Kiddie Keepsakes

Just read about a business set up by a lady called Lindsey Ahmet which could be ripe for copying …(she can’t possibly cope with all the demand)…or for use as a mental springboard to another related idea.

If you’ve had young children at any stage you’ll know that they grow quickly, and they quickly grow out of their baby clothes. Many parents become emotionally attached to their children’s early clothes and are reluctant to part with them. That’s where Lindsey steps in. She provides a service whereby she takes the items of clothing and turns them into something else which can be kept and used for longer. So she uses the items children have grown out of to make stuffed toys and blankets.

Now as I said, no one person can cope with the demand for something like this (Lindsey has a waiting list apparently) because the work is very labour intensive. So there’s probably a market for this right on your doorstep. Thinking more widely, what other all-too-transient items from childhood can be given a new lease of life?

Journalism For Brands

Before the internet came along, opportunities to work in journalism were limited. The only way to find an audience for your words was via mainstream media. The online arena has opened up a whole new world for would-be journalists with myriad opportunities. One such opportunity is being exploited by Tennessee-based Thomas Scott, whose company Brand Journalists provides online blogs and content for local companies.

Brand Journalists offers blog and web content, ghostwriting services and reporting on the human stories that make companies interesting to their customers. For example, for an insurance broker, Scott’s team blogs about issues related to city life, such as what to do if the bath in the apartment upstairs overflows through your ceiling. “If you try to sell renter’s insurance as an agent, people tune out,” he says. “But when you talk about the coffee they drink and neighbourhoods they like, and how important it is to have renter’s insurance as part of that story, it connects with people.”

Every company, these days, has a website; many have blogs and social media interaction with their customers. The majority are boring. Is this an area you could specialise in – providing interesting content for companies in your area, who have neither the time nor inclination to do it themselves?

Information Publishing

Information publishing is one of the most heavily promoted ways to make some extra money, and yet many people aren’t really clear on what it is.  Put simply, an information product is any piece of knowledge that has been recorded in some way – whether that be in a printed format, an audio format, or a video format – so that it can now be passed on to others. There are dozens of ways to package and sell information. Some of the most common products are, printed books and e-books, booklets and special reports, manuals and workbooks, CDs,  downloadable audio files,  DVDs, newsletters, subscription-based web sites, workshops and seminars.

All of us have information or knowledge that would be useful to others, and packaging and marketing it in the right way can be highly lucrative. If you have an idea for an information product,  and want a second opinion on it, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Love In a Box

Perhaps you thought that your relationship with your partner was something that would just grow, develop and evolve naturally. Well that’s not going to work in today’s busy and high pressured dual-career world according to the people at www.Unboxlove.com

The company sells a  monthly subscription to couples. It’s a box designed to give them the inspiration and tools to create an evening of unorthodox activities. They say that  the ideas will “allow couples to learn about each other, experience something new together, and make memories that will last”. Couples can open the box together on the night of the date in order to create some excitement and surprise about what they will be doing.  Each box costs $50.

The service is only available in the US at the moment, so it could be one to keep tabs on with a view to copying if it becomes successful. As an additional thought, if this ‘relationship-help’ market sector continues to grow, it could be worth thinking about what other services you could provide to enhance personal relationships.

British Export To China

We’re all familiar with Chinese imports, but less so with stuff we export to China. One of the most interesting is people – or butlers to be precise.

It seems that the wealthy Chinese are enthusiastic about the idea of having an English butler. The Guild Of English Butlers is seeing a boom in demand and has trained 20% more butlers this year than last. Demand is outstripping supply with trainees being placed as soon as their training is complete. Much of the new demand is coming from China.

If you’ve reached a crossroads in your life or career and fancy something a little different, this could be worth a look. It’s clearly not something that would suit everyone, but you’ll know if it appeals to you.

Thinking more widely, how can you cash in on the growing demand in China for things western – and British in particular? Fire up the imagination of just a tiny proportion of the population and you have a huge market.

The $15 Car Repair Business

Do you think you could start a car repair business for $15. Sahid Khan did, and the way he did it could provide a template for creating a business in many fields.

