Category Archives: Starting a Small Home Business

Starting a Pet Business – Opening a Pet Store

So, you have been thinking about starting a pet business?  You need to be prepared and know all the ins and outs before you get started.  A pet store is not a home business, however many people love pets and want to know how to open a pet store. First, you need to decide what kind of pets you want to sell, do you like dogs, cats, birds, reptiles or fish?  Maybe you want to sell all of the types of pets.  If you do, you need to be prepared to house them properly.  All of the different types of pets need to be in cages and/or aquariums.  Only like pets can share housing areas and you are limited by the government on how many like pets you can put in one type of housing.  You need to find out the cost of keeping your shop stocked, with pets and supplies, pay the rent and utilities, as well as paying for help.  If you don’t have enough money on hand to start, you will need to set up financing to get you through until your pet business can totally support you.

Next, you need to find an appropriate facility to house your pet business.  One big enough for cages and aquariums, as well as shelving to provide the supplies needed for customer’s pets.  You know you will need food, treats, bowls, cages, fish supplies, reptile supplies and of course lots of toys.

Once you find a facility, you need to contact your city, county or state government to see what licenses you will need and if the facility needs any remodeling at all, you need to contact a contractor to get the permits for you.

Advertising is a biggy; you need to get the word out that you are going to open soon.  You will want to place an ad in the paper and get some banners to hang on the front of your pet business shop.  You may also want to invest in a few mailings to the neighborhoods around your shop.  These efforts will pay off big time when opening day comes.  You also need to think about some grand opening specials.  You could offer a free bag/container of pet food with the purchase of a pet.  You could also offer a ‘buy one, get one half off or even free on the food, treats and toys.

Now it’s moving in day, you have your delivers set up to come to the new pet business today.  If you haven’t already, you might want to get there early to dust all the shelves and sweep the floor.  Be ready, the delivery people will be there soon.  Once everything arrives, you will want to open each box, check the contents against the packing list and then against your original order confirmation.  Place everything in its place and step back to admire your work.

Your next step is to visit a few puppy breeders if you are going to sell dogs, cat breeders if you are going to sell cats.  Most reptile breeders will ship to you directly, so you’ll need to contact a few suppliers to get set up with snakes, lizards, frogs and such.  Fish suppliers work the same way, but you need to have your aquariums, pumps and filters up and running before any fish are delivered to your shop.

You have to decide if you need to hire staff before your grand opening.  Can you handle the shop all by yourself….probably not, so place an ad in the local paper are put a flyer up on the front glass of your pet business shop.  You will start getting resumes and phone calls galore.  Set up some interviews and hire enough staff to help you run that perfect pet business.

Starting a Catering Business: How to Be Successful

What is a catering business?

Many people dream of starting their own business and don’t know where to start. Catering offers the perfect opportunity for those with a flair for cooking and decorating. Catering, once seen as the provision of food for a function, now involves additional services. This takes in the full gamut of event planning: food preparation and serving, provision of tables, chairs, utensils and lighting.

For health reasons, to start and operate a catering business you will need to acquire the necessary certificates and permits. So find out what your State requires for the operation of a catering business. Check the local health department for their requirements as well.

Before starting,consider what type of catering business you want to operate. This is important as there are specialties in this field. Some caterers offer ethnic food while others have built a name around providing themed catering services. Unless you are really skilled in one particular area of food preparation there is no need to specialize.

Start-Up Costs

Most new businesses will have start-up costs. Catering is no different – no matter how small you start there will be need for capital outlay. Operating costs can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. You can use your own savings, borrow from family and friends, enter a partnership or borrow from a bank to finance your venture.

Operating from home will help keep initial costs down, which is convenient if you are starting your catering business without a lot of cash. Even if you can do most of your cooking where the function is being held, some pre-preparation is necessary. This will ensure that the food is ready when it is needed. For example, cutting up vegetables and seasoning can be done at home.

Some equipment is essential and will impact costs. Luckily, many items needed by a caterer can be rented these days, including:

  • Stove
  • Refrigerator
  • China
  • Utensils
  • Tables & chairs
  • Tablecloths

Caterers are sometimes saved the expense of purchasing some basic items when they cook onsite. However, you will need your own equipment when more jobs start coming in.

You will also need a vehicle for taking food to the venue. If you don’t have a car or truck for yourself, ask family members and friends to assist – even at a cost. Renting transportation is another good option.

