“10 Best Business Ideas with Minimal Startup Costs - NuWireInvestor - NuWire Investor” plus 4 more

“10 Best Business Ideas with Minimal Startup Costs - NuWireInvestor - NuWire Investor” plus 4 more

10 Best Business Ideas with Minimal Startup Costs - NuWireInvestor - NuWire Investor

Posted: 17 Oct 2020 04:03 PM PDT

There is no ambitious person who has never thought at least once about starting his own business. If you're feeling the itch to get into business for yourself, here are 10 ideas that have little to no startup capital requirement.

1.  Wedding Makeup Artist, Hairdresser at Home

Such a business cannot be built without investments at all, but they are minimal. If you have the skills and abilities, it is enough to create an account in one of the social networks for your small business without investment. Place a catalog of services there and immediately start working at home, gradually switching to salon services.

When the business starts to grow, build your website and control the online reputation management of the salon. This will help you get a good name in the market.

2.  Monetizing Hand Made

This type can be called especially relevant for homemakers and women on parental leave. It is enough to indulge in your favorite hobby and sell your masterpiece through Internet sites, your friends, or at city fairs.

3.  Consulting and Tutoring

Another win-win option for starting a business from 0 without investment is private lessons for children and adults. Most often it is used by experienced teachers. They work in their free time with their own students, if they need additional training. The attraction of customers from outside is also possible. There are many special Internet sites available for this.

4.  Blogging or Creating Your Own Website

If you have the skills to write, you can become a blogger. Earnings are carried out through advertising; however, it is necessary to collect a large audience. And if earlier it was possible to do it on your own, now you have to involve specialists who help in promoting the pages. Once your blog starts getting the response, you can take services of PR Fire to increase the traffic on the website or blog.

5.  Advertising on Cars

The list of simple types of business without investment would be incomplete without this way of earning money. The number of funds received largely depends on the brand of the car, the territory in which it drives and many other parts.

6.  Renting Out Housing

To implement the idea, you will need your own apartment or house, although some owners manage to rent out a separate room. There are a lot of options for disseminating information in this case: special booking sites, mass media and many others.

7.  Earnings on Freelancing

If young people think about what kind of start-up business can be opened without investment, they often stop at this. All you need is a fairly stable internet connection. You can acquire skills over time. Copywriting, rewriting, translation of texts – even a high school student can do all this.

8.  Real Estate Agent

The essence of the idea is that you have to act as an intermediary between the landlords and people who want to rent it for a short or long term. The amount of earnings depends on the commission received, and special skills play an important role in the work.

There are a lot of realtors in the market, as well as rental housing. But the reputation of many companies leaves much to be desired, which means that you will have to fight with prejudice.

9.  Organization of Holidays

To work in this area, you need special skills, a good sense of humor, and some other qualities. However, if it makes you happy, you can start making good money with no investment at all. True, it would help if you were prepared for the seasonality of your business.

10.  Training

In fact, such activity allows you to share your professional experience with people who want to acquire some skills. For example, improve the quality of sales, change the motivation for life and work. For successful implementation, you will have to master the skills of public speaking.

Final Words

The main advice to follow is to find your unique niche. Then analyze the situation in the economy and the market, soberly assess the risks and think over how to minimize them. These ideas may help you decide which business will be easy for you to set up with minimal investment.

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Small businesses, big ideas: These family-owned businesses are scripting success stories by starting out small - YourStory

Posted: 17 Oct 2020 05:42 PM PDT

Small insights into any business can generate big ideas. This week, SMBStory covered the journey of India's old and leading family-owned businesses that started out with a small yet strong idea. These businesses are now scripting their own success stories. 

National Engineering Industries

NBC, CK Bilra

Chandra Kant Birla, Chairman, CK Birla Group

In 1946, when India was beginning to find its footing across the world as a free nation, industrialist BM Birla was way ahead of the times when he thought of making the country self-reliant in the industrial manufacturing sector. 

He found the opportunity in a small, yet indispensable mechanical component — bearings. Bearings — small and large — are widely used in the automotive and industrial sectors as it reduces friction between the moving parts, thereby achieving the desired motion in machines.  

