Tag Archive | "small business"

How to Start a Parking Lot Sweeping Business

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Learning how to start a parking lot sweeping business could be your ticket to self employment success!  Parking lots are an important part of the impression a customer gets about a business, so a clean lot is critical.  That’s why even when business is slow, retail locations will almost never cancel their parking lot sweeping service.

You will approach developers, owners, and landlords of commercial properties to gain customers for your parking lot sweeping business. Another opportunity for business is local or state government owned property, such as schools, hospitals, and parking garages.

What You’ll Need to Succeed with a Parking Lot Sweeping Business

Of course the most important thing you’ll need to invest in when you start a parking lot sweeping business is sweeping equipment.  These machines, which often come in the form of vacuum sweepers, are not inexpensive, but if you do your due diligence up front, you can get one that will last a very long time.

When deciding on what to charge for your parking lot sweeping services, you can either base your pricing on lot size, or an hourly rate.  The advantage of charging an hourly rate for parking lot sweeping is that you will be covered for lots that might be the same size but take different amounts of work, due to the amount of trash or obstacles in the lot.  For example, lots that are bordered by bushes and trees are often more difficult to clean because of the leaves and other plant debris they deposit on the parking lot.

As you progress in your parking lot sweeping business, you will get better at estimating the costs of your sweeping services.  In the beginning, be careful, as when you quote a price, your clients will expect you to stick to it.

How to Market a Parking Lot Sweeping Business

Learning how to start a parking lot sweeping business is not difficult, but the real key to success lies within your ability to market it.  You’ll want to start by doing some research to find out who owns the parking lots within several miles of your location.  These will be your target customers, and you can use a number of methods to reach them.

One method that can be effective is direct mail.  Mailing a flyer to the decision maker for a parking lot will let them know you are open for business.  On your flyer, consider offering an introductory rate or some other promotion to pique their interest.  Also stress the service aspect of your business.  Because, when you start a parking lot sweeping business, just like in any other business, it is how you treat your customers that can make or break you!

How to Start a Polished Concrete Business

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To learn how to start a polished concrete business, you don’t have to have any special schooling. You just need a will to work hard and do whatever it takes to be a success. This is a rapidly growing industry, as polished concrete becomes more popular all the time for both residential and commercial applications.

Because polished concrete looks so much better than plain concrete, is very low maintenance, and has a high durability, many businesses and homeowners are choosing this service, and you can easily stay busy when you start a polished concrete business.

What You’ll Need to Succeed with a Polished Concrete Business

While it isn’t difficult to learn how to start a polished concrete business, there is some learning involved in the process of installation, decorating, and polishing concrete. Additionally, starting a polished concrete business is somewhat of an artistic endeavor. This is because the coatings and additives you will use come in a wide variety of colors, and you will need to advise your clients on what will look best for their project.

When learning the ins and outs of the polished concrete business, you will want to learn how to install fresh concrete and decorate it as you go, and you’ll need to know how to work with existing concrete as well. Many trade and community colleges as well as some organizations dedicated specifically to teaching about polished concrete offer classes throughout the US. Check online to find courses in your area.

In most states, a contractor’s license is required to have this kind of business, so check with your state to find out what kind of testing and certification you must obtain before offering your services to clients. You’ll also need a standard business license, and you will want a good business insurance policy to protect you and your company.

To start a polished concrete business, you’ll need to purchase some equipment and supplies. The type of business you take on will dictate exactly what you’ll need, but some tools and supplies are pretty universal, such as: an upright and a handheld concrete polisher; several grit levels of diamond abrasive disks; a concrete grinder; the usual concrete installation tools; concrete epoxies and stains; and equipment to capture dust.

All this equipment can often be found used and in good shape, but your startup costs will still be a few thousand dollars, unless you already have a lot of the necessary tools and equipment. If you’re able to provide outstanding quality and service, you’ll be busy before long, and you can always upgrade your equipment once your revenue allows it.

How to Market a Polished Concrete Business

As you think about how to start a polished concrete business, you’ll need to decide who your target audience is going to be. If you plan to take on primarily commercial clients, you’ll want to target your advertising to retail outlets, manufacturers, new and used car showrooms, hotel and office complex lobbies, and restaurant and bar flooring. For residential customers, it isn’t just their garages you will provide flooring solutions for. Kitchens, walkways, and bathroom floors are also great candidates for your services.

When you learn how to start a polished concrete business, you have many expansion opportunities, including offering related services and even opening new locations or franchising your business model. The options are plenty, and it all depends on your goals and willingness to make it happen.