Good Skills to Have

Apart from being able to cook, caterers must have good interpersonal skills. This is one of those careers that hinges on making people comfortable. To make your catering business different from all the others, you should be a creative thinker. Look for ways to serve food and decorate a table to make it stand out. Guests will want to use your catering service when they host a function.

Time management is also important. You must always be able to work with the schedule of your clients.

Marketing/Finding Clients

The best way to market your new catering enterprise is to start with your immediate circles. Cater to birthday parties and events for family and friends to get a feel for the business and ask them to refer you to others. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most effective ways of building new business.

Getting a professional looking website up is also important. This doesn’t have to cost anything in the initial stage as there is free Website building software online. Or even better find out if a friend or family member can do this for you.

Putting ads in local newspapers and online will help you get noticed. Send out letters or emails about your catering business to wedding and event planners.

For some, catering is the first step towards starting their own restaurant. It is a good way to build a reputation while earning capital. One cornerstone to success in catering as in most other businesses is the will and desire to succeed. Catering may seem like an easy job, but it calls for discipline and great customer relations.

Before starting, gather all your information on catering and business management. Organizations such as the Small Business Bureau and Chambers of Commerce can also provide useful information.

Starting a Landscaping Business

Starting a landscaping business requires considerable planning, and knowing where to begin is not always as easy as one may imagine. If you are eager to begin your own landscaping business and need a little advice on how to proceed you have come to the right place.

Beginning Your Landscaping Career

If you have previously been a member of a landscaping crew then you may already have the necessary knowledge and experience, which is vital for you to begin your own landscaping business. There are some qualities you will need in order to become the boss of your own landscaping company including the ability to make wise decisions as well as being able to motivate your employees to accomplish their work in an efficient and effective manner.

It goes without saying that you will need to understand the basic landscaping terminology and have an artistic eye for landscaping fundamentals under all different conditions and locations. Spending some time working with other landscapers will provide you with the opportunity to become familiar with the terms associated with the field and provide you with an idea of whether or not you are any good at planning stunning landscapes.

Becoming a Landscape Designer

A landscape designer is simply one of the landscapers who decided to start their own landscaping business rather than be employed by someone else. A landscape designer will work with home owners and businesses to design effective looking landscape plans for their respective properties and upon acceptance of the plans they will direct their crew in the completion process.

All landscape designers are required to be properly licensed by the various states. Usually no formal education is required however; it never hurts to attend a nearby college, which offers landscaping design classes. If you are seeking a degree then the process can easily tie up two or more years of classroom training. During these several years, it would be a good time to gain some valuable experience by working on a landscaping crew in order to become familiar with the realities associated with the job.

To become a good landscape designer, you should already have some experience working well with property owners and be mindful of how you can successfully fulfill their wishes for their landscaping desires. You should know plenty about the local weather conditions and environmental concerns such as soil texture and pH.

A landscaper who is ready to begin their own landscaping business should be widely proclaimed to be knowledgeable in plants, which are commonly used in the landscaping field. Bushes, hedges, and trees are the most common types of plants used in landscaping, but you should also understand which flowers grow well in your area.

Building a Client Base

After you have obtained your degree as a landscape architect, you will need to begin building a client base for your potential landscaping business. Owning your own business is just the first step to becoming an independent contractor and until you have built up a solid reputation in your community as a qualified landscaper, you may wish to use some sort of marketing in order to spread the word about your upcoming business.

If you reside in a small community and simply do not have any competition, your landscaping business will probably thrive on word of mouth advertising alone. However, once you have your foot in the door you still need to be an effective contractor in order to continue your landscaping business and obtain additional jobs. Do not expect word of mouth to work well in densely packed urban areas where there are an abundance of landscaping businesses available.

Offer Quality Services

One of the best ways to demonstrate that you can provide quality services is to take pictures of the landscaping jobs, which you have already completed. You should organize these images in a professional portfolio for potential customers to glance through. If you have worked on a landscaping crew, you should also ask your former boss if you could give him as a reference.

Being able to provide a wealth of examples of your previous landscaping experience may be one of the easiest ways to convince potential clients that you can provide what they need for landscaping their properties. You should try to keep your picture portfolio as diverse as possible so that clients know that your landscaping business can provide services that fit their personal need instead of trying to use a basic design for everyone.

Start a Cleaning Business

The American dream…beautiful home, family, friends, a beloved pet…and operating your own cleaning business. Well, maybe that wasn’t exactly how you pictured it, but the fact is that operating a cleaning business can be very profitable and rewarding indeed. Cleaning is very satisfying work, especially for those with natural abilities involving attention to detail. If you enjoy cleaning, don’t mind getting a little dirty at times and don’t have any sensitivity to cleaning agents, a cleaning business could very well be what you’re looking for in a career.

