Sunday, August 26, 2007

Business Idea - New World Candy Order

Seek out suppliers of different types of candies from all over the planet. The more countries you can source from the better. Then simply sell these candies at a farmer’s market stall, a mall kiosk or online. You’d be surprised how many expatriates yearn for that sweet treat from back home that they grew up on.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Business Idea - Specialty Bread Shops

Cobs bread bakery franchises are sprouting up everywhere. Frankly, I don’t see the point of shelling out a hefty franchise fee. Anyway, bake like crazy a few days in advance of a farmer’s market, making certain, of course, that your rustic breads will hold up. Come up with a great marketing angle. Hand out free samples. And sit back and count the mountain of dough you'll make from selling your loaves.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Business Idea - Sandwich Wagon

In Vancouver, the modern day gold rush took the form of catering firms feeding hungry film crews - that was until the Canadian dollar topped 95 cents, now things aren’t so gold rushy. But in any case for a while a collective fantasy fell over the city that anyone could start up their own sandwich wagon and make a bundle of dough. There are still plenty of other places besides film sets to market your wares. You can prepare your own sandwiches and soups in your own kitchen, buying your ingredients wholesale of course. Set up a steady, daily route at construction and factory sites, office buildings, and so on. And most important have a pleasant sounding horn or chow bell to announce your arrival.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guerilla Marketing - Bribe the Weatherman

It's the way that my mind works, but I always think of Planet of the Apes when my mind turns to this topic. Gorilla - guerilla, I suppose...

Anyway, I was watching a beautiful example of it the other night on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, a show on the Food Network where Chef Ramsey parachutes into failing restaurants, berates everybody in sight and saves the day or issues a restaurant autopsy of why it failed. In this latest episode, he was trying to save a quirky owner who favoured weird food combinations and powdered gravy mix. He cussed the owner out for a bit, told him to ditch the crap gravy mix and instituted a p.r. project which he called "The Campaign for Real Gravy". All staff were issued black t-shirts with the slogan emblazoned across the front, the owner was given a megaphone and told to sell his campaign to the people of the small village where his pub was located and free samples of Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy were freely handed out. There's even a website apparently at (I see that the website is stating that it was a phenomenal success and they're even looking for a new chef. It just goes to show how powerful guerilla p.r. can be.)

If you aren't thinking a megaphone and town centre blitz is the way you want to go, think about bribing your local t.v. weather reporter. If, for example, you're selling homemade jams and jellies, why not send a basket to your local station, and ask for a plug for your website or next farmer's market date? It doesn't cost much to try and the potential benefits could be huge.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blogging Guru - John Chow

The hardest part of blogging is getting noticed. (Like most things in life, I suppose.)

If you want sound advice on promoting your own blog I heartily recommend visiting and reading John Chow's story. (He's created websites with over 200,000 page views per day, so the guy knows what he's talking about.) Type "promotion" into his search engine for ideas on how to increase your readership. Also, take advantage of his linkbaiting program as I am via this post. For your review of his website he offers a link back to yours. Find out more about it at and let me know if it works for you.

You may be thinking that my review is tainted by this outright bribery. Yup, it is. But I would still recommend visiting his website even if he hadn't offered this bonus. He has lots of interesting information on monetizing your own blog, plus an amazing amount of interesting links derived from his linkback program. Also, I like that he's up front about his affiliate programs. If he sells it or advertises for it, he backs it as a worthwhile product or service.

And lastly, I find his Fine Dining posts to be interesting. I note that Mr. Chow is eating a heck of a lot of lobsters. Could this be a more subtle side to his self-promotion as a successful blogger? This guy is one smart cookie.

Business Idea - Homemade Cakes and Pies

Before Martha Stewart started her catering business, she sold homemade pies at a table at her local mall and look where that got her. An oven, some great recipes and a mailing list for your brochure are all you need to get you on the path to world domination, one cake and pie at a time. Cakes cost less than a few dollars to make and sell for $20 and more. Produce and sell 12 cakes per day and you’ll net around $200.00 or about $4000 per month.

Business Idea - Xmas/Hanukkah Baking Service

Sweet Christmas sugar, Batman, I used to go crazy for my mother’s baked goods during the holidays. Shortbread, almond cookies, Nanaimo bars, brownies, sugar cookies with orange icing, and a peanut butter-and-marshmallow concoction that made me swoon. But who has time for all that work these days? Trade on maternal guilt and step into the breach. Sell your home-baked confections to overworked mothers everywhere. Wrap in colorful cellophane. Send price lists and samples to receptionists at large local offices and ask that they put the word out.

