Holiday Business Ideas

For our final post in entrepreneur month, we are going to take a look at some of the newest and hottest holiday business ideas that have really taken off in recent years.  We’re just going to rattle off a list here and won’t focus too much on the particulars, in the interest of giving you as many ideas as possible: Personal Shopping – Personal shopper services have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and offer the opportunity to charge sliding scales relative to your customer base. Present Wrapping – Another fantastic idea around the holidays, gift and present wrapping services require little capital to get going and have the potential to earn decent revenue. Catering/Cooking – If you’re talented in the kitchen, consider sharing your skills with those less fortunate.  You’ll not only be improving their holidays, you’ll also earn some cash yourself at the same time. Event Planning – Everyone wants to have the perfect holiday party, but event planning is much harder than most people realize.  If you have a talent for organization, consider marketing yourself as an event planner and helping make others dreams come true. Decorating – Have an eye for interior design?  Almost …

Tips for Entrepreneurs Around the Holidays

It’s just about that time of year again; visions of delicious turkey dinners have begun to dance around in everyone’s heads, and Christmas is just around the corner.  The holidays will soon be with us, once again.  While for most people the holidays are a time of rest, relaxation, and celebration, for entrepreneurs it can often be one of the most stressful times of the year, as everyone’s relaxed work ethic gets in the way of meeting deadlines and obligations. We’ve got some tips that can help you keep your head on straight during the holiday season (or any other time that you’ll be out of the office extensively): If You Feel You Can’t Leave, Something is Wrong – Believe it or not, no matter how integral you are to the functioning of your business, it is indeed possible to create safeguards and processes that can enable to organization to respond just fine for a limited time without your input.  If you feel you just can’t leave work, you’ve likely not invested in creating the support staff your business will need in the long term. When You Unplug, Actually Unplug – Have you ever taken a vacation only to find …

The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

Today, we are going to take a look at a story that has been in the news recently, and reflect on a little discussed topic: the dark side of entrepreneurship. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, picture the child labor practices common during the Industrial Revolution, or think about the behavior of the robber barons during railroad times.  While capitalism and entrepreneurship are the major drivers of our economy, left unchecked they can ruin cultures and countries as well as enrich them. The event we are going to talk about is the ongoing case against the founder of the Silk Road online marketplace, one Ross William Ulbricht.  If you’re not familiar with the Silk Road, it achieved notoriety by its stance of absolute anonymity for users.  This led to organized crime and other undesirable elements populating the marketplace, and a person could easily buy drugs, prostitutes, or even contract killing services on the site.  Many users also accepted payment for these questionable services in Bitcoin, the basically untraceable cryptocurrency, making things even more difficult for authorities. How does this tie into online marketing? Well, for one, the Silk Road, despite the various goods of ill repute which ended …

Stay Away from Software and Service that Doesn’t Really Add Value

One trap entrepreneurs have been known to fall into is investing in software or equipment that they end up not needing.  Stories abound of new software platforms and packages purchased by enthusiastic management that end up negatively impacting the organizations they were intended to help.  One thing that should guide every purchasing decision an entrepreneur makes is whether or not the purchase will really add value to their services, and enable them to sell more of their own products or services. An example of a software product that just isn’t very good is ReportGarden.  It claims to help you produce ‘professional’ looking AdWords reports for clients in just a few minutes.  You would think this could be of value to small marketing agencies or people who need data visualization for their PPC campaigns, but you would be wrong. Take a closer look at these ‘reports’, and ask yourself if they are of any actual value.  Delving into the site features a bit deeper, you would have to be hard pressed to find any sort of real benefit to having this software.  When you take a look at the price points the service has chosen, things get even more ridiculous, when …