So let’s consider some practical steps to starting a cleaning business. First of all, before starting any business venture, you should do a little market research into the needs of cleaning work in your area depending on how far you are willing to travel to work. Gas prices are high these days and you don’t want your business to fail immediately because you can’t afford to travel to an assignment. So check out what possibilities are available close to home. You might even wish to conduct a phone survey especially if you are interested in doing commercial cleaning as well as residential. Survey in person the surrounding neighborhoods or businesses to see what types of cleaning work might be needed. You could explain that you are thinking about starting a janitorial business and wondered if they were happy with their present arrangement. You might be surprised to find a greater need than you had anticipated and this procedure will get your foot in the door when you actually are ready to start cleaning.

Consider whether you wish to specialize in a niche market like window washing, carpet cleaning or simply a general housekeeping job. Think about the supplies that you will need depending on the niche you choose. Will you need simple cleaning fluids or heavier equipment? It is always wise to keep your overhead as low as possible. As well as cleaning supplies, you will want to consider the cost of advertising. Business cards, flyers and newspaper ads have all proved very beneficial. You might consider the level of professionalism that you wish to reflect and how each of these methods of advertising will accomplish this. High profile janitorial cleaning may not suggest the use of flyers, where as a small housekeeping service might not afford media advertising.

Good planning is a must for any successful business. Think about what your potential client will want from you. We live in a society where criminal conduct is prevalent and so any credentials that you can provide to prove your trustworthiness will greatly increase your probability of being hired. Why not obtain a background check on yourself and liability insurance to add to your portfolio along with any references you may have. Anyone can present a reference even if it’s only a family member or friend whose home you cleaned once for free and did an excellent job.

Once you get start obtaining clients, be dependable! Make sure that you arrive to the job when you say you will be there and that you work hard and conscientiously to the very best of your ability. Use good customer service skills with your client, answering their questions and handling all issues in a kind and professional manner. You will want to keep good clients for a long time, so work hard to secure their continued business. Good communication beforehand will help reduce any misunderstandings about the job expected and it’s best to put things in writing.

Now that you are self-employed, you will be responsible for paying taxes. You should refer to any tax laws in your state and federal requirements to ensure that you don’t have any surprises the following year. Ignorance is no exception to the law, so they say. Some states still require a business license, some don’t. Find out what is required where you live. Many resources of information are available on the internet with regard to tax laws and licensing issues. Consideration of tax issues when setting your prices for services rendered will aid in getting the most profit. For example, if you charge $20 an hour for cleaning, keep in mind that about a fifth of that will go toward the different taxes that are required. So you might really be making only about $16 an hour.

Operating a cleaning business has many benefits other than the good pay. You can enjoy the freedom that being self-employed brings. You will be able work at your own pace, you can set your own schedule and once the work is done there is no reason why you can’t take off to the lake for the rest of the day. So if starting a cleaning business seems right for you, then come aboard and join the ranks of millions of successful entrepreneurs.

Seven Top Home Business Ideas

If you are ready to start a home business, you have made a wise choice.  Many people spend their entire lives trading hours for dollars only to realize that they haven’t gotten ahead.  The key to finding financial freedom is to start your own home business to earn income on the side while you keep your day job.  As your business grows and covers your basic expenses, you can leave your day job for greater independence over your destiny.

Although starting a home business sounds great, you may not know where to begin.  Here are seven top ideas for home business that are easy and affordable to start that can realize fantastic profits over time.

Mystery Shopping

Mystery shoppers visit retail stores, restaurants, hotels, banks and just about every other type of business to evaluate the service and surroundings in a covert manner.  As a mystery shopper, you behave just like an everyday customer to find out more about the business’ daily operations and dealings with the public.  Most assignments are found at mystery shopping websites, where shopper can apply for shops on a first-come, first-served basis.  The details of the shop are usually entered and submitted at the same websites so you need computer   access and familiarity.  While mystery shopping won’t make you rich, it can cover basic expenses while you get a free lunch or outfit.  To find out more about mystery shopping, you can visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website.


Merchandisers visit retail stores, physicians’ offices and other places of business to set up displays, service existing displays and take announced surveys of basic business conditions.  Most merchandisers also work as mystery shoppers to earn a more significant income for visiting retail establishments.  Much like mystery shopping, the majority of merchandising jobs are assigned online on a first-come, first-served basis and the details of the job are usually entered online, faxed or called in by telephone.  To find out more about merchandising, you can visit the National Association for Retail Marketing Services (NARMS) website.

