Entrepreneur in a Box

October 11, 2010 · Filed Under Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Entrepreneur in a Box 

Since the recession began, my respect for mothers has shot way up. I have met dozens of resourceful moms who are using their skills, creativity, and American entrepreneurial spirit to earn an income to help sustain their families. In many cases, the income they earn through the businesses they start is a second income — these moms were already working hard. But some of their businesses thrive and do so well that they allow mothers to quit their first jobs and work full-time as business owners.

Since I work in the self-storage industry, the entrepreneurial mothers I meet are using self-storage to support their businesses. At first I was surprised to see how many ways there are to use self-storage to promote a business. I began keeping a list of the business ideas our tenants were coming up with. I call it, “business in a box.”

Business in a Box

Here are some of the ways that I see moms using self-storage to support their small businesses:

  • Interior design warehouse: One of my other tenants is an interior designer — and a stay-at-home mom. As an independent contractor, she makes appointments with her clients, as well as with architects and other contractors, for those times when she can meet with them, keeping in mind her children’s schedules as well as her own work schedule. She does a lot of work at home, on her computer, where she has CAD (computer-aided design) software, but she also uses one of our units to hold everything from carpet, paint chip, and window treatment samples, to sample cabinets, bookshelves, closet doors…you name it. She specializes in “green” workspaces, so she stores a lot of unique materials, such as paint and carpet samples that are chemical free and hypoallergenic, and drapes that are made from plants that have a smaller than average carbon footprint, such as hemp and bamboo.
  • Artists’ studio: Believe it or not, several of our tenants are artists. We have a potter, a painter, and a stained glass maker. I never realized that arts and crafts work is seasonal, but it is. Our artists work all winter producing as much as they can. They store their finished canvases, glass window hangings, pots and sculptures all winter. Then, in the summer, they began fair-hopping. In addition to storing their finished products in self-storage units (and in some cases using the units as studios), they also store tables and shelves to use in art fair booths. One, who likes her customers to have shelter from the rain or sun, stores a canvas tent that she takes to all her fairs.
  • Pet groomer: I was skeptical when a young woman came to me asking if she rent a self-storage unit for her pet-grooming business. I explained that our units don’t contain any plumbing — certainly not sinks or tubs. But it turned out that she needed a place to house a trailer full of grooming supplies. Like our seasonal artists, she had started a business that involved going to pet shows. Many dog owners run out of grooming products when they are preparing their dogs for a show, and need a last-minute place to buy supplies. Others use pet shows as a chance to stock up on items that they will need in the future. Still others relied on freelance pet groomers at shows to groom their dogs for them prior to a show. On show days, this young woman would arrive at her self-storage unit, hook her trailer to her car, and off she’d go.
  • Self defense classes: I met a mom one day who has a black belt in Seido karate. Becoming concerned about the young tweens in her neighborhood who were reaching an age where they were at risk for sexual assault, she offered to teach a self defense class to her local Girl Scout troop. That went so well, and so many women and girls in the neighborhood begged her to teach more classes, that she decided to look for a space. I think she would have given up, but she met another mom who teaches yoga out of her storage unit and decided to try using a storage place as a self defense classroom. She brought in mats and a heavy bag, as well as boards for breaking. Now she teaches class three nights a week (she works at a local bank during the day) to about ten women and girls at a time. She charges a fee of $10 per class (which is fairly reasonable in the fitness industry). At that rate, if she teaches one basic and one advanced class each, three times a week, and has 8-10 students each time, she is bringing in at least $1920 per month, and sometimes as much as $2400. Guess what she does when she goes on vacation? She downgrades to a very small unit, just large enough to hold the mats, heavy bag, boards, and any other gear she needs to store. Then the next month, or whenever she’s ready to teach again, she upgrades back to the larger unit, taking advantage of our month-by-month leasing structure.

I am continually amazed by the ways in which small business owners — men and women — use self-storage. I’m told, though, that women have an advantage — if you can have your business certified as “woman-owned,” you may be able to qualify for special grants or loan programs. Combine a grant with a self-storage facility that offers the first month of rent free, and you may have the capital you need to start a wonderful new business.

