5 businesses for today’s economy

by Sue Pitts on September 3, 2009

I do a lot of reading, thinking and brainstorming on ideas for small business in small communities like Council Bluffs and across southwest Iowa. Here are three ideas that are definitely not innovative or for that matter, new… but just may work in today’s economy. 

 The main thing to think about in starting a business today is to keep start up costs AND overhead/operating costs low.  Keep them low until you can develop a market and generate sales.  Then start thinking about buying a builidng, adding employees, franchising the business, going national, etc.

Here goes:

1. Pets – Start a pet care service.  Offer babysitting services, daily visits for pets left alone, grooming services, and any other “add ons” you can come up with. 

2. More Pets — In-home grooming services are the latest trend for pet owners. You go to the pet instead of having the pet come to you. Some are run out of vans but there’s no reason you couldn’t groom on the owner’s property.

3. Gardening – Offer services to keep up gardens for residential homes. Go beyond the basic yard service and give it your tlc touch.  Weed, trim, plant, replant, suggest, etc.  Markets could be homeowners with dual incomes who have no time to keep up with the Joneses or real estate agencies or cities with foreclosed or empty homes for sale.

4. Shopping Service – Babyboomers are aging and studies are showing that they are staying in there homes.  Start a shopping service offering home delivery from stores and items they can pick from on your website.  Charge a percentage of the bill or a flat rate for each run. 

5. Freelance — Do you have a skill that others could use? Can you write, do graphic design, take photos? There are lots of freelance opportunities — from proofreading services to image campaigns — that might fit your time and talent. Check them out on your local Craigslist or visit sites like www.iFreelance.com to get a feel for what you might do.

Like I said, these are not new.  If you search for these services you will see franchise opportunities and privately owned companies that are very similar.  The point is to pick something you will be passionate about and that enables you to start small and grow as you gain loyal customers. All of these ideas could start as part-time operations and grow into a service with contracted employees fulfilling the orders.

Give us a call at the Iowa Western Entreprenerial Center and SBDC or work with a Small Business Development Center nearest you to help you build your business model and write your business plan.  And please comment below with your ideas for the next great business.
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