Author Archives: n1t4

7 Business Ideas That Don’t Require Employees

7 Business Ideas That Don’t Require Employees

7 Business Ideas That Don’t Require Employees

Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Many entrepreneurs are embracing the “lean startup” model, in which operations are kept simple and overhead remains low. Few businesses are run leaner than those without any employees. A good “solopreneur” reaps all the benefits of the business, but also has to do all of the legwork. For some, this is the ideal arrangement.

Here are seven ideas for a business owner who wants to go it alone:

If you have a particular skill, be it writing, graphic design, coding or anything in between, building up an independent network and offering your services as a freelancer is a great way to translate side hustle into full-time business. Easily started on the side of a 9-to-5, these types of arrangemetns can quickly blossom into full, one-person operations once a solid network and reliable body of work develop. In a few short months, a freelancer can often build up several regular clients; the aspiring solopreneur will find in this an opportunity to launch a business.

Freelancers launching a full time company often incorporate their business as an LLC, which is a pass-through entity. This means that income is taxed at a personal level, rather than the corporate level. The wage or salary the solorpreneur takes, in other words, is subject to the personal income tax.

Are you educated in nutrition but are still looking to get your career to go in the right direction? Turn your healthy lifestyle choices and education into lucrative business decisions by becoming a virtual health coach. You’ll be aided in your efforts by the myriad new health-related apps and devices being developed to help clients keep track of fitness goals and weight loss.

Anyone with aging loved ones knows how hard it can be to care for them without extra help. Elderly people living in their own homes need help with lots of routine chores like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and yard work. Why not start a business that offers senior citizens and their families the help they need to maintain their households without breaking their budgets? With word-of-mouth endorsements and social media targeted at the overworked baby-boomer set, you could get this business off the ground in no time.

Want to turn your love of beer into a viable occupation? Why not jump on the microbrewing bandwagon? With the popularity of craft beers on the rise in the U.S., the demand for innovative breweries is growing. Take a page from the successful owners of Brooklyn Brewery and start by focusing on branding and distribution of your beverages. With some thirsty investors and a few barrels of persistence, you could have your brewery up and running faster than you can say “cheers!”

With employers and corporations looking to decrease health care costs and a greater awareness of diseases associated with obesity, America is looking to get fit. Freelance personal trainers make their own schedules and work for a diverse range of clients. If you’re a fitness guru with a head for business, this might just be the right idea for you.

Whether it’s a bouquet of flowers in celebration of a wedding anniversary or an ice cream cake delivery for a child’s birthday, there’s a need for businesses that carry out long-distance requests on behalf of those whose loved ones live far away. With the right website and a PayPal account, you could start building your reputation as a “special delivery” courier today.

Are you business-savvy with years of experience, and willing to pass that knowledge on to others? With the right marketing tactics, a strong personal network and a great website, it’s simple to become a business coach on your own. Work with small business owners or startup-hopefuls to carefully craft business plans, and advise those who need that extra motivation. If you know you can be a good motivator and not just a “yes man,” their investment in you will have great returns.

Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Elizabeth Peterson.

10 Successful Businesses Run by Parents and Kids

10 Successful Businesses Run by Parents and Kids

10 Successful Businesses Run by Parents and Kids

It’s inspiring to hear of parents and their children getting along like friends while still respecting each other’s positions in the family. Such a quality relationship can be channeled into entrepreneurship: With generational differences and insights, communicating and working as a team can be a basis for a successful business partnership.

We asked the leadership teams of 10 family-run businesses about the advantages and challenges they’ve had working with their parent or child, and their advice for other parent-child business owners.

This wheat- and gluten-free food manufacturer was founded by Steven Rice in 1993. His son, Aaron, now works with him as Authentic Foods’ vice president of sales and marketing.

Aaron says the biggest advantage of running a business with his father is the ease of communication that comes with knowing each other so well.

There is something different about the communication of a father and son than other relationships,” he said.

However, Aaron also notes that it’s been a challenge for his father to give up some control. Steven ran the business by himself for years, he said, and it’s an adjustment to work with a partner.

Aaron’s advice: “Open communication is key. Start by delineating clear responsibilities about who is in charge of what and fall back on those when there is conflict and a decision must be made.” [Want your family business to thrive? Be sure to plan ahead.]

Mother and daughter Kathy Moça and Emilie Whitaker were inspired by the figure-flattering jean designs of Brazil and created Beija-Flor Jeans together. Emilie loves having a partner she already knew how to work with, and Kathy appreciates the shared passion she and her daughter have for their company.

