Saturday, June 15, 2019

10 Small Business Ideas for the Passionate Entrepreneur - Thrive Global

10 Small Business Ideas for the Passionate Entrepreneur - Thrive Global

10 Small Business Ideas for the Passionate Entrepreneur - Thrive Global

Posted: 14 Jun 2019 09:15 AM PDT

you could start, manage and grow yourself, something you could run from home, an entrepreneurial adventure that could profit you immensely… And yet, you're dry on ideas.

But any idea to kick off business require start-up funding is really challenging.  Here, we list ten most interesting, likely successful business ideas for your start-up:

1.    Cleaning Services:

This is a universal, always-in-demand business. Reliable, affordable quality cleaning services are needed almost everywhere. In fact, there are quite a number of directions you can take your cleaning business. Would you like to cater homes, or offices, restaurants or shops? Some places, such as restaurants, require more thorough cleaning than others. A lot of times, businesses require cleaners at late timings, once they've closed for the day. Mostly, for services like these, you hardly need to spend on marketing because your customers come as word spreads in your neighborhood.

2.    Household Organizer:

In too many homes, clutter and disorder is a serious enough problem for family members, especially moms, to seek outside help. You could choose to act as a consultant who helps the family organize by giving suggestions, or you could come into the house and do the organizing for them.

You'd have to understand how the family uses the different rooms in the house, and what work each family member does, to give useful advice on how to organize. You could use questionnaires and organizers, and a horde of organizing ideas to help make their home a more comfortable, manageable place to live.

3.    Interior Designer:

If you have the talent in making indoor scenes look alive and welcoming, you could get paid for it. Although many interior designers are trained and certified, what the art requires is insight. It requires an understanding of the people who live in the house, their lifestyle and preferences, and then using that knowledge to tailor their home's interior appropriately.

Interior Designers can use their creativity to make dark, narrow places look vibrant, colorful and spacious. They can make ordinary rooms look more attractive with simple, low-cost solutions.

4.    Used Book Sales:

Most avid readers own great quality originals they are unwilling to part with. In fact, almost everyone has a stash of unused books they don't know what to do with. Book sellers can acquire these books for almost free, clean and sort them and sell them for a lot less than their market price. For you to gain customers, especially repeat customers, you'll need regular shop hours. If you focus on a particular category of books, you could create a baseline of customers who regularly shop for books from you.

5.    Wedding Planner

This is the kind of help most brides need. You'll need to know the trending fashions and fads, the colors of the season and the hottest dress styles. You can advise your client on the best and most affordable options in the market, helping them choose flowers, wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, beauty parlors, venues, invitation cards, caterers and the one million other things you need for a wedding. For you to become the go-to wedding planner in town, you must know every intricacy of the business. This gives your client the comfort that they have someone they can rely on during this stressful time.

6.    Event Planner

This idea is quite similar to the last, although these events may usually be smaller in scale than weddings. Event planning requires insight into the possibilities across town, you may have to visit all the possible nearby venues and find all relevant details. You could then easily advise your clientele of the venue that suits them best considering the kind and scale of their event. Is it a grand birthday party, an anniversary, or an engagement? What kind of d├ęcor would be appropriate; would you need a cake? All these would be questions the event planner would be left to decide.

7.    Freelance Graphic Designer

Owing to the involvement of graphics in almost all visuals, graphic designers are very much in demand. Freelancers with the expertise and the name, can be hired by websites, start-ups and businesses that require anything from fliers and newsletters to magazines and advertisements. Even if you're only good at designing, you can offer potential clients more, including editorial creation and the printing and distribution of the work. You can also employ other freelancers for the work you cannot do yourself.

8.    Graffiti Removal

Equip yourself with an arsenal of products that could clean spray paint, chalk or markers from all kinds of surfaces, and get to work cleaning your neighborhood. Some spots are famous among late-night graffiti artists, and many public buildings and private properties require this kind of maintenance. You can even arrange an interval deal, wherein you clean their property every month or quarter, and charge accordingly.

9.    Landscaper

Most houses need regular yard maintenance, and many house-owners don't have the time. Yards need different kinds of service throughout the year. They need leaves to be cleared out during fall, snow shoveled from the driveways in winter; seeds need to be sowed in the spring, and regular mowing is needed in the summer. You can offer your client a variety of annuals and perennials, kitchen gardens for home-grown vegetables, trimming and pruning, and pest control.

10.  Flea Market

Almost everyone has highly useful, interesting things they own that they never get the chance to use. It's your job to find those things, convince them to part with them, and name a good price. Once you have an inventory of small, use-able things, you'll almost certainly have a ton of customers spending their weekend rummaging your collection for stuff they like. You'll get a larger profit margin because used things may even be obtained for free.

