Starting an Apartment Preparation Service

Putty Knite with Spackling PasteWhen tenants vacate an apartment, they rarely leave the residence in a clean condition. Before a new tenant can move in, the apartment needs the floors to be cleaned, carpets shampooed, holes patched and walls painted. Landlords rarely have the time (or inclination) to handle these tasks. That’s where you come in. It’s a perfect opportunity for starting an apartment preparation service.

Your job is to go in and perform apartment cleaning service and basic repairs to help property owners prepare their rental apartments for new tenants. This type of service is very hard work, and you’ll need experience in painting, doing maintenance and being able to work quickly.

Usually, the labor involves light repair work and lots of cleaning. Be prepared to wash windows, fill nail holes, repair cabinets, clean counters and refrigerators, scrub shower stalls, and vacuum and shampoo carpets. You’ll also need some basic supplies, equipment and tools that are  essential for fixing up after the normal wear and tear in an apartment.

Equipment You Need

The amount of equipment you need will be based on the level of apartment preparation services you choose to offer. Most of your startup expenses will be in cleaning equipment and supplies—a vacuum cleaner, carpet shampooer, mop, broom and dustpan, rags or paper towels, scrub brushes and sponges, rubber gloves, garbage bags, a step stool or a small ladder, general-purpose bug spray, and carpet deodorizer.

Painting requires serious prep work. You’ll have to invest in paint (white latex), paint brushes, rollers and trays, putty knives, spackle, window putty, as well as handy work tools like hammers, scrapers, screwdrivers and wrenches.

And you’ll need a cell phone to connect with your clients in case they need to contact you quickly.

Marketing Your Service

To promote your service, take out an advertisement in the Yellow Pages, local classifieds or landlord associations, and on apartment rental Websites. Contact property managers, owners of large or small apartment complexes, and real estate agents that specialize in managing rental properties or sell vacant ones. Send them a brochure that describes the services you offer, and follow up with a phone call. Stopping in their office to introduce yourself works even better.

Charging the Right Price

Most apartment prep services charge clients a standard fee and add an additional charges for services such as carpet cleaning. Do research and find out what competing services charge before deciding on a price structure. Make sure that you price your services accordingly. The size of the apartment to be prepared and its state of cleanliness or disrepair are critical factors in determining the time required and the fee you should request.

Source: The Work Pad

What’s the Chance a Startup Business Will Fail?

Startup_failureThere are many factors that contribute to a startup’s success, so the folks at Staff.com, a global employment website based in Sydney, Australia, created this infographic on those factors, or chances that your startup will fail or succeed.

The infographic also includes some research on projections for the best sectors to start your new business.

Staff.com presents What’s the change a startup business will fail - Infographic
Staff.com – Connecting Great Companies with Global Talent

Providing a Local Service in Your Neighborhood

Local_BusinessIf you need some inspiration to start a small or home-based business, you don’t have to look too far. Stop and think for a minute about providing a service in the local market of your own neighborhood.

Whatever type of area you live in, there are services you can provide to your local community that people will pay you for. Begin brainstorming for ideas and opportunities by conducting research. Peruse the phone book, search the Internet, physically look around the neighborhood, and talk to people in the area to see what types of businesses are in your local area.

After you get a sense of the kind of services that are available, answer these questions … Is there a business service that is lacking? What does my local area need that I can provide?

For example, do you live near a business district? People who work in offices are busy today and often need help running errands. Starting an errand running business solves particular delivery problems for people or businesses.

Let’s say you noticed a local listing of a small mail order company. That business may need someone to regularly pick up brochures from their printer. Upon further research, you may find other errand services in the area. If so, set your prices in line with your local competitors.

Perhaps you live in an affluent area where there are big houses with significant gardens — gardens that will need tending and houses that will need maintaining. If you have a knack for gardening or you’re pretty handy with tools, people would be willing to pay for such maintenance.

You can promote your local business service in community newspapers or through popular online listings like Angie’s List and LocalBlox, which specialize in connecting neighbors to a myriad of local service providers, including businesses, professional services, and community activities.

