018, sales in 2015 — the most recent year recorded — totalled $9.87 billion. As for individual incomes, the BLS reports an average annual pay level for interior designers of $53,370.


ASK THE PROS


How much money can you make?


“[The $53,370 the BLS cites] would not be low for starting out. My accountant just told me that in his experience, the highest end he sees in terms of salary is about $125,000. So you could start pretty low” — Teri Brajewski, interior designer, twb DESIGN Brooklyn, NY


What are the startup costs?


There’s not really a lot. Someone gave me a contract that I cribbed, but eventually I had a contract that was formally reviewed by lawyers. It was really just [a matter of] having a computer and a printer, to get the business started. Interior design is a service, so outside of physically setting up an office, it’s your typical ‘I need a desk, I need a chair, I need a computer’ — and you need to register your business as a DBA or whatever incorporation you want to do, and obtain a resale certification. Outside of that, there aren’t a lot of hard costs to starting a business like this” — Teri Brajewski


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“I started with a bachelor’s in art history and worked in that field; then I went back to school in my late 20s to get an associate’s degree in interior design from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. I already had a [design] background, having worked in art galleries and art museums; then, while Iwas at FIT, I did part-time jobs at an architectural firm and for a single-person residential firm. At FIT we learned everything from drafting to interior design history to working on projects. During my time at the architectural firm, I learned the more practical side of business: how to access samples and get information from vendors. I learned how to do my job” — Teri Brajewski


What is the most important thing to know about this business?


You have to like to shop! And you have to not just like to design — the 10 percent that is the fun. You need to have the skills to execute it and the business skills to deal with your clients” — Teri Brajewski

The Market

Your clients can be residential or commercial property owners. You can specialize in types of properties like restaurants, hotels or offices, or you can work with all these and residences, too. Or you can specialize in the type of work you do–instead of completely redoing an entire home, you can do shoestring redesign, redecorating a single room using the owner’s existing furnishings in new ways. Network at your chamber of commerce and other local professional organizations. Send brochures to architects and contractors, especially those building spec homes who need a decorated model; follow up with phone calls. Place an ad in your local Yellow Pages. Volunteer yourself as a guest on a local radio chat show and as a speaker at women’s clubs.

Needed Equipment

Some states require an interior design license–check with local professional organizations to find out local regulations. You’ll need a computer system with a laser printer and the usual software, a fax machine, sample books of fabrics and wall coverings, and a tape measure. You can purchase a number of interior-design software programs that let you print out floor plans, 3-dimensional room designs and even change decorating colors. If you’re a computer person, shop around for one that suits you.

Categories

Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

Posted on

Business Idea of the Day: Massage Therapist

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF:


In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get stressed. But if you’ve got experience with massage, plus that healing touch — you can knead away tense muscles and calm jagged nerves — then you can make relaxation a reality for people with a massage therapy business. You can see clients on the move by driving to homes or offices with your massage table, soothing oils and restful music in tow. With permission from the proper authorities, you can even set up on the beach, at shopping malls or at airports. The advantages to this business are that startup costs are often minimal, and you get the glow of satisfaction from making the world a more relaxing place for your clients. Some states require massage therapists to be licensed, so check with the American Massage Therapy Association to find out if yours is one of them. To widen your audience, build relationships with human resources departments of large corporations, local small-business owners, health clubs and spas, gyms and fitness centers, retail outlets for athletic wear, nutrition shops and chiropractors.


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make?


The average base pay for a massage therapist in the U.S. amounts to $43,219, according to Glassdoor, while PayScale reports a massage therapist’s hourly pay at just under $20.


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“I had been receiving massages for many years as part of my recovery from bilateral mastectomies, reconstruction and other cancer-related surgeries. Massage truly transformed my life… I spoke to my husband about the possibility of owning a spa, whereby we could offer the services that have been and continue to be so beneficial and integral in my well-being… From the business perspective, we both felt that my marketing and business background, with its origins in the publishing industry, were well suited for managing a spa, and his background in the finance world was also directly applicable to managing a business.” –Kay Hechler, Hand & Stone and Facial Spa


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


“Do your research — a lot of research. I found it most helpful to talk to others who are already in the industry… [and] most importantly, have patience.” –Jackie Martinez, Elements Massage

The Market

Your clients can be overworked executives and home office entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms, and athletes who’ve overdone the aerobics workout and even sports rehabilitation clinics. Send sales letters and brochures to the human resources departments or health and safety coordinators of large corporations and small-business owners in your area. Leave fliers or brochures at health clubs and spas; swim, running and biking clubs; fitness centers; athletic shoe and clothing shops; vitamin and nutrition shops; and with chiropractors who can refer you to their patients. Give seminars to professional and civic groups and volunteer yourself as a guest on a local radio chat show. Get yourself written up in local publications. Donate a few sessions to a charity fundraiser in exchange for publicity.