Art Decker is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a Texas self-storage locator. Art leads a busy life, but enjoys meeting new people and interacting with customers when traveling between sites, like from Austin to the Dallas self-storage center.

Make Money House Sitting

March 4, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Make Money House Sitting 

House sitting is a great way for an older teen to begin learning how to live on your own while making some money at the same time. Generally, people prefer a junior or senior in high school for a house sitter, but if you’re a freshman or sophomore, you can still manage as a house sitter as long as you are willing to show you’re responsible.

House sitting can be done several different ways. Some people just want someone to check on their home once a day or a few times a week while they’re out of town. For others, they want to have someone there at night so their home won’t be left unattended for too long at a time.

Whichever the case may be, you can be assured that your skills are definitely needed. It’s important to realize that this isn’t a time to be throwing a party and having all of your friends over to visit. You’ll need to be sure your friends respect your responsibility or else simply not tell them you’re house sitting.

You’ll typically be responsible to make the home look lived in, which makes it less inviting to burglars. Turning on different lights and having music or the television going at different times is one way to do this. Another is to open and close blinds or curtains on a daily basis, and maybe even move children’s toys outside here and there, so it always appears that someone is home.

Never leave a mess when you’re house sitting. Even if this means getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to wash up your breakfast dishes or put away last night’s dinner dishes. While people want you to be in their house, they don’t want to come home and have to clean up after you.

Be respectful of the owner’s property and be sure to tend it with care. If you sleep in a bed in the house, make it when you get up; if you use the shower, clean the bathroom when you’re finished. Wash all the dishes you use and put things away where they belong. What if the owners came home early and found a mess? You’d likely not get asked to house sit again, and you’d be mighty embarrassed by the fact that they found your dirty clothing lying on the bathroom or bedroom floor!

For some people, house sitting may also involve tending to pets or house plants. You may need to be willing to walk Fido and tend to Fluffy’s food, or even clean up Fido’s mess. It can also mean as water plants and turning them so they get the right sun.

Usually, you’ll need to collect the mail and newspapers and place them in a central location or forward them to the owners, whichever they prefer. Always be careful to do this daily so mail or papers don’t build up. That’s a sure sign that no one is at home, and one of the main reasons someone would hire you to house sit for them.

Living on your own is a responsibility that everyone wants to achieve at some point, and house sitting is a great way to show your family and friends you’re responsible enough to do so when the time comes.

Be mindful of the fact that the neighbors may be watching what you do and reporting back to the owners, so it’s probably not a good idea to have your boyfriend over (without permission), or pay a neighbor kid to clean up the dog’s mess when that’s what you were hired to do.

In short, if you demonstrate to friends, family, and potential clients that you’re capable of this responsibility, you’ll soon have a thriving business during vacation season, especially. If you go the extra mile and show how well you can do this, you may even have people lining up for your services and happy to pay you very well to house sit for them.

Learn Calligraphy and Sell Your Works

February 26, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Learn Calligraphy and Sell Your Works 

Learning the art of calligraphy may take some time and effort but it is well worth the time and effort you put into it. Many teens enjoy learning new and interesting techniques for art and writing projects. Whether you learn from a friend, teacher, online or a book that you have borrowed from the library, calligraphy is a great art form to freely express oneself.

Calligraphy readily lends itself to self expression. As a teen entrepreneur Calligraphy may well be a great business idea that will provide you with a great income that you do in your spare time

The most commonly used venue for calligraphy is invitations. Brides to be are always looking for unique invitation styles. As a teen entrepreneur you could easily start your own business in hand written wedding invitations for older siblings, family and friends. Calligraphy not only looks unique, it is. Creating unique one of a kind invitations is a great way to set yourself apart from all the other companies that offer invitations.

Hand written wedding invitations may be more time consuming, but for the bride to be that is willing to go the extra mile, this will be a memory of a life time. You can provide the bride with shower invitations, wedding invitations, RSVP cards, Thank you cards and even place cards for the reception. Another great idea is you could write the vows in calligraphy for the bride and groom. This could be framed and will look great on their wall for many years to come.