However, at the time, this essential component was imported from abroad, causing distress to domestic manufacturers. In a bid to make an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat,' BM Birla started a bearing-manufacturing company called the National Bearing Company Limited (NBC) in 1946. 

NBC — which was later changed to National Engineering Industries (NEI) — was started with an initial investment of Rs 80 lakh, with a sole production unit in Jaipur. In 1950, the company began with manufacturing 30,000 cylindrical roller bearings, which were supplied to the Indian Railways as well.  

NEI is the flagship company of the $2.4 billion CK Birla Group. Over the years, NEI has become a global bearing manufacturer and exporter out of India, clocking Rs 2,511 crore turnover in FY19. At present, it manufactures about 20 crore bearings in 1,450 sizes in a year from five manufacturing units spread across Jaipur, Gujarat, and Haryana. In fact, the production facility at Newai, Jaipur was started as an all-women unit in 1980.

Read the full story here

Apis Honey


Apis India CEO Pankaj Mishra

Beekeeping, or apiculture, is one of India's oldest professions, but it has gained mainstream popularity in the last few years. Local demand for honey has been growing due to increasing customer preference for natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners and the rising awareness of the health benefits of honey. 

With their packaged honey products, brands like Dabur and Patanjali have capitalised on this trend and made a name for themselves in the market. However, for many years, it was Delhi-based Apis India that was supplying the honey to Dabur and Patanjali. After realising the big opportunity in the FMCG space for honey, Apis began pivoting to a B2C model in 2016. Willing to give up its marquee clients Dabur and Patanjali and becoming their competitor, Apis started a consumer-facing brand — Apis Himalaya Honey. 

"When we started our own brand, we lost business from Dabur and Patanjali. We were also building our distribution network from scratch, which required significant investments. But we were okay with it because we were determined to build an FMCG brand. Our persistence paid off as the Apis Himalaya Honey brand grew in an unprecedented manner," Pankaj Mishra, CEO, Apis India, tells SMBStory. 

From between Rs 130-140 crore turnover in 2015, Apis clocked around Rs 200 crore last year. In the last three years, it has added dates, fruit jams, pickles, ginger garlic paste, green tea, and soya chunks to its product portfolio.

Read the full story here

Other top picks of the week:

Emmbros Overseas


Sahil Mehta, Director, Emmbros Overseas

Sahil Mehta's entrepreneurial journey began when he followed the footsteps of his father, Ramesh Mehta. Sahil's father was a Panchkula-based manufacturer of pharma products such as oils and tablets, who also had knowledge of Ayurveda, popularly known as the 'kitchen science'.  

Initially, Sahil started trading the products produced by his father to the US markets. In 2007, he named the company as Emmbros Overseas. The tipping point came in 2015 when he realised that he wanted to start something of his own for the Indian market. Sahil says he was keen to explore the cosmetics industry, which was his forte.  

"My vision was to create natural and premium products backed by organic raw materials and Ayurveda," Sahil says.   

Today, Emmbros Overseas is the parent company and houses five separate cosmetic brands that cater to all ages, genders, and groups. The five brands are St. Botanica, Oriental Botanics, Man Arden, Mom & World, and Muscle XP. 

Read the full story here

Khoya Mithai

Khoya Mithai

Sid Mathur, Founder, Khoya Mithai

In a culture-rich country like India, the 'muh meetha karo' saying is an expression of happiness on any special occasion or festival that calls for the sharing of sweets, resembling the auspiciousness of the jamboree.  

However, in recent years, chocolates, cookies, and confectionery items have replaced the traditional Indian mithai boxes. But what made this mithai-eating country switch to chocolates, creams, and caramels? Sid Mathur, Founder and Director of Delhi-based Khoya Mithai says that gifting mithai are passé now, and people have restyled their way of offering sweets by gifting premium-packaged chocolate boxes, cookies, and other items.  

Seeing this gap in the market — where the traditional and delicious mithais were being neglected — Sid, a professional in the F&B industry, decided to launch a luxury mithai brand in 2016, with the vision to bring back traditional sweets in the mainstream and give the importance it deserved.

