Baby Madness!

At first I thought this was a joke, but apparently not. I bring it to you because it might only be me who thinks this is the most ridiculous, pointless idea of the year.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of instances where parents have left their child in a hot car, and it’s led to tragedy. A company called Studio Whale has developed a small GPS and weight sensing device that fits under a child seat in a car. The device tracks both whether the seat is occupied and the location of the parents smartphones. If the parents move away from the car, an alarm sounds, indicating that they have forgotten their baby and left it in the car!

There are so many things wrong with this idea, I hardly know where to start. Who the heck forgets they have a baby in the back of the car? And if you do, you’re not likely to be the sort of person who would invest in a device like this. The people who leave their baby in the car on a hot day (or any day for that matter) are negligent, not forgetful, and negligent folk don’t spend money on stuff like this.

Maybe I’m missing the point, or maybe they are. I’m not sure which.

Free PR and Marketing

Entrepreneurs have it so much easier in this century than the last one, and that was never more true than in the world of PR…or free publicity and advertising  to you and me. There are so many free tools available now, to help you get your name and product  out to a worldwide  audience, and then monitor the results. Here are some of the free tools  you can use  to promote your business online, and monitor the results:

1.    Open a Facebook  account
2.    Open a Twitter Account
3.    Open a Linkedin account
4.    Sign up to Hootsuite
5.    Sign up to Google alerts
6.    Sign up to Haro and Reporter Connection
7.    Visit Mashable,  Quora and Media Bistro forums
8.    Sign up for Google analytics
9.    Open an Instagram account

You can do all of this is just a couple of hours without spending any money. The fact that you can do all of this so easily and for free would astonish any previous generation, so if you haven’t done it – why not?

Ryanair Bargains

I’m old enough to remember when air tickets were a single price, irrespective of when you booked. More recently, it became the ‘done thing’ to wait until the last minute to grab a bargain. But that’s all changed gain now, and the economics of it became subject of an academic study recently.

Professor Claudio Piga, an economics expert from Keele University, claims the best time to book seats is 10 days before take-off. He looked at fares offered by Ryanair at different times of the year and whether making last-minute bookings meant customers were more likely to get better deals. The study showed Ryanair tends to increase prices by 50 to 75 per cent a few days before a flight. Ten days prior to departure is the optimum time to book in most cases.

March Of The Greys

We’ve talked about this here before, but if you’re serious about making some money in a business, you could do an awful lot worse than pay attention to the needs and wants of the ‘grey’ market. It’s a demographic group which is growing, relatively affluent, and not prepared to accept the sort of products and services which have traditionally been offered to their age group in the past.

I recently read about Marie Kolstad, who became the oldest recipient of breast implants at 83. And she’s far from alone. Over 65’s now account for 10% of the clientele of cosmetic surgery clinics in the US, with over 700,000 procedures a year being performed. Cosmetic surgery is just one of many markets where the older generation are now spending serious money.

Don’t ignore the older generation. You could build an entire business around the ‘grey’ market or develop a version of your product of service which suits their needs and tastes. Either way, they have money to spend, and are happy to do so if they like what you have to offer.

Make-A-Movie Parties

If you have young children, you’ll know that they’re always on the look-out for the next cool party venue or theme. This one that we found in the United States, seems to fit the bill perfectly, and we haven’t seen anything like it here in the UK.

Make-A-Movie- Birthday Parties is a self-explanatory concept. The company arrive at the party with a pre-written script, costumes and camera equipment. Roles are allocated, the film is shot and then edited over the next week or so when it is delivered to the person holding the party. Revenue comes from both the booking fee and sales of the movie to party guests.

This seems like something you could copy anywhere. I’d imagine it would be incredibly popular. Equipment is cheap these days and the editing technology is at the hands of anyone with a PC. If you fancy yourself as the next Speilberg, but lack the budget, this could be something for you.

