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Entrepreneurs – Want To Start A Business But Not Sure What Type?

Many entrepreneurs get that itch to start a new business, either because they are fed up being “wage slaves” or they like the freedom that working for yourself can bring. Some even think that they will be richer or have more spare time. Many are not sure what kind of business they want.

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First of all – never start a new business because you want more money or more time. Starting a new business takes both lots of time and most, if not all, of your money.

Secondly don’t fall into the trap of starting a business just for the sake of it. Make sure that someone wants what you are aiming to sell! Your fruit cakes, tattoos or begonias may be the best in the area but if no one wants them – then you are going to be going bust very soon.

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So how do you find out what kind of things you are going to sell?

1) Look at the type of area that you want to set up your business. A majority of aged clients is not going to be keen to have tattoos but might love your cakes!

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2) Look at the other businesses selling in your area. Whilst it is sometimes good to group some businesses together such as car sales – make sure there is enough people left who may buy from you. Similarly if there is a successful company that is not coping – maybe you can inherit some of their clients?

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3) Look for gaps in the market. Are their complimentary businesses close by who you can join in with to share customers? Is the market just crying out for a particular product of service.

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4) Most importantly go and ask people. Give talks at clubs about your subject and see what kind of reception you get. Hold a competition for the best ideas etc.

Good luck in obtaining a firm foundation for your new business.

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How many new products and inventions can you dream up with in thirty minutes? At least a few if you know the techniques of innovation and creative problem solving. The following are thirty minute's worth, with some notes at how they were arrived at.
New Products and Inventions From Old
A fast way to invent new things is to start with existing concepts and find new applications. With the concept of inflatable things, the first thing that comes to my mind is inflatable shelters for emergency situations, such as after earthquakes or hurricanes. Such shelters could be transported easily, and erected quickly with a simple air pump. A basic large tent design, but with inflatable ribs instead of poles might work.
We can always find new products and inventions for babies. Inflatable cribs or playpens come to mind. Deflated, they could be folded up and stored almost anywhere. A simple design for a playpen might be a plastic floor with a simple wall that surrounds it and is attached to it. Think of air mattresses for swimming, set on their sides, connected end to end and wrapped into a circle and you'll get the idea.
When we used to go "tubing" down rivers in Michigan, we were forever trying new ways to carry a cooler with us while keeping it convenient to get a soda or beer out of it. A solution could be an inflatable bar. It might have a cooler built into it, have can and glass holders, and maybe even a secure place to set snacks. It could be used in a pool, lake or river.
Many people drive into water and die each year. One solution to this problem might be inflatable flotation that is activated when the car begins to sink. They would quickly inflate in an accident involving submersion, and would keep the car afloat. Put one in the trunk, and another inside the car, or have them come out from the wheel wells. To avoid accidental inflation, the triggering device would be activated by water, but be in a place where rain and car washing water couldn't reach.
Vending Machine Products and Inventions
When I considered the concept of vending machines, the first thing that came to mind was a beer machine. It could only be used in a bar that was restricted to adults, of course. A big benefit is that it would lessen the need for bartenders, since half of all the drinks sold in a bar are just simple beers. It is an innovation that could be implemented tomorrow, using beer in cans in existing pop machines.
A vending machine for books and magazines might do decent business in an airport, bus station or other places where people are forced to sit for hours. They may already exist, but I haven't seen them yet. Add some padding to the drop chute, and existing snack vending machines could be used.
They sell phone cards everywhere now, but I haven't yet seen them in vending machines. You could also sell those collapsible umbrellas from a machine. There are dozens of other things that could be profitably sold from vending machines. Use simple techniques like this extension of existing concepts, and there are also thousands of other new products and inventions waiting to be made.

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I believe the spiritual aspect of life, especially to entrepreneurs, is very important. While business may be the focal point for an entrepreneur's life, it's your outlook on life that shapes what kind of person you are.

Having a strong sense of self can benefit your business in many ways. The down periods and business 'tragedies' are not so bad for the entrepreneur that is spiritually centred. Don't take life too seriously is a phrase that every entrepreneur should take to heart and remember during the ups and downs of business.

I just finished reading a blog post from an entrepreneur friend of mine about meditation. My friend is meditating, and he's doing it a lot, which I find quite admirable. If he isn't careful he might give up business all together and follow the path of the monk searching for enlightenment, which may not be such a bad thing and perhaps even more rewarding than business ever could be.

I've attempted meditation for many reasons but more often as a method to deal with tough times in my life. I realise the need for meditation and spirituality during all times of life but as I'm sure many of you can identify with me when I say I don't look for help when times are great, I'm too busy revelling in the excitement.