One young teen took this a step further and uses colored pencils and colors in parts of the words as her own unique twist to calligraphy. The results are frameable works of art hanging in many homes in her local community.

Venture out further and offer birthday invitations, Christmas cards and even personalized notes for your friends and family. Once your friends and family see what you can do with a calligraphy pen, you will be in business in short order. Your friends and family may well come up with even more ideas for your calligraphy.

Try silk screening calligraphy on a tee shirt or a hat. Create frameable artwork and take the time to frame it.

The word Calligraphy is derived from the ancient Greek word of Kallos meaning beauty. Calligraphy is a very artistic form of writing often taking on a shape all its own due to each individual’s technique or style.

There are many great ways to use it as your own business. Set up a booth at a local fair and with some nice parchment paper charge a fee for a frameable art expression of a persons name. Charge either by the letter or every so many letters and add in the cost of the fancier paper and you will be in business. Be sure to have some samples on hand. You might even want to go ahead and have some fairly common names ready for sale if you have enough advance time.

To advertise your work create a beautiful poster done in calligraphy. Make some copies and post the poster around your local town or at craft and local fairs.

You could set up lessons as well. Teaching your friends and family how to write in calligraphy won’t necessarily give you more competition since everyone has their own unique style. It might even come in handy when you get that 250 wedding invitation order. Charging a nominal hourly rate to teach friends and family this can become a doubly lucrative teen business.

Calligraphy can become a very profitable business for a teen with the right determination.

Organize Yard Sales and Sell Other People’s Property

February 26, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Organize Yard Sales and Sell Other People’s Property 

Teens are full of energy and great ideas. Most teens love to shop and have a great grasp of what things cost retail. Having a teen organize your yard sale and sell the items in your yard sale is a great way to take advantage of these skills.

Organizing and selling other people’s property is a monumental task. You’ll need to know the basic value of items at retail cost and then figure out how to discount them accordingly and place an appropriate value on the item. This will vary according to the economic area you live in and the social status of the area you live in.

It’s important to remember that you’ll be selling other people’s property and not your own. You’ll most likely be receiving a commission on what you do sell so be sure to sell things for the most profits while still providing a steep discount from a brand new purchase.

Depending on the situation you may be required to go into a home and sort through various items or the family may already have the items set aside that you’ll be selling. Figure your percentage accordingly or have a separate fee that you charge if you have to sort through the items at hand for the sale.

Setting your price you can take one of several routes. You can charge a flat rate for setting up and running the sale, or you can charge a percentage for the over all amount of the sale. If you have retail experience setting up the sale will be a breeze for you. If not, take a stroll around a typical junk store and see how things are set up and pattern your sale similarly.

Remember that some items may have been sentimental to a deceased loved one or the person themselves so treat all items with respect, even if it is an old dusty record album (think antique, rare items etc.).

On the day of the sale, arrive early and make sure all of the little details have been taken care of. Remain positive and encouraging to buyers as they stroll through the sale. Offer assistance or be willing to assist them in loading items up into their vehicle. Often this can gain you more sales simply by your attitude.

As items do sell, fill in the gaps around the sale by rearranging the items for sale. Occasionally a buyer that has been there previously will drive by and see the changes and think that you have put more things out and stop again. If they see something they didn’t notice before you might just gain another sale.

If you see a customer looking at an item and know there are more of said item available (perhaps only one is out or it falls into two separate categories so the items are placed in both categories) be sure to suggest it to shoppers. Likewise, if someone is interested in an item and you know of items that compliment said item be sure to mention it to the shopper.

Your job is selling other people’s property and you want to be the best possible sales person for your employer. In addition, the more you sell for your employer the more money you will make.

Honesty is very important to employers and well it should be. Have a cash box or cash “belt” handy at all times and make sure to keep money safe. Have plenty of change on hand as well. If someone walks in and wants to pay for a $2.00 item and only has a $20.00 bill you will need to be able to make the appropriate change. Do not use your pocket to keep the money in (it will appear you are pocketing your employer’s money) and do not just leave a cash box lying around on the ground or a table where anyone can access it. Let your employer see that you are responsible and will handle their money accordingly.

