Monthly Archives: June 2016

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.

Your smartphone
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.

Search engines
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.

Social media
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.

Online reviews
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.

Your home
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.

Your neighborhood
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.

Your office
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.

The grocery store
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.

The mall
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.

Your child’s school or day care
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.

Some Online Business Ideas You Can Start

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you’re pigeonholed to open a brick and mortar store to spotlight your skills and make money. The internet offers you a wealth of opportunities to start your own businesses, often with little to no cost. By focusing on your strengths, you’ll be able to build a client roster and get your online-based business started.

These businesses allow you to be a full-time or part-time entrepreneur:

1. SEO consultant
Do you know the ins and outs of search engines and have skills in platforms like Google Analytics? The owners of a lot of smaller companies don’t realize how much of an impact search engine optimization (SEO) can have on their business. Educate those business owners on the power of SEO to help transform their websites into a more SEO-friendly property. Use your skills to show business owners how to read and use their analytics data the right way, and how to properly use keywords and structure content to get more traffic.

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2. Business coaching
If you possess a great deal of business experience and knowledge, why not create a business that helps aspiring entrepreneurs find success? You can use your skills to help new business owners get off to a good start and help experienced entrepreneurs keep up with demand. To show off your knowledge and skills and bring in clients, you can also write articles about business on platforms like LinkedIn.

3. Specialized retailer
Specialized stores are already a niche profession. When that’s the case, it’s best to set up an online store to reach those customers who are seeking your specific products. There’s an audience for everything, whether it’s making dollhouse furniture or creating organic dog food. Through a web-hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or with e-commerce software, your business will be operational in no time. Many vendors will even ship products to customers on your behalf, which means you don’t need to own a lot of inventory.

4. Social media consultant
Larger companies can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but small businesses often have to handle their own social media marketing. With so many responsibilities, business owners are often too busy, overwhelmed or undereducated about the importance of social media to spend time developing and implementing a great social media strategy. As a consultant, you can help them determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. As their follower count grows, so will your business.

5. Web design
There’s nothing more off-putting than a poorly designed website, and often, it kills credibility. If you know some HTML and have a good eye for design, you can launch a service to create attractive, easy-to-use websites for small businesses. Put your skills to good use for business owners who want to take their online presence to the next level. Build a comprehensive portfolio, and then create your own website to show it off and attract a steady stream of clients.

6. Resume/cover letter writing
It’s a tough truth to swallow, but a standout resume and cover letter can make all the difference when you’re applying for a job. While listing career accomplishments might seem like an easy task, the fine art of “humble bragging” eludes some of us. Find work by helping others to get hired with the aid of stellar resumes. Capitalize on the increasingly important social media branding bandwagon and offer to fix LinkedIn profiles as well.

7. Assistant/task manager
Do you have impeccable organizational skills? What about cleaning skills? Can you quickly and efficiently carry out these tasks? Maybe it’s time to put those skills to good use by becoming an online personal assistant or task manager. Companies like TaskRabbit or Zirtual allow you to sign up for tasks you want to complete — including data research, virtual assistant or running errands — and begin building clientele.

8. Professional freelancer
You might not think of freelancing as a business, but with more and more companies turning to part-time contract workers to fill their skill gaps, it’s not hard to imagine making a living providing businesses with a variety of freelance services. Depending on your skill sets, you could work for multiple companies in a variety of fields that offer you flexibility and a refreshing change of pace. According to the freelance job listing website Freelancer.com, tech services, content creation and web design are popular fields for contract work.

9. Affiliate marketing
If you’re a person who loves leaving customer reviews on sites like Amazon, stop doing it for free. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a huge lead generator for many companies, and a lot of businesses are willing to share a portion of their profits with persuasive individuals who will promote their products to the public. If you have a personal website with a large following, this might be easier to accomplish (PR reps are always seeking out brand advocates they can send free samples to Smart Passive Income breaks down three types of affiliate marketing and explains which one is most profitable.)

10. eBook author
Achieving authorship is easier than ever. With e-readers now a staple in most households, self-publication has become a reality for many writers who might never get picked up by publishing companies. With the right marketing tools, you can successfully publish your own books on anything from cooking and weight loss to real estate. Hectorpreneur’s advice from successful e-Book authors offers tips for writing content that sells.

11. Remote technical support
Many small businesses don’t have room in their budget for a full-time IT employee, so when their systems go on the fritz, they’ll usually call a computer-savvy friend or family member. If you have experience working on computers and networks, you can eliminate their need to call in a favor and offer immediate remote technical assistance.