How to Start a Pet Crematory Business

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Learning how to start a pet crematory business is not something many entrepreneurs think of, which is probably a good thing for those willing to go into this lucrative business. The pet services industry is growing rapidly in all areas, including this one.

When you start a pet crematory business, you will be helping pet owners deal with the loss of a member of their family.  You should be someone who understands the importance of pets in people’s lives and who can demonstrate compassion and caring in these difficult circumstances.

As the owner of a pet crematory business, you will meet with owners of pets who have recently passed away, receive the pet’s body, and store the remains in a temperature controlled setting until they are cremated.  Once the pet is cremated, the pet’s owner will either take the ashes in a container, like an urn, or they will allow you to properly dispose of the remains.

What You’ll Need to Succeed in a Pet Crematory Business

As you think about how to start a pet crematory business, one consideration will be location.  To a large extent, this will be determined by your city’s zoning laws, so research these regulations to determine where you are allowed to have a pet crematory.

While many pet crematory businesses are located in industrial areas, keep in mind that your clientele will want to experience a comfortable, nicely appointed area when they enter your business.  A delivery area where pet owners and veterinarians can drop off deceased pets will also be necessary.

Your largest expense when starting a pet crematory business will likely be a cremation furnace, but you will also need a refrigerated area to keep remains in until cremation takes place, as well as an area to store ashes, keeping each individual cremation separate.

Your office should have standard office equipment, including a reliable computer and printer, and you will need contracts for your customers, as well as certificates of cremation.

Be sure to check with your local licensing agencies to learn the requirements for owning a pet crematory in your area.  Pet crematories are not as closely regulated as those for humans, but they still have specific requirements, often including special licensing.

You will also want to make sure that anyone operating the cremation equipment is well trained, as it can be quite dangerous.  Make sure you have a good insurance policy and worker’s compensation insurance as well.

How to Market a Pet Crematory Business

Your primary source of business will be animal hospitals and veterinarians.  When an owner’s pet passes away, the owner has the option of retrieving the body or allowing the facility to arrange for cremation.  Very often the pet owner will choose cremation, and that is where your business comes in.

To market to veterinarians and pet hospitals, get out and meet the owners and managers of these businesses.  Have some high quality, attractive literature designed and printed, and leave copies of it for the office to give to grieving pet owners.  If you make sure you communicate your heartfelt sympathy and care, the owners will feel comfortable arranging for you to take their pet.

While learning how to start a pet crematory business is not for everyone, those who go into this business find it to be very profitable, and it can be satisfying to know you are helping grieving pet owners through a very difficult time.

How to Start a Mail Order Business

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Internet shopping has made the idea of learning how to start a mail order business very attractive. With some proper planning and work, anyone can start a mail order business and do well. Just as Sears was the mail order catalog king, you could be internet mail order royalty!

The concepts behind mail order have not changed much since the early days of the industry, even though the technology used to operate your business if vastly different from days passed. The major change due to technology is that you can reach a far larger audience than ever before. With about a billion people online, there is plenty of opportunity in the mail order business.

What You’ll Need to Succeed in a Mail Order Business

One of the first and most important decisions you’ll make when thinking about how to start a mail order business is which kinds of products you will sell. Your options are practically unlimited, so this step can take some time, but it’s worth thinking it through and researching thoroughly. When considering various products, some factors to think about are: initial costs, minimum orders, space for inventory, turn around time for new product, and of course market demand for the products you are considering.

Also dig into what competition there is in various possible niches. While the internet presents a tremendous opportunity, it is getting more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd. How will you make your company and your products more attractive to potential buyers than others?

Planning for future growth is another critical element for anyone learning how to start a mail order business. While “too many” customers can seem like a good problem to have, failing to meet commitments due to product shortages or lack of personnel to process orders can ruin your reputation and ultimately your business.

Consider developing relationships with temp agencies and outsourcing firms early on. This kind of planning will allow you to ramp up quickly if necessary, as you will have these resources at the ready. Also, if at all possible, pick suppliers that have the ability to increase production without a long delay. Many manufacturers are used to meeting deadlines and have very scalable operations.

How to Market a Mail Order Business

As your mail order business will be conducted primarily online, it makes sense to use online tools to market your business. Social media is one marketing medium that has proven to be very effective for anyone who is willing to take the time to learn how to do it right. If you are able to build a community of loyal followers, you’ll have a customer base excited to see what your next offering is.

When you’ve got people on the edge of their seats waiting for your next product announcement or special offer, you’ll know that learning how to start a mail order business was an excellent idea!