Business Idea - Pickle and Relish Maker

My mother is a pickleholic and a relish lover to boot, so I can see the viability of this business. There are millions of great recipes out there, find one or two, make up a few batches, slap on a down-home label and watch the addicts line up for their pickle fix. When I was a kid my parents used to take me to Klondike Days in Edmonton and buy me an ice cold root beer and a giant pickle to snack on - I suspect my mother’s influence in this - but I used to look forward each year to my pickle and root beer stop. ‘Course, I don’t recommend the roller coaster after this type of snack... Anyway, make specialty pickles, out of zucchini, pumpkin, watermelon rinds... For your relishes, try cucumber, onion, red pepper, cauliflower - the possibilities are limitless. Give out free samples with crackers. Sell at farmer’s markets, or online.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Business Idea - Roadside Fruit Vendor

Buy fresh fruit from farmers in season and then truck it into an area that can’t supply its own fruit. Sell it, either door-to-door or at a busy roadside rest area. Place signs well along the highway in both directions to alert customers to stop in time. Offer a good variety of tree-ripened fruit.

Business Idea - Ethnic Food Seller

Everybody wants the tastes of home. If you have even 100 families of one ethnic origin, find out if there is a store that caters to their needs. If not, consider setting up a small store. Polish, Greek, Turkish, Puerto Rican, Japanese are all cuisines that are expanding in popularity. Convert a room in your house into the store. Advertise to local cooking classes or offer your own cooking lessons and offer to sell your students the ingredients they need to recreate the dishes

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Business Idea - Gourmet Doughnuts

Doughnuts are not that hard to make and their profit margin is astronomical - around 80% or so! Many tiny storefronts can gross over $150,000 each year. Seventy cent doughnuts only cost a few cents to make. One fellow featured on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” on the Food Network sells his gourmet donuts for $3.00 each. Offer unique flavours with interesting fillings. Sell to coffee shops or offer to take office pool orders and have them delivered. Hire a part-time student during busy times to assist with deliveries and sales.

Business Idea - Candy Shop

There are hundreds of success stories of candy makers that started out in a home kitchen and then grew into multi-million dollar operations. Every year North American consume over four billion pounds of candy, shelling out a collective $11 billion for their sugar fix. Use quality, gourmet ingredients and sell informally from home or at farmer’s markets and festivals. Sell non-perishable candy, i.e. caramels, and toffee by mail order or online.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Why do you want to go into business for yourself?

One business coaching book I’ve been reading states that this question should be posed before going into any business. I’m not completely convinced. I’ve seen people plunge into projects and do okay with very little self-reflection. (I’ve also seen the opposite, lots of work, no results, so maybe this author has a point... but I’m still dubious.)

In high school I had a teacher who liked to separate out the cynics on the first day of class, so he’d ask “What’s the first priority of every politician?” He’d sneer at the beauty-queen answers “world peace”, “save the environment”, “lower taxes” (well, the last may be more of a Republican beauty queen, God love ‘em) etc. And then the warm sunshine of his snaggle-toothed smile would fall upon the Chosen One, which for that year was me. My answer? “To get elected.” Because unelected politicians just aren’t worth very much.

It seems to me the number one goal of every business is to make money. More importantly make a profit. Other goals are just gravy, secondary trail markers that tell you if you’re on track or not.

The important thing is that at some point you have to give up the navel-gazing and just plunge in. Go make money.

I’d love your comments and/or your stories.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Business Idea - Classified Ads/Free Paper

I helped edit our yearbook in high school, so this idea really appeals to me. Put together a paper of just classified ads in either broad sheet or booklet form. Sell ads by undercutting your competition. Leave stacks of your papers in corner stores, gas stations or coffee shops free for the taking. Or deliver door-to-door. You’ll need a small office to answer phones and sell ads. Compose the master layout on your home computer. Photocopy your paper or have it printed professionally. One Canadian company started out this way and added jokes and very short stories to their paper of classifieds. They focused on distributing their papers to coffee shops and casual restaurants - anywhere a customer might linger and look for something to read. And now their sales are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Business Idea - Candle Sculpture