Think Small Business Trends Rocks? Vote Us as the Freshest in Small Biz! - Small Business Trends

Posted: 14 Jun 2019 01:30 PM PDT

How would you describe a great small business? We're talking about a business that provides top notch service to its customers day in and day out.

Here at Small Business Trends we know that's not easy. And we know this because of the small businesses we work with and report on every day. We also know this because, as a small business ourselves, we work hard day in and day out to deliver our best.

We make that effort for the benefit of you, our readers.

So if you think Small Business Trends rocks when it comes to delivering practical content with targeted tips, trends and answers to your toughest questions – then cast your vote for us below by June 27th.

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What Does it Mean to Be The Freshest in Small Business?

Freshlime serves as a customer platform built specifically for local service-based business. They offer a good perspective on what it means to serve customers well. The company's Freshest in Small Business awards describes a fresh business as a "small business that rocks it day in and day out to provide the best service possible to their customers."

We couldn't agree more.

We've  interviewed plenty of successful entrepreneurs and small business owners. And we'd say the one thing they all have in common is a dedication to serving their customers. It happens to be something we all share in common. Small Business Trends has been serving the small business community since 2003.

And we hope to be serving our readers for many more years to come.

But like all small businesses, we need the support of our customers — our readers — to do that.

Have you gotten helpful tips from an article that helped you change the course of your business? Or have you found yourself inspired by one of the profiles in our Small Business Spotlight series? Did you ever read one of our entrepreneur interviews that made you rethink your marketing, technology investment or other aspects of your operation? Or have you simply read an article or seen a small business quiz result or factoid that made you go — hmm?

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Seven Ways To Save Time With Small Business Automation - Forbes

Posted: 14 Jun 2019 04:00 AM PDT

Running a small business may not seem too challenging from a distance. After all, it's a small business, so how much operational and management work could there be? But since I started my own agency, I've realized that running a small business or firm isn't as easy as it looks.

The good news is that there are plenty of best practices small businesses can follow to save time and manage their tasks more efficiently with the help of automation. Through experience and research, I've narrowed down on a few tips to help small businesses make the most of automation.

Automate Personalized Emails To Nurture Leads

If small businesses struggle to efficiently follow up with their leads, they may end up missing out on potential conversions. I highly recommend automating personalized emails triggered by specific actions. This will ensure that you reach your prospects while they're in the most vital stages of the sales funnel and that you can send out timely follow-up emails.

Tools like ActiveCampaign can help you carry this out: The platform allows you to set behavioral triggers to automate your emails so you can effectively nurture your leads. GetResponse also has a similar email marketing feature at competitive rates for small businesses.

Streamline Your Purchase Orders

Plenty of small businesses have ineffective procurement and purchase order processes. They waste their time on repetitive tasks that could easily be automated, often resulting in accidental process repetition. In fact, a report conducted by PayStream Advisors found that 54% of companies are still entering their invoice details manually. And small and medium-sized enterprises are the largest users of ineffective, paper-based invoice receipts.

This makes it crucial to streamline your procurement and purchase order processes in order to save time, improve productivity and avoid mistakes. I suggest using automation tools like PurchaseControl to create automation workflows and automatically send out purchase requisitions for approval. The tool helps you maintain all relevant information in one place, making it easier to quickly process vendor invoices for payment. Precoro is another excellent tool to simplify the process of routing purchase orders for approval: You can automaticity allocate cost centers and get notified about budget overspends.

Create An Efficient Payroll Process

If you have full-time employees, you know just how time-consuming it is to manage their payroll. There's a lot that you need to take into consideration, including state and federal regulation compliance. As a result, I highly recommend automating your payroll management process to create a more efficient system.

Deluxe Payroll is an excellent platform for this because it lets you develop a system that's customized according to the needs of your company with the help of a payroll specialist. Paychex also offers a similar payroll and HR solution to optimize your payroll process.

Organize Your Tasks More Efficiently

One of the biggest challenges I faced when I started my agency had to do with task management and assignment. I started out with several freelancers and already had a few clients. This made it hard to keep track of who was working on which project, and which projects were due soon. It was only once I started automating the process of task scheduling and management that things became more organized and on track.

I use Trello to create separate boards for different clients and projects. The tool lets you create assignments for specific team members, upload briefs and set due dates. This makes it so much easier to automatically keep track of how a project is progressing. You could also use a tool like Zapier to build workflows and automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks. The platform connects with multiple apps so you can smoothly exchange data between your apps.