12. Virtual-consignment store
Bargain hunters and thrift store enthusiasts can turn a nice profit reselling their vintage clothing finds. Brand yourself by setting up an independent website as your virtual storefront, but use a managed service like Google Checkout to handle transactions. High-resolution images and catchy copy for your products will make you stand out in the sea of internet users trying to sell their used items.

13. Handmade craft seller
Online sites like Etsy and ArtFire are platforms that make it extremely easy for crafters who can produce a steady supply of quality handmade items, like crocheted blankets or unique painted glassware. Startup costs are extremely low if you purchase your materials in bulk from a craft supplier, and if you can turn around orders quickly, you’ll be making a profit in no time at all. It’s even possible to turn your store into a full-time gig.

14. App development
Mobile applications are more popular than ever, and people are willing to pay good money for ways to manage their lives from their smartphones. If you have a great idea and happen to know coding, you can run with it and create your app yourself. If you just have an idea and don’t know the ins and outs of how to turn it into a reality, there are plenty of software developers looking to collaborate with people on app creation.

Mr OFlynn Found Those Comments Very Disappointing

Matt O’Flynn, who runs Hastings-based Collins and Hayes, said that 75% of his staff are actually from the UK.

Ms Rudd visited the company, which is in her constituency, in August 2015.

She said the firm did not consider training up locals, despite the availability of a local college.

“I went and visited a factory quite recently where they recruit almost exclusively from Romania and Poland, where there are people that have had experience in factories building these sofas… they didn’t even consider training locally.

“There was a local college they could have worked with, but they choose to recruit outside the UK,” the Home Secretary told the BBC’s Today programme on Wednesday.

Immigrants ‘commonplace’

Mr O’Flynn found those comments “very disappointing” and said his company was “committed to working with the local community” and had spoken to Ms Rudd about his need for more sewing machinists.

It is “commonplace” in the industry to hire staff from abroad when there is a surge in demand, according to Mr O’Flynn.

Collins and Hayes uses an agency to bring in staff from Poland and Romania, which it then trains up and hires on permanent contracts, he said.

Collins and Hayes, which supplies John Lewis and Furniture Village, has been making furniture for 140 years.

Firms targeted

On Wednesday, the home secretary defended plans to make firms do more to employ British people, saying “don’t call me a racist” for talking about immigration.

Under her proposals, firms could be forced to disclose what percentage of their workforce is non-British as a way to encourage them to hire more locals.

The home secretary believes firms are “getting away” with not training enough British workers and the existing resident labour test – which requires firms to advertise vacancies in the UK for 28 days before looking outside the EU – should be toughened up.

The Effect of Globalisation

hhFor decades there has been a strong consensus that globalisation brought more jobs, higher wages and lower prices – not just for richer countries but also for developing and poorer nations.

But many people, including politicians, are now voicing their anger as they see jobs being taken by machines, old industries disappearing and waves of migration disturbing the established order.

You don’t have to look far to see the effect of those concerns in recent events.

The Brexit referendum was dominated by concerns over immigration, the rise of Donald Trump has brought back the rhetoric of protectionismin the US and there have been mass protests in Europe over prospective international trade deals.

What is behind this backlash and what can be done to address this crisis of globalisation?

‘Free trade is stupid trade’

The US presidential election has felt like the epicentre of the rising tide of disquiet against free trade and globalisation.

Donald Trump has accused China of wanting to “starve” the US population by manipulating their currency and “cheating” on international trade.

Hillary Clinton has found herself surrounded by political challengers questioning the benefits of international trade and globalisation.

Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination, defined his campaign by arguing that globalisation had hollowed out the US middle class.

Clinton’s response has been to tack towards the concerns expressed by Sanders and Trump, reneging on her previous support of TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) – the trade agreement between the US and Europe.

US manufacturing’s decline

Arguments over the decline of manufacturing in the United States have powered a lot of the heat of the 2016 US electoral cycle.

The sense of grievance is clear – the manufacturing sector in the US has seen six million jobs disappear between 1999 and 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Studies have shown that the decline in the US has been mirrored by gains in China.

Chinese imports explain 44% of the decline in employment in manufacturing in the US between 1990 and 2007, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn.

Part of that decline has been down to the outsourcing of jobs to other countries but automation and more efficient processes have also taken their toll.

“All countries end up with losers from technological development – whether it is telephone operators or bank tellers,” says Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert from the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“The problem in the US is that we don’t do much to help those people who lose out through social security support or job retraining,” says Mr Hufbauer.

Technological and economic change has hit specific geographical areas that have then found it hard to develop new industries and create jobs.

The anger that flows from this has found a home in the protectionist rhetoric of politicians like Donald Trump.

“There has been no growth in household income during the last decade in Europe, the US and Japan. People are not happy and if you have to blame someone, it is easy to blame foreigners,”‘ says Mr Hufbauer.