How to Start a Trucking Business

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If you love to be on the open road, learning how to start a trucking business just might be for you.  This is a growing sector that can really pay off for anyone willing to work hard and take great care of their clients.

Researching your competition and coming up with something that sets you apart and makes clients want to use your services over anyone else’s can result in a very profitable business opportunity.

What You’ll Need to Succeed in the Trucking Business

As with any business, start by putting together a business plan.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but write down the services you plan on providing through your trucking business, how you plan to market it, and how you will run day to day operations.  The trucking business is all about moving things from one place to another, but there are a lot of different niche markets, so you will need to pick which kind of trucking business you want to start.

You will obviously also need at least one truck to start a trucking business.  Trucks are very expensive, but there are often attractive lease terms, and if you have business lined up right away, you should be able to cover all your expenses with a good amount left over.

When putting together your pricing for your trucking business, your rates will depend on a number of things.  The distance you are traveling with your loads, the weight of the loads, and the type of materials you are transporting all need to be considered.  Fuel will be one of your largest ongoing expenses, and the amount of fuel you use is affected by what you are carrying.

You will of course need a business license to start a trucking business, and you will also need some specific permits and licenses issued by the federal government.  These can include MC Numbers, 2290s, IFTA Decals, IRP Tags, and USDOT Numbers.  You’ll also need to report fuel tax, and you should have an excellent insurance policy in place.

Once your trucking business is off the ground, success will depend a lot on customer service, on time delivery, and your ability to deliver goods in undamaged condition. Damaged goods and late deliveries will damage your reputation and severely hurt your business. Of course delays and mistakes will occasionally happen, but they should be the exception to the rule.

Finding Customers for Your Trucking Business

An important part of learning how to start a trucking business is finding clients that will hire you, either on a recurring or one time basis to haul goods for them.  Attending conferences and trade shows for the trucking industry will help you find the right people to talk to, and you might also consider a direct mail campaign.  Calling on freight brokers is another way to obtain business for your trucking company.

As your success with your trucking business grows, you can consider bringing on more drivers and even staying home and running your business, rather than going on runs.  Some of the biggest trucking firms started with a single truck and driver, and that can be you one day.  Then you’ll be very glad you learned how to start a trucking business.

How to Start a Gardening Business

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Learning how to start a gardening business is a great idea for anyone who loves being outside and has a green thumb!  Both vegetable and flower gardening have gained in popularity in the past few years, so this is a great time to start a gardening business.  In fact, the retail numbers on plants and gardening supplies are through the roof compared to just a few years ago.

A gardening business can take on many forms, all of which are currently in demand.  Some of these include gardeners, landscapers, gardening stores, and freelance garden professionals.  This potentially lucrative field allows you to combine your love of plants and gardening with a great business opportunity.

Finding a niche while learning how to start a gardening business will be important.  As a retail gardening business, you would have to compete with the huge retailers, but by focusing on one niche market, this won’t be as much of an issue.  One direction to consider – which has become popular lately – is concentrating on only environmentally responsible plants, garden pest control products, and fertilizers.

The other area where you can differentiate yourself from the big box stores is in your level of service and expertise.  If you are a gardening expert, chances are good that you know a lot more about this field than the kid the home improvement store hired.

If you want to avoid competing with the large retailers altogether, consider becoming a freelance landscaper or gardener.  If you really know your stuff in these areas, you can do very well.

What You’ll Need to Succeed in a Gardening Business

As with any business, you will need to get a business license to start a gardening business.  Depending on where you live, there might also be other certifications and requirements, so be sure to check with your local licensing office for details.

A big part of learning how to start a gardening business is learning as much as you can about all the plants that grow (and don’t grow) in your area.  You should endeavor to become an expert on which plants thrive during different times of the year, in various soil conditions, and in each possible light condition.

Also consider carrying indoor plants and accessories that can be used year-round.  You don’t want your business to completely stop in the winter, if you live in an area where it snows.

You will want to stock a good number of plants, whether you decide to make your gardening business a retail store or work as a freelancer.  Get to know your local greenhouses and develop relationships with the best ones.  You will be able to negotiate wholesale rates in most cases, but quality will be more important than price.  Your customers will be willing to pay a little more for the best.

To market your gardening business, the Internet, as well as local print advertising are your best bets.  Create a website that demonstrates your expertise and the quality of your work, and make sure you work on your SEO so that the search engines find you.  You can also consider holding workshops on various gardening subjects.  These can be free workshops that will lead to the participants using your services, or you can charge for them.

