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

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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."  🙂

And if you already have this business and I am not aware of your company, let me know!

Filed Under: Cool business ideas

31 Responses to “5 business ideas just waiting for an entrepreneur … like you?”

  1. AmericanHealthJournal is seeking content partnerships with webmasters in the health care genre. AmericanHealthJournal is a health care content site which owns a significant library of high quality medical videos. We can offer content exchanges, link exchanges, and exposure to your brand. Come contact us at our contact form on our website.

  2. james says:

    Well the ideas you are giving are very helpful !

  3. Submit Url says:

    I love the idea of the elevator pitch. All I need to do now is practice working it into conversation! Thanks for the advice

  4. Rob Walling says:

    It’s funny, I’ve had the description for #idea 3 in a text document for nearly two years and I’ve referred back to it many times. About 4 months ago I successfully launched the Micropreneur Academy (www.micropreneur.com) and have finally executed on it.

    Thanks for being part of that inspiration.
    .-= Rob Walling´s last blog ..test2 =-.

  5. Kira Slye says:

    Your ideas are fantastic. I’m taking care of business- the art biz, that is!

  6. Quick Tip – Read this: New business ideas for entrepreneurs

    One of the blogs I enjoy reading is called Escape from Cubicle Nation. The blog is written by Pamela Slim. Her tagline? “How to go from corporate prisoner to thriving entrepreneur”. That is a dream that I know many people…

  7. TTS says:

    Pam – I love the structured way you present your ideas. I, too, have ideas falling out of my head all the time. I often wonder if it is an affliction or a blessing!

    I blog my ideas at Quixoting.
    http://quixoting.typepad.com

    Sent out a tweet on this post for you! me: tts28

  8. Ken Kaufman says:

    “Personal Business Manager”

    Perhaps what my company does could fit into your description of this position.

    We are Chief Financial Officers (CFO) by training and experience and we fulfill the CFO role on a part-time basis for over 50 entrepeneurs of start-up, emerging, and medium-sized businesses. We are involved in all aspects of the business, including everything you mentioned!

  9. Extenze says:

    All are really good ideas. The one thing we don’t do, however, is stop at blogs … because just looking at the blog is not looking at the whole picture.

  10. ViSalus says:

    Nice BLOG. useful for making money.

  11. Well now, this is some out-of-the-box type thinking – now isn’t it! 🙂

  12. scott says:

    Nice info. looking forward to have some more from you….

  13. Dallan says:

    Great business ideas. You presented it in a very logical manner.
    I might opt for helping to start a blog for business.

    You might be interested to know about the Young Entrepreneur Society http://www.YoungEntrepreneurSociety.com The site is filled with useful business information.

  14. Great post. All are really good ideas. I particularly found idea #1 to be fantastic – I think this could really be developed into an amazing business model.

  15. Chris says:

    Pam,

    My health insurance fears stem from watching two separate cancer diagnoses within a three-year span almost bankrupt my Mom and Dad — who has just bought a small newspaper and were living their dream. They had some real crap health insurance plan for the self-employed and it didn’t cover ANYTHING. (p.s. they’re both healthy again–yay modern medicine)

    My husband has been happily self-employed for 17 years, and I feel stuck in Cubicle Hell ONLY because I am terrified of the possibility of my parent’s situation repeating itself with me.

    So, for me, I’m going to do some serious looking at #1, #1, #1!!! Do you know that you just gave me the best Christmas present ever !?

    THANKS AND BLESSINGS TO YOU PAM.

  16. 5 Business Ideas Just Waiting

    So many good ideas start with the business need, and go from there to how to fill it. The business landscape changes all the time, and that changing landscape leaves gaps.
    Pamela Slims excellent post 5 business ideas just waiting for an entrepre…

  17. Dominic Messenger says:

    You’re spot on about #3. I am an introvert and proud of it (and tell everyone I know as well!). I am looking for a #3. There are books about (many out of print – did they bomb or something?) but nothing specific.
    An extrovert could do this – all they need to do is “connect” with people in a sincere way, which is what we introverts do…
    Does anyone know of any “Marketing for Introverts” out there?

  18. Laura West says:

    Hi Pam,

    Love this posting! I just LOVE new biz concepts and ideas! Sounds like you love spinning out the ideas and possibilities too!

    Here is a resource:
    smARTist Tele-summit – is a great teleclass-based virtual summit specifically for artists and creative types to create more success. http://www.smartist-telesummit.com

    And I LOVE the blog manager/graphc person! Getting the blog up is one things…keeping it going and keeping up with all the changing technology is another opportunity! Love the JV idea with Suzanne Falter-Barnes – she’s a wealth of joy-filled biz info!
    Laura West

  19. Laura West says:

    Hi Pam,

    PS: I tagged you to play “7 Random Things” over at Cafe Entrepreneur because we would LOVE to know what KIND of cupcake were you eating when you had your “back fat niche” ephiphany!

