Open Your Mind to Quality Business Ideas

The economy is struggling, and everyone knows it. Some people are not sure if they want to call it a recession or not, but these are not good times. So if you are like everyone else, and you don’t really feel like going around and begging for jobs, then you might want to start your own business. Try to have some control of your own destiny with quality business ideas. Whether you have a specialty or just a good idea that can make money, you might want to jump at the opportunity to work for yourself. Work with the people you want and run things the way that you would like once you launch an endeavor with one of your own business ideas. I have some of my own business ideas, but they are relatively expensive, and I don’t have a whole lot of money to fund them. Luckily, it is not my job to generate business ideas. I have plenty of time to pursue my business ideas should I get inspired. If you are bordering on a mid-life crisis or you have to talk yourself out of assaulting your boss on a daily basis, then it might be time for you to go in another direction and explore some business ideas. Here are some well-thought out business ideas from Entrepreneur.com.

Real estate appraiser – Real estate appraisers are specialists in estimating the value of land and the structures on that land. Real estate appraisals are commonly required when people buy a home, sell a home, apply for or renew a mortgage, for insurance purposes, to settle estates, and to settle divorce cases. It is the job of the real estate appraiser to prepare a written description of the property, and draw a diagram of the property that shows structures. Appraisers must also verify legal descriptions of the property with county or city records, along with an estimated market value. Fair-market values are based on factors such as property condition, the values of homes in close proximity, and building replacement costs, using building valuation manuals and professional cost estimators.

Making canoe paddles – Millions of people around the world enjoy canoeing as an outdoor recreational sport. A business that manufactures wooden canoe and kayak paddles can be established right from a home based garage workshop, and requires only a small investment into woodworking equipment to get going. The canoe paddles can be sold on a wholesale basis to recreation retail stores, as well as directly to consumers by displaying the paddles for sale at outdoor and recreation trade shows. Additional revenues for this type of manufacturing business can also be gained by manufacturing and selling related canoe and kayak products such as yokes, canoe replacement seats and custom wood gunnel trim kits.

One of many business ideas for pet lovers

Dog day care – Day care facilities for dogs are becoming increasingly popular, especially as more and more caring dog owners are realizing the benefits of leaving their beloved dogs at day care with other dogs instead of at home alone while they are at work. Dogs, like people, are social creatures and need contact with people and other dogs to become well behaved and confident. However, a doggie day care should not be confused with a kennel, which boards animals for short- and long-term time spans. A doggie day care is strictly a drop off in the morning and pick up in the evening, or anytime during the day, type of operation. If space allows and your neighbors don’t mind the barking, you can open at home. A better alternative is to rent commercial warehouse space and convert it into a doggie day spa, complete with water features, fenced outdoor space and indoor couches to ensure your clients have all the creature comforts they are used to at home. Some doggie day care centers install web cams throughout their facility so people at work can watch the live footage online. Current rates are in the range of $20 to $35 per day, with discounts for weekly service.

There is no telling what business ideas will take off so keep your mind open.

Business Centers in the United States

Doing some research on the web, I came across an article about the top 10 business centers in the United States. If you are thinking about moving or want to start a business somewhere new, the article is both fun to read and informative. Here are a few cities and what was said about them from the list. (The complete list is here)

San Francisco:

San Francisco, one of the largest business centers, includes the Oakland and San Jose regions for the purposes of the MarketWatch study, and its ties to Silicon Valley are what propelled it to this list. “Quality of life” plays an important role in the Bay Area’s inclusion on the list. Its residents, and business leaders apparently don’t mind the high price involved for real estate and various consumer goods. “From a cost-of-living standpoint, it makes you wonder why the Bay Area would continue to be as successful as it is,” said Michael Jacobson, a spokesman for chip giant Intel Corp.

New York:

The Big Apple has the third-highest concentration of small businesses of any metro area, and therefore makes it a business center for the United States. Its standing as the nation’s financial center propelled it to fourth place on the S&P 500 list. It also was ninth in concentration of Russell 2000 companies and 11th in both Fortune 1000 and Forbes 400 rankings. If the study had used just those five categories, it would have placed second behind Minneapolis-St. Paul. But it dropped down the list due to sub-par rankings in population growth, job growth and unemployment, where it ranked 47th. The jobless rate in New York averaged 5.2 percent for the months surveyed.