As in all family businesses, boundaries are hard to set and even harder to preserve, said Emilie. She notes that she and Kathy both have a hard time “leaving the office” and transitioning back and forth between partners and mother-daughter.

Emilie’s advice: “Be patient and kind to each other. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s easy to treat those we love the most with the least care.”

Kathy’s advice: “Share the work. From the very beginning we had a division of roles and responsibilities, with the understanding that sometimes we have to cover for each other.”

Creighton’s Chocolaterie, a design-led chocolate brand offering artisanal treats, was created by mother-daughter duo Andrea Huntington and Lucy Elliott. Lucy said the greatest advantage is being able to spend more time with her mother and having a mutual interest they can both get equally excited about.

“There is also the trust that, when times are tough, your business partner will always be supportive as a parent too,” she said.

Trying to be diplomatic when there is something you don’t agree on can be a real challenge in a family business, said Lucy. This is especially hard if one of you has made a mistake. Lucy said that it’s important to remember that it is work and not personal – “but that isn’t always easy to put into practice,” she added.

Lucy’s advice: “Try to have defined roles that play to your skills so that there is no stepping on each other’s toes. And set aside regular times outside work when you do not talk about work!”

John Paul DeJoria, co-founder and chairman of the company responsible for the renowned Paul Mitchell hair care products, currently works with his daughter, Michaeline, who is vice chairwoman.

As a duo, John Paul and Michaeline benefit from each other: John Paul takes pride in his daughter’s proficiency while Michaeline gains wisdom and knowledge from her experienced father.

The business does pose its challenges, especially with a generational gap to consider. “Something like social media, for example, took me ages to convince him was a relevant thing,” Michaeline said. “We think a lot alike, but have very different sets of eyes in some ways.”

John Paul agreed, noting that it was tough for him to let go of certain areas of business so Michaeline could take over. “She is part of the millennial generation, so it’s also a matter of keeping up with her and learning from her,” he said.

Michaeline’s advice: “Don’t have an ego. It’s not about who is the boss, who is entitled to what, and certainly not about who knows better. We both have one goal: to grow the business for our staff and our customers’ sake. When you have selfless intentions that are united, just do what needs to be done.”

John Paul’s advice: “If you are lucky enough to have a child that is proficient, you learn that your past knowledge may not always be right, so be open to your children informing you of what they think and why.”

Dave Greenhalgh is the current owner of a Minuteman Press printing franchise based in Medford, Oregon. His stepson, Sean Byrne, is his co-owner and future successor.

Dave hired Sean because he believed he was the best person for the job, with his enthusiasm, go-getting mentality and other leadership qualities.

At first, Dave was concerned with the fact that he was hiring family; but Sean proved he was the best fit for the position and has been a great asset to the company. “… I am very happy to say that Sean is the best hire I have made in the 20 years I have been in business.”

Dave’s advice: “Consider the possible negative impact of hiring a family member. The possible resentment of the staff and the harm it could do to family dynamics is a very serious consideration.”

NuFACE, a company that makes an at-home anti-aging skin care device, was founded in 2005 by Carol Cole and her daughters, Tera and Kimberly. Today, Tera serves as the CEO.

Tera said that she, her mother and her sister have different strengths and talents, and each complements the others and contributes to the company’s success. “My mom, Carol, is what I call the mad scientist; my sister, Kim, is the worker bee and gets all the office stuff done; and I am the assertive salesperson,” she said.

Starting the company from scratch was a challenge, but the trio learns as they go. “Fortunately, we have good heads on our shoulders, a knack for business and know our customers very well.”

Tera’s advice: “You can’t change someone. Embrace each other’s differences to recognize the value in a different point of view. My weaknesses are my mom’s strengths and vice versa, and we love to learn from each other.”

Jeff Braverman is the third-generation owner of Nuts.com, which was founded by his grandfather in 1929 as the Newark Nut Co. He currently serves as CEO, after inheriting the company from his father, Kenny.

Jeff said that knowing each other as family has allowed them to have faith in one another. “I could wholeheartedly trust my dad, and he in turn ultimately put blind faith in my stewardship,” he said.

However, mixing family and business has its complications, like typical family tension, which can be emotionally draining, Jeff said. But this doesn’t stop the Bravermans from moving forward.

Jeff’s advice: “I think parents should expose their children to as much as possible, as early as possible. I know many peers that wanted to work with their parents, but were frustrated that their parents kept things very guarded and were reluctant to share. It’s important to note that humility and curiosity are very important characteristics, especially in a family business.”