If you have large ticket items, group them in one location (even if they are different in style or category) so that you can keep a close eye on them. If you have some sort of a display case this would be perfect for expensive jewelry, coins, weapons (check local state laws on sales of all weapons) and such.

Selling other people’s property is a great job for any teen that enjoys organization and retail sales.

How Teens Can Make Money Building Websites

February 18, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on How Teens Can Make Money Building Websites 

If you’re a teenager and have the necessary skills, you could run a teen website building business and make some really good money. Obviously, you’ll need to have your own computer and a good Internet connection, but not much more. You could do this by yourself or with a friend, depending on the skills you have.

Nowadays, most teenagers have some degree of computer knowledge, but that’s different from actually creating a website for someone. you’ll need to know HTML and other coding so you can create the different elements of a website. There are several user-friendly, “template sites” that you can use as the basis for your designs so you don’t have to start from scratch.

You do need to learn how to alter colors, make page elements appear in the right place and on the relevant pages of a site. You need to understand website navigation and learn how to create a proper navigation process so visitors to a site can find what they want easily. But if you have these skills already, you’re in a great position and ready to start. If not, you can take a local or online website design course to learn the skills needed in just a short time.

There is also the written content elements to the website. you’ll have to plan what information should appear on each page. If your customer supplies the information, that makes it easier for you. If not, you’ll have to write information yourself and have her check it for accuracy. If you’re not confident in writing material like this, there’s plenty of free information available online to teach you how to write good website content so you don’t produce material that isn’t professional.

A website business can be run with low overhead if you’re not investing in expensive programs to work with. This enables you to keep the charges down and remain competitive in a very competitive field.

Having a website of your own is mandatory. If you don’t, then potential customers will wonder why you don’t have a site when that is supposed to be your business.

Having a site of your own enables you to create a portfolio of your work as you build your business. The more satisfied customers you have, the better the chances are of getting more work. You have to keep in mind that your site needs to have a professional look and function perfectly because customers will test your navigation, content and other aspects to help them determine if you’ll do a good job for them.

Spread the word about your new business venture. Use every avenue you can think of and find more options as you go. Advertise offline and online. Email everyone you know and ask for referrals. Advertise on free classifieds sites and in relevant forums. Join these forums so you can learn more about your business at the same time.

Post flyers around town. Hand out business cards. Offer to do a free one or two page site for a local charity in return for a link on the bottom of their pages. Ask your parents to let their business colleagues know that you build sites and try to get jobs that way. Building any business requires some work, and a website business is no exception. But the work can be fun and the profit can be tremendous.

If you follow this guide on how to start a teen website building business, you’ll be on the path to success and—with some hard work and perseverance—you can have a thriving business before you know it.

Teens: You Can Earn Money Cleaning Houses!

February 17, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Teens: You Can Earn Money Cleaning Houses! 

If you’re a teenager looking for a way to earn extra money, you can earn some quick cash cleaning houses—starting right away! The only thing you need is energy, transportation, and a few cleaning supplies. Once you have these things, you can start looking for people who need their homes cleaned, and who either don’t have the time, the inclination, or the ability to do it for themselves.

Make a list of all the house cleaning supplies you’ll need. Consider window cleaner (for mirrors, especially), floor cleaner, all-purpose spray cleaner, and furniture polish. You’ll also need paper towels, cleaning rags, a broom, dustpan and mop. Many of your customers will let you use their vacuum and even their broom, mop and dustpan if you ask. You may want to buy supplies by the case to save money, but that’s not mandatory when you’re first starting out.

Another important thing you’ll need is transportation. Check with your parents or a friend if you don’t drive. If your customer is a friend of the family, she may even be willing to pick you up if needed. This isn’t recommended, however, since it’s unprofessional and you’ll do better to appear as professional as possible. If you have a friend who drives, he can drive you to you job and pick you up in return for gas money if he will.

