When you think about someone starting a business, certain kinds of products and services probably come to mind. You might be surprised to know that small entrepreneurs create value and generate revenue in all sorts of unique and creative ways. By focusing on the things that you enjoy, are good at, or that make a positive contribution to your neighbors and community, you too may be able to develop a business plan and start your own venture. Below are some real-life examples for you to consider.
Personal Service Businesses
Lawn services, carpentry and light construction, professional child care, they don’t sound like they have much in common. However, these are all great small businesses that fill an existing demand, quite often right in your own backyard. Translating your experience and interests into a new business plan may make sense if you can find the market for what you can offer.
An example of this is Karen. After more than 25 years working for the same employer in the financial services industry, she took early retirement and started Cat’s Meow Pet Sitting Service in Lutz, Florida just outside of Tampa. Karen started her business in 2012 and now has more than 100 furry clients and their owners.
We asked Karen what was the best part of owning her business. Karen said that the best part was, “making money doing what I love and being my own boss. I have no one to answer to except myself. I've made many wonderful friends who are animal lovers and share the same interests that I have.”
Asked what her greatest business challenge is, Karen said it was managing the workload, “I find it very difficult to schedule time for myself and I am learning to say no. I tend to overextend myself because I do not want to disappoint clients.” Karen’s big challenge, like so many successful entrepreneurs, is how to grow the business while maintaining quality and customer loyalty.
Veteran- Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises
If you want to do business with the government or in highly regulated industries like urban development, you may want to take advantage of benefits provided to women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses. When doing business with contractors, federal, state and local governments are typically required to set aside a portion of the contracts specifically for these types of businesses. The same is true for many large-scale construction projects involving government funding, such as sports stadiums, airports, and highways. Other benefits often include training and assistance with starting a business.
You will find minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in almost every industry you can think of, from technology and banking to street sweepers and airport concessions management. One good example of these programs in action is New York City’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Certification Program
“Mom and Pop” Businesses
For more than 40 years, people have been predicting the end of the so-called “mom and pop” business. Chain restaurants, big-box retailers, and franchises of all forms were going to put an end to these kinds of small, local entrepreneurs. While much has changed for mom and pop’s over the years, thankfully these small businesses continue to thrive in many different formats.
One example is Baha Burgers in Hoover, Alabama. In this case, mom and pop are actually two brothers. As business partners, the brothers own a franchise restaurant in town. They decided to expand their venture by opening a second eatery that featured a unique look, feel and menu. By owning a franchise as well as a locally-based business that reflects the unique tastes of the community, the brothers have diversified their portfolio and are establishing themselves as entrepreneurs with a true commitment to their hometown.
Our advice: When starting a business, go for what you know. While so many people are seeking out the next “big thing”, there are many other small business opportunities that can leverage your own unique talents, skills and interests in a way that is both financially enriching and personally fulfilling.
Also, check out the U.S. Small Business Administration which has tons of information on starting a business as well as running and growing your business.John Florio, MBA