Read the full story here

Why these Acadiana entrepreneurs are starting or investing in new businesses amid coronavirus - The Advocate

Posted: 14 Oct 2020 12:00 AM PDT

So what if businesses are closing across the country and the unemployment is still above normal? Now is the time to start or invest in a business.

Sounds incredibly risky, doesn't it?

Not at all, entrepreneurs say. Americans are starting more businesses than ever during this era of COVID-19. Innovation is happening in Acadiana and elsewhere for lots of reasons, mostly out of sheer survival by people who might have lost a job, had their hours cut or simply see an opportunity. 

Americans are starting a business at the fastest rate in more than a decade, the Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. Census Bureau reports more than 3.2 million applications for employment identification numbers have been filed already this year, surpassing the 2.7 million at this point in 2019.

In Acadiana, the number of people seeking to register a limited liability company has risen since April, said Heidi Melancon, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

It's also meant a flood of business ideas, like the displaced oil and gas industry worker who was interested in starting a plate lunch business, she said. 

Sure the economy is still in recovery, but it's turning more people into entrepreneurs and just plain hustlers.

"You have to be," Melancon said. "Think about it. I don't like to look at disasters as opportunities because it's people's misery, but people are starting roofing companies or debris cleanup companies. This is the time. Or tree removal. Lots of opportunities can be had right now because, hey, there's a need."

Here are four stories people in Acadiana who are finding business opportunities and trying to capitalize on them.


Kelsey Sanders plates chicken alfredo, one of the many dishes she prepares in her kitchen for her business Eat Fuel Fleurish, Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at her home in Carencro, La.

Kelsey Sanders, Eat Fuel Fleurish

Kelsey Sanders put this down on her Vision 2020 board back in December: Start a meal prep service.

If only it was that easy.

But you have to start somewhere, she thought. That was when she was commuting to her job with Sprint in Lake Charles as a phone technician. So her first step was to establish the business, Eat Fuel Fleurish, and she started with only four regular clients each week.

But then COVID-19 hit.

Her hours with Sprint were reduced. When she was working, it wasn't even a full shift. So she started cooking lunches on Fridays, her day off. Once restaurants had to close their dining areas, things really started happening. In March, she made 100 meals, but that blossomed into 100 meals in one weekend in April.

But the job hits kept coming. T-Mobile bought Sprint during the summer, and she was offered a sales rep position, which, she admitted, "I had absolutely no desire in doing."

Sanders left that job Aug. 8. She's been working her meal prep business full time since.

"I think COVID hitting was a blessing for me," Sanders said. "The reason I didn't start my business sooner was I always had things planned. Traveling is what I like to do, but that was also taking time away from me to devote to my business. Having things shut down forced me to work on my business plans."

Sanders, also working toward a MBA at UL, does the cooking in her Carencro home. She sells health-conscious meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner, including air fryer chicken and waffles, shrimp tacos, turkey meatloaf and burrito bowls.

The menu items, you should know, are personal. Her father, who was diabetic with poor eating habits, died during her senior year in high school. She wants her menu to prevent someone from a similar fate.

"For me, honestly, I watched him kill himself," she said. "He didn't have the proper guidance. I just wish somebody was there to help him. I just want to be that person that helps somebody know they can change their life and not go down that path."

What's next? A commercial kitchen, for starters. She may need to hire an employee or two soon.

Oh, and she graduates Dec. 9.

"Taking on this project was already a challenge," Sanders said. "I've learned so much stuff. I'm constantly learning how to be more efficient in my business. My goal is to have a distribution center. That's where I want to take this business."

Is starting a business during a pandemic the craziest idea ever? Some people don't think so. Business innovation is soaring across the country…


Mitzi Guidry, owner of Lilou, is pictured Wednesday, October 14, 2020, at her new coffee and thrift shop in downtown Lafayette, La.

Mitzi Guidry, Lilou concept thrift store

You might be looking at the whole pandemic wrong. The quarantine, says Mitzi Guidry, was a chance for lots of people to re-evaluate things.

"I kind of joke and say people have kind of come out swinging," she said. "At least entrepreneurs."