Decide how much you plan to charge. Some homes will be filthy and the clients may want everything cleaned from the floors to laundry. You can charge by the hour or by the size of the home and the tasks involved. You may want to negotiate to get a customer, and you don’t want to set a rate that the customer is unwilling to pay. Set a rate that you’re comfortable with, though, since you’ll be the one doing the work.

When you first start, you can clean your own home to get a feel as to whether or not this is something you’d want to do. Act as if were actually cleaning a customer’s home: vacuum, wash the windows, dust, sweep and mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, take out the trash, do the laundry, etc.

Some homes will have stairs, so you have to be sure you can handle carrying the vacuum up and down the stairs or see if you can find a small vacuum that’s made for the job. Once you get a feel for the work, you’ll be ready to find customers.

Make up some flyers and post them everywhere around town. If you post them in a store, ask the store owner for permission. Also ask friends and neighbors, your parent’s co-workers, and parents of your friends if they need any work done.

People who know you are good first customers. They already know you and will trust you around their home. It’s still important to always give your parents the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any homes you’ll be cleaning so they know where you’ll be at any given time.

Eventually, you’ll be working in the homes of people you don’t know so you always want to remain safe. That’s why it’s may be best to have a friend or family member work along with you, or at the very least be sure your customer knows your parents have dropped you off and will return at a specific time.

Do your best to work only during daylight hours. If a job will take a long time, arrive early in the morning so you’ll be finished before it gets dark.

Always start the laundry first thing so you can work on it as your day progresses. While the laundry is going, you can make the beds then clean the bathrooms. A helper will certainly make the job go faster if you can find one.

When you get into cleaning houses as a part-time business, it’ll take energy and time, as well as dedication. Don’t strain yourself physically, but don’t be afraid to work hard either. Practice safe habits, don’t overdo the physical labor and cleaning houses makes a great way to earn some extra money.

Selling Knit or Crochet Items Makes a Great Teen Business

February 16, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Selling Knit or Crochet Items Makes a Great Teen Business 

If you’re a teen who enjoys knitting or crocheting, you have an amazing business opportunity at your fingertips. Knitting and crocheting are great pastimes that you can do while you’re watching TV, listening to music, or visiting with your friends. Whipping up knit and crochet projects are easily portable making it something you can take with you wherever you go.

To begin, you’ll want to have an inventory of items for sale. Some items that are easy to stock up on are:

• Bookmarks
• Christmas Ornaments
• Decoratively Edged Towels
• Dish Cloths
• Doll Clothes for Barbie, Cabbage Patch or American Girl Dolls
• Dolls
• Fashion Scarves
• Hats
• Mittens
• Pot Holders
• Purses and Totes
• Simple Stuffed Animals
• Vests and Other Quick Clothing Items

Of course, you’re free to make whatever suits you, but these are proven sellers. Having a large variety of items to sell that work up quickly and easily is the most important part of running your knitting and crocheting business.

As you begin making your items, think about the different places you can sell them. Some areas have a local street fair or similar event that readily lends itself to setting up a booth or sharing a booth with a friend to sell crafts.

Holiday bazaars are also a great way to plan to sell your handicrafts. You may even want to create a special holiday collection showcasing a specific theme and room of the house. For some this might be a set of dish cloths with matching pot holders and place mats. For others it may mean Christmas tree ornaments that work up quickly and easily.

You can also do wedding accessories as a specific collection. Brides are always looking for new and unique gifts for their bridesmaids or even for party favors.

To price your items, take a look online at sites that sell similar merchandise. Remember, you want to be competitive and still make a profit. You might also look at what other booth or bazaar stall owners sell their similar items for. Price your items similarly, allowing enough to cover your materials and still make a profit in order to get the best customers and get your sales started.

Spread the word. Chances are, as you’re working on your projects people will comment about what you’re doing. They might mention that they haven’t seen anyone knitting or crocheting in a long time or that it’s a “lost art.” They may be especially surprised to see someone so young doing this craft.

