I´ve been reading a book called 202 Services You can Sell for Big Profits by James Stephenson and I wanted to share some advice he had for those of you interested in opening a service related business.
I´ve posted before on the differences between service and product oriented businesses (http://www.allbusiness.com/specialty-businesses/women-owned-businesses/11535-1.html?postId=4925), but that post mainly focused on the difference between each. If you have already decided that you want to own a service related business, what is the next step?
One thing that Mr. Stephenson suggests, which I have also written about (http://www.allbusiness.com/specialty-businesses/women-owned-businesses/11535-1.html?postId=5946) is to figure out what your skills and your interest lie in and follow that.
If you aren´t an animal lover but you think pet sitting would be a great option because of its flexibility, think again. You won´t enjoy going to work if you are not doing something that you enjoy. Mr. Stephenson suggests thinking about what it is that you can do well-throw a party, walk a dog-and then follow that. Don´t worry so much about the business side, as it will come with research and time. Instead, figure out your passion first.
He also covers advertising by means of press releases, articles, and marketing techniques such as contests and seminars. The important thing is to get the word out about your business however you can. Think of events that are coming up and use them to your advantage. I wrote about a creative advertising technique that a lady used last Halloween. She created goodie bags for young children and in those included a business card for her daycare center. What a great way to reach parents! The kids were happy with the candy and the technique was so memorable that I have shared it with other business people (and you!) this year.
A few service related businesses that he suggests include web design, massage therapist, proposal writer, freelance photography, and personal shopper. One trend I´ve noticed lately is that of errand runner. Mothers are starting companies for those people in the community who do not have the time or who cannot physically leave their homes to grocery shop, stop at the dry cleaners, and do other important errands that must be done.
Finally, research what is already available in your area. If you want to run errands as a living but there are three other errand services in your town, you may need to either rethink the decision or at least consider a way in which to make your service stand out from the others. A niche business will always do better than one that blends in with the rest of the competition. How can you make your idea shine?