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10 Businesses You Can Start From Your Smartphone

That’s right; your dream of entrepreneurship begins today. All you need is a smartphone, some airtime and data, and the world is your oyster.

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1. Mystery Shopper

It’s actually a legit business and can bring in real money with a minimum of up-front effort if you enjoy shopping and have lots of time to kill. The important part is doing it right. Do your research to avoid the perception that you are a scammer, and don’t expect to make a ton of cash straight off the mark.

Resource: www.clandestine.co.za 

 

2. Travel/Tour Guide

What better way to turn a lifetime of living in the same town into pocket money than by becoming a tour guide? Get the word out by building a website and offering commentary online to promote yourself as a local expert. Services such as Genbook can help you manage appointments and scheduling, and any Android phone can download a multi-waypoint map from Google Maps to help you plan your tour route. During your downtime, write a tour guidebook and sell it as a print-on-demand book as well as an e-book and smartphone app.

Resource: www.genbook.com

 

3. Cab Service

Provided you have a car with a spacious back seat — and you’re good at keeping it clean and tidy — you can start a cab service without much effort. The biggest hurdle is getting the appropriate driver’s licence for your province and/or city. Then, put up a simple website and offer a phone number for customers to schedule pickups. Your phone can double as a calendar and address book to keep track of appointments, and it can work as a GPS device. Check out UberCab, which lets passengers book directly from their iPhone.

Resource: www.ubercab.com

 

4. VideographerVideographer

In the old days, video production professionals had a van filled with expensive equipment and hauled it (and its crew) from location to location to get a day’s worth of shots. Now, pocket video cameras have reached HD quality and you can even shoot with high-end smartphones that include basic video editing features. If you’re shooting custom video for clients, you can distribute footage directly to them while you’re still on location, or upload it to YouTube with little more than a click and a swipe.

Resource: www.play.google.com – Magisto video editor and maker

 

5. Life Coach

Life coaching is a fast-growing market in South Africa as people want and need direction on how to live and work to their full potential. With the right credentials and testimonials, you need minimal infrastructure to get started. Put up a website and when clients come calling, book face-to-face meetings at their location. You can charge premium rates or monthly retainers for folks who’d like 24/7 attention.

Resource: The South African Institute for Life Coach Training – www.lifecoachtraining.co.za, and www.coachdirectory.co.za/coaching_schools_southafrica.asp  

 

6. Writer

It may seem crazy to start a writing career from a smartphone, but it’s been done before and blogging is a good place to start. A variety of iPhone apps exist for the major blog platforms, including WordPress and Tumblr, and many other platforms such as TypePad have mobile services built in. But why stop at blogging? In Japan it’s becoming popular to write and distribute entire novels via cell phone, specifically text message. In 2007, five of the top ten bestselling novels in Japan were ‘cellphone novels’ written specifically for the medium.

Resource: www.typepad.com, iBlogger from iTunes App Store

 

7. Virtual Assistant

Virtual-Assistant

Who doesn’t need a little helping hand from time to time? Virtual assistants let people with too much on their plate outsource the most menial tasks to a minion. That’s you! Exactly what you do is up to you and your client, but the most successful virtual assistants are the ones who will do just about anything that falls even remotely within the law. Realistically you’ll be buying event tickets, researching holiday spots and accommodation, fetching dry cleaning, and even pet-sitting from time to time, but requests can run the gamut from the mundane to the extravagant. Be clear about your fee structure – most assistants bill hourly plus expenses, or offer pre-packaged monthly deals for a set number of tasks – then promote the hell out of yourself.

Resource: Check out www.freelancer.com to see what the most successful personal assistants are offering and how they promote themselves.

 

8. ‘Personal’ Phone Service Operator

When all else fails, you can always talk to people on the phone. This doesn’t take a lot of skill or much in the way of set-up beyond getting an 0800, 0860 or 0861 number (plus a mechanism to accept credit card payments). Want to give out recipe advice, sports-betting picks, or psychic readings? Whatever floats your boat, chances are good that someone out there is willing to pay to listen to you say it.

Resource: www.telkom.co.za for business lines and smart services

 

9. Tech Support

Are you the one everyone calls when their computer bottoms out? Why not get paid for it by fixing the computers and answering the technical questions of helpless strangers?