Washington, D.C.:

Having the world’s most powerful government in your hometown is good for any economy. It makes for a plentiful source of direct jobs, not to mention steady work for federal contractors and therefore a financially secure business center. The feds, coupled with a growing private sector, vaulted the Washington, D.C., area, which includes suburban Virginia and Maryland, to the top spot in the unemployment category. The region was the only one of all 50 metro areas to post a sub-3 percent unemployment average for the sample months. It also posted a solid finish in the job-growth category.

The nation’s capital also is a breeding ground for younger companies, as it fared well in the Russell category. D.C. is known as a business center for small, up and coming ventures. It was in the top 20 in S&P and population growth categories, and the middle of the pack or below in others. But the area’s sunny job prospects are what vaulted the D.C. area to the top 10. And much of that came courtesy of the federal government, which pumped $55 billion into the local economy. A move toward using local contractors helped the D.C. area supplant California several years ago as the top region for federal spending, said Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center of Regional Analysis. He said the federal government was like a “rich uncle” to the D.C. area.

Denver:

The Mile-High City made it to second place of business centers in the U.S. for various reasons. It placed in the top 20 in all categories except job growth, where it ranked 28th. Denver was particularly strong in the small-business and Russell 2000 categories, where it ranked second and sixth, respectively. Generally, though, Denver’s slow and steady recovery from the oil industry’s mass exodus to Texas in the 1980s ushered in a diverse economy. The region first attracted a number of cable and satellite operators like Echostar Communications Corp.The region steadily progressed over the years, but it hasn’t spiked to any great degree, says Joe Blake, chief executive of the Denver Chamber of Commerce. “I can understand how we would be in the middle toward the top of the Top 10, but not at the [very] top,” Blake said.

So, there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the brief rundown of business centers in the United States!

Don’t be Scared of Business News

I get overwhelmed when I read the business page, and now with the Internet and constant access to business news, I can’t decide whether it is smarter to try and keep up with it or to become a hermit and forget about business news. I mean business news changes constantly. It is like trying to keep up with 100 kindergartners. It can truly drive me crazy. But I have decided that it is probably best for everyone to at least stay apprised of what is going on in business news, especially if you have a job, a house, a bank account, stocks or any combination of these things. What you can learn from business news will affect you, whether you want it to or not, so don’t shy away. Just be smart about the information you hear and do with it what is best for you.

Business News Today

Like I said, business news is constantly changing, but it seems on the financial side of things, there is so much going on at present. Here are a couple of today’s breaking news headlines from BusinessWeek.com, and surprisingly neither one is too scary.

Oil Falls on Weak Demand Report – Oil prices pulled back sharply Wednesday after the government released data suggesting that the high price of oil and gasoline are depressing demand for petroleum products.

The demand numbers in the Energy Information Administration’s weekly inventory report overshadowed data showing that supplies of oil grew less than expected last week, while gasoline and heating oil supplies fell.

Gas prices at the pump, meanwhile, slipped lower for the third day while diesel fuel rose to another record.

Overall consumption of oil and its products fell by 3.2 percent over the last four weeks compared to the same period last year, the EIA said. Demand for gasoline fell by 1 percent over the same period.

Apple May Offer Free Music Access – Apple Inc. is negotiating with record labels over a deal to give iPhone and iPod customers free access to the entire iTunes music library if they pay extra for the devices.

The Financial Times is reporting that the sticking point in the talks is how much Cupertino-based Apple will pay the record labels for the access. The newspaper cites unnamed music industry sources for Wednesday’s report.

The newspaper reports that Apple is looking at offering the unlimited music bundle with for the iPod and iPhone, and also a monthly music subscription service only for the iPhone.

See, there is a good chance that one, if not both, of these articles affects you, and niether of them is bad! So don’t be pessimistic about business news. Trust me, it is can be more than you’ve cracked it up to be.