Needed Equipment

Some states require massage therapists to be licensed–check with the American Massage Therapy Association to find out if yours is one of them. You’ll need a portable massage table or chair, a selection of scented candles and oils, a stack of clean towels, and a CD or cassette player plus some relaxing music to pop into it.

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Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

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How to Use Your Expertise to Start a Consulting Business

We all reach a point in our careers when we start getting questions about our experience or expertise. Perhaps you’ve been asked if you can do someone a favor and “look something over.” Or maybe someone has even asked if they can pay you for a consulting session. Perhaps you tapped into a new way to create marketing campaigns or conduct market research that you know other people would want to know about. Whatever your expertise is, it’s likely you’ve felt the tug at one time or another to offer consulting services

Here’s how to get started marketing your expertise to do just that.

1. Understand your unique expertise, then offer it for free.

Of course, the first step to starting a consulting side hustle is to know what it is you have to offer. This could be based on experiences you’ve had or an area of specialty you’ve studied at length. Depending on your reputation in your industry, you could go out there and immediately start selling sessions. But, you’ll have more luck on sales calls and in marketing yourself if you have clear deliverables on what you’ve done for companies and individuals in the past. 

Related: Need Clients? The 5 Best Ways to Market Your Consulting Business

So, commit to working for 2-3 companies for free at first. This will give you a good sense of your consulting style, and there’s a clear difference between being able to say, “I can help you increase your profit margin” and “I helped two companies triple their profit margin.” Potential clients want to hear about clients you’ve worked in the past. The Ambition Plan writes that offering to work for free is also a great way to “meet and spend time with influential people in your industry.” Get out there and show them what you have to offer!

2. Craft an offer and a payment plan. 

Once you get some experience under your belt, craft an offer that makes sense. Choosing a price is also why it’s so important to know what exactly you can do for companies or individuals. If you help companies hit six figures in their first six months, it’s reasonable to charge at a higher price tag than if you just “help companies become profitable quickly.” Cory Jean, a credit and receivables consultant, noted to this end that, “Clients respond well to numbers. Telling potential clients exact percentages in sales growth helps them understand the full picture of what their investment in you is, and what it will reward them with.” 

Then, figure out if you’ll offer consulting on a retainer or just on one-off sessions. Both serve different purposes. If you have one core branding strategy session for startups, perhaps it will just be a two-hour immersive meeting at one set price. But, if you help with a longer-term strategy and go into the trenches with them, a retainer would be more appropriate. Consulting services usually go on retainer.

3. Create materials promoting your consulting business. 

It’s important that all numbers associated with your consulting promises are listed somewhere; ideally on a funnel or a landing page. Create the exact specifications of what your consulting services entail, including hours spent in 1:1 meetings, materials included, and what the potential client can expect to learn and get from you. The more specific you can be, the better. Make sure to write to their pain points and rely heavily on past experiences for credibility.

Related: Set Your Consulting Fees Using These 5 Tried-and-True Methods

Then, brand strategist Erin Feree recommends marketing through a blog, a newsletter, and a small website. Create more succinct versions of your sales script, such as small paragraphs that can be used as a bio on blogs or in the “about” section on a newsletter.

4. Engage in content marketing.

Finally, remember that the best way to demonstrate your expertise to your audiences online is to release content associated with what you consult on. This type of content is often referred to as “top of the funnel content,” and will give potential clients a taste for your style and insights, thus establishing trust. They need to be able to see your obvious expertise in order to want to hire you. 

Related: 12 Ways to Generate Leads for Your Consulting Business

Do you offer social media consulting? Post a few social media tips a week. Do you offer HR consulting? Post a few HR tips or stories a week. Over time, this will begin to equate with your brand and appeal to your audience. If you feel like you’re running out of content, Tsavo Neil recommends asking your audience what they’re struggling with. The more you can start to solve their problems, the more they’ll see you as the industry leader. 

Over time, as you continue to land clients and help them, you’ll have enough case studies and numerical evidence to expand your consulting business beyond a side hustle. You have something to share and a way to help entrepreneurs or businesses; get out there and show them!