Manage Your Calendar More Efficiently

When you're running a small business, it's very easy to miss appointments and meetings due to lack of calendar organization. You have plenty of operational and management tasks to oversee, so it can be difficult to keep track of your other obligations. You might even get double-booked by accident because you missed one vital email.

Hiring an assistant to manage your schedule can solve this problem. However, you might not have the budget to hire someone. I would suggest using a tool like Calendly to simplify this process and organize your schedule more efficiently. This is a simple automation tool that lets you set your availability and send out an email invitation. The email contains an embedded link, which the recipient can click on to view your calendar of availability. From there, they can choose the date and time that works for them, and the tool will automatically schedule the event in your calendar. 

If your business involves client appointments, you could use a tool like instead. This platform allows clients to book an appointment and confirm their attendance through your booking page.

Provide Better Customer Service

Small businesses have a limited customer base, so bad customer service can destroy their whole operation. This makes it crucial to provide the best level of customer service by keeping track of customer complaints and addressing them in a timely manner.

I would suggest using a tool like FreshDesk to set up a ticketing system to manage your customer complaints more efficiently. It also lets you create pre-formatted replies for common questions, helping you provide speedier responses. Zendesk Support also lets you automate your customer service workflows and deliver timely, relevant solutions to your customers.

Some of these tools are designed to automate repetitive tasks, while others can help you streamline your processes for efficiency. Consider implementing these types of tools and the best practices above to save time and focus on the most important aspects of your business.  

Equity investment in small businesses hits record level - Financial Times

Posted: 13 Jun 2019 04:01 PM PDT

A record £6.7bn in equity investment went to small UK businesses in 2018 as foreign investors continued to make long-term bets on British companies.

The British Business Bank's annual Small Business Equity Tracker report showed that there was a 5 per cent annual increase in equity investment last year, driven by regions outside London, although the capital still attracted £6 out of every £10 in funding.

The report, which looks at crowdfunding, angel investing and public and private sector funds, found that equity investment outside London increased by 29 per cent to hit £2.8bn in 2019. There were fewer deals in 2018 than 2017 but the average size increased 11 per cent to £4.5m. 

Alice Hu Wagner, managing director for strategy at BBB, said she expected the growth to continue. "The UK has improved a lot. The ecosystem is maturing and the venture capital investors have more experience," she said.

Ms Wagner added that most investors were from overseas and saw Britain as better value than the US. "There have also been some big successful exits so they know they can make returns," she said.

The BBB, a state-owned wholesale lender, was set up after the financial crisis to boost the flow of long-term capital to small businesses after lending to them collapsed in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis recession. 

Equity investment, which has a five-year or more timeframe, is often more appropriate for growing businesses — especially in the tech sector, because it allows them to concentrate on growth rather than repaying debt.

Many venture capital firms are establishing offices in provincial cities to better source investment opportunities, according to Ms Wagner. Edinburgh, Cambridge, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Bristol were among the 15 local authority areas with the most deals; the rest were in London.

London's figures fluctuate annually because they are based on a few "megadeals" that can be worth hundreds of millions of pounds each.

The BBB runs some investment funds and cofunds others. It estimates it supported around 9 per cent of all equity deals in UK SMEs between 2016 and 2018, accounting for around 13 per cent of overall equity investment.

The government has allocated up to £2.5bn in extra funding for the bank to help businesses through Brexit. Last year it launched British Patient Capital, a fund to invest the money, with a particular focus on companies that are seeking the next stage of their growth after the start-up period.

Entrepreneurs have been critical of the UK's ability to take fast-growing companies to the next stage of development, which has led to many being sold to overseas rivals. British Patient Capital seeks to provide long term financing through its investment in venture capital funds, which give companies options other than a sale.

To date, the fund has made 31 investments across the venture capital sector, backing 200 tech-focused companies, according to Catherine Lewis La Torre, chief executive of British Patient Capital. She said that the UK was already ahead of the rest of the EU as a tech hub. The fund wants its investments to play to the UK's strengths, with an emphasis on areas such as AI, quantum computing and robotics.

Business leaders are concerned about the future of the British start-up industry in the event of a hard Brexit. On Monday, Theresa May told London Tech Week, a series of tech-themed events held in the capital, that she commissioned a study of UK tech competitiveness, aiming to "make sure Britain stays the best place in Europe to launch and grow a start-up". This could include setting up a new hub, or series of hubs, for international investors and UK businesses.

This article has been amended to correct the title of Catherine Lewis.

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