I remember a news story when Princess Diana died of an artist who had sculpted candles in her likeness and was selling them at the Place D’Alma, a site located above the tunnel. (They looked really neat, but I felt her timing was more than a little opportunistic.) Anyway, my point is you need only a small amount of creative talent to achieve some great results. I’m sure there are plenty of books on this particular type of craft. It’s an interesting and unique gift idea and your profits can be very large. Your raw materials for each candle cost you a buck or so and your finished products can retail for $20 or more. For about $200 bucks you can start up production in your own home and launch yourself on your way to becoming a sculpted-candle mogul.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Business Idea - Charcoal Portraits

Who doesn’t love a charcoal portrait of themselves? - Assuming the artist is responsive to my requests for “editing” my hook nose and prominent chin, I’m a beauty in charcoal. And everyone definitely loves a portrait of a loved one. Charcoal softens and warms the features of a sitter. If you are average or better at drawing, you can easily master this type of portraiture. (And if you’re a struggling novice, consider reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, it’s a phenomenal book. Your inner artist will amaze you.) Set up where loads of people pass by - sidewalks, parks, farmer’s markets. Draw for ten minutes for a fee of $20. Display and sell other artwork at the same time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Business Idea - Hand-Painted Jeans

Oh, to have a svelte jeans-wearing body... For those that do, hand-painted jeans are very popular. Purchase jeans in bulk at wholesale prices on eBay (look under “wholesale lots”). Hand-paint interesting designs using fabric paints. Reassure your customers that the design will hold with careful washing. And then resell at four to ten times what you originally paid, selling to boutiques, department stores or on eBay. Take special, customized orders for a higher price.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Business Idea - Hand-Painted Kitchenware

This is truly turning trash to treasure. Any old pot or pan or other kitchenware can be dug out of the garage or bargain bin at your local thrift shop. Clean the item up, apply a base coat and then paint whatever grabs your fancy for an interesting motif. If nothing is grabbing your fancy, try checking out a Donna Dewberry book on “one-stroke painting” for inspiration.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Business Idea - Papier-Mache Folk Art

Newspaper, wallpaper paste and your imagination. No craft exists that is cheaper to get into. Some ideas for salable objects d’art from your papier mache factory: nativity scenes for window and fireplace mantel displays, mannequins, trays, boxes, dolls, doll houses, toy furniture such as stoves, fridge magnets, decorative plates and bowls and so on into infinity. Practical or decorative or both. Check out instruction books in your local library or on the web. Sell at farmer’s markets, craft fairs or stores specializing in folk art.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Business Idea - Become an Airbrushaholic

Maybe if I’m reasonably good, Santa will bring me an airbrush this Christmas. I love the results in subtle shading I see other people coaxing out of these babies. Lifelike pictures, electric designs. People who get into customizing designs for cars and motorcycles can make a very good living with an airbrush.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Business Idea - Car-Detailing

I’m told it’s a sleeper business which can be very lucrative. Basically, you’ll be hand washing and polishing cars inside and out. You can prep new cars or recondition used ones for a local car dealer or just freelance, providing high-quality cosmetic maintenance to classic or quality car buffs. Build a regular clientele by offering a complete package for $150. Work almost anywhere with a hose, bucket, wax and lots of elbow grease - parking lots, garages, alleys or the car’s own home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Business Idea - Car Swap Meet

Turn a vacant lot into a swap meet for cars only. You charge people who wish to display their car in your lot for a flat fee for a specific day or week - no selling or buying on your part - your only cost is your ad to attract sellers and buyers and whatever insurance costs to cover “trip insurance” - so that anybody that may injure him or herself by tripping on a crack is covered for their expenses. Offer a food concession for bigger profits. Who doesn’t want a hot dog or hamburger when shopping for a car?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Business Idea - Car Transport Service

Snowbirds love this service. They can have their car delivered to their winter home and then simply fly to their destination. And used car and RV dealers often have to figure out how to get their vehicles delivered from one part of the country to the other. Find reliable drivers with good driving records in need of free one-way transportation and hire them by subcontract to deliver the vehicle cross-country. Google “car couriers” for ideas on how to connect with customers.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Business Idea - Used Car Consultant