Freelance Writing

If you have a way with words, try your hand at freelance writing.  You can write articles, an ebook or blogs to give your writing exposure and earn extra cash.  With online resources, there are a myriad of opportunities available for budding writers.  To find out more about writing opportunities and venues, check out websites such as Elance, iFreelance and Associated Content.  To start your own blog, consider free forums such as Blogger and WordPress.

Affiliate and Network Marketing

There are literally thousands of opportunities to make money through affiliate and network marketing.  As an affiliate, you offer products or services on behalf of another company and earn a commission for your sales.  In the modern business world, many people are doing this through a website but you can also engage in affiliate market through personal sales.  Personal selling includes home parties, selling to friends or associates and distributing catalogs, with famous examples such as Avon and PartyLite.  Network marketing encourages you to recruit additional salespeople so you can earn money from their efforts and is also done through a website or personal interactions.

Jewelry Making

Creative people can find an outlet and profits in making jewelry.  From glass beads to precious stones, you can design creations according to your talent and means.  As fashions and colors change, jewelry makers can make a significant income by creating accessories to compliment the latest looks.  Craft stores, holistic shops and online resources sell the materials to make jewelry so you can get started right away.  You can sell your jewelry through a printed ad, a website, holding home parties or getting a shelf on consignment at a local shop.

House and Office Cleaning

Getting started in house and office cleaning is as easy as assembling cleaning equipment and placing an ad to put the word out about your services.  Choose a publication with plenty of readers so all the locals know you started a cleaning business.  Distribute fliers at local offices, retail stores and households to spread the word further.  Alternative business options include working as a subcontractor for an established cleaning company or purchasing your own cleaning route.


No matter what your area of education or expertise, you can earn extra cash by offering your services as a consultant.  Join business networking groups, start a website, place ads in local publications, check out online resources such as Elance or iFreelance and participate in community events to get the word out about your consulting services.  Whether you are an outstanding lawyer or an incredible seamstress, there are avenues to explore in consulting that can yield substantial profits.  Many people are willing to pay for your knowledge rather than go through the time and trouble of trial and error.

Now that you have a few ideas for your new home business, you are ready to get started on the road to success and financial independence.

The Basics to Starting a Home Business

Many Americans all across the country start their own business at home.  Not only so they can have that financial freedom they dream of, but also to be able to bring that childhood dream come true and to be able to spend more time with family and friends.

Being a business owner is truly one of the most rewarding endeavors a person can take in their lifetime. I started my own home-based business when I was in 10th grade.  The business was a small-town marketing firm that catered to home-based and small businesses.

There are many steps to starting a home business, but there are a few that are very essential.  Firstly, you must have a good idea of what your talents and interests are.  A home-based business should be something that you are great in doing and you enjoy dearly.  I know people who have started catering businesses from home, computer tutoring and web design, sewing, etc.  The possibilities are endless and completely depend on your likes and dislikes.

You must be able to ask yourself what you feel your talents will be of the most use to the public.  Also within that realm of what fits you, you also must look at feasibility.  A lot of times the human mind wants to think to far, too fast.  Obviously, when thinking of a business to start, it must fit within your budget and talents.  This is essential when starting a new, home-based business.

Secondly, look at all the costs associated with that business start-up as well as local regulations.  Will you need to purchase supplies to make those tree houses or will you need to register your business name locally?  All those issues will come into play.  It’s important to create a detailed expense list to make sure you can afford to start a business at that time.  I would truly recommend that you go straight to your local chamber of commerce and tax collectors office to ensure that you are following all the policies necessary so you won’t be in any violation of the law.  In most towns or cities, there are different regulations regarding having a catering business in your home compared to a flower garden. Every town and city has different regulations affecting home-based businesses.

Thirdly, it’s essential to create a business plan and marketing plan to help keep your business idea on track for success.  A lot of people who start home-based businesses assume they don’t need a business or marketing plan, but in reality it’s important that you have those in order to organize your business idea and it also exudes much more professionalism in what you do.  For more information on what is needed in those plans please visit the Small Business Administration’s website at and they have many free templates that will get you started.

Overall, starting a business may not be as hard as you think.  As long as you plan things out, budget correctly, and stay within your talents and limits, your business will have a much better chance at succeeding!