    Laura West

  20. Nikole Gipps says:

    We actually already do #4 … you’re right though, we should be explicit about it and get it across better. But my typical client is an entrepreneur, doesn’t know more than pointing and clicking on a computer, and needs some serious guidance in the way of marketing. (It’s why I worked with Rich Sloan on getting that 5 Steps to Marketing your Website thing out.) The one thing we don’t do, however, is stop at blogs … because just looking at the blog is not looking at the whole picture. Often the blog is just a part of the greater marketing whole, and integrating all these parts will produce better results in the long run. (PS – We use the stand-alone WordPress.org or TypePad.)

  21. I did the web design thing for quite some time but most of the questions I got from people looking for a website was “how did you get to the front page of Google?”

    It did not take too many of those questions to realize people were literally asking to give me money. I no longer do web design full time. I enjoy the SEO much more.

  22. Amanda says:

    GAH! I’m reading your last idea and screaming in my head “Noooo! Don’t post that! That’s my idea!” ha!

    I plan to offer pre-fab websites at a price that anyone can afford – most beginning business owners can’t afford the $65 an hour we designers usually charge. And maybe most importantly I can feel good about working for “Crafters,” because not only is the handmade revolution in full force right now, it really appeals to customers who feel over-run by imported, plastic goods sold in big-box stores.

    This is the next big niche. Though I have to disagree about crafters being old timey – the New Crafters are young, trendy and extremely savvy. They know that without a website, their “business” has no real brand.

    Spreading the Handmade Gospel,
    Amanda

    I love it Amanda! Bring on your services! They are very needed. And a little competition is actually a good thing I think. My talented and prolific peer competitors push me to do better every day, and for that I am thankful.

    You are probably totally right about the new generation of crafters. My experience is with people my age or older (early to mid-40’s), many of whom are wary of too much technology. But their kids aren’t! And that is who ends up doing most of their websites.

    Go get em, and I can’t wait to hear about the success of your business.

    All the best,

    -Pam

  23. Bobby Saini says:

    The point with the blog design/development is a critical one, I have clients that will come to our company after their projects fail with other firms because most of the time they are concentrating on making the design as beautiful as they can, or as attractive as they can and they completely discard the idea of functionality and simplicity. Thanks for the great post!

  24. This is great! I”m going to link to this on my site. Rosalind

  25. Great info here and i like the way you look at redeploying your existing assets.

    Might as well make the most of all the time, energy, money and effort you have already put into your business.

    Thanks for sharing.

    William Stewart
    The Strategic Sales Trainer

    for a FREE £10,000 sales and marketing healthcheck, sign up at http://www.strategicsellingsystem.com/healthcheck

    You will LOVE what the results show

  26. Hey Pam!

    Haven’t spoken to you in a few months, but since I started working freelance for myself 3 months ago, I’ve successfully been doing #4 above. I’m a freelance web designer who focuses specifically on WordPress-powered blogs for authors, coaches, speakers, and C-level professionals. Somewhat unfortunately, although a blessing in disguise–I’ve had so much work to do that I haven’t had time to put up a site specifically for my own business yet! I really enjoy working with these niches though, and I am able to effectively translate my technical knowledge and understanding of the blogosphere for the business professional, so if any of you need help setting up/customizing your blog, please get in touch! =)

    Thanks for the continued inspiration, Pamela.

    • Meenu says:

      Hi,

      Saw your message that you are working on your own for “WordPress-powered blogs for authors, coaches, speakers, and C-level professionals”, can you pls let me know exactly what is the work you are doing and how does it help the oher party?

      Thanks a lot in advance.

      Cheers
      Meenum

  27. Terry Hall says:

    Wow this was a really great article, informative and fun! Rarely do I see someone be so generous with ideas and information. You must be an inspiring coach!

    Terry – Publisher: http://www.WomenBusinessExperts.com/

    P.S. I invite you to consider joining our co-author team for “Women Business Experts”

  28. I have one to add to your list– Personal Business Manager for busy entreprenuers. Celebrities and atheletes have business managers that help them with all aspects of their financial lives including advice, strategy both personally and business-wise plus handling the day-to-day details including paying the bills. I’ve looked for a similar service for entreprenuers but can’t find one– and we need it!

    This role goes beyond the typical accountant and financial planner; it’s like a blend of both with a little lawyer, a little business strategist, a lot of ‘marriage partner’ (keeping it real financially!) and a lot of coach (helping entreprenuers when things get tough). When I asked my mentor if he knew of a company (or individual) who did this, he responded: ‘No, but that’s a great business idea!’

    http://www.reinventioncoach.com

    Love it Pamela! Great suggestion. I hope someone picks it up – I will hire them!

    All the best,

    -Pam

  29. Hehe, where do I sign up for #3?

    Some great ideas there, and a good reminder that what seems easy and valueless to us can be worth a lot to somebody else.

  30. Keith Handy says:

    It’s awesome to transform needs into opportunities like this. When you come up with five more, do a sequel to this post!

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