Take advantage of these comments! Share with them that you make these items to sell and give them a business card or flyer you made up on the computer. Let them know when you’ll be at the next annual street fair or holiday craft bazaar. Tell them that you also take custom orders. This is your chance to get some free advertising so take advantage of it!

If you’re having trouble coming up with good ideas for what to make, take a look online at hand crafted items. Be specific, looking at hand crocheted items and hand knit items such as scarves, dish clothes, and other things you’d like to sell. Pretty soon you’ll have a great idea of what’s selling and what’s not. Be sure to check out online auction sites and etsy.com as well.

Give business to your friends and family and invite them to order gift items from you. Ask them to hand out your cards to people they know as well. Be creative and let your business card provide plenty of information so people can get in touch with you easily whether it be by phone, email or even a blog or website.

Check local shops in your community. Many of them love to carry handcrafted items, and the fact that a teenager made them is an added benefit. Again, take advantage of it!

Shop owners will generally ask for a small percentage of your price as a commission, so raise your prices slightly to reflect amount. Ideally, get them to buy your inventory, but if they’re not willing to do that, opt for them selling some pieces on consignment for you. Just be sure you have a signed agreement in advance so you know what happens if your items are damaged, stolen, or—ideally!—when they sell.

Use whatever methods you have available to get your products out there so people can see them and buy. Just be sure to provide a quality item with pleasant customer service and dependable delivery, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to building a great teen business selling your knit or crocheted items .

Candle Making Can Be Fun and Profitable for Teens

February 12, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Candle Making Can Be Fun and Profitable for Teens 

As a teenager you always want money. Whether it’s for the latest gadget or just to go out and hang out with your friends. If your parents aren’t in a position to be able to give you money every time you want it, why not try setting up a candle making business to earn your own money? Then you can finance the things you want yourself. There’s no doubt your parents would support you in this worthwhile endeavor.

There are two different aspects to the business that you’ll have to learn. Firstly, you’ll need to learn to make the candles. Maybe you have enough money to buy what you need, or you can borrow from someone and then arrange to pay them back. It’s not an expensive business to run unless you really go overboard.

The items you need are: a hot plate or electric stove as your heat source, a “double boiler set-up,” (this can be a large low pot in which you boil water, and an old coffee tin inside which you will melt the wax), wicks, wax, matches, scents and one or more moulds, depending on if you plan to do different shapes. Do some research online to ensure you have the right materials for your needs.

You can run this business by yourself or with friends. It would probably be more fun to do with friends as you’ll spend a lot of time practicing and making candles to get them perfect. Then, if you’re successful, you’ll be making more all the time, so if the work is shared, it’s more enjoyable. Become an expert candle maker. Internet research can teach you everything you need to know. The more you know, the more likely it is that people will trust you enough to make a purchase.

The second aspect of the business is to actually make sales. You have plenty of different ways to try. Then you can see what works best and focus on that market. Your options include: advertising on your own website, selling them on eBay, check out forums where candle makers gather to share knowledge and check out other candle maker Websites for ideas. You will learn valuable tricks to getting sales through advertising online,

Send emails to all your friends and family and explain what you’re doing. Instead of trying to sell to them, ask if they know anyone who would like to buy these fantastic candles. It’s an old sales trick that takes the pressure off them; yet offers them the chance to buy some themselves. Consider giving them a small commission on any sales they make for you. Word of mouth is the cheapest form of advertising. Advertise on your Facebook Page so your friends can see pictures of some of your work.

Place ads in the local paper and in shop windows. You can try wholesaling to shops that sell similar products. They already have a reputation for quality and if you can use that to your advantage, then don’t let it go. Get business cards and hand them out to people. There are seasons where candles sell well. Christmas is a prime example. You could get a stall at the local weekend market. If you become a regular there, people will get to know you and your products and you can get lots of repeat business.

The bottom line with this business is that it’s cheap to set up and run. You can educate yourself from online material and through lots of practice. With some solid effort, any determined teenager can become successful.