That's her story, anyway. The Louisiana native who spent years working in the fashion industry in Los Angeles over time became concerned about the industry's effect on the environment. There's lots of waste and carbon emission in the fast fashion industry, she noted.

It was her last corporate job at Wrangler when she discovered the incredible sustainability of leather. Leather, she noted, is the only byproduct that is also a renewable source. Products made with leather are made to last forever.

Her entrepreneurial spirit first kicked in when things went bad during the 2009 recession. Wrangler closed the plant in Los Angeles and put about 400 people out of work. But Guidry and others who worked there pooled their resources — they came out swinging, you might say — and bought some of the equipment to start Los Angeles Leathercraft, where she is head of leather goods development.

And as the business grew and younger workers came on board, she picked up on something.

"I started having these conversations with them a few years back and became fascinated with their genuine interest in the environment, climate change and how that was affecting their buying habits," Guidry said. "I just started to dig deeper into that and discovered that the second-hand fashion market was growing at a rate like 21 times faster than traditional retailers in the last three years. I thought that was very interesting."

Guidry moved back to Louisiana last year after almost 20 years in Los Angeles but still holds her position with Los Angeles Leathercraft. In June she signed a lease for a small spot in downtown Lafayette at 535 Jefferson St. to open Lilou, a concept thrift shop.

It's a shoebox of a space, just 14 feet wide and 55 feet deep, but it works. She can be creative as an entrepreneur and maybe catch a trend of second-hand clothing or just catering to anyone who is looking to save money on clothing.

"In times like this everybody is just trying to be more mindful about spending and just making their dollar stretch a little bit more than ever before," Guidry said. "The environmental piece of (thrifting) is always something to consider. In terms of where money might be a little tight, I think thrifted clothing is an awesome option."

Is starting a business during a pandemic the craziest idea ever? Some people don't think so. Business innovation is soaring across the country…


Lottie Francis with Malmak Domestic and Commercial Services poses with a electrostatic machine to offer deep cleaning for clients on Saturday, October 17, 2020 in Carencro, LA.

Lottie Francis, Malmak Cleaning Service

Lottie Francis' cleaning business, Malmak Cleaning Service, is her side hustle while she does billing work at Azar Eye Clinic. But business at Malmak, like so many others, has slowed some since the pandemic hit.

So she's trying to fight back and find more opportunities. One solution? Take a chance and invest in an electrostatic machine and offer a deep clean, or a COVID clean, to sanitize and disinfect offices. It's a machine that you wear on your back, and she's hoping the $350 purchase can lead to more opportunities and more revenue.

"I saw it as an opportunity to increase clientele," Francis said. "I started seeing on Facebook that some companies were doing it. Then I had another friend of mine. He was into flooring. He had the machine. He gave me some pointers on what to do, and that's when I ordered the machine."

If she can hustle up more clients through the investment, it won't be the first time. She launched Malmak — named for her children, Malika and Makiya — after she got laid off following her move back to Lafayette from Houston in 2012. A friend who had a car detailing business knew how serious she was about keeping a clean house and connected her with a client who lost a housekeeper.

She found more houses to clean and then offices. A side hustle was born.

"I've been doing this for so long," Francis said. "It's a relationship instead of just a cleaning. My people are older. They're real sociable. I go shopping, and we do stuff. It's a little more than just cleaning the house."

Francis also recently consulted with Corey Jack with Jack & Associates, who then connected her with marketing students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who will do marketing work for her as part of a school project.

She had three employees but had to let one go after she lost an office client. But she's hoping the investment can lead to three more office customers.

"The plan is to grow the cleaning service," she said. "I'm going to have the crew and I'll be there monitoring and supervising and go in when needed. The plan is to not be doing a whole lot of cleaning myself."

Is starting a business during a pandemic the craziest idea ever? Some people don't think so. Business innovation is soaring across the country…


Brock Thibodeaux, the founder, president and CEO of Regal.Tech, talks about the Google AI-powered mapping technology he deveoped to track and predict Covid-19 outbreaks Monday, October 12, 2020, at the Opportunity Machine offices in Lafayette, La.

