lunes, 10 de marzo de 2008

5 business ideas just waiting for an entrepreneur ... like you?

del blog Escape from Cubicle Nation, espero que les sea útil.


I spend a lot of time thinking about business ideas as I am wandering around the house collecting recyclables, or burping my baby or pulling my two-year-old off a tall chair as he prepares to fly across the room like Spiderman. If I were more motivated, or interested, or cut out to have a huge company of people surrounding me, I would start these businesses myself. But I really don't have the energy or the inclination. So here are some business ideas for you, based on sensing a huge need for these targeted services among my readers:

1. Independent Benefits Adviser for the Wannabe Entrepreneur

Business problems:

  • Corporate employees who want to go out on their own are very concerned about how to obtain health and retirement benefits as a self-employed person
  • While there are some "advisers" out there, most are tied to a particular insurance company or benefits plan and will not provide impartial advice
  • Health benefits are inherently complex and require expert advice based on individual health concerns
  • There is no equivalent to the helpful HR benefits specialist who resides in most large companies "on the outside"

Sampling of key skills and experience:

  • Broad knowledge of employee benefits in general, with geographic expertise where necessary, like understanding state regulations and plans
  • Familiarity with many different benefit plans and the pros and cons of each
  • Exceptional ethics and reputation, due to highly confidential nature of people's medical histories

Ideas for structure:

  • Phone-based consulting in different packages: initial consultation, as well as follow up as needed
  • Web-based tools to help direct people to the best benefit programs
  • "We do it for you" services for those who don't want to be bothered with filling out millions of forms as they transfer health and retirement plans
  • Teleclasses and webinars on topics like "First steps to shop for your own benefits"

2. Accountant and Financial Adviser for People with Less than Perfect Financial Histories

Business problems:

  • For a whole variety of reasons (lack of knowledge, illness, divorce, addiction, lack of interest) there are a lot of people who are smart, creative and motivated, but are scared to death of starting a business because they don't have a perfect financial history
  • Some of the financial problems faced by these people will impact their ability to secure financing, but most are crippled by a lack of confidence
  • The majority of professionally-trained financial advisers do not understand the shame and emotional baggage that follow people in this situation and deliver financial advice and coaching in what is perceived as a judgmental and derogatory way
  • Some "prosperity coaches" go too far the other direction with law of attraction rah rah and don't help people with specific needs like creating financial statements or applying for a loan
  • Some unscrupulous financial service providers prey on the financially uninformed and steal their money (My dear relative, who experienced a windfall of cash in the 1970s due to a good acting gig, fell under the spell of such a character who promptly snorted her house, savings and retirement up his nose, landing him in jail and her penniless and heartbroken).

Sampling of key skills and experience:

  • Personal or professional experience dealing with people that carry shame for their financial histories
  • Excellent knowledge of personal credit, business finance and accounting
  • Coaching skills - ability to address interpersonal issues that underly poor financial habits

Ideas for structure:

  • Teleclasses on very basic topics like "How to get a bank loan for your new business even if you don't have perfect credit" or "Business accounting basics for those neither interested nor skilled in the topic, but who need to know it anyway"
  • 1:1 evaluations and coaching in person or over the phone without hawking specific products or trying to sell anything
  • Virtual work groups that provide information and support as people build their businesses one step at a time
  • Referral network with good local CPAs or tax lawyers, or at least consulting services to help people find good ones

3. Marketing Expert for Introverted Software Developers

When I used to teach sales classes in technology companies, it was humorous to see the interplay between "sales guys" and "engineering guys." Like I mentioned in How the technogeeks kicked my ass for my own good, highly technical people are often wary of fast-talking marketing or salespeople.

Business problems:

  • Smart, talented software engineers are starting their own "Micro Independent Software Vendor (Micro ISV)" businesses without a clear understanding of the sales and marketing process. This causes anxiety and stops many from stepping out full-time
  • Many marketing experts do not understand the specifics of marketing and selling software
  • Many sales training classes feel uncomfortable to highly introverted, technical people

Sampling of key skills and experience:

  • Technical background
  • Experience creating and selling your own software
  • Knowledge of marketing and sales techniques most effective for the independent software market
  • Organized, structured approach to education and services
  • Coaching skills

Ideas on structure:

  • Web or e-book programs that detail effective marketing step-by-step
  • 1:1 coaching over the phone
  • Forums targeted to marketing and sales
  • Partnerships with people like the talented Bob Walsh of 47 Hats to deliver in-person and virtual workshops

4. Blog Graphic Designer for the Technically Clueless Professional

I know there are thousands of graphic designers capable of creating an attractive design for a blog. Guru, Elance and Freelanceswitch are just a few examples of sites that provide access to freelancers. That is part of the problem; with so many options, the technically clueless person gets paralyzed knowing where to start.

