Wednesday, June 19, 2019

“15 Best Niche Industries for Startups - Small Business Trends” plus 3 more

“15 Best Niche Industries for Startups - Small Business Trends” plus 3 more


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, MyCorporation.com

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 JD.com 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.

Image: Depositphotos.com

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How to Come Up With Startup Business Ideas in the Digital Era - Entrepreneur

Posted: 21 May 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Your idea doesn't have to be completely original, just better than what's available already.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every ambitious entrepreneur has the same major objective -- for their startup business idea to become the next big thing. It may be hard to imagine, but Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg were once in the same position as most business owners.

Coming up with an idea for your startup business should be approached with the same dedication as every other job-related task. The idea probably won't come to you in the middle of the night or even standing in the grocery line at the supermarket. Although it's a nice sentiment, idea generation takes organization, research and planning. Here's how to get started.

Related: How 3 Entrepreneurs Came up With Their Business Ideas

Where the best startup business ideas come from.

One of the strengths of technology in the digital era is focused on simplifying your life. The Internet takes center stage at helping customers meet their needs, whether big or small. It can also be our biggest source of inspiration. Start by reading about successful startup business ideas. Many entrepreneurs share their stories, offering tactical advice that startups can take in their own idea generation. Take note of what has worked and what hasn't.

Related: Need a Business Idea? Here Are 55.

The best ideas come from identifying problems: For Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the problem was an expensive computer. They recognized that gap and built Apple I, then II and so on. For entrepreneurs today, brainstorming is a targeted exercise that takes as much creativity as it does concept.  

Focus on trends in the areas you are interested in: As a potential startup business owner, you have likely developed a niche based on prior experience, future potential, or both. Take the time to learn the ins and outs of that particular niche as you develop your passion.

Flesh out your network: Think about the last time you were in a collaborative, lead-generating meeting. If everyone came to the table prepared with ideas, you'd likely walk away with at least one viable opportunity. Go to as many business networking events as you can. The more you talk to like-minded entrepreneurs, the more likely you are to hear about their pain points. There's also a strong likelihood that you could find a potential partner to take on the startup business idea adventure.

How to ask yourself the right questions.

Sometimes, launching a startup business idea involves taking a risk. But there are questions you can ask to prepare and see if your idea has what it takes to get some traction.

What is your skill set? Are you good at sales and marketing? Do you have strong writing skills? If so, you may consider starting a side hustle by consulting with other startups on their marketing efforts. Think about pairing up with other compatible entrepreneurs. Also, consider starting a blog or developing a website to market your skills.

What's missing out there? Whether it's in your personal life or professional, this is one of the most important considerations for a new idea. While you may think that an idea has great potential, does anyone need it? Think about the gaps that you see in your life. If you have experience working in certain fields, what tool or service would have made your life easier?

What service can a small company offer over a large corporate competitor? Small business owners have a lot of success in forming relationships with their clients. That personal touch can make a big difference, especially when you're working in your local community. If you're thinking about working for events, for example, that face to face contact is crucial.

Think about the questions that investors might ask you, if your startup business idea gets to that level. What sets your idea apart? Do you have a plan for growth? What kind of help are you looking for? Thinking this through early on can help you determine if your idea has potential.

Related: 75 Ideas for Businesses You Can Launch for Cheap or Free

The best startup business ideas are simple.

Whether you're looking for an idea to be your full-time passion project or just a side gig, it's best to start small. Think about some areas in your life where you could fill a gap.

While it may seem like a challenge, coming up with a startup business idea is only the first part of a very long equation. Attempting to turn that idea into reality is where many entrepreneurs meet major roadblocks. Think about how many seemingly successful startups fail to find funding on popular shows like Shark Tank. In the vast majority of cases, those businesses are well past the idea stage.

The harsh reality is that nine out of 10 startups will fail. However, taking the time to develop many strong ideas can help you start to filter what has potential to turn into a true business, and what's better left on the cutting room floor.  

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

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. Microloan.org 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.

Crowdfunding

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 Grants.gov. 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: Depositphotos.com 3 Comments ▼


15 Ways Start-Ups Conquer PR & Media Relations - Business 2 Community

Posted: 18 Jun 2019 07:03 AM PDT

public relations tips for start-ups, public relations advice for startups

Public relations can mean the difference between success and failure for start-ups. About a third of new businesses don't survive past their first two years, and half don't survive past five years. Inadequate public relations and marketing is often cited as a factor. Many well-known new ventures, including Airbnb and Tesla Motors, owe much of their success to effective PR.

With outstanding PR, even a seemingly boring start-up can win attention in a crowded market. Conversely, businesses with worthwhile concepts may go unnoticed due to lack of good PR. Entrepreneurs handle their own PR at times but typically turn to experienced PR consultants so that the principals can focus on core product development.

Start-up PR specialists offer these tips to win all-important media attention.

Start early. The first requisite for successful start-up PR: Start long before product launch. Start-ups often delay PR until their product is ready for launch or at least out of beta testing. But PR does more than support product launches. It's a valuable tool for gaining investor attention and support, a critical resource for start-ups, and for preparing the marketplace. Public relations activities require three to six months of planning. Developing relationships with media contacts and analysts before product launches can win more favorable attention than first contacting them when the product actually launches.