Brock Thibodeaux, Regal.tech

Brock Thibodeaux was the 48th person in the country to test positive for the coronavirus.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate was living in the Seattle area having just begun working for Microsoft when the first cases were reported in the United States there. He lived near the Life Care Center nursing home, which became the first hotspot for the virus with at one point 81 of the 120 residents testing positive, leading to 31 deaths.

He recalled a walk to Walgreens when the dry cough began — "It felt like eating a bunch of Pringles with no water in your body" — before other symptoms followed. He went to the emergency room, got tested and sent home to recover before getting the call that he tested positive.

"Two weeks on the couch and my temperature averaged 102, 104, 103," Thibodeaux said. "February 28 was when I literally thought I was going to die. I woke up and I couldn't breathe. I had been hallucinating because my fever was so high. I'm having really, really vivid hallucinatory bad dreams. It was bad."

It was that time at home and watching the virus spread around the country, including in New Orleans after Mardi Gras, and the responses to the virus that Thibodeaux, a former U.S. Army Ranger, decided he had to do something to help.

Thibodeaux, who earned a graduate certificate in cybersecurity from Harvard University's extension school, eventually landed $25 million in venture capital funding for his technology startup company that gathers hospital data and other data and can follow where cases are, where the hot spots are and predicts where the next outbreak is going to happen.

His startup, Regal.tech, has five employees and is currently housed at the Opportunity Machine.

"It's basically a huge decision-maker," he said. "You punch in a bunch of information at once. If you had COVID right now and went into the ER, you live down the street, you're going to walk your dog every day maybe. Or this is the area you've been in the past week. Or let's say your mom lives in Abbeville. Let's say all the hospitals are owned by the same company.

"We look at patterns at that ER, put that all in a big decision maker, and once it punches out information, it builds algorithms. And over time, it says, OK, this is what could happen."

But right now his technology is looking for a home. Thibodeaux says the technology can be used in the oil and gas sector in finding where to drill next.

"We're going to get there, man, but the whole idea was to start right here," he said. "I wanted to be in Lafayette. It's going to take time. We've got solutions. Once we get it started, it's going to be nice."

COVID-19 Will Continue To Test Small Businesses—Here’s How To Respond - Forbes

Posted: 18 Oct 2020 04:00 AM PDT

The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of dissipating any time soon, which means more challenges are ahead for the small businesses that haven't been forced to close their doors for good. Eventually, however, this crisis will pass. When it does, your performance during this period won't be judged solely in terms of profit and loss, but rather in terms of the value you created for both internal and external stakeholders.

But how do you create value when demand is stagnant, margins are thin, and the future is more uncertain than ever?

Getting back to your roots

Almost every business, regardless of size, has had to make adjustments to cope with the new realities accompanying the pandemic. The near-universal pivot to remote work, government-mandated stay-at-home orders, and ongoing health concerns have created a business environment that looks, for all intents and purposes, dramatically different than it did just months ago. Yet this is exactly the type of environment in which entrepreneurs thrive.

Your creativity, willingness to embrace risk, and ability to spot opportunity where others can't are what allowed you to start a business in the first place, and those same attributes will serve you well as you seek ways to adapt in the months and years ahead. Your business may be struggling now, but by relying on the traits and instincts that got you to this point, you can keep moving forward. Plus, there are plenty of proven strategies you can deploy to continue to create value, even when your resources are stretched thin. Here are five:

1. Refine your marketing strategy and increase your focus on digital tactics.

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If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we're more reliant than ever on modern technology. Even if you're not positioned to make substantial investments in new tools, you should constantly evaluate the digital strategies and technologies you already use, and now is the perfect time to do so in preparation for "the next normal." Owen Loft, co-founder of Socium Media, recommends that companies take this time to optimize what's working and explore new ideas.

"Ask which platforms and tactics you're currently testing," he says. "If you're not consistently trying new marketing avenues, messaging, and design elements, you could again find yourself behind the competition. What works today might not work tomorrow, and it's vital to stay ahead of the curve in this crowded marketplace."

No one knows for sure what the world will look like when COVID-19 ultimately is behind us. However, it's quite possible that many interactions that used to take place in-person prior to the pandemic will continue to occur in a predominantly digital environment. With that in mind, developing a robust online presence and digital infrastructure now will pay dividends in the future.

