Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. -

Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 30 May 2020 05:22 AM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

15 Best Niche Industries for Startups - Small Business Trends

15 Best Niche Industries for Startups - Small Business Trends

15 Best Niche Industries for Startups - Small Business Trends

Posted: 18 Jun 2019 09:00 AM PDT

Statistics tell us thousands of entrepreneurs start businesses every year.  After four years, more than 50 percent are gone. Getting a good start is important to success, and one way to do so is by selecting from among the right niche industries.

Best Niche Industries

Here are the 15 best niche industries for startups.

1. Bottled Water

This is a money-making niche. However, there's more to it than just finding a source and bottling the water.  Steps you need to take include sanitizing the bottles and filtering the product. Sell directly to customers or look for grocery store contracts.

2. Organic Skincare

Natural products that don't harm the environment are on the rise. That includes skincare products for women. These products are so popular now, there's even a best of list for 2019. A lot of the niche products here are corralled into lines including facial masks and cleansers.

3. Self Improvement

There's a product for most everything you want to improve about yourself. Courses for everything from improving self esteem to building up your career. There are some obvious ones to start in like how to make money and personal finance.

4. SaaS Software

Selling software as a service to small businesses is big.

One of the most profitable niches right now is SaaS software products targeted towards legal and medical professionals," writes Nishank Khanna, VP, Growth Utility NYC. "Both niche segments have plenty of cash to spend on products that can streamline their workflows and save them time."

5. Inbound Leads from SaaS Software

This is a subcategory of the SaaS software niche. Start ups can make a decent living supplying the software and generating leads for clients. Khanna explains.

"Lawyers and doctors spend a lot of money on getting more inbound customers and often spend thousands each year on existing platforms for growth."

6. Travel Writer

You can monetize your vacations and maybe even turn travelling into a full time gig. Here's a tip to start selling blogs. Write personal descriptions/ accounts backed up with facts.

7. Wellness

This one has lots of room to branch out.

"Wellness is one of the biggest industries in North America right now.  Entrepreneurs can branch off into any and all directions that are relevant to what they want to do. You may start up as a personal trainer, open up a yoga studio, or create a nutrition product."– Deborah Sweeney, CEO,

8. Online Dating

What better way is there to get people together than use the Internet to setup an online dating company? There's good money in this niche. If you live in a big city, you might want to target local singles at first.

9. Home Organizing

Melisa Celikel is the CEO of Let's Get You Organized! She supplied a quick run down of how she got her business started.

"I created a Wix website, a FB business page, IG business account, and Pinterest business account," she writes. "Accepting payments through Venmo, Square, and PayPal since there's no barrier to entry with these free apps was easy."

Celikel formed an LLC on LegalZoom and got business licensing and insurance within a week.

10. Natural Dog Food

Fido's health is important to everyone who owns a dog. This is a great twist on the health market that's worth $21 billion. You'll need to be familiar with some Food and Drug Administration regulations to start.

11. Animal Rescue

You'll need to have the proper permits and licences to start this business. You'll also need to hire a staff right away to make an animal rescue work.

12. Private Label Products

"Find a product that is in high demand on Amazon or eBay. One where the top sellers are currently lacking in some area," writes Patricia Russel from FinanceMarvel. "Drop shipping a similar product with your own private label can set you up for serious long-term success when done properly."

13. Monthly Gift Basket Subscriptions

"These have been popularized on Reddit by the Dollar Shave Club," Russel says.  "The monthly subscription business is incredible because it has a low cost of entry."

She suggests a collection as-is items from Alibaba, AliExpress, or to start. Then add your own private label items.

14. Personal Finance

If you've got some education and training in this area, this is a great niche business. You can start building up a client base through public speaking engagements.

15. App Development

Almost anything that has to do with IT is startup gold. App development is no exception. Give away one version for free and then charge for more features.


More in: Comment ▼

Sarasota named #2 Best Small City to Start a Small Business - Longboat Key News

Posted: 17 Jun 2019 12:11 PM PDT

The City of Sarasota has been swirling with accolades recently in the National Press. Last month, it was named the 18th best place to live in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Just this past week, Sarasota was recognized as the #2 Best Small City to Start a Small Business by Verizon.

Verizon conducted the survey and based rankings on various factors including drive time to work, taxes, income, loans per capita and broad-band access.

Verizon gathered data from almost 300 cities across the country with populations that were required to fall between 55,000 and 75,000 residents to qualify.

The actual language describing Sarasota in the final report by Verizon says, "It's a good time to be in business in Florida it seems, cities in the Sunshine State make up 30 percent of this list's top 10 and nearly half of the top 50. What gives Sarasota the edge? Maybe it's the shorter commute time than its fellow Floridian top-tenners, Coral Gables and Doral. It could be the rich, tourist-fueled economy and thriving cultural arts scene that draw not only snowbirds

Where to Get Your Initial Startup Money - Small Business Trends

Posted: 23 May 2019 12:00 AM PDT

The biggest question on most would-be business owners' minds is, "Where will I get the money to start my business?" There are plenty of options — but some are better than others.

