Business Opportunities Weblog


Business Opportunities Weblog

$99 Business Idea Consulting from Austria
The SomethingStore.com
Want to Run a Post Office in Antarctica?
Niche Product: Teecil
Making Changes To Patent Law
Invention: Water Powered Radio
Flexible Jobs For Moms
Video: The Quest for Free (Groceries)
Making The Most Of Tax Time
Advertising on the Backs of Thighs
Today in Entrepreneurial History: February 28
$99 Business Idea Consulting from Austria

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 02:44 PM PST

Do you have a business idea and no real way of knowing how good or bad the idea is? We’ve all experienced this. We carefully explain the idea to our parents only to hear “Good idea, son!” Or to our spouses who say “That’s a great idea, but can you take out the garbage and feed the dog first?” Or to our coworkers who use the opportunity to go on and on about their business idea and how much they hate their jobs. What about the opposite side of the coin? Like when you try to find someone to invest and all you hear is “I’m sorry, we’re not listening to unsolicited pitches.”

It can be even more difficult to hire someone to listen to your business idea. How does a conventional consultant charge you for listening to your idea and giving feedback? And if a professional, like a lawyer or an accountant, does it as part of their existing relationship with you, and they don’t charge you anything, how is that worth anything to you? Plus, how do you know that they’re the best experts to give you feedback?

Getting real, valid, feedback on our business ideas can be hard. That’s why I suggest that before you do anything else, you try to get someone to give you actual money for your new product or service. There’s no real way to know whether or not your new idea is viable other than actually selling something to one of your potential clients.

I’ve just learned about a company in Vienna, Austria though that might be able to help out. For $99 they will confidentially review your business idea and provide you with a report detailing their professional opinion of your idea.

Feedbackers.biz is a service for individuals, startups and companies seeking quick and professional feedback for their ideas, websites, business plans marketing campaigns and more. They have been providing micro-consulting to their small business clients in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic and Slovenia for years and last year they decided to provide the same service to online clients around the world. Their international team can give useful, valid, advice on just about any business idea.

For $99 a client can submit a business idea and have the Feedbackers.biz team review it. Within a day or so, they’ll provide you with a three page report on your idea with a general discussion of what they think is interesting (or not) about your idea. The report will include a number of bullet points to give you faucets of your idea to think about.

For example, if your business idea was to start a website selling toys for pets, their report ask you to consider what permits you’d need, where you’d source your product, shipping costs, accounts payable, competition and most importantly whether or not they think your idea is feasible. The size and content of reports vary a lot, due to the different needs and expectations of clients. After the report is finished, they’ll have a follow-up call to discuss any points from the report and any additional services you might need.

Their core team in Austria consists entirely of locally accredited business consultants (in Austria you need a special business license to provide business consulting services, which you only receive if you can prove certain qualifications). They are also working hard to maintain the same level of qualifications with their international team to ensure the validity of our reports.

40% of their clients come from the US, 30% from Europe (mainly UK and Italy) and 30% from the rest of the world (mainly Australia and the Emirates).

One final note: Most of their potential clients are very concerned about confidentiality and privacy. They take confidentiality very seriously and provide their clients with signed NDA’s.

The table of contents from two real reports follow.

The SomethingStore.com

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 01:03 PM PST

Inspiration is the mother of invention. Sami Bayrakci’s business SomethingStore.com came about because he was unable to decide what get a friend for their birthday. Wouldn’t it be nice is someone else would just make the decision for him, he though.

After the sharing the idea with friends, and being laughed at, he went ahead and started the biz himself. He invented under $5,000 for a website and stuff to sell. Most of his original products were small, and lightweight, to keep shipping costs down, but then he did something unexpected:

But he also threw in some expensive goods, like a digital camera and an iPod shuffle. The average price of all the goods had to be under $5, but Bayrakci needed to keep his customers curious and coming back for the thrill of the hunt.

Bayrakci sold about 1,000 “somethings” in each of his first few months. In its first full year, 2008, SomethingStore was profitable — but demand fell during the recession, and 2009 wasn’t so lucky. By 2010, SomethingStore was back in the black.

The key is that people are suckers for a surprise. “Curiosity gets the best of them,” Bayrakci says. He keeps some pricey items in the mix: iPod touches, a Wii system, and even a Dell laptop that retails for $600.

Want to Run a Post Office in Antarctica?

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 12:30 PM PST

Escape the City is a very niche job website. It was specifically designed for people that want to get off the rat race treadmill and don’t want jobs in normal places.

Escape the City advertises a spectrum of refuges, from marketing and management posts to one-off charity events. Log on now and you could apply to run a post office in Antarctica, help out at a wine company in Portugal or travel India as a Rickshaw Run manager.

Here’s more from The Guardian:

A section of case studies – the hedge fund manager now running a beach lodge in Mozambique and the ex-City worker who clears mines in Cambodia – plus regular events led by those who have already taken the plunge show what adventures lie beyond the office. And a forum lets members exchange advice, experience and opportunities.

Niche Product: Teecil

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 12:00 PM PST

All golfers know what a golf tee is. It is a piece of wood that is pushed into the ground, the golf ball is placed on it, and the golfer hits the ball off it using a club. The idea sounds quite simple. However, one young inventor has decided to give it another purpose.

Stephen Squillante was sick of carrying a pencil in one ear and a tee in another while golfing. That is when his brain began to work. He knew there had to be a solution, but what? The solution he created is Teecil. It is a golf tee and a pencil combined, reports Boston.com.