Create a concise summary. Like the infamous "elevator pitch," the media relations summary is a one or two-sentence explanation of what the company does and what makes it distinctive, without industry jargon, to help journalists understand and remember the company. That's challenging yet extremely important for hard-to-understand technology companies. Beware of analogies. Describing a company as "like United Rentals, but for your own possessions" can help people understand the company but may diminish the brand. In addition, some people may not understand the analogy.

Ascertain what's newsworthy. Find what's different or important about the start-up. Sadly, many start-ups simply aren't newsworthy, because they aren't unique or don't offer any added value beyond their existing competitors, says start-up tech journalist and PR expert Erica Swallow. If that's the case, consider revamping the product.

Document the start-up's story. Relating the start-up's trials and tribulations can gain support and publicity. Reality music shows like X Factor and America's Got Talent follow this approach. Interview key team members, including investors, separately. Then combine their answers to summarize the company history and explain its products.

"But remember — your story isn't just a chronology of events that led you to where you are today or a list of specs that make your product better than any other product on the market. Your story is the "WHY?" asserts Brad Williamson, a senior account manager at Pinkston Group. "Why did you start the company? Why is there a need for your product? How has your product helped early adopters?"

Focus on owned media first. Before pitching media outlets, develop the company's website, blog, social media accounts, and content for secondary content channels like Medium and LinkedIn, advises Craig Corbett, principal at media incubator ESPACIO and PR startup Publicize. By focusing on owned channels first, start-ups can learn what kind of content clicks with their audiences. "Creating this narrative at an early stage will help them further down the line when they begin targeting external media," Corbett says.

Educate the customer base. Well before product launch, develop PR materials that inform the customer base about the problem that the forthcoming product solves – without ever mentioning the product. Focusing on the customer's problem helps create a new product need.

Look beyond the product. Besides creating content about the company's product, PR can consider new research, the company's response to a current event, beta-testing results, regulatory reviews, and news of a high-profile partnership. "The story must be new, unexpected, and/or resonate with the journalist's readership. Jumping straight into product features and benefits all but guarantees failure," says Max Marine, director of business development at Venture1st.

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Give thought to press releases. PR pros hold varying opinions of press releases: Some say they're outdated. Although press releases have evolved, they remain a vital PR tool in certain situations. Well-crafted news releases can be especially effective for smaller businesses and local outfits that lack outsized marketing budgets. However, be sure to tackle the key questions when planning a press release.

Reach out to influencers. Press releases may seem impersonal compared to the more interesting communications methods now available. Instead, some start-ups work with bloggers and social media influences to promote their product. PR pros distribute free samples, offer a "behind the scenes look" at product development, allow influencers to beta-test the product or try other influencer marketing strategies. For some startups, seeking micro-influencers can be effective. A media monitoring and measurement service can identify appropriate influencers in the start-up's niche.

Feature the founder. A charismatic founder attracts media attention. Realizing that, many PR pros now favor releasing news announcements through the founder's blog post rather than a traditional press release. "For many startups, the founder is the most effective PR person on board. Due to a deep knowledge of, and keen enthusiasm for, the business, this is the person best situated to share the company's story," writes serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer for Entrepreneur.

Send video pitches. Video pitches are more likely to gain the attention of busy journalists. Pitches are often impersonal and generic, but video pitches put a face to the pitch and insert personality, Spencer says.

Jump on current news and trends. Newsjacking, the technique of injecting a brand into a breaking news stories, can win publicity. When well-done, newsjacking gains the PR momentum from another news story to boost the brand's visibility. Likewise, showing how the start-up's products relates to an emerging trend or an increasingly common problem can help gain publicity.

Avoid common PR mistakes, such as automated pitches, extravagant launch parties, too many follow-ups, ignoring publications' deadlines and lead times, and poorly timed launch dates. Providing advance scoops to writers with long lead times, even under an embargo, can greatly improve chances for coverage. PR pros warn against issuing news releases on certain days, such as dates that coincide with important other events.

Apply PR measurement. PR measurement can link the PR investment to measurable business objectives. Number-orientated technology experts at start-ups appreciate standardization and predictability. For that reason, they may be uncomfortable with PR, which can be challenging to standardize and quantify. "Start-ups should approach marketing and PR with a focus on quantifiable analytics, and they should look for those PR agencies and in-house hires who think likewise," Joanna Jana Laznicka, publisher of VC-List.com, told Entrepreneur.

Keep at it. Focus on gaining more publicity instead of remaining content with publicity already gained. Apple founder Steve Jobs always urged entrepreneurs and businesses never to be rest on past accomplishments, according to Pressfarm. He felt that too many businesses made the mistake of relying on previous success instead of pursuing even greater heights.

Bottom Line: Creating a groundbreaking product is not enough. A comprehensive public relations campaign that starts well before the product's launch is essential for a start-up's survival. A company must create a product need and publicize the product to attract customers and achieve quick success that is sustainable.

This article was first published on the Glean.info blog.

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