SK Motor Syndicate is a one stop shop providing vehicle inspections,  servicing, body repairs, interior fabrication, exterior add-ons and everything else the motorist might need. It does none of the work itself, but claims to be a value-adding intermediary between the customer and about 18 authorised service-providers in different parts of Karachi.

Why would a customer involve an intermediary and not deal with the companies themselves? According to Khan, the company provide a  pick-and-drop service along with a seven-day workmanship warranty. They  charge customers strictly the going market rates, absorb all risks and get the repair work done from a select group of service-providers at discount rates,

So there you have it, they market the service, pick up the cars and get someone else to do the work – taking a percentage for their trouble. Could you copy something like this in your area? Or how about taking the model and applying it to another market? As a middleman, you can let someone else worry about start-up cost.

Las Vegas Photo Opportunity

Ever seen a tourist photo of someone posing by the famous ‘Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas tourist sign. All may not be as it seems. You see in Las Vegas McCarran airport there’s a fake sign set up on a red carpet by baggage reclaim. The business that owns the sign, Confess, offers a quick studio quality photo along with a digital copy sent to the customers email for easy uploading to social media. For many tourists, that will be seen as one ‘job’ ticked off the list – a photo to show the world where they are.

Might this be an idea you could copy. If you live close to a ‘gateway’ to a major tourist destination there could be an opportunity to do something similar. What famous sign or landmark could you create a credible reproduction of?

The Pay In Advance Restaurant

We’ve all been to a restaurant, and the way we pay is always the same. You make a booking, turn up on the day, eat your meal and then pay the bill. Michelin starred Coi in San Francisco is trying to do things differently. The company is introducing a ticketing system for its reservations, enabling diners to pay a flat fee in advance and managers to avoid the headache of cancellations.

The venue is no longer accepting reservations from customers who aren’t paying in advance. Instead, diners can buy tickets for between $145 and $195, depending on the time and date, The ticket will get them a set tasting menu of 12 courses for each guest, with drinks purchased separately on the night. If diners don’t turn up they can’t get a refund.

This system means that the restaurant has a more accurate idea of how many covers they’re going to get because reservations can’t be cancelled. If diners don’t turn up, the venue still gets paid anyway. For customers, the scheme enables them to take advantage of a flat fee for their meal, meaning they won’t get an unexpectedly large bill at the end.

Might this be a system that could be used in UK restaurants? If it works in the US, there’s no reason why not. And there’s another interesting thing to take from this story too. We all employ payment systems that are cast in stone, whether that be payment in advance, payment before despatch, payment on receipt, payment on invoice or some variation on one of these. The system we use tends to be governed by what everyone else in our industry does. But do what everyone else does and you get what everyone else gets. It could be worth examining whether employing a different payment model could give you a useful point of difference or a competitive advantage.

The Scent Trunk

Just in the same way that I can’t choose a wine by swishing it around my mouth and spitting it out, I can’t choose an aftershave or cologne from a piece of smelly paper. So I was interested to read about The Scent Trunk, a subscription service which helps subscribers choose a suitable product

Members begin by filling out a survey about what fragrances they typically like.  Using this data, the service creates a Scent Profile that determines the samples they receive in the post. Scent Trunk delivers three different testers each month, which subscribers can rate and save to their trunk. When users indicate that they like one fragrance but not another, their Scent Profile is updated and the samples they get next time will take into account those preferences. The system enables customers to find the fragrance that best suits them, and if they like a sample they can go on to buy it. The service costs around $15 a month.

It seems to me that this is a subscription model that could prove profitable  with a number of other products – wine, coffee, tea,  cheese, whisky, beer, and perfume are just a few that spring to mind. Might it be something you could apply in your business?

Date A Farmer

I’m going to skip the jokes of questionable taste, but finding love in the coutryside isn’t always easy. Many farmers live a solitary existence and  suitable partners are often pretty thin on the ground. That’s particularly true in France where www.atraverschamps (accrossthefields) was set up to link up farmers with women who want to meet a farmer.

It seems there’s no end to the online dating possibilities and this is a further example. Perhaps this is a niche that could be explored in the UK. Thinking more widely, what other  groups are there who have difficulty meeting suitable members of the opposite sex. There could be a viable business there.