A good web page touting your services is critical here. Use keywords and make sure you’re specific about the local boundaries of any on-site service. Most people looking for help will Google ‘city name + tech support’, so use your mad SEO skills to design a page that beginners will understand and search engines will love — remember, these are frustrated people who can’t figure out why the fonts are so small on their new monitor, so simple and clear language is key.

Resource: www.wordpress.com to get your website up and running.

 

10. Auction MavenAuction-Maven

eBay may have been the hottest tech company of the last millennium but there are plenty of new auction sites (and local ones at that) giving you business opportunities in the auction field. Rummage through garage sales, storage centre forfeiture sales and community markets for buried treasure, and then relist the items at auction. Make your own items and offer them up online, or set up shop helping people who want to sell online but don’t know how or don’t have the inclination to deal with buyers.

Resource: olx.co.za, gumtree.co.za, bidorbuy.co.za, etsy.com

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Business Model

Want To Change Your Business Model? Answer These 3 Questions

Here are a few pointers on figuring out the best way to grow your business and keep it sustainable for years to come.

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To grow sustainably, is it better to take on projects that are frequent and reliable, or sparse but lucrative?

Q: I own a film and production company, and I shot 100 videos last year – 70 weddings and 30 corporate, totaling $330,000 in revenue. The corporate videos are more profitable, but weddings are always happening. I don’t want to turn off a constant source of revenue, but should I spend more time pursuing corporate events to grow my business? – Trevor R.

Welcome, Trevor, to the entrepreneur’s struggle! You build a great product or service, make good money and the next thing you know, you feel like you have to change your model. It’s the age-old question of scale: What’s the best way for your business to grow, and does that mean making less revenue now in order to have more sustainable growth for years to come?

Related: 4 Types Of Business Models

With the bulk of your time being spent on wedding videos, you probably feel stuck in the slow lane, watching better profits pass you by. But remember that scale is not just about margins.

Numbers can be deceiving, and you control what you charge for your services. While your corporate videos are more profitable right now, going all-in might not be the long-term answer.

To figure out the best route for your business, start with a clear vision of your ideal final destination. How much money – and profit – do you want to make per year? It might sound like a frivolous question (who doesn’t always want to make more?), but it will allow you to reverse-engineer your business model and help determine a practical answer.

Let’s say you want $1 million in gross revenue per year. At this time, it sounds like you charge about $5,500 per corporate video and about $2,400 per wedding video. That means you’d need to sell either 182 corporate videos or 417 wedding videos. (That’s a lot of videos!) Use those numbers to guide your vision. Next, consider scale, which depends on a number of growth factors.

First, creating value: Make sure you’re charging the appropriate amount for your services in order to reach your goals.

Second, anticipating growth: Where is the greatest opportunity, not just at the moment, but in the future?

And third, limiting expenses: How can you keep costs down so spending doesn’t outpace revenue?

Related: 3 Types Of Ecommerce Business Models

Answering honestly will help you create several business models. For you, Trevor, those models are (a) weddings and corporate, (b) weddings only or (c) corporate only. As a case study, let’s consider “weddings only.”

Last year, you worked 70 nuptials. Before you consider hitting pause on that side of your business, revisit those growth factors to figure out if you can make it more profitable.

  • Should you charge more for each video?
  • How many clients did you turn down last year?
  • Could you have taken them on if you had extra help?

Weigh the costs, and consider adding another videographer to the staff. If that seems financially impossible, look for ways to at least maintain your current output while trimming production costs.

For a small business, profitability is a mad science of focus, projections, and getting out of your own way. What makes the most money on a per-item basis is not necessarily what will make you the most profit in the long run.

Related: How to Make Your Business Model Go the Distance

Consider Amazon: It created scale by focusing on smaller margins. It’s a helpful reminder that there are different ways to succeed.

Understand what you can charge, how you should save and who is most likely to buy from you in the future. By simplifying the complicated challenge, you can jump on the fast track to growth.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Business Model

How A Clear Strategy Can Change The Game

Strategy seems to have this mystical aura surrounding it, but it is nothing more than applying some really deep (and perhaps objectively facilitated) thinking about five areas of focus.