2. Launch a new product or service.

In times like these, the most agile companies are typically the ones that win. Especially if sales related to your core offering are suffering during the pandemic, it's critical that you find new revenue streams. This is true for startups, small businesses, and even huge conglomerates.

When Suave began making hand sanitizer and Hanes started selling masks at the onset of the pandemic, these companies weren't just focused on maintaining revenue; they were focused on differentiation. By taking an agile approach to product development and sales, major brands can stay top of mind among their customers and demonstrate the innovative qualities that modern consumers look for in leading brands.

That said, you shouldn't abandon the products that have defined you up to this point. Thanks to domains like PlugMyBrand.net, entrepreneurs can showcase their offerings to the world on a global level, and continue to spread awareness even when traditional markets have shrunk.

3. Embrace corporate social responsibility.

Prior to the pandemic, business and marketing leaders were already looking for ways to meet a growing demand among both consumers and investors for clearly defined corporate social responsibility initiatives. However, CSR must be more than a marketing ploy.

Consumers demand authenticity—especially younger generations—and by supporting COVID-19 relief efforts, whether on a local or global effort, brands can walk the proverbial walk. Aflac's 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report stated that 77% of consumers were more inclined to make purchases from companies committed to fighting social, economic, and environmental issues.

Business leaders who take pay cuts to ensure operations remain smooth and employees are able to keep their jobs might have to make short-term sacrifices, but those sacrifices won't go unnoticed by employees and customers. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger gave up his salary through the end of 2020, for instance, and top Comcast executives are donating theirs toward coronavirus relief.

4. Orient your business around your customers.

Even if you're not selling products or closing deals at the same pre-pandemic clip, you have plenty of opportunities to create meaningful interactions with customers. For starters, you should maintain open lines of communication and clearly articulate how your business is responding and adapting to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. Let customers know what you're doing to keep employees safe and what you're doing differently now that things are, well, different.

Great customer service has always separated the best companies from the rest. At a time when most leaders are inclined to turn their focus inward, great leaders will make every effort to prioritize those aspects of the customer experience that occur away from the point of sale.

Whether it's developing a loyalty program, offering flexible payment options, or simply taking the time to reassure people that you have their best interests in mind, you can ensure customers are still around after the crisis by prioritizing them throughout. For example, 7-Eleven canceled its popular Free Slurpee Day in July to protect customers and staff from increased risk of infection. Instead, it encouraged customers to download the 7Rewards app, where they could obtain a voucher for a free Slurpee redeemable anytime in July.

5. Rally around your employees.

Countless companies have been forced to lay off staff, restrict hours, or make other hard personnel decisions in order to survive. Maybe you have, too. You should be making every effort to ensure the people who have stuck with you during the crisis know you appreciate them—and there are plenty of ways to do it.

The executive team at Best Buy, for instance, is implementing a backup childcare service it introduced in 2019 to give employees access to family support resources that many desperately need. Like many other companies, Best Buy is also providing complimentary mental health services to staff members who suddenly find themselves overwhelmed amid unprecedented uncertainty. Regardless of how you do it, putting your employees first now can help foster a company culture that is strengthened by hardship, rather than one that wilts when the going gets tough.

In 2020, businesses have learned that value creation entails more than fulfilling a market need. It's a product of corporate actions that affect employees, customers, and all other stakeholders. The more value in those areas that you create today, the easier it will be to continue creating it tomorrow.

Launching a new business in a pandemic era | What's Working - The Union Leader

Posted: 17 Oct 2020 04:00 PM PDT

T he COVID-19 pandemic put up a roadblock in Inga and Andrew Weakly's plan to get their custom-made trailer from Florida this spring and launch their food truck business.

By the time they hit the road for their first official event in July, the coronavirus already had scuttled many of their planned stops at fairs and other events, where they planned to sell Vietnamese-style egg rolls and merchandise.

What's Working

What's Working

"It actually was a little bit of a blessing for us," Inga Weakly said by phone last week. Had they tried to sell food at large fairs their first year, they "would have bit off more than we could chew."