In 2010, Chrissy Weems helped her then-14-year-old daughter, Bella, co-found Origami Owl, a custom jewelry company that now operates on a direct sales “home party” model. The company started as a mall kiosk before expanding into a social selling platform.

Chrissy relished the opportunity to work with her daughter while learning how to grow a new business. By doing so, she saw firsthand the importance of people over profit, she said.

“It has been fulfilling watching her grow as a young woman in business as well as in her compassion for others,” Chrissy said. “We both have been empowered to affect change in this world by sharing the Origami Owl business opportunity with others.”

Though the hands-on experience was valuable for Bella, she was still only a teenager. Chrissy made sure to remind Bella that education comes first, as well as being a kid.

“I never wanted Bella to miss out on opportunities with her friends; however, she is committed to Origami Owl and was willing to sacrifice a lot to support growing it,” she said.

Chrissy’s advice: “Find something you are both passionate about and set goals. Be willing to commit the time necessary to build the business and surround yourself with others that lift you up. When Bella and I started out, we sacrificed a lot, which impacted our entire family, but we were willing to do what needed to be done to be successful and provide a life-changing opportunity for others.”

Natural “peanut butter with a twist” company PB Crave was founded by Curt Riess. His son, Austin, serves as the company’s general manager.

The two thrived off each other’s knowledge and experience, working on a strategy and business model. However, their age gap sparked some challenges, as each had his own approach to certain areas.

“I come from a different generation and background, and have new ideas and ways of doing things,” said Austin. “So, you need to be able to compromise on different things.”

Austin’s advice: “Work somewhere else for a year or more [if you’re the son or daughter]. That was a requirement for me to come into the business. I had to go out and prove myself and experience a different work environment to see the different benefits and downfalls. You also will be able to see how vastly different business models vary by company. This is good to understand, and it will allow you to be able to react better in different business environments and bring some experience to the table.”

Skyline Windows, a New York-based custom window company, is currently run by CEO Steven Kraus and his son, senior vice president Matthew.

Matthew said that the greatest advantage of working with his father is learning from someone he admires and respects.

“I’ve been watching my father run Skyline Windows for as long as I can remember, and I greatly value his insight,” he said. “Furthermore, my father knows me better than anyone, and he is able to use that knowledge and deep connection in order to properly challenge and encourage me.”

As father and son, the two share strong personalities – but they don’t always share opinions, which often causes issues.

Furthermore, it can be uncomfortable challenging someone you’ve looked up to your entire life, Matthew said. “You need to be able to remove the personal relationship from the picture and solely focus on the fact that you are … having a professional discussion with a colleague, not your father.”

Matthew’s advice: “Ultimately, you have to understand that your child is his own person with his own ambitions, dreams and goals. You cannot force your child to follow in your footsteps, or else you will have nothing but resentment, [and] the company’s future will not be as successful as you hope it will.”

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Stepping Up: How This Mother-Daughter Business Duo is Caring for their Future

Stepping Up: How This Mother-Daughter Business Duo is Caring for their Future

Stepping Up: How This Mother-Daughter Business Duo is Caring for their Future

Credit: Caring Transitions of North Dallas Suburbs

When my husband Jeff and I first came across Caring Transitions, we knew it was the perfect opportunity for us to leave the corporate world and start our own business. We were drawn to the company’s focus on helping the senior community, and saw the need for its services in the Dallas area.

We worked feverishly on building an amazing team to support the growing demand for senior services and our dreams of owning and operating our own company were coming to fruition. In the midst of our dreams, Jeff was diagnosed with cancer and lost his brave battle last year. It was almost serendipitous that my daughter Nicole stepped up to join me as co-owner of Caring Transitions of North Dallas Suburbs.

When stepping up as business partners, Nicole and I learned some valuable lessons in how to make our mother-daughter working relationship successful:

  • Delegate tasks according to our complementary personalities
  • Use the passion for our business to stay motivated
  • Learn how to “shut off work” and enjoy our family time

Despite the big shoes her father left behind to fill, Nicole rose to the occasion and fit the role perfectly. Similar to her father, Nicole is business savvy and has a knack for crunching numbers. She handles the financial side of the business, while my niche lies in human resources, leadership and creating meaningful client interactions. People who know us best say I am more of a “heart-thinker,” while Nicole is more of a “head thinker.”

Recognizing these strengths and how they work together has allowed Nicole and I to properly delegate tasks and run a smooth operation.