Janet Featherstone

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At the point of creation, a new business has a strategy. There will come a time when that model is not as attractive as it originally was. Competitors may have entered the space, or upped their game, customers might be more demanding, margins may start coming under pressure, and you as the business owner might be working 12 hour days.

That’s the time when you need to have a formal strategy workshop. You need to think through what you are doing, how you are doing it, why you are doing it and what are its benefits. That’s not going to happen when you’re moving at breakneck speed trying to keep your head above water.

If your business is to succeed in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, then it must understand exactly where it plays in the market that you have chosen, and most importantly, how it intends to succeed in this space.

The challenge that most business owners face is that there is so much pressure to put out fires that very little attention is granted to the spark of industry-defining ideas. If you want to stay in business long-term, making the time to reflect and think deeply about the direction and competitiveness of your business is nothing short of essential.

Related: (Slideshow) 10 Epic Businesses Give You Top Advice on Innovation and Strategy

The Context

Every business operates within a far larger matrix. We are affected – positively and negatively – through external events over which we have little or no control. Currency fluctuations, Brexit, trade agreements, economics, the political environment, tax rates, legislation and a host of other influences that impact our business environment.

In a strategic planning workshop, at least a morning needs to be invested in understanding how these external factors impact the business. A PESTLEID analysis can be undertaken, and this follows the process of evaluating the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental, International and Demographic landscapes.

This process is not a conversation, but rather an in-depth analysis of each of the PESTLEID factors, each of which is broken down into detail. Each detailed factor is ranked in terms of probability and impact. High probability and high impact factors are firmly placed on the firm’s radar, and scenario planning is completed for these events. Low probability but high impact events are allocated to accountable individuals for observation, and might be scenario planned depending on their severity.

By the end of this process, each person in the room must have a sound idea as to the context in which the business is operating, and what external factors the business is likely to experience within the next year.

Through scenario planning, each individual will also understand what the best course of action will be for the organisation should any of the high-impact scenarios come to be, and will be equipped to play their role in taking those actions in order to minimise business disruption.

Customers

The only person who can tell you what your customers want and need is your customer. It is a fatal mistake to believe that anyone in your organisation is qualified to speak on behalf of your most valuable assets.

Key customers can be invited to join you for a portion of your strategy workshop, or you can survey your customers beforehand and present the information on the day.

In this conversation, you are unpacking what it is that your customers want from you.  But a note of caution that is magnificently phrased by Henry Ford when he said: “If I’d asked my customers what they want, they would have told me a faster horse”.

Remember that your customers can and will generally only tell you what they want and need given the same operating conditions for both yourselves and themselves. And that’s OK, because it defines the foundational sandpit in which you are operating right now.

Customers can tell you how your service ranks in comparison to competitors, how competitive your pricing structures are, their satisfaction with your sales process, how well your product performs, their experience of your service, and any gaps that might be sitting in your blind spot. This gives you the ‘as is’ situation and is an invaluable starting point.

Related: Go Above And Beyond With Your Customer Service

Competitors

business-competitors-advice

It is important not to become so fixated on your competitors that you lose sight of your own direction, but you certainly want to know what your competitors are up to, lest you get blindsided by their actions.

Ideally, you would arrive at the strategy session understanding the market shares of your various competitors. In addition, you would know the share of wallet that they attract, and compare this to the share of market. Variances between the two indicate a pricing strategy that may deserve closer inspection. If accessible, a study of the competitors’ financial statements is never wasted as this indicates industry growth rates, profit rates, margin rates and the like for comparative purposes.

Then, a subjective analysis can be completed, but this can be done during the workshop. Here, the focus is on the offering and the softer skills that your competitors bring to the table.

  • How strong are their customer relationships?
  • How well do they sell against your products?
  • How are they achieving their growth?
  • What do they do particularly well where your performance is sub-par?
  • What do you do particularly well, that outshines them?

The more heads that think through these issues, the more objective the information becomes.

What you’d like to achieve at the end of this session is a list of things that your customers insist you have in your offer, ranked against your competitors. Then, you’ll have a list of ‘order winning’ value added offerings, also ranked against your competitors. You’ll be able to see where you are performing better, and worse, than your rivals.