The Next Generation for Business Intelligence

Some people think that business intelligence comes from age and experience, but in this technological age, we are learning that this ideal does not necessarily hold water any longer. Nothing proved it to me more than an article I read today, “Meet the Whiz Kids: 10 Overachievers Under 21” on http://tech.msn.com/news, about 10 young people who have taken business intelligence and gave it a new number, and that new number is under 21 – 21 years of age, that is. Here are two of the young entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators who took their business intelligence and helped communities.

Ben Casnocha, 19 – Business Intelligence for the People

Few people of any age have started a software company and written a book — and considerably fewer 19-year-olds have. But Ben Casnocha is one of them.

Inspired by a teacher who made him memorize Apple’s Think Different ads, Casnocha founded Comcate, which sells software designed to help local governments resolve citizen complaints. The specific impetus came from having “a personal experience where I realized how poor some local governments were at dealing with customer service.” It was the second company Casnocha had started; he was 14 years old.

At age 17, Casnocha was named one of the nation’s top 25 entrepreneurs under 25 by Business Week for his work running Comcate, yet he also found time to be captain of his high school basketball team and editor of his school newspaper.

Cosnocha defines business intelligence by taking a feeling and an idea and turning it into a mission that is truly needed.

Garrett Yazzie, 16 – Business Intelligence that Saves the Environment

Garret Yazzie wasn’t trying to become a teenage celebrity when he invented a solar home heater out of a 1967 Pontiac radiator and 69 aluminum soda cans. The then-13-year-old was merely trying to heat his family’s trailer on Arizona’s Navajo Indian Reservation, which had no running water and limited electricity.

That invention garnered Yazzie national attention. He won first place at the 2005 Arizona American Indian Science and Engineering Fair and was one of 40 finalists (out of 7,500 applicants) to attend the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge in Washington, D.C. Arizona State University created a scholarship in his name.

The next year, he invented a water wheel using an industrial-size cable spool connected to a 10-speed bicycle and an alternator. The wheel produced enough electricity to power a refrigerator or light up a mountain cabin. He again won the American Indian science fair and placed as a semifinalist in the Discovery Channel challenge.

At the challenge, Garrett met the Pierz family, who offered to take him in and provide a better education than he could get at home. Now 16, he’s a sophomore at a private prep school in Clarkston, Mich. He hopes to take his business intelligence and return to Arizona and build a business that designs and sells alternative energy devices.

Taking the Plunge

There are few things in life that produce such rewards as those earned from starting a business. True, starting a business involves tremendous amounts of hard work and financial commitment. And yes, those planning on starting a business do so at considerable risk. But, as anyone who’s started a business will tell you, whether the business succeeds or fails, the lessons learned and the satisfaction earned were worth it.

If you are planning on starting a business you need to make sure you do a few very important things before taking the plunge.

1) Have you determined if starting a business is financially viable? If you are planning on striking it rich immediately, you are in for a rude awakening. Many people who start businesses fail to realize that for the first few months, and in some cases years, they will be paying their business before they pay themselves. If you’re not sure you can stay afloat, you should re-evaluate whether or not you should be starting a business.

2) Have you developed a business plan? Starting a business involves serious planning along every step. From articulating business objectives and mission statements, to identifying your consumers and competition, a well-thought out business plan will help you know if your business idea is viable.

3) Have to talked to other business owners? For many, the lifestyle of a new business owner comes as a big shock. Your free time suddenly evaporates and vacations become a thing of the distant past. Make sure you ask your loved ones and yourself if you are okay with that.

4) Do you have the personality that will carry you through starting a business? After all is said and done, you need to honestly evaluate your personality and determine if you have the right personality for starting a business. I know, it seems trite, but unless you possess an abundance of determination, passion and patience, you will more than likely fail in your attempt to start a business.

If, after completing the tasks mentioned above, you still are convinced that starting a business is the right thing for you to do then you should take pride in knowing that you are embarking on one of the more rewarding journeys a person can take.

Starting a business is far from easy. It takes brains, stubborn determination, excessive patience and a level of passion that only other entrepreneurs can relate to. Many business owners will tell you that it wasn’t that they wanted to start a business; they had to start a business.

The entrepreneurial spirit is something that cannot be learned. You either have it or you don’t. And if you do, you’ll find that starting a business is something you must do. You may succeed. You may fail. But at the end of the day, you’ll be happy you made the decision to start your own business.

