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You don’t need a ton of startup cash to get a successful business off the ground. There are plenty of home based business ideas that you can grow simply through bootstrapping. If you’re interested in starting your own business at home but don’t want to put a huge investment in up front, read on for a list of 50 home based business ideas you can start with no money.Home Based Business Ideas You Can Start With No Money Blogger
You can set up your own blog online for free using a platform like WordPress and then earn an income through ads, sponsored content or product sales.Freelance Writer
You can also offer your writing services to other blogs or businesses on a freelance basis.Ebook Author
Or you can write and publish your very own ebook to sell online. Some self publishing platforms require money up front, but others allow you to publish your work for free and then take a portion of the sales.Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate programs let you earn an income through referring potential customers to specific websites. You can sign up for various affiliate programs and then share links on your blog, website or social media channels.Social Media Influencer
If you use any social media sites, you can build up your influence over time and then offer your services to brands who are looking for influencers to promote their products or services.Social Media Manager
You can also build a business by managing social media accounts for other businesses.YouTube Personality
YouTube allows users to set up accounts for free. And with a computer, phone or other equipment that you probably already own, you can create and share your own video content and then earn a portion of ad shares.Podcaster
There are also lots of free tools out there for setting up your own podcast online, which can then allow you to earn an income through advertisers.Collectibles Seller
If you have any collectibles or popular products lying around your house, you can set up an account on eBay and make money through online auctions.Used Book Seller
You can also sell some of your books on sites like eBay or Amazon and then use that money to fill your stock even more.Recycled Handmade Seller
Etsy is another ecommerce platform that lets you sign up for free. And if you can get creative with some recyclable materials, you can even make some handmade products to sell without spending any cash.Custom Illustrator
You can also get creative to offer custom products like illustrations, so you can actually get paid, at least partially, before even creating the finished product.Errand Service
Though you may need to leave the house to perform some specific tasks, you can offer your services for things like laundry and shopping in exchange for a small fee.Virtual Assistant
You can also start a B2B business where you handle various tasks for clients online as a virtual assistant.Business Consultant
If you’re a business savvy entrepreneur already, you can start your own consulting business and simply communicate with you clients via email and Skype.Life Coach
Likewise, you can offer life coaching services and communicate with your clients mainly online.Graphic Designer
If you have a good eye for design, you can use some free cloud based tools to create basic graphics for clients.Web Designer
Or you could offer web design services with the help of some free open source tools.Tutor
You could also welcome clients to your home where you can tutor them in various subjects.Personal Trainer
If you’re a fitness savvy entrepreneur, you can welcome clients to your home where you can instruct them in various exercises.Yoga Instructor
You can also work with more students at once as a yoga or pilates instructor.Dance Teacher
Or you can teach various dance styles in a home setting as well.Music Coach
If you’re able to play an instrument or even just knowledgeable about vocals, you can offer your services as a music coach out of your home.T-Shirt Designer
Sites like CafePress let you sign up for a free account, where you can create and upload your own designs to be printed on t-shirts and other products. And then you can simply earn money as those products sell.Dog Walker
You can also offer dog walking services to pet owners around your home without having to spend any money out of your own pocket.Dog Trainer
Or you can offer to train dogs for clients out of your home.Child Care Provider
If you want to start your own childcare business, you can start a daycare out of your home.Auto Detailer
You can also offer to wash and detail cars for customers who bring them to your home.Tax Preparer
Financially minded entrepreneurs, you can use free tools to prepare tax forms for clients.Bookkeeper
Or you can offer your services to businesses and individuals on a more ongoing basis as a bookkeeper.Alteration Service Provider
If you’re skilled with a needle and thread, you can have clients send you garments that need altering.Custom Embroiderer
Likewise, you can offer custom embroidery services to customers who want to personalize their clothing or other items.Interior Designer
If you have an eye for design, you can offer interior design and planning services without a lot of upfront costs.Stock Photographer
Most photography businesses require studio equipment or other potential expenses. But with just a camera and access to the internet, you can take photos and offer them for sale on stock photo websites.Travel Booking Service Provider
You can also use any number of free travel sites to find great deals and help travelers book their trips in exchange for a fee.Data Entry Provider
If you want to work with business clients, you can also easily offer data entry services without having to purchase any specialized equipment.Translator
For those who understand more than one language, you can also offer translation services to clients.Online Researcher
You can also build a business by offering online research services. And all you need is a computer and internet connection.Ghost Writer
If you want to help authors or business owners that have commitments they can’t get to, you can offer your services as a ghost writer to provide them with content to publish.Proofreader
Or you can offer simple proofreading services to authors, bloggers, students or others.Editor
You can even get more in-depth and offer full editing services for writers or businesses.Resume Writer
If you want to help job seekers succeed, you can offer your services as a resume writer or editor right from your home.Online Magazine Publisher
With some free cloud based tools to start your own online magazine or newsletter.Voice Artist
You can also use some free online tools to market yourself to different businesses and clients as a voice artist.Vacation Rental Person
If you have a spare room in your home, you can use a free service like Airbnb, where you just pay a service fee for each reservation.Baker
With some basic supplies and ingredients you likely already have at your home, you can sell baked goods online or to local bake shops.Event Planner
For entrepreneurs who are extremely organized and detail oriented, you can build a business as an event planner who works with clients mainly out of a home office.Online Event Promoter
You can also use free online tools like Facebook to promote events for clients online.Scrapbooker
With some basic craft supplies, you can make your own scrapbook layouts to sell online or even create custom pages for clients.Online Tech Support
For tech savvy entrepreneurs, you can offer tech support services for a small fee to customers who contact you by phone or online.
Home Business Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "50 Home Based Business Ideas You Can Start With No Money" was first published on Small Business Trends
No matter what season it is, there’s an insidious war going on in offices around the country. The conflict is so pervasive that it’s been given a name; The Thermostat Wars. While it may not be as significant as the war on poverty or the war on drugs, it’s still contentious because it touches millions of office workers on a daily basis.The Struggle is Real
When the International Facilities Management Association (PDF) did a survey back in 2009 of more than 400 of its members, they found that the top two complaints had to do with the office temperature either being too hot or too cold.
Take a minute to check out the chart above. Notice that the “too cold” and “too hot” categories are almost even. That means that on any given day, someone is uncomfortable in the workplace to the point that they may have trouble doing their work.Blame it on an Outdated Standard
A lot has been written on the subject of Thermostat Wars. After decades of men turning the temperature down and women turning it back up again, Nature and Climate Change published a study whose results are trivia worthy. Here’s just a bit of the summary:
“Indoor climate regulations are based on an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s. Standard values for one of its primary variables — metabolic rate — are based on an average male, and may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35 percent. ”
According to The New York Times, this outdated standard was based on the average male being 40 years old and weighing about 154 pounds. As a point of reference, the CDC published figures for 2007-2010 that have the average male over 20 years of age weighing 195 pounds and the average woman weighing 166 pounds.
This explains why both men and women fight over the fahrenheit, but what’s the impact that this temperature toggling has on your business?The Biggest Casualty of the Thermostat Wars is Productivity
You might think that Thermostat Wars are an employee morale problem, but in truth being too hot or too cold at work can seriously impact productivity. So if you’re trying to get control of your energy budget by turning the thermostat down, you may be paying for it by losing productivity and employee efficiency.
Wondering what to do? A recent Cornell University study (PDF) found that when the room temperature was below 68 degrees, employees made 44 percent more mistakes. So if you want to increase productivity, set your temperature to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The same Cornell study says that setting the temperature at a more comfortable level for all employees can save an average of $2.00 per worker per hour, saving up to 12.5 percent of their wage costs.Proven Battle Tactics for Thermostat Wins
Now that you have some battleground history, here are a few strategies you can use to bring a Thermostat Truce to your office.
Get people involved in setting the ideal temperature for your workplace. People are more comfortable at the same temperature if they have control over the setting. Survey the people in your office to gather each person’s preferred temperature, then find a middle ground and stick with it. If your goal is the greatest energy savings, folks will sacrifice a bit of comfort. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Year-round settings of 68°F for heating and 78°F for cooling provide the most savings. To achieve a good balance between controlling your business energy budget and comfort use year-round, set the thermostat to 70°F for heating and 76°F for cooling.
Institute flexible work hours or telecommuting. If you have the kind of business that allows employees to work from home or to work on a flexible schedule, this may be a boon to productivity.
Try some of these new smart thermostat solutions. You may have seen those “smart thermostats” that have a motion sensor that can adjust the temperature up or down based on the usage of the space. Comfy is a brand new smartphone app that will send a blast of hot or cool air to an area when needed. Then there’s CrowdComfort. This smart technology gives the power to the people and allows them to send temperature complaints via their smartphones. The great thing about using these kinds of technologies is that you can customize them so that the temperature will only adjust if two or more people complain within 10 minutes.
Let’s face it, Thermostat Wars aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, but if you put the focus on clear and open communications about what temperatures work best for your employees, you just might find gains in energy efficiency and productivity.
Thermostat Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Thermostat Wars: How to Make People Happy, Increase Productivity and Save Money" was first published on Small Business Trends
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming part of our everyday language as more organizations integrate the technology into the products and services they offer. The latest to do so is eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), which according to the company will help its sellers become more competitive.eBay Deploys Artificial Intelligence Solutions
The company has been supporting its sellers, many of whom are small to medium sized businesses, with AI driven investments for the past five years. To date, it has been embedded and distributed across 30 domains to help sellers with everything from delivery time to fraud detection, wrote President and CEO of eBay, Devin Wenig in a post on he company’s official blog.
The pricing and inventory AI solution is a great example. It can identify gaps in inventory of a particular product and alert sellers of that item to stock up. Based on demand, it will make price recommendations so they won’t price themselves out during a hot market. And the beauty of this solution is, it is seamless and non-intrusive, giving you recommendations automatically when events are trending.
The way new AI solutions are helping Tanya Crew, a single mom who started selling on eBay in 2003, is by optimizing the price for the items she sells. It predicts shifts in consumer behavior, along with more features so she can be more competitive.
The work on AI will also help optimize listing and online images featuring different types of consumer behavior to help Mohamed Taushif Ansari of Mumbai. He started with just a laptop and a sewing machine, and now exports the products he makes to 30 countries around the world.
Additionally, his products are being featured on social platforms through the eBay ShopBot, which is powered by AI and is currently in beta.
Even though there is a passionate debate going on regarding AI with polarizing views. eBay’s CEO said it best in his blog post:
“I believe our greatest days are ahead of us. But this rests on embracing our most promising technologies — and shaping them — to lift people up and create opportunity at all levels.”
This article, "eBay Deploys Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Sellers" was first published on Small Business Trends
If you’ve taken any college classes, chances are you’ve had to deal with student loans. These loans can be especially burdensome for young professionals just getting started in their chosen fields. But there are some options and resources for dealing with them.
That’s where Student Loan Club comes in. You can read more about the business and what it does for students and graduates in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.What the Business Does
Provides student loan and career resources.
Co-founder and COO Jay Rush told Small Business Trends, “For $5 a month, members receive quality resources including refinancing tools, loan calculators, resume assistance, professional HR counseling and industry news, allowing members to master their student loans. Members are automatically enrolled in the weekly Student Loan Club Sweepstakes for a chance to win their student debt paid down or completely off.”Business Niche
A sweepstakes program.
Rush says, “While multiple platforms offer resources, none of them offer a sweepstakes based on repayment. Therefore, our strong differentiator is our Student Loan Club Sweepstakes.”How the Business Got Started
As a way to deal with mountains of student loans.
Rush says, “My parents were losing sleep worrying about the quarter of a million dollars of student debt that my brother and I had accumulated over time. After years of making fruitless payments, we sat down as a family and founded the Student Loan Club within a few months.”Biggest Win
Getting early funding.
Rush explains, “Our biggest win as an early-stage startup was receiving our seed funding to turn our dream into a reality. That initial capital gave us the ability to start executing our plan.”Biggest Risk
Turning to loved ones for funding.
Rush says, “The most difficult part of the process has been getting people to believe in and fund the idea. Our funding came from family and friends who put their faith in us to create a return on their investment. The risk is already paying off, but if it does not, next Thanksgiving could be awkward.”How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000
Helping members repay their loans.
Rush says, “We would use an extra $100,000 for both marketing as well as the sweepstakes prize pool. Students are currently in debt an average of $35,000. That money could really help some people out.”Favorite Quote
“There is no stronger army in the world than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo
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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program
Images: Student Loan Club; Top Image: Co-founder and CEO Dan Rush, Co-founder and CAO Maria Testa, Co-founder and COO Jay Rush
This article, "Spotlight: Student Loan Club Tries to Ease the Pain for New Grads" was first published on Small Business Trends
JULY 24: A Popeyes fast food restaurant sign glows on July 24, 2008 in the South Los Angeles area of Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles City Council committee has unanimously approved year-long moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a 32-square-mile area, mostly in South Los Angeles, pending approval by the full council and the signature of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to make it the law.
To hire or not to hire. That’s the big question for cash-strapped small businesses.
Recent data sends out two very differing messages about the staffing needs of the future — one short term, the other more long term. So businesses may have mixed feelings about their plans for that next hire.February 2017 Staffing Trends Short Term Hiring Expected to be Competitive
A recent report (PDF) reveals the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased less than expected for the week ended February 11.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows claims for unemployment benefits rose by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 239,000.
What’s worth noting is claims have been below 300,000 for 102 consecutive weeks. That’s the longest stretch since 1970 and indicates a strong labor market where short term hiring will be competitive.Could Automation Replace Workers?
On the other hand, a White House report (PDF) postulates 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be replaced by artificial intelligence technologies over the next decade.
What’s more, the study estimates 2.2 to 3.1 million existing part- and full-time jobs could be threatened or substantially altered by automated technology.What Does It Mean for Your Business
Both studies have significant implications for small businesses.
The report from the Department of Labor suggests the economy is getting stronger but also that fewer are looking for employment. While that could mean more disposable income to spend on your products and services, it also could make it harder to hire the people you need to provide those products and services.
As for the White House report, increasing automation may save your business money in the long run as you need a smaller staff to run your business. But depending on your business, it could also decrease the need for what your business produces or a service you provide.
Imagine the impact, for example, on a tax preparation service if your customers begin relying on automation to prepare and file their returns.
In order to determine how automation may impact your business, consider this list of small business functions you can automate.
Are there any tasks on this list you or your staff still do manually? Are there any services you provide for other businesses that could easily be replaced?
By contrast, these jobs cannot be easily automated in the near future.
These are jobs that involve a certain degree of sensitivity and problem solving skills that machines do not possess. It may make sense to plan to continue hiring in these areas for the foreseeable future.
And businesses that provide such services for other companies may wish to focus increasingly in these areas to ensure profitably for the future.
Staffing Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Reports Send Mixed Messages About Staffing Needs of the Future" was first published on Small Business Trends
Through our years of coaching and helping small business owners chart their paths for more profitability, we often run into business owners who feel that they know everything.
My business partner, Jack Mencini and I, have a name for these folks … we call them “Old Steel Guys.”
You probably know some Old Steel Guys. Maybe you’re even one of them!
We named this type of individual over the years because they think they are experts on everything. The phrase comes from our Cleveland roots. Back in the day, Cleveland was a big steel town and there were lots of Old Steel Guys who were stuck in the past, knew it all, and quite frankly were a pain in the butt to deal with or be around.
It really doesn’t matter if you are old or young, man or woman. If you have the mindset that you know everything, we are going to refer to you as an Old Steel Guy. Deal with it!
As a small business owner, you need to stay current and you need to keep learning. If you keep learning it keeps you young, vibrant, and relevant.
Jack and I have never met a successful Old Steel Guy, because they are of the mindset that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and why should I even try to learn or engage in anything new when my way is the best way?
Engaging and trying new things are key ingredients to keep you and your business growing and moving forward. But it just seems that the only thing moving forward with Old Steel Guys is that they get grumpier and meaner.
Who wants to be around someone like that? The fact is that, as a business owner, you can’t know everything!
Not all Old Steel Guys start out that way. It usually takes years to develop, so beware, just because you aren’t an Old Steel Guy today doesn’t mean it’s not in your future.
Your attitude as the owner is the number one key for improving and increasing your small business’s profitability. Attitude is infectious and Old Steel Guys tend to beget more Old Steel Guys.How Not to Be a Know It All
As a small business owner you need to embrace learning and looking for ways to improve yourself and your team within your small business. If you aren’t coachable, why would you expect your team to be coachable?
One of the challenges we give each of our business owner clients is to master the seven keys to success.
These seven keys were developed over many years and modeled on successful companies both big and small who were able to achieve growing and sustainable profits. While the premise of these seven keys seems almost simplistic, the work and learnings behind each key can open doors to new insights for how the business is functioning.
The seven keys to success are:
The simplicity and clarity that comes from focusing on the seven keys can be very empowering and exciting for both you as the business owner and for your team.
One thing is certain. You can’t focus on all seven at once, but you can dig more deeply into a couple at a time. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with a 10-year vision for where you want the company to be and what it will look like in 10 years.
Old Steel Guys can’t think this way as they are too focused on today or the past. Don’t aspire to become an Old Steel Guy. Be open to learning and growing and your business will grow too!
Steel Worker Photo via Shutterstock
Every so often, I'm fortunate enough to be asked to be a part of something really special. Perhaps the best part of getting older is that these inclusions seem to happen more frequently.
Too many small business owners gloss over important terms in contracts they sign. This can cause a problem later in the relationship if they are not properly negotiated. While a lawyer may not need to be involved in every transaction, here are the areas that all companies should look for to protect themselves before signing any agreement:Important Contract Terms 1. Dollars and Timing of Payments
Always review this part first in the contract. Do this by searching on the symbol “$” throughout the document. Ensure that the financial terms were what the parties verbally agreed to before this draft. If this section is wrong, it does not make sense to focus on the other parts of the agreement until this is fixed. Carefully note if the exact timing of the payments is tied to specific dates, elapsed time (90 days from now) or to milestones being achieved (and who determines if the milestones are complete).2. Non-competes
Many contracts state that once a company is doing business with one company, they can’t do it with a competitor, in similar industries, or for a period of time. While this can make sense in some situations, try to take these clauses out of the contract or at least make them as narrowly defined as possible. Fighting this limitation may be important to growing a company since expertise in an industry can be valuable to future customers.3. Ownership of Work
Understand who owns the work that is produced as a result of the contract. This may be critical if the company wants to use what is produced or learned for other customers or markets. If the company is being paid to make something, typically the payor will own it, but try to negotiate joint rights or continued access to this information. For example, when Microsoft was paid by IBM to develop the DOS operating system, they retained the right to sell it to other companies which drove the growth of their business.4. Actual Contracted Parties
Read the agreement to make sure that the contract is between the correct parties or corporate entities. This is especially important to determine where the money is coming from and who it will be paid to. This becomes even more critical if things go wrong and lawyers get involved.5. Penalties If Things Go Wrong
If something goes bad in the execution of the contract, note what the penalties to either party will be. It is also important to see if there is a “cure period” when a deadline is missed or one party is dissatisfied. This is typically the time that one party gets to “make it right” before penalties or legal action can begin. It provides a very important time buffer or cooling off period before things can get ugly6. Liability and Indemnity
Contracts are a set expectation of what is to be done. Therefore, they become critical as a written record of what happens if things go wrong. Review who is liable if either of the parties get sued by an outsider and who will pay the legal costs. These sections typically have very ominous legal language like “Party A agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Party B and their employees, officers, directors or agents from and against any loss, liability, damage, penalty or expense (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and cost of defense) they may suffer or incur arising out of any claim…” Try to get the other party to be responsible for all claims or at least have each party take care of their own legal expenses.
What do you look for in every contract?
Republished by permission. Original here.
Red Flags Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "6 Important Contract Terms that Should Raise a Red Flag" was first published on Small Business Trends
10 Best CRM is an awards organization that specializes in ranking the best startup CRM software each month, based on a number of different metrics that are specifically relevant to startups and small...
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Moran Again Ranks on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List
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PrideStaff, a national staffing organization, is pleased to announce the opening of a new staffing and employment agency in Ventura County, California. The new office will offer a full range of...
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