Competencies

This is the time to review what your organisation does particularly well, that when combined in the larger context and when compared with that of your competitors, can create a meaningful and valuable differential for your organisation.

What you are seeking here is something that your business does that your competitors cannot match. Often, these are the things that become ingrained in your culture. They are not a process, they are not a pricing point, but rather are embedded into the way you do business. Think Apple, think design and functionality.  Think Ferrari, think performance and exclusivity. When I think of your company, what should the association be?

Related: 10 Questions To Achieve The Clarity You Need For Your Business

If there is nothing that your business does that can differentiate it, then this becomes the part of the strategy workshop where you decide what skills your organisation needs to develop or acquire in order for it to effectively compete.

There are a number of frameworks that are useful at this juncture, but all of them ask  what your organisation can uniquely bring to the market, and how long you believe this uniqueness is achievable. If your competitors are able to replicate your uniqueness quickly, then your competitive advantage can be eroded before its paid for itself. Where little differentiation exists in a market, the common point upon which to compete becomes price. Margins erode in the effort to win business. Either differentiate, or be prepared to become a low-cost producer.

Creating a Unique Space

This is where strategy becomes as much art as it is skill. The real end-game of strategy is to create a space that completely disrupts your industry, and where your organisation sets the rules of the game. Playing by rules set by others means that you are always watching and waiting, instead of setting the pace and direction.

Thinking of a realistic opportunity takes incredible focus, deep thought, creativity and imagination. At times, new industries are created where the borders of current industries exist so this is a good place to look first.

What Happens After All is Said and Done?

The chosen strategy should be captured in an Executive Summary of no longer than 2 to 3 pages. Anything longer creates confusion and apathy by those who are expected to wade through reams of inputs in order to reach the implementation section.

The chosen strategy must be presented to and worked through in a workshop with those who will play any part in its implementation. Ideally, small teams will be tasked with the implementation of certain aspects of the whole picture.

Remember that the contents of that strategy must form the conversation point of the executives from that point forward. If all you talk about is profit, profit is what the business will chase. If you focus on strategic delivery in each of your conversations, the business will deliver. And, when you’re tired of talking about the strategy, you’ve likely only done 10% of the job needed, so keep talking strategy.

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Business Model

4 Types Of Business Models

There are four main types of business models, see which one suits your business concept.

Alison Job

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Different types of business models suit different types of businesses. A business model is the way that a company sells products to its customers. It describes how a business creates, delivers, and captures value.

What type of business model should you adopt?

A business model defines how the enterprise delivers value to customers, gets them to pay for that value, and converts those payments to profit.

Read: How to Get More Innovative About Your Business Model

There are four basic types of business model that any for-profit business will fall into:


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Manufacturer

A manufacturer takes raw materials and creates a product, or assembles pre-made components into a product (E.g car manufacturers). A manufacturer may sell its products directly to its customers, or it can outsource sales to another company.

Related: ‘Quality’ to give SA manufacturers global competitive edge


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Distributor

A distributor is any business that purchases products directly from a manufacturer for resale either to retail outlets, or directly to the public. For example, a car dealership would purchase vehicles directly from the manufacturer and sell them to the general public.

Related: How would I set up a “distributorship” with a large company in South Africa?


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Retailer

A retailer purchases product from a distributor or wholesaler, and then sells those products to the public. A retailer usually has a physical location, but may also be an online retailer such as Amazon or Kalahari.

Related: 3 Ways Retailers Should Accommodate the Mobile-obsessed Customer


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Franchise

A franchise can be a manufacturer, distributor or retailer, depending on what type of franchise you purchase. Here the franchisee adopts the business model of that franchise.

Under these four types of business, there are various other ways of structuring your business model.

  • A company that integrates a physical and an online presence. An example would be a retailer who allows customers to order products online, but lets them pick up their order at their nearest store.
  • A company that deals with customers directly via the internet without engaging an intermediary.
  • Direct selling to consumers making use of product demonstrations in the person’s home, for example. There are several cosmetic and jewellery companies that use this model in SA.
  • The Freemium business model works by offering a basic Web service or product, for free, while charging a premium for advanced or special features.
  • Online auctions, which are held over the internet.

Related: The Perils Of The Franchise Agreement

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