Squillante, a business major, said he began to take the idea of turning his idea into a start-up company seriously last year, when a professor encouraged him to patent the Teecil. He gave up much of his summer to build 2,000 prototypes, cutting the tips off regulation golf tees, drilling holes into them, hammering pencil graphite into the holes, and then sticking the tee into a pencil sharpener.

He then handed out the samples to players at golf courses for field tests.

When Squillante first gave his product to golfers to test, many didn’t know quite what to make of it, he said. People weren’t used to breaking their golf pencils on their tee-offs, Squillante said, and they didn’t immediately understand that — as with regular golf tees — they could just grab another one.

Squillante eventually found an investor who helped pay to have 100,000 Teecils fabricated by a manufacturer. He will give some of them away at the golf show, and he plans to sell the rest online — at prices comparable to those of regular golf tees.

Even if the product doesn’t take off, the process of launching a business has been a valuable part of his education, Squillante said.

Photo by Lu

Making Changes To Patent Law

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 11:00 AM PST

Patent laws have not changed much since 1952. It appears that Congress is ready to try and change that, though. The Associated Press reports that the Senate is taking charge with the Patent Reform Act. It will overhaul a 1952 law, and and help bring the system in line for the 21st century.

Congress has been trying for well over a decade to rewrite patent law, only to be thwarted by the many interested parties — multinational corporations and small-scale inventors, pharmaceuticals and Silicon Valley companies — pulling in different directions. Prospects for passing a bill now, however, are promising.

The Senate bill is sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Hatch and another top Republican on the panel, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The committee voted 15-0 in early February to send the legislation to the full Senate.

The most sweeping, and controversial, change is the transition from a first-to-invent application system to a first-to-file system that is used by every other industrialized nation, but has been opposed by independent inventors. It comes with an enhanced grace period to protect inventors who publicly disclose their inventions before seeking patents.

Photo by David Brewster

Invention: Water Powered Radio

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 10:54 AM PST

Shower radios are all the rage amongst a certain demographic of people. I’ve never bought one, because I’m too shy to sing the shower and the idea of battery powered devices and running water never really appealed to me. Plus, there was the whole changing the batteries thing.

Fast forward to today. The H2O Shower Power Radio requires no batteries. It is powered by water. Electricity is produced by water flowing through a micro turbine inside the radio.

What else would be useful if you powered it with micro turbines in the shower? I can’t think of anything but someone else must have an idea.

Flexible Jobs For Moms

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 10:27 AM PST

If being a parent wasn’t hard enough, working a job that requires long hours and little flexibility can be very frustrating. The Huffington Post has gathered together a list of 100 jobs that are mom-friendly. Here are five jobs that I feel could also double as a flexible business opportunity for the right mompreneur.

Interior Design

If you have a way with frames, fabric and fabulousness, working for yourself as an interior designer is a great way to take control of your time while making the world (or at least wealthy people’s homes) a more beautiful place.

Life Coaching

People change careers, spouses and zip codes like they change their underwear these days. Be the grounded guide for those confused souls and make a pretty penny while doing so.

Open a Daycare

Assuming your child is the right age for day care, this is one of those jobs where you can get paid to take care of your child (okay, and several others) all day. Patience is a must, but as a mom, you already know that.

Photography

Weddings, bar mitzvahs, pet birthdays — these are all things you can capture on film and make memories for your clients, and cash money for you.

Sell on Etsy

Now is your chance to market your wall hangings, t-shirt dresses, artsy photographs or bookshelves (see above) and actually make some cash. The one-of-a-kind market is yours to dominate.

Photo from Christopher Barson

Video: The Quest for Free (Groceries)

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 10:12 AM PST

More here.

I know that the stores get reimbursed and all, but is this ethical?

Making The Most Of Tax Time

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 09:11 AM PST

As we prepare to pay the federal government their share of our business income, now is a good time to look at some of the tax breaks that are available. Portfolio.com takes a look at the Small Business Jobs Act that was passed in September of last year, and how you can take advantage of it.

The Act is a multivitamin for startups. It continues 50 percent bonus depreciation, which was supposed to end in 2009, through September 8, 2010. (Under later legislation, new equipment, like computers or software, can be expensed at 100 percent of the cost if acquired and placed in service after September 8, 2010 and before 2012.) There’s also an $8,000 increase in the amount of first-year depreciation that can be deducted for new vehicles acquired and placed in service in a trade or business in 2010 (extended by later legislation through 2012). These are ways, as with the new expensing limits, to boost tax savings.

There are some aspects of the Act not only to be aware of, but also to be wary of, especially in the area of accurate and timely filing of taxes. For information returns, failing to file, filing late, and “intentional disregard” will all be more heavily fined. Also, new Form 1099 reporting requirements resulting from the 2010 Health Care Act will mean major changes in how businesses report spending.

Photo by JD Hancock

Advertising on the Backs of Thighs

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 08:05 AM PST

A clothing store in New Zealand has installed plates on local benches to imprint their advertising on the backs bare legs. The ad agency that put it all together explains:

We put indented plates on bus stop, mall, and park benches, so that when people sat down, the message was imprinted on their thighs. This meant that as well as having branded seats, a veritable army of free media was created, with thousands of imprints being created and lasting up to an hour.

Interesting idea, but I don’t think that companies should use people’s bodies for advertising without their permission.

Today in Entrepreneurial History: February 28

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 07:43 AM PST

1827 – The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.
1849 – Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, 4 months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor.
1883 – The first vaudeville theater opens in Boston, Massachusetts.
1885 – The American Telephone and Telegraph Company is incorporated in New York State as the subsidiary of American Bell Telephone. (American Bell would later merge with its subsidiary.)
1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
1940 – Basketball is televised for the first time (Fordham University vs. the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden).
1954 – The first color television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public.

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