Source: Entrepreneur

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Business Idea of the Day: Travel Agent

Startup Costs: $10,000 – $50,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Franchises Available?
Yes

Online Operation?
Yes

THE BRIEF:


If you thought travel agents were obsolete, you were right — to an extent — says Entrepreneur writer Clint Carter. When sites like Travelocity and Expedia arrived in the mid-’90s, customers no longer needed their local brick-and-mortar agencies. And once airlines had a direct line to consumers, they stopped offering the commissions agents had long relied on. “The internet killed the old-fashioned travel agent,” says Dave Hershberger, chair of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “It just took them all out of business.” Of the agents that survived, many found refuge in the exploding cruise industry. While customers approached airline tickets as a basic commodity, they looked at ship travel as an experience, and first-time cruise-goers needed all the help they could get sorting through itineraries, dining options and room choices. The old-time role of “agent” began to morph into “adviser.” And once that happened, the industry learned how to adapt and rebuild.


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make?


“Host Agency Reviews and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found some common ground in regard to the average salary of a travel agent. The BLS currently lists the average travel agent salary in 2017 as $40,840 with a range of $21,350 and $62,320 dividing the lower to upper 10% of travel agents. These results are very close to HAR’s most recent 2018 travel agent income findings of a $40,377 average among hosted travel agents with 3+ years experience.” —Host Agency Reviews


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“There are no specific requirements to be a travel agent, but a bachelor’s degree will open up more job opportunities, and certifications might make travel agents more marketable. After getting experience in this field, there are two popular certifications that will increase your chances of securing employment. The Travel Institute provides education and training that leads to two certifications: Certified Travel Associate (CTA) and Certified Travel Counselor (CTC). Agents with at least 12 months of experience in the retail travel industry may apply for the CTA designation. This may involve completing a 15-module curriculum, which covers ethics, customer needs, planning itineraries, touring the world, and travel insurance.” —The Balance Careers


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


“Among the most critical changes that have happend to the industry: Agencies stopped operating out of storefronts, and they very frequently stopped having employees. Businesses became solely owner-­operated, run out of people’s homes. Between 1997 and 2013, the number of agencies with multiple employees fell from nearly 23,000 to fewer than 10,000, according to Skift, a travel-industry research firm. But the number of independent agents actually crept upward, showing a 7 percent gain over roughly the same period. Storefronts are now landing pages, and agents rely on laptops and smartphones to connect clients to large networks of travel suppliers.” —Clint Carter, Entrepreneur writer

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Source: Entrepreneur: Startup

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Business Idea of the Day: Hairstylist

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.

Part Time: Can be operated part-time.

Franchises Available?
No

Online Operation?
No

THE BRIEF:


If you love hairstyling and are passionate about helping people look their best, this could be a prime business venture. You could consider opening your hair salon in a physical storefront, but you could also operate out of your home — or on-the-go, visiting clients wherever they are. Arm yourself with a suite of hair care tools and products, familiarize yourself with different types of hair and make sure you’re up to date on current trends in both personal and professional settings. To generate additional revenue and profits for your business, sell hair care products — shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and more — alongside your styling services. Especially innovative entrepreneurs could develop their own line of hair care products as well, since many manufacturers also do private-label manufacturing (meaning that the manufacturer will place its product in your packaging under your product name).


ASK THE PROS:


How much money can you make?


In 2017, the median salary for hairdressers was $24,850, while the best-paid quarter made $35,100, according to U.S. News & World Report. ZipRecruiter pegs the monthly average pay for a hairstylist nationwide at $2,427.


What kind of experience do you need to have?


“My parents had their own business when we were growing up. It was a clothing store. My brother Michael is my business partner, as well as my husband Cameron. We saw my parents bend over backwards for clients. We learned that the customer is always right and that is how you approach business. If you want to be successful, that is the most important thing… [Also], in my early twenties I worked in PR. It was a short-lived career, but my boss at the time taught me how to pitch, write and be a professional. They are things I take for granted now, but I really got my professional sea legs in that job.” –Alli Webb, Drybar


What’s the most important thing to know about this business?


“Whether it’s about someone’s process or whether it’s about a product or a hairstyle… being open and honest is the way to go at this point. As cliche as that might sound, that’s just where we’re at. You don’t have to put on a show about it, you can just be raw and real about your process.” –Kristin Ess, Kristin Ess Hair

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Source: Entrepreneur: Startup