Make Money Creating & Selling Greeting Cards

A card making business is a great outlet for artistic teens looking to make money on their own. There is a wide variety of natural materials that can be added to your cards to decorate them and create interest such as leaves, twigs, cotton and other natural fibers, in addition to markers, paints, glitter, die-cuts, stickers and more that add creativity. Making greeting cards is a an exciting form of self expression so anything goes!

You can come up with your own ideas or look through magazines and on scrapbooking Websites to get design ideas and turn them into your own creation without copying others. You can copy the basic shape layout, without copying every aspect of the design.

To start with, you’ll want to create a wide variety of cards – note cards, greeting cards, even postcards and book marks for your customers to choose from. You can rubber stamps, and decorative scissors, frames, trims, mounting squares and much more to add variety. If you’re already a scrapbooker, you probably already have a selection of cardmaking ideas and embellishments, and may already be adept at making your own cards and papercraft items.

Print some nice business cards with your name, a way to reach you such as an email address or a telephone number, and a list of your services. You can use rubber stamps and make these yourself for more impact, or you can buy some readymade cards to print on the computer, thought they will cost more and you’ll have to wait for them to be printed.

Once you have several cards ready to sell, you can begin by showing your cards to local business owners who may be interested in selling them in their stores. Take a few of your favorite cards and put them inside plastic sheet protectors and place those a three-ring binder. This will create your portfolio that you can continue to add to as your business builds.

Create a simple price sheet that you can hand out to customers and place a few copies in the front of your portfolio. To find prices, determine what it costs to make each card based on the supplies used, and price similar cards and items in a stationery store, then set your prices accordingly. You probably want to offer bulk discounts for stores or even individuals such as “buy three, get one free” or 25 cards for the price of 20, etc.

Dress nicely (remember, you’re a business person now and you want to portray this, so look your best). Stop by a prospective store (not at lunch time or during a rush) and ask to speak to the store owner or manager. Local drug stores, craft shops, resale stores and other businesses are a great place to start.

Once you’ve asked to speak to the manager, wait politely. Quietly look around your surroundings and notice how they have their store set up. You want to portray yourself as professional, so don’t fidget, look impatient, or bother the employees with questions or purchases at this time.

When the manager or buyer arrives tell them something along the lines of, “Hi, my name is Sara and I wanted to ask you if you would be interested in displaying a few of my handcrafted cards in your store.” Hand the manager your portfolio binder and encourage him or her to browse and look over your cards. Remain calm and quiet, giving the prospective buyer a chance to see your work.

If the manager likes your cards, they will sometimes be happy to display a few for sale right then. If they only want to start with a few that’s okay. You have your foot in the door, so to speak, so be flexible and work with them.

Ideally, it would be best if the store owner bought the cards outright, but if they are unwilling to do that, ask if they can take them on consignment. That means they would pay you only if the cards sell. Offer the store owner or manager a commission on all cards that sell through consignment.

If they choose not to display your cards, thank them politely for their time and ask them if you can leave a business card with them in case they change their mind. And ask if they know of other stores in the area who might be interested.

Other options you can use to market your cards is to show them to friends and family and offer to make custom cards for them if they’re interested.

Or set up a booth at a fair or community event such as a Christmas bazaar, or flea market. Set some out at a yard sale. Or post flyers around town offering them for sale. Be sure to have plenty of business cards on hand and be ready to take orders in case someone wants something you don’t currently have made up. You can also set out cards that are all ready to go and sell them right there.

Design your own website, or have a friend do it for you, and take orders over the Internet. Just be sure to mail your cards out quickly as soon as you receive payment. PayPal is the best way to receive payment online and it’s free for personal use.

One teen created a set of wedding invitations for her older sister and made quite a tidy sum with them. She included small return cards for RSVPs as well as Thank You cards for the bride and groom, and place setting cards for the wedding reception. Her sister bride was thrilled with the sentiment of the items, and the cardmaker was pleased with her profit.

This young entrepreneur event went one step further and copied her sister’s wedding vows onto some lovely paper and had it framed as a special gift that tied in with the theme of all her other cards and invitations.

