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Freight Broker

Match shippers and transportation services as a freight broker.

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Business At A Glance

Freight Broker

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Trucking plays a major role in the nation’s economy–according to theAmerican Trucking Association, those big wheels generated $346 billionin gross revenues in the most recently calculated year, employed morethan 9.5 million people and hauled 6.5 billion tons of freight.

And 77percent of all American communities rely on trucks as their sole sourceof freight delivery. If you’ve got experience in the industry, youprobably also know that it’s the freight broker who keeps those trucksrolling by arranging for delivery of consignments large and small.

Ifyou love the song of the open road but you don’t want to be on theroad, then a freight brokerage may be just the business for you. As afreight broker, you’ll work with manufacturers, wholesalers anddistributors who need to get their products across town or across thecountry with the help of trucking companies.

You can specialize in LTL(less than a truckload) cargoes or in containerized ones. Theadvantages to this business are that you can work from home and it’s anindustry that’s unlikely to disappear–transportation will always be anecessity.

A background in the transportation industry is importantbecause you’ll need not only hands-on experience, but also contacts inthe field. If you lack this experience, work for another freightbrokerage until you learn the tricks of the trade.

You’ll also needexcellent organizational and time-management skills and the ability toget things moving quickly.

The Market

Your customers can be manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors ofany types of goods and materials. You can also target companies thatexhibit at trade shows or conventions and need booths and displaymaterials moved to various sites.

Place ads in trade magazines and onimport/export Internet sites. Send sales letters and brochures tomailing lists of prospective companies. Ask for referrals fromsatisfied customers and industry contacts.

Needed Equipment

You’ll need to be licensed by the Office of Motor Carriers (a divisionof the Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation),and you’ll be required to carry a $10,000 surety bond or trust.

Thenyou’ll want a computer with the usual office software, a laser orinkjet printer, and a fax machine.

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Business Services

Errand Service Business Opportunity

Help busy people get through the day by providing an errand service.

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errands-business

running-errands-for-people

Business At A Glance

  • Business: Errand Service
  • Start-up Costs: Minimum
  • Home Based: Can be operated from home.
  • Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
  • Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

Let’s face it; today’s busy lifestyles mean that a lot working people just don’t have time for even the simplest of errands, such as taking the family pet to the veterinarian for a routine checkup, buying AuntSue a birthday present, or picking up the kids after school.

Which is great news if you’re a multi-tasker looking to start your own simple,inexpensive, yet potentially very profitable business. An errand service can be operated with nothing more than a cell phone and reliable transportation.

Land clients by networking and by creating a simple marketing brochure explaining the services you provide along with your contact information.
Related: Start A Small Business, Become Self–Employed

The brochures can be pinned to community bulletin boards, hand-delivered to homes and businesses and distributed with the local newspaper.

A few promotional items such as pens and memo pads emblazoned with your company logo, name and telephone number given out to potential customers will go a long way as a daily reminder of your fast, reliable and affordable errand services.

This is the kind of business where growth is fuelled by referrals, so customer service and satisfaction are the most important goals.

The Market

Busy individuals who need a little help getting their day to day errands done. You can also market your services to small business owners.

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Business Services

Mystery Shopper

Are you a stickler for quality customer service? Consider being a mystery shopper.

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Business At A Glance

Mystery Shopper

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Mystery shoppers work for businesses like retail stores andrestaurants. Disguised as ordinary nondescript patrons, they shop ordine, then report to owners or managers on customer service issues andfood quality.

As a mystery shopper (also called a secret shopper oranonymous evaluator), you can also do undercover surveillance onsuspected (or unsuspected) employee theft.

You can report on thequality of care at hospitals, the treatment you receive from collectionagency representatives, or the effects of corporate customer trainingprograms.

Mystery shopping is a big benefit to businesses, both in thecustomer service arena and in averting employee thefts. Most unhappycustomers don’t complain–they simply take their business elsewhere,and so do the friends and family they tell about their dissatisfaction.

And $2 of every $3 lost to retail theft is attributable to employeesrather than customers. The advantages to this business are that you canstart on a shoestring, part-time if you like, it can be creative, andyou get to be out and about all day.

It goes without saying that youneed excellent observational skills. You should also be able to providean accurate and detailed written or oral report that cites exampleswithout resorting to trivia.

For written reports, you’ll need goodgrammar, punctuation and spelling skills as well. And last but notleast, you need the good detective or spy’s ability to look nondescriptso you can return to the same location several times and not be noticedor remembered.

The Market

Your clients can be almost any type of business, although large chainsand smaller firms with absentee owners make good starting points. So dohotels, which stake their reputations on excellent customer service.

The best way to sell to these potential clients is through adirect-mail campaign of sales letters and brochures. Be sure to followup with a phone call.

Needed Equipment

In some states, a mystery shopper is viewed as a private investigatorand you’ll need to be licensed. If yours isn’t one of them, all youneed is your trained eye and a reliable vehicle or publictransportation to take you on assignments.

A computer with a laser orinkjet printer and word-processing software will be a plus forproviding written reports but isn’t necessary if your clients willaccept oral reports.

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Business Services

Hotel Art Supply

Hotels need a lot of artwork for their many walls–and you can supply it.

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Business At A Glance

Hotel Art Supply

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Look closely and you’ll notice that hotelsare virtually art galleries. You will find paintings, prints, andsculptures in almost every room, hallway, lounge, and lobby.

Assumethat one hotel has 150 rooms, one lobby, two banquet rooms, one lounge,and ten hallways. The hotel’s art requirements could be as many as 200paintings or prints alone.

Simply supplying one hotel with a completeart decor package can make you thousands of dollars in profits. Toactivate this business you will want to establish a relationship withat least 15 to 20 different artists who work in various art mediums.

Next take digital pictures of the artwork and place it on a CD-ROM andsimply start setting meetings and knocking on doors. Placing picturesof the sample artwork on CD-ROM will enable you to do mobileprofessional presentations right from your laptop computer.

Of course,the big profit opportunities are landing art supply contracts withhotels that are being constructed or undergoing total interiorrenovations.

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