Advantages and Drawbacks of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Today we are going to look at several integral characteristics that entrepreneurs must have in order to succeed in the modern marketplace, and examine how they can be advantages or drawbacks depending on how a person chooses to express them.  Entrepreneurs have to be careful to mitigate their disadvantages and play to their strengths whenever possible, in order to exploit their comparative advantage in the marketplace.  Think about how each of these characteristics can be beneficial or harmful, depending on circumstance: Agility – An agile business is an extremely adaptable one, and if you have a lot of agility it will be difficult for competitors to keep you down for long as you are able to adapt to new market circumstances quickly and easily.  However, this adaptability comes at a price; companies that stick to one thing and one thing only will often be able to leverage industry support and contacts in a way that a more agile business will not be able to harness. Versatility – Another core entrepreneurial characteristic is that of versatility.  When organizations are young, typically they are staffed by people capable of wearing many hats at once.  This gives the staff an incredible amount of …

Some Tips About Non-Compete Agreements

If you have ever started a company and then sold it to someone else, you are likely familiar with the non-compete agreement, which is the bane of serial idea entrepreneurs everywhere.  Usually, it is an arrangement legally binding the seller of the business to not act as a direct competitor to the person they sell the business to. While this makes sense, and is a common-sense protection on the part of the buyer, if you aren’t careful you can get trapped in an overly restrictive agreement; not all NCA’s are created equal.  Here are four tips that can help you negotiate a fair NCA with prospective buyers that won’t prevent you from moving on after the sale: Always Use an Attorney – Never, ever consider signing a non-compete without having an attorney look over the document.  You may even want to retain one for the negotiations themselves. Ask For Specific Exemptions – The more specific you are, the more likely it is to get what you want.  Try limiting the non-compete to covering extremely specific products, services, or customers, in a way that will allow you to still do something in the industry if you care to. Non-Solicitation – A …

Must Have Business Software for Entrepreneurs

Today we are going to take a look at some specific pieces of business software that are increasingly considered must haves by those in the entrepreneurial world.  They make the list for a variety of reasons, including utility, excellent pricing, innovativeness, and more.  We will discuss some of the common uses they have and how most any business can gain an advantage by learning how to use it properly: Skype – Skype, or other communications software, is the communications bedrock of many entrepreneurial efforts.  It combines the features of a traditional telephone along with text messaging, file sharing, and even webcam integration for video chat.  Best of all, communication between users is free, as is the software itself. Dropbox – Cloud storage services are another integral digital tool that entrepreneurs can really derive significant advantages from using.  Alternate products are Google Drive or SkyDrive, each of which has their pros and cons relative to Dropbox, which is the oldest service and considered the standard.  Imagine being able to share files with customers and team members across the globe as simply as you can across your own computer network.  Dropbox and other cloud storage software makes this possible. HelloFax – Believe …

Famous Entrepreneurial Blunders

Sometimes people forget that for every idea that succeeds in the marketplace of ideas, there are plenty that fail as well.  Indeed, many famous and successful entrepreneurs throughout history have given more credit to their failures in business than to their successes, in terms of personal development.  Here are a few stories of some massive entrepreneurial blunders by some enormously successful people, to help keep things in perspective: Thomas Edison – Once accused of failing in his quest to develop the light bulb, Edison famously replied that “I have not failed.  I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Shortly after that, Edison stumbled upon the filament composition that DID work, and secured his place in history. Colonel Sanders – Colonel Harland Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, didn’t even get his start as an entrepreneur until age 66, proving it is never too late to start your own business.  However, he was turned down by over 1,000 different restaurants before deciding to open his own. J.K. Rowling – The most successful author of all time was at one point turned down by nearly every publisher in town.  She didn’t let these failures prevent her from shopping her idea …

Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Take from the Obamacare Website

If you have been paying attention to the news, the glitches and problems associated with the new Obamacare website are making big news all across the nation.  While we will have to wait and see whether or not they are able to fix the site and the problems people are having with the new online health care marketplace, the whole episode served to emphasize a few points of particular interest to entrepreneurs: Importance of Building a Positive Brand Association – Most people are not particularly upset with president Obama over the site glitches, and trust that he will work them out in a reasonable time frame.  This serves to demonstrate the power that a positive branding has within the minds of consumers; they trusted Obama, so they were willing to trust his product even in the face of glitches and problems. New Online Marketplaces Work – People are more and more willing to buy just about anything online, and this has led to the development of a variety of online marketplaces as organizations pop up in an attempt to fulfill the needs of customers.    If people are willing to buy their health insurance online, you can most likely find ways …