The sky is the limit when you enjoy making cards and continue to look for unique and fun cardmaking ideas. You can truly go as far as your ideas will take you with this endeavor!

Growing Herbs for Fun and Profit

February 3, 2010 · Filed Under Business Ideas for Teens, Home Based Business Ideas for Moms · Comments Off on Growing Herbs for Fun and Profit 

Growing herbs is a lucrative business idea for teenagers. Due to the growing demand for freshly grown herbs, teens have the opportunity to make a decent income from their efforts.

Before you delve into your herb growing business, read up on the different types of herbs on the market and their ideal growing conditions. There are many books available on the subject that will give you the knowledge you need to succeed, so browse your local bookstore or library for ones that will help you the most in your quest.

The last thing you want to do when growing herbs is to choose ones that don’t grow well in certain kinds of soil or certain lighting conditions. Like vegetables and fruits, certain herbs need a specific environment in order to grow properly and produce the correct flavor associated with them. So choose wisely.

It can be a daunting task to decide which herbs to grow even after you know what will grow best in your area. Some common beginner herbs are winter savory, rosemary, sage, sweet basil, dill, mint and sweet marjoram, to name a few. Once you’ve tried your hand at some of these herbs, you can move on to others.

When choosing your herbs, it’s important to decide if you want annuals, biennials or perennials. Annuals will need to be replanted each year, while biennials need to be replanted every two years. Perennials don’t need to be replanted at all and will return year after year.

After you’ve read up on herb growing basics, check with your local small business office to find out what licenses and permits are needed in order to run your business. That office will be able to provide you with all applicable information.

Once you have that squared away, decide whether or not you’re going to grow herbs in the summer only or all year long. There are things to consider with each option.

If you plan to grow only during the summer months, you’ll want to have an area cleared outside of your home to grow your herbs in. A traditional kitchen garden is 20’ x 4’. Each herb plot within the garden should be between 12 and 18 inches. If you plan to grow a wide selection of herbs, you’ll want a larger growing area.

You may also want to consider drawing out a diagram beforehand that lists the herbs you want to grow and where they’ll be planted in your garden. Some herbs need to be planted apart from others to prevent cross-germination and other factors.

Others, like parsley and purple basil, make wonderful border herbs, so planning ahead is a good idea. If you choose to plant mint, you’ll want to contain your plants in a number 10 can or a bucket to prevent them from overrunning your other varieties.

If you have limited ground space, you can grow your herbs in planting containers, window boxes, number 10 cans or even hanging baskets. Just be sure to have plenty of soil and composting material on hand for your plants.

If you’re planning on growing herbs year round, you can grow them inside under a heat lamp or on a windowsill where there is access to plenty of light, usually in a south or west-facing window. Indoor plants will require more watering than outdoor plants since they don’t have access to rain, so be sure to water your plants as needed.

If you have access to a greenhouse, that’s another great way to grow herbs all year long. But, again, you’ll need to make sure you keep them hydrated.

Once you’ve grown and harvested your herbs, you need to decide if you’re going to sell them as is or dehydrate them. If you choose to dehydrate them, there are several methods to choose from, including using a dehydrator or the oven. If you decide to dehydrate, you’ll also need a mortar and pestle to grind up the herbs once they dry. You can then store them in canning jars, which can be found at any local home and gardening store, or often on Freecycle.

When it comes to advertising your herbs for sale, there are several options available. You could post flyers at local indoor farmer’s markets, or local grocery stores. Be sure your flyers include your contact information and a list all of the herbs you sell and whether or not they are dried. Also include business cards when possible so potential clients can pass on your information to others who may be interested in purchasing from you.

If you live in a highly populated area that sees a lot of traffic, you could even setup a roadside stand in the same way that you may have set up a lemonade stand when you were younger.

Also, let your friends and family know you have herbs for sale, and ask them to spread the word. People like supporting a teen in business, so once people know what you have to offer, your sales will begin to grow.

Growing herbs does involve work. And it will require you to be diligent and dependable in caring for the plants, but if you follow through with it, you can create a successful business in the herb growing industry and have a lot of fun in the process.

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