Although many would tell you to be wary of working with family, Nicole and I make it work with our complementary personalities along with our passion for our business. At Caring Transitions, we provide relocation services, estate sales and online auctions, mainly for the senior community. We personally care for each and every one of our clients, living by our location’s motto of: “From start to finish, our hearts are in it.”

The love and passion we have for our brand is what keeps us going every day, and helps guide us through the rough times. Working together as mother and daughter has strengthened our relationship as well as allowed us to recognize each other’s merits and talents. Instead of only seeing each other in a familial light, Nicole and I are now able to see each other shine as successful, intelligent business women, furthering our mutual respect and admiration.

Although our working relationship has been great, it was often a challenge for us to manage balancing this with our mother-daughter relationship. When Nicole first joined me at Caring Transitions, she had trouble “shutting off work” when we were off-hours. We also noticed our other family members would begin to feel left out when we discussed work around them. It can be challenging at times, but we now make a conscious effort to keep our working and family relationships separate. After all, family always comes first and will be the ones there for you at the end of the day.

Working with family sometimes has its challenges, however, once you find that ideal balance and recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses, there is nothing more rewarding than creating a successful and meaningful business with the ones you love most.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.

What You Need to Know About Choosing a Retail Space

What You Need to Know About Choosing a Retail Space

What You Need to Know About Choosing a Retail Space

Credit: fiphoto/Shutterstock

Finding the right space to open your new brick-and-mortar venture is critical to its success. Location, size, price and parking are all pivotal decision points that can make or break you, but there are other nuances to the decision.

When you’re looking into commercial real estate, you have a few different options, all dependent on your budget and business type. Smaller businesses with limited inventory could open up in kiosks. Others might prefer larger spots in shopping or strip malls, or even stand-alone buildings if they can afford it.

If you’re looking for your first retail location, these tips from retail entrepreneurs and business owners will help you make the right decision.

Serial entrepreneur Nicole Pomije, who operates two retail businesses, advised business owners to think about their size and budget requirements when considering the type of space they’ll need.

“Figure out your realistic budget and stick to it,” Pomije told Business News Daily. “You also need to know the size of the space you need before you start looking, as this will have a big impact on the price.”

Similarly, Mallory Thorburn, owner of multi-location bridal boutique The White Magnolia, said to think about your business’s future expansion needs.

“One of the most important factors to consider is square footage,” Thorburn said. “You want to make sure that not only is the space big enough to accommodate your current needs, but additionally there is room to grow in the space as your business expands.”

David Wolfe, CEO of Leesa, an online mattress company with a retail location, said you should also think about how you can design your potential space to tell your brand’s story.

“For Leesa, opening our retail concept in NYC allowed us to highlight the positive impact of our mattress-donation program [and] create a lot of buzz around our brand, and [it] allowed customers to try the Leesa mattress for themselves in a pressure-free environment,” added Matt Hayes, Leesa’s director of marketing.

Once you know the type of space you need, you’ll have to find it in the perfect location for your business. Wolfe reminded business owners that foot traffic and demographic makeup of the area are among the most important considerations when choosing where to set up shop. But there is more too that just those.

When choosing a location for your business, you should ask yourself two questions, said John Wechsler, founder of the Launch Indiana network, a community of local co-working spaces. The first has to do with the climate of the business community.

“The value of collaboration with other founders is not to be underestimated,” he said. “A community with a critical mass of supportive entrepreneurs will help you thrive, while an uber-competitive landscape is typically unhealthy for growing companies.”

Secondly, consider what quality-of-life resources are available to employees.

“While you may only have a handful of employees today – or maybe it’s just you – if your startup is poised for growth, you’ll need to consider the amenities that make a neighborhood attractive to prospective employees,” Wechsler said. “The live-work-play balance is a major driver of quality of place and can make a big difference in the type of talent you will attract to your growing enterprise.”

Think you’ve found your dream location? Carefully review your lease or contract before you agree to it. Most commercial spaces want at least a five-year lease, which can be a huge commitment when you’re just starting out, said Thorburn.

“You can typically find more lease term flexibility in a privately owned building, rather than a corporate-owned space,” she said. “If you’re stuck with a longer lease term, make sure there is a clause within your lease that you can sublet, should you need to.”

If you’re looking for space in a mall, Pomije said to take note of any time requirements your contract may entail. These locations may require you to be open during certain hours and dates, which would affect your staffing needs, she said.

