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Information Consultant

Use your strong research skills to start an information consulting business.

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Business At A Glance

Information Consultant

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

Business Overview

The amount of information available today is staggering. For companies planning new products and patents or scoping out the competition, and for many other types of businesses, the trick is in figuring out how to access the information they need.
If you love research–the excitement of sifting through a maze of books, magazines, journals and other esoteric sources for bits of information–you can ride to the rescue as an information consultant. You can seek out material for all sorts of clients–attorneys preparing cases; advertising, public relations and market research firms preparing campaigns; financial wizards; medical researchers; environmental engineers; or management consultants.
Despite this wealth of potential customers, however, you should plan on specializing in a particular field. This way, you’ll be familiar with the usual ‘suspects’ or avenues of research, so you’ll be able to complete assignments faster.And since this can be a difficult business to market, by sticking to one industry, you increase your word-of-mouth advertising capacity.

The advantages to this business are that you can start part time if you like, you’re always learning something new, the industry has lots of room for growth, and if you love digging through information for the sheer joy of discovery, you’ll be in information nirvana every working day. You’ll need dogged persistence and the skills and experience to take you down the proper research avenues, plus the creativity and intuition to lead you in new directions when the usual methods fail. In addition, it helps to have a background in the field you choose to specialize in, but this is not an absolute requirement.

The Market

Who your clients are will depend on what field you specialize in. Once you decide, the best ways to reach them are by networking in professional groups and organizations and spreading the word among present and former colleagues.Write articles for and place ads in professional or trade journals. Give seminars and talks to industry groups. Establish relationships with other information consultants who can pass overflow or out-of-their-field work on to you.

Needed Equipment

You’ll need a computer with a laser or inkjet printer, a fax machine and the usual office software. And since you’ll do most of your research online, you must have a good Internet service provider and accounts with a variety of subscription research sites like Lexis/Nexis and E-Journal. Plan on having a separate, or dedicated, line for your Internet access–otherwise clients won’t be able to reach you.

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Online Businesses

Online Vitamin Sales

The current focus on health and anti-aging products makes it the perfect time to capitalize on this market with an online store.

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Business At A Glance

Online Vitamin Sales

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

Do you want to sell vitamins but don’t have the investment capital needed to open a retail store? If so, consider developing a website featuring vitamins for sale. In addition to selling vitamins, you can also include articles and information about the health benefits of vitamin supplements as well as an online chat room so visitors can exchange information.
 
To keep startup investment to a minimum, you can arrange a drop-ship agreement with one or more of the hundreds of companies that produce vitamins. Basically, you sell the vitamins via your site, forward the orders electronically to the vitamin producer, and they fulfill the order and ship the product directly to your customers.

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Online Businesses

Online Scholarship Directory

Applying to college can be an anxiety-inducing process. Help students-to-be make their education more affordable.

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Business At A Glance

Online Scholarship Directory

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

Business Overview

Every year students vie for educational scholarships, and one of the most difficult challenges facing them is trying to keep track and up-to-date with the thousands of different scholarships that are offered each year.
 
Developing a website that features information about scholarships can serve two purposes. The first is that creating this type of site is a terrific way to develop your own home based business. The second purpose is obvious; parents and students would have access to a fantastic resource base to learn more about particular scholarships and the required criteria in terms of the awarding process.
 
This type of online business could earn revenue in a few ways, such as charging students and parents a yearly membership fee for access to the site or charging educational facilities and scholarship advisory boards a fee to post their scholarship information. Of course, advertising revenues could also be earned by renting banner ads once the site is established.

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Online Businesses

Public Opinion Service

Love surveys? Start a public opinion service.

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Business At A Glance

Public Opinion 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’ve got a flair for demonstrations, people skills and the gift of organization, then an in-store demonstration service might be the business for you. You’ll contract with food brokers and other suppliers and manufacturers to show off their products via your own on-call, personally trained demonstrators.
People are more likely to purchase grocery products after tasting them, and customers of other types of goods can also be enticed by something they can see in action, feel, hear or smell, all of which makes the demonstration business valuable to brokers and manufacturers as well as store owners.
You can start small and grow big–some demonstration companies manage as many as 2,000 to 20,000 demonstrators in several states. You’ll probably start off by doing the demos yourself and hire others as your company grows. The advantages to this business are that you’re always on the go so there’s no time to get bored, you can work from home, and your start-up costs are minimal.
Many owners of in-store demo businesses have a background in the grocery industry. This is helpful but not an absolute must. The must-haves are strong organizational skills to keep track of your demonstrators, their assignments and the materials they’ll need to bring to each job; and top-notch administrative skills for paying your people and making sure you get paid. People skills are another must–you’ll be dealing with lots of personalities, from store managers to food brokers to your own demonstrators. You’ll also need a flair for demonstrating products and for teaching others how to do the same.

The Market

Businesses of all sizes as well as non-profit organizations and even politicians.

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