I’m one of the many people out there who doesn’t have a clue what to look for in a used car deal. Mostly, I go on psychic impressions and pray that the relative I’ve dragged along for his car knowledge catches any problems. If a person doesn’t have a resident car expert in his or her family, though, I’d bet they’d just love to hire a used car consultant. The only thing you need for this is expertise in car repairs. Advertise that you’ll help prospective used car buyers find a reliable vehicle. Offer to take them on a tour of used car lots or accompany them to inspect a private seller’s car. Or they can just drive the car to you to inspect for them. Either way, charge them by the hour.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Business Idea - Kid's Birthday Party Planner

Okay, first things first: for this business, you have to love, love, love children, energetic, high-spirited, jumping, giggling, shrieking children for hours on end. If you’re not one of these sainted ones, if you’re like me and you like kids who are sedate little bookworms, then do not for a second consider offering a children’s party service. Just skip on past this entry. No one will know. If you are, however, steely-nerved and very entertaining. If you’re a self-starter with an energy level that amazes and frightens other people and you’re well-organized and like conducting fun parties for kids, then here is your calling. Working mothers and mothers with money will cheerfully hire you to take over the show for them. You will send out the invitations, gather up the refreshments, favors, decorations, games and prizes, provide adult supervision and the clean up. In some areas there are very few people offering this type of service.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Business Idea - Pinata Artiste

Kids adore pinatas. They’re pretty and when I was little appealed to my inner, greed demon. Although it was a rare time when my brother cooperated completely in the pursuit of candy, we had an unspoken arrangement that we would tag team the other kids lurking around the pinata, thus doubling our chances of a decent booty. Ah, the good old days. Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing the dark side of your child and her friends, string up a pinata. Better yet, go into business making them. They’re made from papier mache, so the materials are mucho cheapo. You can either follow instructions off the web or from a library book or let your creativity go wild with custom shapes, maybe a witch’s hat for a Harry Potter party, etc. Custom pack it with goodies ordered by Mom and charge extra for the service.

Business Idea - Children's Used Clothing

Kids grow like the Dickens, quickly making irrelevant that cute little sailor suit or dress that Mom was saving for a special occasion, not to mention everything else. So why not profit from the phenomenon? Very often kids grow out of items way before they’re worn out. Set aside a room in your house in which you can display your collection of good, used clothing for kids. Purchase your selection from thrift stores, garage sales, and so on. Resell at 300% markup or better. Repair, clean and press each item. Get bargains out of season. Meet customers by appointment only, serving one person at a time. This way you maintain more complete control of your time.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Business Idea - Wooden Toy Maker

The best wooden toy for me was a thing called a Jacob’s Ladder, little flat blocks of wood wrapped in ribbons that clickety-clacked up and down if you manipulated it right. For my brother his favorite wasn’t made out of wood, but tissue and packing tape - a set of bolo balls that my parents bought in Hawaii. He’d twirl those suckers for hours, usually somewhere near me if we’d just argued. Ouch, those suckers could pack a wallop. An argument for homemade toys is that they’re non-violent, ironic given my experience, but if you see the merits of fine workmanship and the boost in creativity that these toys can elicit give this business a whirl. Patterns can be found on the web, in craft shops, in books in the public library. There are old standbys that always sell well: doll beds, pull toys, yo-yos, animals, jigsaw puzzles, and those neat little, tilting mazes where you try to get the ball through to the end without dropping through holes on the way, or those cool, table top, wooden roller coasters that have a ball roll along, causing little doors to flap open and whirligigs to move.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Business Idea - Education Toy Online Retailer

Educational toys give the added bonus of bragging rights to parents about their genius children. What Nintendo game does that? Plus they make learning fun for kids. Now there are literally thousands of fantastic games and toys available, so why not consider setting up a mail order or web-based store retailing them? Search on Google the words: “educational toys; wholesale”.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Business Idea - Cardboard Playhouses

I remember experiencing serious playhouse envy when as a kid I visited a cousin and saw what her handy dad constructed for her: a sweet little, blue, two windowed playhouse at the back of their yard. Man, oh, man, I wanted one of my own. Kind of like my real estate envy now... Anyway, I think as long as the boxes are sturdy enough, this could be a viable idea. Build them in a way that they can be shipped flat by freight, sell them by mail order or on the web. Your customers assemble these cardboard playhouses and the kids themselves paint the playhouse. You can draw outlines of animals and flowers and other items on the outside of the cardboard and the kids simply color it all in. They can also be marketed to boys, if you design them as secret forts. Research safety issues before committing any serious cash to this business.