As an entrepreneur I consider myself quite a creative person. I'm not gifted in art or music but certainly as a writer and business creator/manager I feel that I am definitely more bohemian than most. I think most entrepreneurs feel the same because we are not following the same path a lot of other people take when they work a normal job. Often the thought of a 'job' is not appealing and the prospect of working 9-5 for a salary is daunting. We take a risk by being different and expose ourselves to the often adverse opinions of those that believe we are making a mistake by not seeking a standard career. It takes a person of strong character and personal convictions to stand up to what can be a barrage of negative feedback from your peers and family.

I'm also more sensitive to my environment and the people around me. I live a controlled life and make sure that I eat well, sleep plenty and by choice I don't drink any alcohol. I have nothing against drinking (in moderation), it's just a choice I've made. I don't party hard on weekends, again by choice because I prefer to get a good nights sleep so I feel good during the day. Because of this I don't get sick too often (touch wood) and I feel at the top of my game everyday. I'm not saying do what I do, it's possible to party and drink and have a good time and be a very successful entrepreneur, just remember moderation and balance and your health should always be your primary concern.

A spiritually fulfilling life can be very rewarding. It provides a strong personal framework that offers stability during tough times and allows you to keep perspective when business is booming. It's not easy to be disciplined but as usual, for those that put the effort in the rewards are there.

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Financial advisors often find themselves consulting to successful entrepreneurs about how to continue to grow their assets after the business has been sold or taken over through a carefully planned succession strategy. But developing a small business (defined here as having less than $50 million in annual revenues) is not so simple.

After the initial burst of business success and survival in the first three years, many small businesses encounter struggles that can leave them feeling isolated. What can assist a 30-year old consulting firm whose personal presence and paper products face a changing world of electronic presence and high travel costs by helping them with development of electronic products? What can encourage a small playground equipment manufacturer to move from $1 million to $2 then $5 million in annual revenues by helping her with facility expansion issues? What can help a successful cookie baker beat the competition through strategic partners, cause marketing and high tech kitchen equipment?

Small Business Development Centers can.

According to the Small Business Administration these SBDC's gave face-to-face help to more than 247,000 clients last year. A treasury of business answers lies waiting and ready to assist at 1,100 top colleges and universities across the United States, according to the SBA. These centers are funded by a combination of federal, state and local government monies as well as with private sector dollars.

Here are just few examples from the State of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin at Whitewater hosts a Small Business Development Center at www.uwwsbdc.com [http://www.uwwsbdc.com/] Its email is ask-sbdc@uww.edu This center is also affiliated with the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, that "takes pride in an extremely high rate of client satisfaction...nearly 75% of clients have been referred by former clients and professionals. The Wisconsin Innovation Service Center charges an "affordable fee" to provide companies with enough information for improved product and market development decisions.

A few diverse examples of this university-related treasury of successes include these:

  1. A local gardener gained international attention for a unique gardening tool.
  2. An innovative drywall finishing product offers significant benefits over competition.
  3. A new product helps a honey producer grow.
  4. A business in the electrical equipment industry finds new customer segments.
  5. Investors and inventors find value in a flooring company start-up.
  6. An environmental product company breaks past the $15 million mark with a new product.
  7. An ornithology hobby becomes a successful business venture.
  8. An outdoor equipment manufacturer finds a potential acquisition.
  9. Customer purchase decisions and perceptions are revealed to a manufacturer.
  10. An automotive aftermarket tool gains distribution outlets across the U.S.
  11. A "hot" tool is offered to the propane and plumbing industries.

Part of the success of these entrepreneurs and a couple of hundred thousand others is due to the one-on-one relationship of these advisors with their entrepreneurial clients. Developing business plans, wading through loan applications, securing critical market research, exploring product design options, identifying a lasting competitive edge---these are typical of the services that SBDC's can provide to the entrepreneur.

These services are nothing to be sneezed at. In another state, South Carolina, the economic impact on the state's economy in 2005 alone was $86 million, resulting in a return on investment of $121.11 for every dollar of state funding, according to Regional Director Jill Burroughs as quoted in the Greenville News. Further explaining the power of the program, Burroughs said that breaks down to $45.7 million in capital formation, 1038 jobs created, nearly $25 million in wages paid, $869,000 in additional sales taxes and $15 million in contracts awarded to 381 businesses.

SBDC's are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. If you conservatively cut the impact of South Carolina in half and multiplied by the 50 states, you would have a $2.1 BILLION impact.

This is a powerful treasury of real riches that spills over to the rest of the economy from the struggles of entrepreneurs who refused to let their dreams be defeated by the obstacles they encountered. They got help.

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