Learning how to start a gardening business can be a lot of fun, and it can be a profitable business venture.  It takes work and know-how, but it’s all worth it when you look around and realize you are the owner of a thriving business!

How to Start a Karaoke Business

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If you have a friendly, outgoing personality, a decent singing voice, and don’t mind staying up late, learning how to start a karaoke business might be a good way to satisfy your entrepreneurial spirit.  You can earn a good living in the karaoke business, and it can be a lot of fun too.

There might be more to starting a karaoke business than you would expect, but nothing about it is too difficult.  In fact, anyone with good common sense, some basic business skills, and a passion for the karaoke business can do quite well.

What You’ll Need to Succeed

When deciding how to start a karaoke business, one of your first decisions will be about the kind of equipment you want to use.  The latest karaoke machines are all digital, which has many advantages, but costs more.  Then there are CD based systems that are less costly but not as easy to operate and transport.  With a CD system, you will need to carry a lot of CDs wherever you set up your karaoke machine, and with a digital system, all the music is contained in the machine digitally – which takes up a lot less room and weighs nothing.

Determining the best route to take when starting a karaoke business might have a lot to do with your budget.  If you must purchase a CD based karaoke machine, remember, you can always trade it in and upgrade to digital when your karaoke business takes off.

In addition to your karaoke machine, you will need some microphones, microphone stands, speaker stands and speakers, mixers, monitors, and amps.  Some systems come complete with everything you need, and others are sold piecemeal.

You will provide customers with song books to look through and pick out the songs they want to sing.  These books can usually be printed from the software in your karaoke machine if you have a digital system, but if you have a CD system, you will need to create your karaoke song books.

In many areas there is a lot of competition, and this is something to keep in mind when learning how to start a karaoke business.  Research the competition and make sure it is a wise decision to start a karaoke business, or if you can somehow differentiate your company from the other karaoke businesses in the market.

Something else to consider, when thinking about how to start a karaoke business, is your ability to manage a crowd.  You will usually be setting up in a bar or lounge environment, and there is a set of potential problems that comes along with people drinking alcohol.  Many of the bars will have bouncers and security, so you don’t have to be tough to start a karaoke business, but you do have to be able to deal well with people who have been drinking.

To find clients for your karaoke business, you will want to get to know the bar and club owners in your area.  You might consider offering them a lower rate as your karaoke business gets started.  Then, once you are more established and have shown you are worth more, it will be ok to charge more.  At that point, you will know that learning how to start a karaoke business was a great decision.

How to Start a Janitorial Business

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You might have a lucrative, limitless business of your own when you learn how to start a janitorial business.  In this business, you will be providing cleaning and maintenance services to businesses of all kinds.  You’ll work hard, and you might have to sacrifice some sleep in the beginning, but the payoff can be outstanding!

Many people who start a janitorial business do so from their homes for very little initial capital outlay.  And on average, these businesses profit around $40,000 in their first year.

What You’ll Need to be Successful

Before considering how to start a janitorial business, make sure there is a need in your area.  You are likely to have competition, and that’s fine, but make sure the market is not saturated.  Talk with office managers and business owners about their janitorial needs, and see where the competition is lacking.

Once you’ve decided that starting a janitorial business is a good idea, you will need to get a good insurance policy, covering your business as well as indemnifying your customers.  Most janitorial services are also bonded, and in some states you will need a specific license, in addition to your standard business license.  Check with your state to find out the requirements there.

Most of your expense when figuring out how to start a janitorial service will be for your supplies and equipment.  Some of the items you will need are:

  • Mops and brooms
  • A commercial vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning products, such as window cleaner and tile/floor cleaner
  • Trash bags
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Dusters
  • Gloves

You might also need to invest in a commercial floor buffer, if you plan on offering that service to clients with tile floors, like hospitals or department stores.

Many people who learn how to start a janitorial service decide to specialize in a particular type of business as their clients.  For example, if you get a hospital as a client, you can use that to your advantage by focusing your efforts on other hospitals in your area.  This will allow you to streamline your operation and could lead to some lucrative contracts.

It is also a good idea to try and group your cleaning jobs close together.  You’ll cut down on fuel expenses, and you will be able to take on more clients if they are all in the same general area.  Be careful though.  If you take on too many clients before you are ready, you could end up disappointing some of them, and you don’t want to get that reputation.

When you learn how to start a janitorial business, take it slow and steady, treat your customers well, and be very thorough in all your work.  If you do all that, word will get out that your janitorial business is the best, and then the sky’s the limit!