Hidden costs that are not clearly stated upfront (insurance, property-management fees, common-area maintenance, etc.) can also be an issue.

“These can add up to a pretty significant additional monthly expense,” said Thorburn. “It’s important to get a clear understanding of these costs before you engage in a lease.”

To avoid any issues, Thorburn advised hiring an attorney who specializes in retail leases to represent you during the process. “It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but you really want to make sure that you are protected. If you decide to go about it without an attorney, remember that everything is negotiable, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.”

For more advice on reviewing and negotiating your first commercial lease, visit this Business News Daily guide.

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

8 Businesses That Put a Unique Spin on Fitness

8 Businesses That Put a Unique Spin on Fitness

8 Businesses That Put a Unique Spin on Fitness

Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Health and fitness can and should be for everyone. No matter who the person might be, what body type they have or what kind of lifestyle they lead, they can find a routine or community that suits them.

Today, there is an increasing number of fitness startups and communities developing around the country, and the market is ripe for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to join in. Here are eight inspiring businesses that offer unique workout routines to improve overall health and well-being.

Anya is a facility in Manhattan that offers Pilates, yoga and aerial yoga. Known for its intimate atmosphere and committed staff, the gym is located on the eighth floor of its building, offering Zen high above the hustle and bustle of the city. There are small classes for supportive groups and private sessions that cater to guests’ individualized goals.

Founded by Cassey Ho (known as blogilates on YouTube), POP Pilates is a workout routine that incorporates basic Pilates moves at high intensity. Ho makes her calendar available for free on her website so viewers can follow along with her YouTube videos. There are also classes by POP Pilates instructors at local gyms. Followers can get more involved by becoming a certified POP Pilates instructor.

Tone It Up (TIU), started by real-life besties Karena and Katrina, offers a lifestyle change for people looking to tone up. They offer a paid eight-week plan, which includes meal prep and recipe suggestions, as well as simple free daily workouts on their website. The girls encourage a high intensity “Booty Call,” which suggests clients do an early morning workout to jumpstart their day. There is also a community to chat about the TIU journey, engaging lifestyle content and workout clothes.

NYC’s Throwback Fitness takes inspiration from recess activities like dodgeball and capture the flag to create a fun, more social way to exercise than what’s offered at a typical gym. Members can also participate in fitness takes on college party games like flip cup. For a real feeling of nostalgia, the gym is decorated with retro movie posters and plays music from the ’80s and ’90s.

Attending a rave before heading to the office might sound strange, but that’s what Daybreaker is all about. The business has locations all over the world, and throws regular dance parties from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The events are alcohol-free, but they do serve coffee and juice; and they’re a great alternative to a usual fitness routine.

Paddle Into Fitness combines yoga and water sports, offering classes on paddleboards. The activity is a total-body workout as well as a calming experience. Paddle Into Fitness is based in San Diego, but has instructors all over the world, from Ontario and Oahu to South Africa and Hong Kong. Paddle Into Fitness also offers certification classes for those who want to teach classes.

Brooklyn Zoo is a New York-based facility that offers training services in parkour (a discipline involving movement past obstacles and everyday structures), trampoline, tumbling, dance and even ninja warrior training. Some of the classes Brooklyn Zoo offers include breakdancing, aerial silks, contortion and circus class, which comprises of juggling and unicycling. Brooklyn Zoo spans two floors and there’s something interesting for everyone, from beginners to experts.

Pound puts a rock-star spin on fitness by including drumming in its workout routines. The business created its own light-weight drumsticks, called Ripstix, which are specially designed to ramp up each workout. The exercises themselves consist of cardio moves and strength training to go along with the drumming, and sessions set to music that is carefully chosen for the exercises. Pound has several locations across the United States and has franchising options for those interested in opening their own Pound venue.

Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Brittney Morgan.

Defying the Odds: From Homeless High School Drop Out to Serial Entrepreneur

Defying the Odds: From Homeless High School Drop Out to Serial Entrepreneur

Defying the Odds: From Homeless High School Drop Out to Serial Entrepreneur

Credit: Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys

I grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia. My home life was difficult – I came from an abusive family that was functionally poor. At 16, I became a ward of the state and found myself moving from youth shelters to boys’ homes.

On my 18th birthday, I was no longer the state’s responsibility. The state’s care, which included food and housing, was over. I needed to start to take care of myself, so I dropped out of high school and started to work. I spent a couple of years floating around Philadelphia, sleeping in friends’ basements, on a bench at 30th Street Train Station, and even on the subway train, until a stranger (one of many real-life angels that have touched my life along the way) gave me a room to rent.