We Come To You

People are lazy. I know this because I am a person – and lazy! While price and quality are two key reasons why we choose one product or service over another, convenience is important for a lot of us. It explains why home shopping deliveries are becoming increasingly popular, and services like hairdressing, beauty therapy and tutoring have a large number of ‘we-come-to-you’ mobile operators making a good living.  But here’s the question – might there be an opportunity for someone in your market to gain a competitive advantage by visiting customers in their homes?

Servemehere.com is a website which showcases dozens of different products and services which are available on a home visit basis – many of which you perhaps wouldn’t normally associate with  this sort of delivery. Take a look. It could give you some inspiration.

The Speaking Exchange

Online video has opened up a lot of money making opportunities. Speaking Exchange, based in Brazil, is one such opportunity which brings together Brazilian nationals wanting to learn English, and US senior citizens with time on their hands.

The idea is that the students log on to a website and form a video link with  a senior citizen living in a retirement home. They then have a chat on a pre-determined topic, and the whole thing is recorded for tutors to evaluate. It’s a great way for the students to have a conversation with someone whose mother tongue is English without having to go to the expense of travelling. The other side of the coin is that it’s a nice way for senior citizens to feel more active and engaged with the world.

Could you use online video to bring together people who would never usually  encounter each other for mutual benefit? If so, there could be a business in it.

How to Publish Your Book Online

There are many ways to publish your book online. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to one of the easiest:

1. Create an account on Createspace.com. It’s owned by Amazon. If you have any question you hit a button that says “Call Me” and within 30 seconds they have a customer representative calling your phone.

2.  Download a Microsoft Word template they provide  The template is similar to those used by any publisher when they format your book.

3. Make a  cover. Createspace has over a million options when you combined their templates with images, fonts, etc.

4. Save as a PDF and upload it. Let them pick an ISBN number.

5. Choose a price.  $7.95. is the minimum price if you want them to distribute it to bookstores, libraries, etc along with Amazon. You’ll get about a $2 royalty per book at that price. But if you choose a price of $20 then you would get about a $14 royalty. Much higher than any publisher will ever give you.

Utilitarian Undies

I’m not sure whether Canadian Danieal Cormier is on to something and I’m out of touch with the way people live, but his business idea is interesting in any event. Danieal is hoping to revolutionise the men’s underwear market with a design that incorporates pockets for phones and other gadgets. Now I don’t know about you, but I rarely find myself in a situation where I’m wandering around in my Boxers and feel the need for pockets. I tend to wear trousers if I’m going to be doing stuff requiring pockets. But maybe I’m old fashioned.

Anyway, the business is a timely reminder to give some thought to how the clothing market might be given a boost. If people are so tied to their phones that they need a pocket in their pants, maybe they need one in their socks as well. Maybe women would like storage space in their bra’s? Secret agents and aspiring bombers have been known to hide stuff in their shoes, so why not ordinary folk? Time to get your thinking cap on…now there’s a thought…hats!

There’s Money In Muck

Composting may be the right thing to do for the environment, but it can be hard to get around the smell and the mess, particularly for town dwellers with small gardens.  Compost Cab is a new service about to launch in Washington, DC, that removes some of the unpleasant aspects of the job.

Compost Cab provides customers with a bin equipped with a  compostable bag liner. Each day clients will fill the bin with their organic material, and once a week Compost Cab will pick up the bag, leaving behind only a clean bin with a new liner. The cost is simply $8 per week per bin.

Clients who have been with Compost Cab for nine months or longer can claim some finished soil in return. For every fifty pounds of  waste the company collects from them, they can receive five pounds of fresh compost and one pound of worm castings in exchange.

Apparently the average American family produces more than 500 pounds of leftover organic material every year. There’s no reason why a British family would produce any less.  Composting not only keeps that waste out of  landfills, but it also produces nutrient-rich, fertile, natural soil.  In addition, it keeps organic waste out of other bins, thereby freeing space for other materials.

It’s early days , but this could well prove to be a big success in these eco-friendly times. And if it works in the United States, why not here?