How to Start a Welcome Wagon Business

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Do you love to meet new people and have a flair for hospitality? Then learn how to start a welcome wagon business!  The purpose of a welcome wagon business is to welcome new people into your neighborhood or town by giving them a welcome basket of great stuff, provided by local businesses.

New people receiving baskets pay nothing for your service, but local store and service business owners will pay either a flat fee or commission for being included in your welcome baskets.  It is a true win-win business, as new residents feel welcomed, local merchants get to advertise their businesses inexpensively, and you make a very nice profit.

What You’ll Need to Succeed

In addition to coupons and merchandise from local businesses, your baskets will contain valuable information for those moving to your area.  This includes police and fire department information, local government contact info, and guides to local tourist sites.  Some who learn how to start a welcome wagon business are also sure to include neighborhood association information, parks and recreation details, hospital doctor’s office locations, utility company phone numbers and web sites, nearby restaurants and theatres, and other information that will help a new resident acclimate more easily.

Providing relevant, useful information and fun, valuable offers and merchandise in your baskets will be important for merchant participation as well as creating buzz about your service.

Marketing Your Welcome Wagon Business

When you learn how to start a welcome wagon business, you quickly realize you have two sets of “customers.”  The new residents who receive you baskets must be cared for, and the merchants who are placing discounts or items in your baskets are the clients who are providing your revenue.

Your marketing efforts will primarily be aimed at local merchants.  The best way to reach these business owners is to go and talk with them.  If you are not comfortable cold calling, this might not be the business for you – unless you have the resources to hire a sales person.

In addition to going to places of business to speak with business owners, you can also attend local networking events where business owners go to mingle with other like minded people.  These events are a good opportunity to meet the right people and begin a dialog, but don’t try to sell anything at the event.  Simply meet as many members of your target audience as possible, impress them with how professional and polite you are, then follow up in the days after the networking event.

Many welcome wagon businesses also create a website where they have valuable information and coupons for new residents, and merchants pay to advertise on the site.  In fact, some welcome wagon services are completely online.  If you decide to run your welcome wagon business with a website component, the key to success is making the site attractive, easy to navigate, and relevant.  Make sure all the information on the site is up to date and accurate.

Once you have realized success with your welcome wagon business, it’s time to think about expanding into other nearby communities.  You could even consider franchising your model and selling franchise licenses throughout the country.  When you learn how to start a welcome wagon business, the sky is the limit!

How to Start a Drive-In Theater

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Are you a fan of retro style and old movies? Consider learning how to start a drive-in theater. While not nearly as popular as in decades past, the drive-ins that remain really pack in the cars on a regular basis.

Starting a drive-in theater is not the easiest business to get off the ground, but if you have the drive and ambition it takes, it can be a very lucrative endeavor. Especially if you already have land in a decent location, the profit margins can be quite attractive.

What You’ll Need to Succeed

As you think about how to start a drive-in theater, decide if you’ll offer the standard snacks and soda that people buy at movie houses or if you will go a step further and provide a full service snack bar, with dinner food, like hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza. While these kinds of foods could spell disaster for a traditional theater’s seats, you won’t have to worry about that, because the seats are in the movie goers’ cars.

If you do decide to offer a wide range of food, you might need a different kind of permit or health inspection, so be sure to check on this before finalizing your decision.

Location will be the most important and maybe the trickiest part of starting a drive-in theater. You don’t want your theater to be too far from where people live, but typically cannot be very close to a residential area and must be where there is not too much light once the sun goes down.

The best case scenario would be to find an abandoned drive-in theater and renovate it to bring it up to standards. This will avoid having to start from a bare piece of land and build a snack bar, ticket booths, and screen structures.

However you end up going, you will need to purchase projection and sound equipment. Unlike the old time drive-in theaters, today’s drive-ins offer a sound system that allows patrons to listen to the movie through their vehicle’s radio, which eliminates the need to supply sound equipment at every space.

Another decision to be made when learning how to start a drive-in is whether you will offer first-run movies or classic films. The difference in fees and difficulty to acquire films is substantial, with older movies being much easier and more affordable.

Marketing A Drive-In Theater

Unless you live in a big city, word will travel fast that a new drive-in theater has opened up in town. Still, you want to do all you can to keep the buzz going and keep patrons coming back. Promotions, like family movie night, contests, and special events are a few of the things you can do to keep people interested in your theater. You could also focus on one movie genre for a week or two, like westerns or gangster movies. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.

Also remember you have a large piece of land that will only be used for movies at night. To make the most of the space and maximize your income, you can have a flea market during the day, or rent out the space for festivals and shows. Learning how to start a drive-in theater is only the beginning!