Startup Funding Sources

Here's an overview of the good, the bad and the ugly ways to finance your new business.

Friends and Family

Friends and family are the number-one source of startup financing for most small business owners. In a Small Business Trends survey in 2017, 26% of respondents said they considered friends and family their most reliable source of capital. After all, if your friends and family don't believe in your business, who will?

You can either borrow money from your friends and family or make them investors and give them a stake in your business. If you borrow money, make sure you treat it as a loan just as you would with a loan from a bank or credit union. Draw up loan documents (you can find templates online) and commit to repaying the money on a set schedule with interest.

Getting an investment from friends and family may seem like a better idea than borrowing because you don't have to pay the money back. But keep in mind that if your friends and family members become shareholders, they may feel entitled to take a bigger role in directing your business then you're comfortable with. Do you really want Uncle Joe telling you what to do with your website? Of course, if you do have a friend or family member whose business experience and advice could be valuable, taking them on as an investor could be a good idea.

Personal Credit Cards

Nearly two in 10 (19%) business owners in our survey think credit cards are a reliable source of financing. However, as a startup business owner, your business does not have any credit history of its own, so if you plan to use credit cards as a financing method, you'll have to use your personal credit cards at first.

Using credit cards for business financing can be risky if you don't manage your debt carefully. The best way to use credit cards is to pay for things you know you'll be able to sell for a profit, which you can then use to pay off the credit card balance. For instance, if you're starting a landscaping business and you need to buy gardening tools, plants and seeds for your first job, you could charge the purchases on a personal credit card and use the proceeds from the job to pay it off. Be aware, however, if you don't get paid before the credit card payment is due, you could end up incurring interest and get in over your head.

Personal Savings

Using your personal savings to start a business allows you to avoid going into debt or giving away any equity in your business. Investing your own money can also be a good motivator for success: when you're playing with your own money, you may be more likely to plan carefully and less likely to take unnecessary risks than you would if someone else is footing the bill.

If you don't have personal savings you can tap into, look for ways you can raise cash to put towards your business. For instance, if you have two cars, could you sell one for startup capital? Perhaps you have a collection of vintage Star Wars figurines or some old savings bonds you could convert to cash. Of course, you can also delay your startup a bit and build up your savings while you plan for your business launch.


Microloans are small loans, sometimes as little as a few hundred dollars, often designated to assist business owners who have limited work experience, live in underserved communities or are starting businesses that will help give back to the community. If you need a small amount of money, such as $5,000 to $10,000, a microloan could be the perfect solution. Kiva and Accion are two well-known microlenders. Is a portal that matches entrepreneurs with micro-lenders nationwide. The SBA also offers microloans through specially designated intermediary lenders; the average SBA microloan amount is about $13,000.

Bank and SBA Loans

The first place you think of going for startup capital might be the bank. In reality, it's very rare for startup businesses to receive a loan from a bank or even an SBA guaranteed loan (loans made through participating banks and partly guaranteed by the SBA). Some 75% to 80% of SBA loans go to established companies, according to LenCred founder Tom Gazaway.

Why is it so hard to get a bank loan? In order to help make sure they'll get their money back, lenders typically want to see things a startup business doesn't have: a documented track record of success, financial statements showing adequate sales to service the loan, and a strong business credit history.

You may have a better chance of getting a startup bank loan if you can demonstrate some degree of business success, such as signed orders from customers, and if you have a strong personal credit score. You may also have more success with online lending sources, which sometimes have more lenient criteria for loan approval.


If you expect to finance your start up through crowdfunding, it's time for a reality check. Although crowdfunding sites generate a lot of buzz, very few businesses actually get financing this way. (In reality, 63.71% of Kickstarter projects failed as of August 2018.)

Successfully crowdfunding your business requires a lot of hard work, including a well-thought-out media campaign to attract attention, a tantalizing offer for your contributors and an exciting product that has the potential to generate lots of buzz among consumers (such as a new tech gadget). Get the scoop about crowdfunding.

Venture Capital

Venture capital investments are setting records—but unless you are starting the next Facebook, don't expect VCs to finance your business. Just 0.5% of entrepreneurs get capital from venture capitalists, reports Scott Shane, A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University. Venture capitalists expect a return of at least 10 times their investment, seek companies with huge growth potential and will expect to take a lead role in managing your business (which probably isn't something you want anyway).

Angel Capital

Angels are wealthy individuals who invest their own money in small businesses, either individually or as part of angel groups. However, angels generally don't invest in businesses at the startup stage. They'll want to see proof your business is already successful with a strong potential for growth that can bring them a big return on investment. Learn more about what an angel investor looks for when investing.