In my twenties, I tried putting on hip-hop concerts to earn extra cash, but didn’t see much success. However, I was determined to beat the statistics bound to homeless teens and make something of myself.

In 1988, I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I created Krush Magazine – the first publication that exclusively covered the emerging hip-hop music and culture scene – and spent my days writing and designing the entire magazine. I finally saw a glimmer of success when the first issue completely sold out. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, but that feeling was only temporary. After my fourth issue, I ran into financial problems and couldn’t afford to keep the magazine alive; my first entrepreneurial journey came to screeching halt.

I didn’t let my passion for the hip-hop industry stop with the magazine, though. I had $250 in my bank account and burning desire to make something of myself. I convinced several local retailers to help me launch a TV show duplicating the style of the magazine, which turned my $250 into $6,000 in advertising dollars. The Krush Rap TV show aired for thirteen weeks before gaining sponsorship from Coca Cola. I could see my hard work paying off as the show became nationally syndicated across major metropolitan cities. Shortly after, The Source Magazine (considered to be the Rolling Stone of the hip-hop music) sought me out. I accepted a position as the magazine’s Director of Special Projects.

Fast forward 10 years. I was so intrigued by the concept of writing screenplays that I bought a “how to” book on screen writing and rented all of my favorite movies so I could study up. I found success just 13 months later when 20th Century Fox bought my first script for “Brown Sugar,” and then again with the kids film, “Like Mike.” Four screenplays later, my scripts had generated over $118 million at the box office. The downside was I never felt financially secure since I didn’t own any of the content; 20th Century Fox did.

I looked for an original idea that would be seen as “the next big thing.” My “ah-ha” moment came when I found myself at a nail salon getting a pedicure. Every man knows the intimidating and uncomfortable atmosphere that comes along with walking into a women’s salon: You’re in a sea full of women, surrounded by female magazines, bright colors and reality shows on the TVs. I felt as if every woman was staring at me and judging my manhood. I also felt completely out of place, like a fish out of water. It was at this moment I knew God had given me my original idea to put the man back in manicure and create a male spa. The idea of Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys was built that very day.

For Hammer & Nails, I envisioned a manicure and pedicure shop designed for me. I saw a more male-centric environment for hand and foot grooming and barbering services – a man cave with a low-lit atmosphere, furnished with dark wood and steel, personal Bison leather chairs, complimentary alcoholic beverages, personal televisions and noise-cancelling headphones for each guest. In 2013, I made my idea a reality when I opened my first Hammer & Nails location in Los Angeles.

Six months later, I made an appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The Sharks didn’t buy into the brand and when I turned to exit the stage, I heard Kevin O’Leary say, “That will never work.” That one sentence has been engrained in my mind and fueled my desire to succeed. It became my mission to prove Mr. Wonderful wrong. Since then, Hammer & Nails began franchising in 2015, has awarded licenses for more than 200 shops and is on track to have 250 locations open and operating by 2022.

About the author: Michael Elliot is the founder and CEO of Hammer & Nails Grooming Shop for Guys, a men’s grooming shop that provides hand and foot care, haircuts and shaves in relaxed man cave nirvana.

Product Liability: Why Your Marketplace Business Needs Coverage

Product Liability: Why Your Marketplace Business Needs Coverage

Product Liability: Why Your Marketplace Business Needs Coverage

Credit: Casimiro PT/Shutterstock

Many third-party marketplace sellers using sites like Etsy and Amazon don’t think to purchase business insurance – especially if their business is a side hobby.

But there are risks to distributing products online. As an independent seller and business owner, you’re on the hook for any property damages, customer injuries or sicknesses your product might cause, said Ted Devine, CEO of Insureon. Sellers are often unaware of flaws in design and manufacturing, and not having insurance can cost them a lot of money and even their entire company.

Don’t leave your company unprotected – consider investing in insurance. Here’s everything you need to know to cover your third-party marketplace business.

Customers can easily collect compensation for any defects or damages your products cause, putting your company at risk for a lawsuit. No matter how careful you think you are when creating and selling your products, you are always liable for any issues that arise, even if the fault was of a manufacturer along the way.

“If you sell products online, it’s a good idea to have a commercial general liability (CGL) policy,” said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at insuranceQuotes.com. “This basic coverage gives small businesses a broad range of protection, including premises and products liability.”

According to Adams, there are various product liability coverage options for small businesses. CGL pays for damages and legal costs, but for even more protection, you can purchase a commercial umbrella policy, Adams added.