Since the shutdowns began easing, New Hampshire has seen an explosion of applications for new businesses with a high inclination to hire workers, according to Brian Gottlob, director of the state's Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.

There were 940 such filings between June 22 and Sept. 18, the highest since the same chunk of the calendar in 2008, he said.

"Some has to do with pent-up demand, but the message I take from it is that despite an economy worse than has been seen in generations, and without guarantees of what the economy and industries will look like when we emerge from the pandemic, that businesses (that actually plan to hire) see opportunities at least as great or more so than in recent years," Gottlob said in an email.

Another, more specific metric shows optimism among existing businesses that expect to hire new employees in the next six months.

New Hampshire ranked third in the nation in that category for the week ending Sept. 26, with 33% expecting to hire in that timeframe, according to Employment Security, which cited a U.S. Census Bureau survey.

Many small businesses are starting to see more activity and have benefited from federal funds, according to Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

"The initial panic is over, and people are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel," Sink said. "We are seeing businesses hiring more and being a little more optimistic about the economy going forward."

Bow residents launch food truck business

Inga and Andrew Weakly of Bow prepare their signature Vietnamese-style egg rolls in their food truck last week.

Wide-ranging plans

Some organizations that help aspiring entrepreneurs report a rise in interest, including SCORE NH, a nonprofit that provides free small business training and workshops for companies.

"We have seen an increase in unique business clients mentored by 21% over last year to over 1,600 new SCORE NH business clients," said Gene Calvano, chapter co-chair of SCORE Merrimack Valley in Manchester.

Half or more are planning to or considering starting new businesses.

"It may surprise you, but that percentage did not change much from year to year," Calvano said.

"However, since COVID-19, the increased number of people attending SCORE NH workshops indicates a significant increase in those interested in learning how to start a small business," Calvano said.

Since the organization's workshops moved to an online Zoom format, workshop attendance has doubled, to more than 5,000, he said. "A lot of people are beginning the learning and planning stages for a potential new business."

The prospective business-owners are looking at a broad range of industries, including wellness, life coaching, consulting, food service, online stores and residential services, he said.

"Some are extremely creative, and many bring new ideas to old business models," Calvano said.

Interest builds slowly

Not everyone is seeing as striking a surge.

"Although we've seen less clients starting a business, we have seen an uptick in individuals coming to us in recent months," said Liz Gray, state director of the Small Business Development Center, which does some of its work with clients who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Between March and October, SBDC saw 25% fewer clients coming for support to start a new business than a year earlier.

"In the last few months, we've seen SBDC clients that have pivoted to the new reality," Gray said. "They've identified different sales streams, new ways to market and connect with their customers, or created partnerships with other local businesses to help each other survive and thrive.

"Other clients are utilizing analytics to target customers and spot market trends. Those clients are doing very well."

Mary Ann Kristiansen, executive director of the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in Keene, said she hasn't seen an increase in people looking to start businesses, but "it always happens in a recession, so it's coming for sure."

"I think it's smart to start a business anytime if you have a good idea and you have a customer base that wants it," she said.

"There's opportunity in any economy," she said. "If you've got a good idea, I think it's a great time."

Pandemic not a deal-breaker

Among those opening a business during the pandemic was Keith Mulholland, who co-owns Mulholland Metal Restoration in Weare with his wife, Michelle.

Dealing with the pandemic has meant installing safety measures, including plexiglass, and missing out on customers when a sandblasting cabinet expected to arrive in two weeks took three months. He also is paying more for gloves and filters for respirator masks.

A client of SCORE, Mulholland hasn't raised prices to cover his increased costs.

"It's something we'll probably look into next year to see where we're at and might have to go up at least a little bit," said Mulholland, a firefighter in Concord.

Planning for the Mulholland and Weakly ventures began before the pandemic, but both businesses opened during turbulent economic times.

Inga Weakly, who still works as a nurse, and her husband, who does market research, operate the "Wander Roll" food truck on weekends.

Her advice for opening in a pandemic?

"Definitely being adaptive to your surroundings," said Weakly, another SCORE client. "Be creative and just reach out to different people for advice and help."


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