Franchise Loans

Are you buying a franchise business? If so, you may be that rare startup that's able to get a bank loan. Franchisees are considered more fundable than the average startup because the franchisor is there to help them through the risky startup stages. Since you'll be working from a proven franchise system, not your own business plan, lenders can feel more confident they'll get their money back. In addition, many franchisors have approved lending sources to which they direct new franchisees.

Grants and Awards

Contrary to what you may have heard, the government doesn't hand out free money to start businesses like candy. Most grants are for nonprofits; the grants for for-profit startups that do exist are few and far between, and generally require your business to meet stringent criteria. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide grant money for firms doing research that can lead to commercially viable technology. If you've got a lot of patience, you can search for federal government agency grants at Also check out these grants for small businesses.

Where Not to Get Startup Money

There are a couple places you should never turn for startup money. Don't put your home or your financial future at risk to start your own business. If you take out a home equity line of credit or get a second mortgage on your home to finance startup, you could end up losing your home (and destroying your credit rating in the bargain). By the same token, don't borrow from your retirement plan to launch a business unless you are nowhere near retirement and feel confident you can rebuild your nest egg if need be.

By looking in the right places, you can find the startup money you need. It just takes time, patience and the willingness to get creative.

Image: 3 Comments ▼

Growing Trees for Profit - These Are the Best to Grow - Small Business Trends

Posted: 13 Jun 2019 06:00 AM PDT

When you think about growing trees for profit, you probably picture huge forests full of trees being harvested for lumber. But in fact, the USDA's economic research has found that growing smaller, nursery trees is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. agriculture market.

Growing Trees for Profit is a Great Small Business

This is great news for small businesses. Nursery trees, like those used in landscaping or as decorative features for homeowners, require much less space and expensive equipment to grow. This makes it more possible to get started and easier to turn a profit in a short period of time.

Best Species when Growing Trees for Profit

If you're interested in breaking into the tree growing business, here are some of the most popular types, including nursery trees and others, that you might consider.


Dogwood is a type of flowering tree that is popular for homeowners. In the early stages, you can grow it in a pot, then it can grow larger when transplanted in the ground. It's able to grow in climates throughout North America, and is fairly hearty.

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple is another tree that is popular in home landscaping projects. You can sell these directly to homeowners in pots or work with local landscaping companies. They don't get especially large, so you can theoretically grow a lot of them in a small space.

Bonsai Trees

Bonsai trees are small, potted trees that are popular in Japanese culture, but have made their way to a global audience as well. They're popular decorative features for home and office interiors. And you can sell them at a decent price without the need for a ton of growing space. This makes it an especially attractive option for city dwellers or those with limited area.


Elm trees grow to be fairly large, but they're popular because they provide a ton of shade to neighborhood. You can grow them in large pots to get started, then sell them to homeowners once they're ready to transplant. These require a bit more outdoor area. But you can also sell them at a higher price than many smaller landscaping trees.

Almond Trees

If you want to grow trees and actually keep tending to them for years, you might consider growing trees that produce a crop. Almonds are very popular right now. You can sell them to customers at farmers' markets or to food producers who make products like almond milk or almond flour.

Avocado Trees

Avocados are also very in demand right now. You need to be in a southern state like Florida, California or Texas to really make these trees thrive. But if you can offer locally grown avocados to consumers at local markets, you can charge a premium for fresh produce.


Willow trees produce shoots that are fairly flexible. This makes them perfect for basket weaving and other types of handcrafted goods. Even a single willow tree can continuously produce enough shoots to help you turn a profit. So whether you have a ton of room or just a small space for one tree, you can turn your willow growing into a business.

Shrub Trees

For those who don't have a ton of room to work with, shrub trees like arborvitae could be a perfect option. These trees are popular in landscaping projects, and homeowners often purchase many of them for privacy and/or aesthetics around their property. You can even grow a steady stream of them to supply local landscapers.

Flowering Cherry

Flowering cherry trees are popular in neighborhoods throughout the country. They produce colorful flowers and small fruit that are popular with birds. You can sell them to homeowners or landscapers early in the growing process while they're still in pots so they can be transplanted into the ground.

Christmas Trees

This one requires a bit more space. But if you have a fair amount of land, you can start growing evergreen trees in rows to eventually sell as Christmas trees. You'll need to continuously plant new ones to keep your supply going year after year. But these trees require very little maintenance and only require you to staff a business for a couple months out of the year.


Comment ▼


Popular posts from this blog

COVID-19: New business ideas emerge as people work from home - The Jakarta Post - Jakarta Post

Here are 5 myths about side hustles you can't afford to ignore - CNBC

5 Last-Minute Ideas for a Successful Small Business Saturday - Entrepreneur