Additionally, Adams recommends considering a business owner’s policy (BOP) to protect your business assets. “A BOP includes coverage for other types of perils, such as loss of income, business interruptions and cyber-theft,” she said.

Finally, you may also want to consider a specific product liability insurance policy. For instance, if you’re selling kitchen supplies and someone accidentally cuts their finger, they could claim it was due to a defect in the production of the device and bring you to court. Without coverage, you’d likely pay a hefty price. However, with product liability insurance, you can greatly offset the costs of a potential lawsuit.

“A typical product liability insurance policy covers product injury lawsuits, illnesses caused by toxins in products and property damage caused by defective products,” said Devine.

Product liability lawsuits have some of the highest payouts. Since you don’t have a corporate shield, it’s crucial that you take all precautions by listing any warnings for your products and having them insured the entire time they’re in use.

“The price of commercial general liability insurance varies depending on the type of business you operate, how many employees you have and the coverage you select,” said Adams. “The cost of an average CGL for a solo entrepreneur could range from $400 to $800 per year.”

Adams advises weighing your options and comparing costs and benefits across the board. However, “having some amount of insurance is better than nothing,” she said, adding that you can increase your coverage or purchase additional types over time.

To cut down on these costs, make sure your safety polices are thorough, outlining any possible risks or dangers, and research multiple insurance carriers to compare prices and benefits.

Insuring your products might cost you now, but it will likely save you money in the long run.

“Though it may seem unnecessary, it definitely is worth it, and a little can go a long way in ensuring the well-being of your online business and your own finances,” said Devine.

Small Business Snapshot: Beal’s Lobster Pier

Small Business Snapshot: Beal’s Lobster Pier

Small Business Snapshot: Beal’s Lobster Pier

Credit: Stu Snyder/Beal’s Lobster Pier

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Stu Snyder, co-owner of Beal’s Lobster Pier, explains how this image represents his business.

Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor (Mt. Desert Island/Bar Harbor) is one of the most famous dockside seafood restaurants and lobster piers in Maine. Our menu offers everything from lobster to cod, and our diners have spectacular view of the harbor. We also supply the finest restaurants with our fresh lobster and seafood, caught directly by local Maine fishermen. The above photo shows the kind of seafood we sell: Fresh, off the boat. Nothing frozen. Nothing shipped.

Beal’s Lobster Pier started in 1932 and was family-owned for three generations when I bought it with my partner. We bought the business because our families have been going to Mt. Desert Island for more than 30 years, have enjoyed Beal’s immensely over the years and wanted to see Beal’s continue to exist and prosper for today’s and future generations.

Since then, we have made it even more spectacular by adding a more diverse menu and pier experience. We have also expanded our Beal’s at Home service where we ship our pier-fresh lobsters overnight nationwide – perfect for that dinner party, special events and gifts.

Our core business is driven by the tourists coming to the area, so we are always impacted both positively and negatively by this. Thankfully, Acadia National Park celebrated its 100th anniversary and Beal’s is celebrating 85 years, so right now many families are coming to our area to enjoy the park and the island. Going forward, we are focused on doing the best job possible of taking care of guests who visit us, expanding our Beal’s at Home online service, and growing the overall Beal’s Lobster Pier brand with more locations and seafood spreads and butters at retail locations.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.

How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

How to find a factory to manufacture your product

Credit: asharkyu/Shutterstock

Getting a product from an idea to production is a complex process. It involves significant research, time, planning and patience. But with the right information, the right resources and the right product, it’s possible.

One of the biggest challenges of product manufacturing is finding a factory to create it. You’ll need to find one that fits your needs and budgets, and still turns out a quality product. This article will guide you through the process of finding and working with a factory as a small business.

Before you hire a factory and start producing your product, you need to take care of a few beginning steps.

  • Market research. The first step for any budding entrepreneur should be market research, said Dave Savage, an Atlanta-based mentor to investors. Whether you do that research yourself or hire someone else to do it, you should be sure to find out two things: if the product already exists, and if people will pay for it. Read our article on market intelligence to learn more about this important step in starting your business.
  • Licensing. The next step is to decide whether you want to produce and sell the product yourself or license the idea to a company with the means and experience to handle it. Licensing is sort of like renting your idea. The company handles everything — the manufacturing, marketing, distribution — and then pays you royalties based on sales. No upfront investment is required. Many large corporations license ideas, as do designated licensing companies. For more information about licensing, read this article on licensing.
  • Build and test a prototype. If you go the solo route, you’ll need a sample or prototype to make sure the product can be made to your specifications in a factory. Experts’ opinions on how to go about this vary. You can make your own, if that’s possible. This step may take several iterations and many, many months to complete. Learn more about producing a product and testing it here.
  • Protect intellectual property. You might also want to look into protecting your intellectual property. You can register for a patent, copyright your work or buy a trademark.