Here are ten more ideas designed to help you think about the type of services you could provide for your neighbors:

1.            Provide a lawn maintenance service

2.            Provide a swimming pool maintenance service

3.            Provide a handyman/odd-jobs service

4.            Start a dog walking service

5.            Provide an external painting service

6.            Provide an internal decorating service

7.            Run a local fitness group

8.            Run a local newsletter and sell advertising space

9.            Provide a carpet cleaning service

10.          Provide a shed or garage clearing service

Before pursuing a local business service, call your county or city administration office to make sure you are allowed to operate certain businesses from your home. Your city might have local restrictions or zoning laws that prevent you from running certain home-based business.

For more inspiration, take a look at these 50 Small Business Ideas for Your Local Area for an expanded list of local service prospects within your neighborhood. Some of the opportunities may require that you to get specific training (and possibly experience) or invest in the right tools for the job.

Overall, your time and investment in tools will be worth it. Potential customers will be prepared to pay for that knowledge, experience, and just the fact that you have the tools to perform the service.

Source: Business Ideas Daily

What VCs Want to See In Startup Founders

VC_InvestingHow would you know if you have what it takes to launch a business? One sure way to tell whether you have the makeup of an entrepreneur is when an investor is willing to finance your startup.  For some venture capitalists and angel financiers, that investment won’t happen unless the startup founder also shows some promising personality traits.

Here are three attributes discerning VCs want to see in founders before they invest in their startup.

1. Startup founders who understand the risk of being too early to market.

Having an amazing idea is not enough. Founders should have vision, as well as a clear understanding of their target market. Otherwise, they risk running out of money before consumers are ready to adopt their products.

2. Startup founders who plan for tomorrow and five years down the road.

An emerging company has different needs than an established one, and startup founders have to be prepared to address both sets of challenges and opportunities.

3. Startup founders who know what they want.

This is an important characteristic for entrepreneurs who are seeking funding. As founders develop their expertise, they need to understand what to do with that know-how. Preferably, they should pursue a business they really enjoy doing. The founder’s passion serves as a vital foundation for a successful startup.

“Entrepreneurs need game-changing ideas in order to stay alive in their markets. But great ideas are not enough,” says Shlomo Kramer is an angel investor and founder and CEO of Imperva Inc. “When it comes to attracting investors, founders need to demonstrate they offer all of the qualities required for long-term success.”

To see the complete list of seven attributes Kramer wants to see in a startup founder, read his article, What Do Investors Look for in Start Ups?

Source: Globes

Entrepreneur and VC Mark Suster lists the qualities that he believes marks a successful entrepreneur.

Execution Always Trumps New Ideas

Idea_vs_ExecutionIdea versus execution. It’s an on-going debate in the business world. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of experts who say coming up with a great business idea is not enough, it’s the actual execution that matters. Since I agree, it’s always nice to read another article that supports that side of the argument, especially one that cites good examples to make the point.

In her recent article, Execution, Not New Ideas, Give Startups Edge, ZDNet’s Jamie Yap joins a growing chorus who believe that an idea is not enough. Yap gets right to the point by saying, “Startups should be less hung up over how to reinvent the wheel with new ideas, and focus on execution because that is critical for overall success…”

She also cites Casey Lau, co-founder of StartupsHK, an open support group for Hong Kong startups, to support the argument that execution, not new business ideas, is what makes startups successful in the end.

Facebook and Android are both examples of execution trumping new ideas, Lau notes. While it was not the first mobile platform, Android deviated from the “walled garden” approach of iOS, which contributed to success of the now ubiquitous platform, he points out. As for Facebook, it copied various ideas from social networking of MySpace to break into the consumer mainstream.

In both cases, and fortunately for us, entrepreneurs found ways to execute a creative transformation of ideas that had already been done. Proving once again that coming up with a great business idea isn’t the hardest part of doing innovative things.

Source: ZDNet

Find Your Business Idea Without Reinventing the Wheel

Business_idea_listEntrepreneurs love to take an idea and customize it to the needs of a potential customer. That’s what starting a business is all about, isn’t it? Sure, you can add your own creativity to any concept and market it as a unique selling proposition (USP), but that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel.

In fact, customizing a concept isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity if you want your business to be successful. All you have to do is find an unserved need in the market, look at its potential to offer something different and fill that gap.

For example, have you ever been charged a late fee for returning a past due rental video? You probably grumbled about paying the late fee, but you paid it anyway. Well, when a video store charged Reed Hastings a $40 fee for the “Apollo 13” DVD because it was six weeks late, he didn’t get mad, he got inspired.