Small Business Loans

So, you want to start a business but don’t have the start up? No problem, try looking into small business loans.

Naurys Marte, an expert on small business loans has written a comprehensive article about the subject. According to him:

As a small business owner, your most difficult task is finding the money to operate your business. Taking the necessary steps to prepare for a small business loan can minimize the difficulty. Learn what you need to know to clinch the loan deal.

Banks and other lending institutions cite risk factors as their main reason for turning down small business loan requests from startup businesses. Yet, you can still get a loan for your business by proper preparation.

Avoid the common error of thinking you can start with grants from the government and community agencies. It is even more unlikely than getting the money from your own savings, family, friends, or a bank.

The main requirements of attaining a small business loan are your personal credit history, business plan, experience, education, and feasibility of the business you are starting or expanding.

The most important task to obtain a small business loan is preparing a business plan.

The business plan needs to show the lender that providing you with a small business loan is a low-risk proposition. Your business plan must answer the questions a lending institution would ask. These questions usually are:

How much money do you need?

If you are starting a business, this should be included at least in the start-up capital estimate. Accuracy is important, so request enough money to invest wisely.

What are you going to do with the money?

You will have to provide, in detail, the designated use of every dollar requested. A small business loan is often needed for: operations (new employees, marketing, etc.), assets (equipment, real estate, etc.), or to pay off business debts.

When will you repay the small business loan?

Explain in detail how this small business loan will serve as a stepping-stone for your business. You will need to convince the lender (with your financial statements and cash flow projections) that you are able to repay the loan through the expected long-term profitability of your business.

What will you do if you don’t get the loan?

Let lenders know that rejection will not discourage you from starting or growing your business. You want to portray a confident and determined personality and you will try lender after lender until you receive the money you need to get your business moving.

As a small business owner, you will need a certain degree of fortitude. Be confident and proud of your venture. Let lenders know you are in control and know what’s best for you and your business. Understand that lending institutions need to make loans. But if you don’t get one, don’t get discouraged. Ask the lender why you didn’t get the small business loan. Learn from the answer, move on, and try other lenders.

So, from the pen of an expert, get out there with your dream and new information in hand and get a small business loan to make your dream, a reality.

Business Ethics

As the mortgage industry continues to collapse under the weight of its own failings, I cannot help but be reminded of the Worldcom and Enron debacles that dominated headlines and ruined lives and pensions earlier this decade. And while big business promised to learn from those tragic stories, it appears that history is something to be discounted. After all, scandal is what happens to companies with questionable ethics.

Contrary to popular opinion, business ethics is not an oxymoron. Though most of us would argue that it is increasingly apparent that corporate America wants not to be bothered with such trivial matters. Business ethics are unworkable theories that belong in non-profits. They’re talking points that belong in college classrooms not boardrooms.

With attitudes like that, it’s not hard to see why we face the situation we are in. Business ethics in the mortgage industry, it seems, have taken a backburner to profits. Sadly, for many of us, this comes as no surprise.

Some may argue that the blame should not be placed solely on the shoulders of the mortgage industry. They would have you believe that shoddy business ethics have nothing to do with what is happening. I disagree.

Business ethics do not advocate predatory lending. Nor would any company in possession of even one ethical fiber sit back and ignore the fact that millions of people were getting into home loans they simply could not afford. The same ethical void that led to the implosion of Enron and Worldcom is at work today. Greed is not a business ethic.

I find it funny that if you visit any bookstore and take a walk through the business section, you will find book upon book espousing the virtues of rock solid business ethics. I find it interesting that courses in business ethics are mandatory at business schools around the world. Yet it appears that so long as you take the class or read the book, you’re covered. I mean come on; life in books is easy, real life involves decisions that transcend ethics.

For me, business ethics is a redundant term. Why differentiate between one’s business ethics and one’s regular ethics? Are there so many differences that they need to be separated? Are there certain ethics that one can ignore in business but not everyday life?

Maybe that designation is part of the problem. Perhaps if more business leaders simply erased the line between business ethics and normal ethics we’d no longer find ourselves in such messes.