Business problems:

  • Everyone in a professional services business is being told these days "start a blog!" but they don't know how to do it or which platform to use
  • Existing freelance sites are overwhelming for the first-time user
  • Most canned blog templates look amateurish for the entrepreneur who wants to project a clean, professional, integrated look online
  • Designers tend to focus on serving anyone, and thus don't speak directly to a specific group of people, such as blog design for coaches, or real estate agents or financial advisers
  • New bloggers need both a clean design and basic set up of sales and marketing-friendly add-ons like feed subscribe buttons, newsletter sign-up boxes, links to sales pages and integration with other social networking or news feed sites

Sampling of key skills and experience:

  • Wizardry in a couple of decent platforms like Typepad or Wordpress
  • Excellent design skills
  • Knowledge of what makes a site sell or encourages people to sign up for feed
  • Broad-based knowledge of both blog culture and blog experts

Ideas on structure:

  • Easy-to-digest packages of services like (a) basic blog design, (b) design + feed sign up and sidebar content input and (c) design + sign up + selling tips like advertising, affiliate marketing or integrated sales pages
  • Add-on "as you grow" services which could be served up "a la carte," much like Typepadhacks
  • Partnerships with marketing and branding experts like Suzanne Falter-Barns, Robert Middleton or John Jantsch

5. Marketing Specialist for Craftspeople Who Sell at Local, Regional and International Art Shows

Business problems:

  • Artists who sell at craft shows are notoriously "old school" when it comes to business, preferring to deal in-person and keep operations and techno-gagetry to a minimum. Because of this, they miss the opportunity to build relationships with patrons who visit their booth once a year, or to sell other pieces online
  • Customers who purchase pieces from favorite artists never hear from them again
  • Artists miss opportunities for referrals if they only sell at local art shows
  • There is a need for "grassroots selling meets internet marketing"

Sampling of key skills and experience:

  • Love of art and appreciation of fine craftsmanship
  • Knowledge of both craft show marketing and internet marketing
  • Coaching skills
  • Teaching skills

Ideas for business:

  • Workshops before major art shows, sponsored by the host organization with topics like "3 ways to double your income at this year's art show." This would be peppered with specific, easy-to-implement steps like collecting business cards or names of customers, in order to follow up after the show. Many of the sponsor organizations are committed not just to making money off the shows, but supporting the artists. An example is our local Heard Museum here in Phoenix that hosts an annual show of native artists.
  • Simple do-it-yourself marketing packages, designed in an easy-to-implement and attractive manner. Craftspeople are by their nature highly visual and kinesthetic, so whatever you create, make sure it looks and feels good
  • Virtual teleclasses on specific topics. Make sure instructions are clear and technology is not complicated as many craft artists are known for not liking complex technology

I realize that some of you may serve people that face these problems and fit into the demographic described. What I don't see are well-branded, very targeted businesses that specifically serve this niche.

If you choose to implement any of these ideas, they should be with the following criteria:

  • Highly targeted. Don't fold these services in with 12 other things.
  • Excellent quality. I realize that this may be so obvious it is annoying, but please, if you are going to put these ideas into play, make them GREAT since the people they are serving are some cool cats.
  • Well-branded. Choose a great brand name and tag line to maximize press and exposure.

These all are candidates for lichen businesses - perfectly suited as an adjunct to support to those of us like Karyn Greenstreet, Bob Walsh, Mary Sullivan, Shama Hyder, Tim Berry, Rich and Jeff Sloan and other start-a-business writers and coaches.

Good luck! I hope you have lots of fun with these ideas, help a lot of people and make a lot of money. All I ask in return is that you mention my name when you are inducted into the "Fastest Growing Business Hall of Fame."

No hay comentarios.: