Dig Deep for Small Business Ideas

If you’re serious about wanting to start a business, the first thing you want to do is take the time to understand what really makes you tick. Where do you get your drive? What gets you in a “zone?”

However, there’s a lot more to figuring out the BEST business idea that will make you more money and give you more freedom to enjoy more success in your life.

And success to you may be different than success to someone else. It may not be all about money at all. It may not be about finding something you are completely passionate about. It may not be about having a “cool” business — the latest fad or a unique niche.

Success is how you define it.

Finding the right idea to bring you that success takes a willingness to be patient, good timing, and a lot of research.

And there’s nothing wrong with taking your time, being careful trying to figure out which small business ideas are best.

If you rush this process, you’re bound to come up with a business that doesn’t excite you at all.

You’ll be bored.

You won’t reach goals and it will become more like a job … maybe even harder!

You’ll feel like you would working for someone else. (You don’t want that again, do you?)

First, Figure Out What You Really Want

Starting off, you really have to force yourself to relax. I know what it’s like being very, very unhappy at a job. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that walking away from a well-paying job and jumping into your own business is stressful.

But if you carefully plan your “escape,” it will make it that much better!

Set Your Short-Term Goals

Maybe you want to make a ton of money and drive around in a BMW.

Or maybe you just want the freedom to enjoy your family or friends. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of being in control of your life — being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Whatever your long-term goals are, first you have to concentrate on the shorter term goals before you can begin to see that “big picture.”

It’s up to you.

But understand that the type of business you start will play a roll in whether or not you meet your goals — both short and long-term.

If you’re trying to startup a part-time venture while working full-time for someone else, you’re going to have to set daily goals to try and squeeze in a few hours of work every day, often before and after work! (I used to get up at 4:30 in the morning, go to my full-time job at 8:30, come home at 5 or 6 and get right back to work on my new business … and I loved it!)

But if it’s a small business idea you came up with on the ride home and it doesn’t really “drive” you, it’ll make reaching your short term goals — often the hard part — a heck of a lot more difficult.

What are Your Long-Term Plans?

That big picture includes, more than anything, something you can see yourself doing every day. Something that — even on weekends — you love to do.

And even though it is something you love to do, make sure it will feed your long-term plan. And you won’t know that until you know what your long term plan actually is!

For instance, if your plan is indeed to make a lot of money and retire at a young age, you’ll obviously have to look at small business ideas that are highly profitable.

This would include mostly business-to-business models. There is typically more profit selling to businesses (a product or service) unless you make it big in the consumer market.

Why would the business-to-business market be more profitable? Because a business would be more willing to invest in a product or service (that may even be a write-off) versus the consumer market which is more “luxury” driven. Meaning, consumers base a lot of their buying decisions on want instead of needs.

It’s also a financial issue.

A larger business can pay a $300 invoice without thinking about it whereas a consumer getting a $300 bill may sweat a little more.

This is just an example of understanding your long-term goals so you can look closer at a finite number of business ideas to get you closer to where you want to be.

And if you go ahead and hang your “open for business” sign and then realize, “Oh, I can’t make that much money doing this!”, you’ll only be taking one step forward and two steps back.

Grab a Pad … Ideas Will Come and Go

Because — like all entrepreneurs — you’re a thinker, you’ve always got ideas popping into your head. Probably more than you can handle (the brain only has so much room, right?).

That’s why you should always keep a notebook by your side.

Sure, some of the best ideas get written on a cocktail napkin. But you’re better off trying to give these ideas more permanence. And having a notebook dedicated to your small business ideas will give you a growing and buildable “diary” to use when you’re good and ready to go for it!

And once you start putting your ideas in writing, you’ll find yourself getting into the habit of using your notebook more and more. It’s like anything else that takes practice.

The more you do it, the better you get at finding the best small business ideas. And each idea will help you grow more specific or “niche” ideas.

Become a Private Investigator!

What you want to do is really learn how to research. You’ve got to dig — and dig deep — to determine what business really could work best for your success.

Not only do you have to know who you are and what’s going to drive your personality the most, but you also need to think about what sells.

What type of business can be profitable?

Too many people make the mistake of looking at only one aspect of starting a small business. If you love parakeets and you’re passionate about them, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to open up a store in your town without knowing if anyone else likes them!

As a side note, starting an internet business allows you a greater opportunity to build a business around something you’re passionate about. If it’s parakeets you love, you’ll find more people on the internet with your same passion than you would in your own backyard. For some great information about finding your passion on the internet, click here

You research should include looking at what other businesses are doing (successfully and not so successfully) in your city or town.

Look at small businesses and even what the “big guys” are doing.

Maybe you could create a smaller business with a personal touch that the “big guys” are typically missing out on (no matter how hard they try.)

Figure out more about what makes you tick …

What kind of hobbies do you have, if any?

What kind of magazines do you enjoy?

What do you like to do most in your “free” time?

What was the best job you ever held? Even if it’s one you had when you were a kid, you may find a business in something you know and love — but don’t even realize it yet!

Business Ideas Are Everywhere

Start to think about needs in your town or city. Is there something missing? Is there a need or a product or some type of service people would use that they “want?”

What is the majority age population in your city or town? Is it mostly seniors? (a huge market because they are more active and living longer than ever.) Or is your community made up of younger families?

Check out the local sections in your paper. Read the Lifestyle and Arts section. (I always find articles about local business people who have started businesses.)

Look at local and state businesses. Look at consumer trends and what people “want.”

Is there something other businesses in your area need? Don’t be afraid to go around and ask!

Think about concerns we all have in the world today.

There are so many opportunities out there, waiting for like you to step up and get started with a new business!

Don’t be afraid to ask!

This is where your friends, family and neighbors come in. Ask them to give you their number-one need. A product or service that’s “hard-to-find.” A complaint about what’s missing from their lives.

How many times have you looked for something — a product or service — and had to travel a long distance to get it?

Answering questions will give you plenty to think about and some good material for your notebook.

And if you’re interested in the business-to-business market, you could always put together a survey and mail it out to local businesses. Give them an incentive (a low-cost, high value gift) and find out what they really need to help them improve their business.

You may find that all of the local businesses in your area need someone to take care of local deliveries. Or someone to help them type or use their computer more effectively..

Just remember, starting a small business is a process and it takes time. The more planning and research you do up front, the better chance you’ll have to success and have a little bit of fun, too

Online Casino Gambling: A Global Phenomenon

If you check to see where the headquarters of the online casino gambling establishments that you like to visit are located, you’ll discover that a great percentage of them are based in the Caribbean (there and Gibraltar) — on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, specifically. But as of late, a global pool of lawmakers and online casino gambling detractors, including the WTO (World Trade Organization) itself are trying to get these establishments shut down.

Fortunately for us players, the boom in online casino gambling has a life of its own — one that will not so easy be quashed. In fact, a panel investigating the dispute ruled that the U.S. was in violation of its own financial regulations when it gets in the way of American financial institutions engaging in transactions with Antigua-Barbuda online casinos. Score one for online casino gambling.

Actually, score more than that. Numerous countries are starting to face facts about the lucrative business of online casino gambling and finding ways for their local economies to capitalize on the craze. Not only does online casino gambling provide to the local communities that license and regulate them enormous sums of money in the form of tax revenues, but the online casino gambling industry also fosters huge job growth in whatever geographical areas it touches. Consider Antigua-Barbuda, where 30% of the residents are employed by online casino gambling establishments.

It is surely with incentives like those in mind that Prime Minister Tony Blair is trying to enact new legislation in the U.K. that will likely encourage more casinos to be built and a rise in casino gambling throughout the country. Supported by 53% of British voters polled, the new Bill if enacted will, among other things, remove all slot machines from around 6,000 different places and allow them to be placed together in new casinos with extended hours of operation. This legislation may even coax existing online casinos to move their bases of operations to Britain. Many observers and analysts believe this will inevitably lead to other similarly supportive measures aimed at online casino gambling as well.

Meanwhile, the French reportedly gamble 2 times more and for 3 times longer than their British counterparts. France’s citizens have been enjoying online casino gambling for years, especially since a loophole in European Union policy that heavily restricts land-based casino gambling (essentially requiring any French citizen who wishes to gamble to do so exclusively in state-run operations) has no bearing on online casino gambling, practically ensuring the industry a steady stream of eager participants. In fact, many believe that the popularity of online casino gambling is responsible for the skyrocketing demand for high-speed, broadband internet service.

The Australian government is getting into the action as well, granting an online casino gambling site a license to open a customer service center in the state of Tasmania. Recruiting has already begun, and an estimated 300 jobs will be created in the high-unemployment area.

A growing interest in online casino gambling in Asia has led to one of China’s most popular pastimes – the 4,000-year-old card game Mahjong – being offered as a multiplayer online casino game. Approximately 45% of Chinese people polled report that they play Mahjong regularly for money and whether China permits online casino gambling or not, there will be no shortage of players worldwide flocking to any site that offers the game.

Recently a campaign has been put into motion to legalize online casino gambling in Japan as well, supported by the country’s Liberal Democratic Party, currently in power. Several departments in the government have been brought in to figure out how to make this work for Japan’s economy, and it is expected that online casino gambling operators may be invited to contribute to the talks in due time.

And online casino gambling may be right around the corner for Israel, the country’s social and economic cabinet having just given permission for two horseracing tracks to be built, equipped of course with full-fledged betting. In order to make this work, the Israeli government will be obliged to lift its long-standing ban on sports gambling

Small Business Survival Tips

No matter what kind of small business you have, you need read these “small business survival tips” which will help you to succeed.

You may be in Internet business, traditional business, or you may be a local merchant with 150 employees; whichever, however or whatever–you’ve got to know how to keep your business alive during economic recessions. Anytime the cash flow in a business, large or small, starts to tighten up, the money management of that business has to be run as a “tight ship.”

Some of the things you can and should do include protecting yourself from expenditures made on sudden impulse. We’ve all bought merchandise or services we really didn’t need simply because we were in the mood, or perhaps in response to the flamboyancy of the advertising or the persuasiveness of the salesperson. Then we sort of “wake up” a couple of days later and find that we’ve committed hundreds of dollars of business funds for an item or service that’s not essential to the success of our own business, when really pressing items had been waiting for those dollars.

If you are incorporated, you can eliminate these “impulse purchases” by including in your by-laws a clause that states: “All purchasing decisions over (a certain amount) are contingent upon approval by the board of directors.” This will force you to consider any “impulse purchases” of considerable cost, and may even be a reminder in the case of smaller purchases.

If your business is a partnership, you can state, when faced with a buying decision, that all purchases are contingent upon the approval of a third party. In reality, the third party can be your partner, one of your department heads, or even one of your suppliers.

If your business is a sole proprietorship, you don’t have much to worry about really, because as an individual you have three days to think about your purchase, and then to nullify that purchase if you think you don’t really need it or can’t afford it.

While you may think you cannot afford it, be sure that you don’t “short-change” yourself on professional services. This would apply especially during a time of emergency. Anytime you commit yourself and move ahead without completely investigating all the angles, and preparing yourself for all the contingencies that may arise, you’re skating on thin ice. Regardless of the costs involved, it always pays off in the long run to seek out the advice of experienced professionals before embarking on a plan that could ruin you.

Particularly when sales are down, you must be “hard-nosed” with people trying to sell you luxuries for your business. When business is booming, you undoubtedly will allow sales people to show you new models of equipment or a new line of supplies; but when your business is down, skip the entertaining frills and concentrate on the basics. Great care must be taken however, to maintain courtesy and allow these sellers to consider you a friend and call back at another time.

Your company’s books should reflect your way of thinking, and whoever maintains them should generate information according to your policies. Thus, you should hire an outside accountant or accounting firm to figure your return on your investment, as well as the turnover on your accounts receivable and inventory. Such an audit or survey should focus in depth on any or every item within the financial statement that merits special attention. in this way, you’ll probably uncover any potential financial problems before they become readily apparent, and certainly before they could get out of hand.

Many small companies set up advisory boards of outside professional people. These are sometimes known as power Circles, and once in place, the business always benefits, especially in times of short operating capital. Such an advisory board or power circle should include an attorney, a certified public accountant, civic club leaders, owners or managers of businesses similar to yours, and retired executives. Setting up such an advisory board of directors is really quite easy, because most people you ask will be honored to serve.

Once your board is set up, you should meet once a month and present material for review. Each meeting should be a discussion of your business problems and an input from your advisors relative to possible solutions. These members of your board od advisors should offer you advice as well as alternatives, and provide you with objectivity. No formal decisions need to be made either at your board meeting, or as a result of them, but you should be able to gain a great deal from the suggestions you hear.

You will find that most of your customers have the money to pay at least some of what they owe you immediately. To keep them current, and the number of accounts receivable in your files to a minimum, you should call them on the phone and ask for some kind of explanation why they’re falling behind. if you develop such a habit as part of your operating procedure, you’ll find your invoices will magically be drawn to the front of their piles of bills to pay. While maintaining a courteous attitude, don’t hesitant, or too much of a “nice guy” when it comes to collecting money.

Something else that’s a very good business practice, but which few business owners do is to methodically build a credit rating with their local banks. Particularly when you have a good cash flow, you should borrow $100 to $1,000 from your banks every 90 days or so. Simply borrow the money, and place it in an interest bearing account, and then pay it all back at least a month or so before it’s due. By doing this, you will increase the borrowing power of your signature, and strengthen your ability to obtain needed financing on short notice. This is a kind of business leverage that will be of great value to you if or whenever your cash position becomes less favorable.

By all means, join your industry’s local and national trade associations. Most of these organizations have a wealth of information available on everything from details on your competitors to average industry sales figures, new products, services, and trends.

If you are given a membership certificate or wall plaque, you should display these conspicuously on your office wall. Customers like to see such “seals of approval” and feel additional confidence in your business when they see them.

Still another thing often overlooked: If at all possible, you should have your spouse work in the business with you for at least three or four weeks per year. The important thing is that if for any reason you are not available to run the business, your spouse will be familiar with certain people and situations about your business. These people should include your attorney, accountant, any consultants or advisors, creditors and your major suppliers. The long-term advantages of having your spouse work four weeks per year in your business with you will greatly outweigh the short-term inconvenience. Many couples share responsibility and time entirely, which is in most cases even more desirable.

Whenever you can, and as often as you need it, take advantage of whatever free business counseling is available. The Small Business Administration published many excellent booklets, checklist and brochures on quite a large variety of businesses. these publications are available through the U.S.Government printing office. Most local universities, and many private organizations hold seminars at minimal cost, and often without charge. You should also take advantage of the services offered by your bank and local library.

The important thing about running a small business is to know the direction in which you’re heading; to know on a day-to-day basis your progress in that very direction; to be aware of what your competitors are doing and to practice good money management at all times. All this will prepare you to recognize potential problems before they arise.

In order to survive with a small business, regardless of the economic climate, it is essential to surround yourself with smart people, and practice sound business management at all times

Shifts In Casino Gambling Trends

The internet’s ability to blur boundaries and society’s acceptance of casino gambling and sports betting ultimately shed light on the inconsistencies and loopholes of American gambling laws. From the makeshift sports book stalls in Nevada, most sports betting activities shifted operations and exploited the possibilities of cyberspace in the mid-1990s. At present, there are numerous online gaming sites catering to sports betting and casino gambling based in countries like Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Ireland.

Despite overseas-based operations, the lion’s share of the revenues and clients of these sites come from American states. In fact, recent studies show that these online casino gambling and sports betting sites earn more than legal casinos operating in Nevada. The profits of online gambling and betting sites are estimated at $70 billion for 2005 alone. This is a staggering amount compared to the reported $2 billion from Nevada casinos. This is enough to overthrow the three-decade reign of Nevada casinos from the 60’s to the early 90’s. Considering that sports book and casino sites have been operating for less than two decades, they are clearly a threat to the thriving Nevada gambling scene.

For decades, Las Vegas is the only place legal for gambling operations. Atlantic City followed suit and made casino gambling legal; the following decades saw the proliferation of state lotteries, card clubs, gaming ships, Indian casinos, and off-track betting salons across the nation. But still, these developments are not enough to compete with online gambling. The industry of online gambling is not even swayed by staunch opposition from legal US casinos. The gambling laws of the United States of America do not help, too. They vary widely from the different states. Most states ban all forms of gambling while some make exceptions. Inconsistencies like these make it easy for online operators to find and use loopholes in the law. The American Gaming Association maintains a defensive stand regarding online gambling. The association pushes for federal laws on the regulation of online gambling. According to them, the unregulated nature of the online gambling industry is its advantage over traditional casinos; regulating it puts both camps on even footing.

But despite this stand, some Nevada casinos are following the old stand-by: if you cannot beat them, join them. November 1998 saw the start of a new trend; traditional casinos started acquiring off-shore online casino gambling companies to improve their profits. An affiliate of the Hilton Hotels absorbed the Australian sports book Centrebet.com. Other Nevada casinos followed and this cycle again spawned a new barrage of debates.

Contrary to their earlier dislike of the online gambling industry, the traditional casinos set their sights higher. They are now pressuring the Congress to pass a law that legalizes online gambling. This is done in an effort to lower production costs; legalization means that they could now shift their operations in the US. Harrah’s and MGM Mirage, the two leading casinos in Nevada and undoubtedly owning their own online gambling sites, lead the casinos in requesting for the regulation of online gaming. Clearly, this move requesting for regulation does not intend to put traditional casinos at par with online sites anymore. The competition shifted between independent online sites and Nevada casino-owned sites. A move to regulate translates to double profits for the Nevada casinos.

Whatever comes out of this new development in casino gambling, gamers are still assured of their gambling fix. Possibly, if the proposed regulation is approved, there would be more security in betting online since it is now under US laws. Like before, casino gambling proves itself to be a dynamic and ever-changing industry.