Somehow, I doubt that will ever happen.

A Touch of Class

As an avid cyclist, I’m routinely looking for good deals on cycling gear. And if you know anything about cycling, you know that good deals are essential, unless of course you’re okay with monstrous credit card balances. Come spring, I visit most of the local cycling shops and do my share of helping the online economy. However, the one resource I’ve found most helpful is eBay®.

My guess is that unless you live under a rock, you’ve used or at the very least, heard of eBay®. Billed as the world’s largest marketplace, eBay® is truly a global market where people flock to buy and sell any number of goods. Looking for a hard-to-find part for your car? Try eBay®. Want to sell off some of your stamp collection or vintage LPs? Sell them on eBay®. Really, if you’re a buyer eBay® will have a seller. And if you’re a seller, eBay® will get you your buyer.

But maybe you don’t feel comfortable doing business on eBay®. That’s okay, because thanks to a number of companies, it is possible to take an eBay® class. So why would anyone take an eBay® class? More importantly, where can you take an eBay® class?

The reasons for taking an eBay® class are varied, but perhaps the most important reason is to gain the confidence you need to buy and sell items on eBay®. However, for folks already familiar with eBay®, who are looking to set up an eBay® business, taking an eBay® class will help them understand how to do so.

As mentioned, there are many companies, both online and traditional, that offer eBay® classes. One of my favorites happens to be Video Professor. You know who I’m talking about, that company that sells software tutorials through late-night infomercials. Anyway, I’ve taken their eBay® class and was impressed by the level of detail and the clarity of instruction. They take you though the ins and outs of both buying and selling on eBay®, and also show you how to set up your own eBay® business. Best of all, the class didn’t take too long and wasn’t boring.

Since I took Video Professor’s Learn eBay® class, I’ve bought and sold quite a few things on eBay®. It is funny how simply having that much more confidence has made such a difference. Not only have I found all the bike stuff I was looking for, I’ve been able to sell a lot of my old bike parts that have been taking up so much space in my garage.

eBay® is one of the most useful and practical sites out there. And if your confidence is lacking, I highly recommend that you take an eBay® class. Check out all the offerings, but do me a favor, make sure to look at Video Professor’s eBay® class. My guess is you’ll be happy you did!

Build a Better Business

Okay, I admit it. I don’t know a lot about business, starting my own business, my own home-based business, and certainly not about building a better business than someone else, but I decided I should. Hey, I’m a fast learner so why not. I decided to start by doing some research into creating a better home-based business. In my studies, as I like to call them, I came across so many ideas on how to create a better business from home. After reading these tips, I decided to share some of them with you so that you can do more than start a business, you can build a better business than you ever though possible.

  1. Start Part-Time

No one is asking you to give up your dependable job and your savings to dive head first into your business dream. Safety first, remember. You can start it part time, and if, after you get enough money to retire from your job, go ahead and make it a full-time endeavor. You probably won’t be able to build a better business if you are terrified of being homeless or broke at any moment.

  1. Free Your Time

Just spend about two hours a day to work on your business, and you will have much more time to spend with your family and friends, or spend working on your hobby. Making a better business situation for yourself does not mean forsaking everything and everyone that matters to you.

  1. Work from Where You Want to

Depending on your business, there is a good chance all you may need is your PC and an Internet connection. Whether it is your home, the library or the corner Internet café, you likely do not have to rent out an office space for a better business. Make your home your office, literally.

4. Six-Figure Incomes

What’s the biggest complaint you probably hear around the office? I’m guessing it’s that people just do not feel that they get paid enough. Well, it is the classic complaint, but if you have your own business, you will be paid in accordance to how hard, how efficiently, and how intelligently you work. So can you make six-figures? Absolutely. Many people have with innovative home-based business ideas.

  1. The Whole World in Your Hands

Another more recent revelation to a better business life when you do it yourself is the Internet. The World Wide Web is just that. You can reach people all over the world. You will not lack for consumers, that’s for sure, there are enough for everyone! All you need are Internet skills and a web site which can be built with HTML knowledge or a program like Microsoft® FrontPage® and you will have the capability to reach millions. Nothing makes for better business sales than a global reach.