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Referral Service

Help people find businesses that can help them out.

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Business At A Glance

Referral Service
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

If you’re the one everybody in your circle calls for help when they’re trying to find a good doctor, attorney, plumber or cleaning service, and if you love being on the phone, then a referral service could be the business for you. You can specialize in one area or several, depending on your preferences and the size of your town. You might run an attorney referral service, matching callers to specialists in family, real estate or criminal law; a physicians’ service matching up potential patients with pediatricians, cardiologists and other health-care specialists; or a homeowners’ network, referring consumers to plumbers, painters, and cleaning and lawn care services. Keep in mind that most areas have attorney and physician referral services through local bar associations and hospitals–if you want to compete with these, you’ll have to come up with a special niche that will bring consumers to you.

You can also specialize in travel and tours, entertainment, apartment rentals, baby-sitters, real estate agents, bridal services–just about any service that people need help with. You can also run your referral service online instead of on the phone–or do both. The choice is yours. The advantages to this business are that you get to spend all day on the phone and you get to talk to lots of interesting people. It’s a good idea to have some background or experience in the type of referrals you’ll specialize in. You’ll thoroughly screen the businesses on your list, finding out how they work and what they do best, then checking references so you know you’re referring consumers to only the best, which means you’ll need good communication and people skills.

The Market

Your customers will be both the businesses on your list and consumers who call in to get referrals, so you’ll conduct your marketing campaign in two stages. First, investigate the businesspeople you’d like on your list. If they check out well, send them a sales letter or contact them by phone and explain that you would like to include them in your service. Sell them on the benefits. When you get a good list of referrals worked up, you’ll need to attract consumers’ attention so you can give your businesses their money’s worth.

The best way to go about this is to place prominent ads in the Yellow Pages under each category where people might look–if you’re doing homeowner referrals, for instance, you’ll want to place ads under lawn care, cleaning services, plumbing and the like. You can also place service ads in the classified sections of your local paper and post fliers where your target consumers will see them. If you’re referring baby-sitters, put them up at kid-oriented areas like karate and dance academies, day-care centers, public libraries and parks. And don’t forget churches and supermarkets for any type of referral service.

Needed Equipment

You’ll need a computer and database software capable of handling all the businesses on your list and a two-line phone with a telemarketer-type headset so your ears don’t get sore. If you can’t afford a computer for starters, you can get going with a good handwritten list and purchase your electronics later. Of course, if you’re going with an online service, you’ll have to have the computer as well as a good Web site.

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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

Protocol Consultant

Stickler for rules? Know business backwards and forwards? Become a protocol consultant.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Protocol Consultant

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

In this age of political correctness, disputes between employees or between employees and management based on allegations of sexual harassment, racism, or other forms of abusive behavior within the office environment can bankrupt a business, morally and financially. Needless to say, the time has never been better to start a business as an office protocol consultant. The concept is very straightforward. As an office protocol consultant, you can advise clients on issues pertaining to these subjects as well as create a training program for employees and management on how to avoid, or respond to any unfavorable situations that arise in the office environment.

The demand for this type of consulting service is huge, as thousands of corporations rush to retain the services of protocol consultants as a proactive measure to ensure that they are not involved in politically or socially inappropriate situations. The protocol consultant may thus be viewed as a guardian of corporate image, morale, and financial stability. Scheduling meetings with human resources managers and networking at business and social functions is a good way to get started.

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Business Services

Paralegal

If you can decipher legal jargon, consider becoming a paralegal.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Paralegal

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

If you’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, then this could be the businessfor you. As a paralegal, you can’t give legal advice or defend anybodyin a murder trial, but you can complete simple documents and forms forindividuals and attorneys, then take those papers down to thecourthouse and file them.

You’ll help lawyers with small practices bytaking over the work that would be done by legions of assistants in alarge law firm, and you’ll lend aid to individuals with matters likeevictions and simple divorces so they don’t have to pay those highattorneys’ fees.

The advantages to this business are that you get thecharge of life in the law lane without the slavish hours you’d find ina corporate firm, and you have the satisfaction of helping your clientsthrough the maze of the legal system.

You’ll need a strong backgroundin all matters paralegal; good communication skills; and excellentgrammatical, punctuation and spelling abilities–no judge (or client)is going to be impressed by a mistake-riddled document. In addition,you should have terrific organizational skills and be a good timemanager so you can pump out those documents in plenty of time for courtdates and filings.

The Market

Your clients can be individuals and attorneys with small firms in needof assistance. Your best bet for getting business from legal eagles isto send sales letters and brochures, then follow up with phone calls.

Join local legal associations and network in professional and civicgroups. To attract private clients, place ads in the Yellow Pages andlocal newspapers and get yourself written up in your local newspaper.

Needed Equipment

In some states, you’ll need a paralegal certificate or liabilityinsurance–check with your local business licensing agency ordepartment of corporations to find out.

You’ll need a computer with alaser printer, a fax machine, the usual suite software and specialsoftware for completing routine documents like wills, evictions anddivorces.

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