Hastings wondered, “How come movie rentals don’t work like a health club, where, whether you use it a lot or a little, you get charged the same?” It was from this thought that Hastings created Netflix, a flat rate DVD rental-by-mail service. From its start in 1999, Netflix has grown into a big business with revenues topping $1.3 billion.

Finding Your Business Idea Is Only the First Step

How do you go about finding the right idea to start a small business? Begin by listing what you are good at, what you like, what things bother you? What would make your life easier?

Get a piece of paper, make a list and write down the answers to those questions to help inspire your ideas. So it might look like this:

Things I am I good at:

•    Solving problems correctly and effectively

•    Calming people down when they are upset

•    Expressing emotions in ways that build healthy relationships

•    Reading between the lines to understand someone’s real feelings

Things I like to do:

•    Immersing myself in a good story when reading novels

•    Spending quality time with my family and loved ones

•    Playing computer games on my PC

Things that bother me:

•    Finding poor spelling and grammatical mistakes in published books

•    Picking up my dry cleaning

•    Being stuck in traffic jams

Things that would make life easier:

•    Having a personal chef to prepare my dinner

•    Creating a chic capsule wardrobe on a budget

•    Finding a dry cleaner that delivers

Of course, your list will be unique to your talents and pet peeves, but you should start to see themes and ideas emerging. In the above list, for example, opening a call center that provides customer service is one option, starting a fiction editing service is another.

Once you’ve created your list of potential business ideas, focus on the ones that are feasible and weed out the ones that don’t appeal to you. If you are passionate about something, but don’t have the knowledge to turn it into a business, keep it on the list. It’s easier to figure out how to acquire the skills and knowledge to start a service than pursuing something you’re not passionate about.

Settle on the idea that has the most promise and do some market research. If the idea looks promising, move it to the business plan stage.

Source: PressPort: Why Starting a Business Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel

6 Steps To Finding Your First Business Idea

Starting a Silent Auction Bidding Service

BidPal_Silent_AuctionSilent auctions are a popular way to raise money by moving merchandise quickly and adding fun to a special event. By starting a silent auction service, you’ll be able to earn a living while offering organizations, businesses and charities an engaging fundraising solution. You can also maximize revenues by “going digital” with your silent auction through the use of handheld bidding devices.

A silent auction is a fundraising technique frequently used at charity events. They are conducted without a live auctioneer who calls out the prices for items and accepts bids from people in the audience. A silent bid is often a preferred means for raising money at charitable events because it doesn’t detract from the entertainment provided at the event.

Can you earn a good living by running a silent auction service? You should be aware that in order to raise a lot of money, your silent auction will either need to have a large number of items to auction off, or plenty of well-heeled attendees bidding on a few high-end items.

In the DenverPost.com article, Silent Auction Hit And Misses, author Joanne Davidson provides a list of what items sell poorly and what items sell best at silent auctions. It also says that the return on silent auction items should be 65-75 percent. In other words, “If your silent auction has a total value of $40,000 you should make $25,000 to $30,000 to have it be considered a success.”

Usually, tables or displays of items or services are set up for people to bid on at silent auction events. Paper bidding sheets are located near each item to allow attendees to write down their names and bids. However, advances in silent auction technology are revolutionizing the bidding process with the use of handheld electronic bidding devices that eliminate the need for bidding sheets.

Today, companies like BidPal and iBid are wirelessly automating bidding by providing electronic devices with uninterrupted access to the silent auction—and instant outbid alerts. When guests register, they are handed mobile devices or iPods loaded with a bidding app. Attendees carry the device with them and when they want to bid, they enter the item number and press a button to record their bid.

According to BidPal, guests at their automated auctions, on average, bid three times as often as those at a traditional auction.

Regardless of whether you decide to take a hands on approach or automate the bidding process, holding a silent auction is a lot of work. Before planning your silent auction business, decide if the return is worth the investment of time, people, and resources.

The WikiHow article, How to Run a Silent Auction, offers some good ideas on getting the most out of your bid items and what steps you should take before, during and after a silent auction.

Video of BidPal in action at an event in New York City holding a silent auction with mobile bidding.