Once those basics are taken care of, you can begin the search for a factory to bring your product to life.

There’s no right answer for everyone on whether it’s better to manufacture in the U.S. or overseas. The decision comes down to personal preference, budget, the type of product and your patience.

Both U.S. and overseas options come with logistical challenges, said Edward Hertzman, founder of Hertzman Media Group. Due to globalization and a diminishing American factory base, it’s not always possible to find a U.S. factory that can make the type of product you want, he said.

If your product can be made in the U.S., something to consider is the fact that some audiences will respond better to products made wholly in the U.S. Another advantage of American factories is that they let you order small batches of a product, whereas overseas factories require large orders, said Tanya Menendez, co-founder of Maker’s Row.

If you’re thinking of going the overseas route, Arlene Battishill, director of digital marketing at MediaMark Spotlight, noted that working with overseas factories isn’t as complicated as some people think – but she acknowledges that negotiating with foreign factories isn’t always easy. Indeed, there are language and cultural barriers to overcome. But you just have to know how to play the game, and that means sounding like you know exactly what you’re doing, even if you don’t, she said.

Battishill offered the following tips to help you decide if a foreign factory is right for your manufacturing needs.

  • Pre-screen your potential factory. In initial conversations, use language such as, “We want to have a long-term communication” and “As we have never done business together before, I must see the quality of your work before I place an order.” This will indicate to the factory that you intend to make a large purchase, even if you’re just requesting a sample to start.
  • Be ready to negotiate. Foreign factories may charge American companies more because they expect American companies will pay it. When they come back with a price for an order, offer two-thirds of the cost. When they reject that price, offer three-quarters.
  • Confirm understanding and communicate clearly. In email communications, ask the factory representatives to repeat back to you their understanding of exactly what you’re trying to do. Better yet, create a video that shows and explains exactly what you’re trying to do. Clear and frequent communication is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.

Battishill said most foreign factories will handle all of the shipping arrangements for you, and will send tracking information. Because they manufacture in such large volume, they have the routine down. For the shipment’s arrival in the United States, she recommends hiring a customs broker who is licensed and bonded to clear the shipment. They can handle all the paperwork and logistics.

Once you’re ready to hire a factory, start with these online sources to help you find a good match for your product.

  • Maker’s Row. If you’re looking to hire a factory in the United States, you may want to investigate Marker’s Row. Menendez and her business partner launched Maker’s Row after realizing how difficult it was for clothing makers to find American factories. This service connects you with state-side manufacturers. You can also pay for one-on-one guidance through the manufacturing process.
  • Global Sourcing Specialists (GSS).  This website can match you with an ideal factory or manufacturer from anywhere in the world. GSS works with startups that need mass production or that need smaller-scaled manufacturing. This is a great resource if you want to hire a factory overseas.
  • Alibaba. Alibaba is another excellent resource if you’re looking for factories overseas. You can navigate through the website by industry to find a match that’s best for your business.
  • MFG.com. You can use this resource to not only find a factory anywhere in the world, but also to track the progress of your projects, make lists of parts to use with CAD files and more.

According to the experts we interviewed, when choosing a factory to partner with, you should look for the following attributes:

  • Demonstration of knowledge and experience. You want a factory that answers all of your questions and guides you through the process. If you’re making a food product, can the factory recommend a good food chemist? For clothing, can it offer advice on the sourcing of materials?
  • Technical capabilities. The factory should already be producing goods or products that are very similar to your own. This ensures that they understand your market and what it takes to succeed.
  • Reputation. Does the factory do work for major brands or retailers? Does it have any sort of regulatory fines or infractions? If it’s overseas, what are its labor policies, and how high is the turnover rate? It’s paramount to find a factory you can trust.

Marco Perry, founder of strategy, design and engineering firm Pensa, advised looking for a factory that not only has the tools you need, but also operates as a partner to help you make a great product.

“More often than not, the factory is going to assist in many other aspects of production than just making and assembling parts,” said Perry, who has more than 20 years of experience as an inventor. “For that reason, as much as possible, you should look for a factory that makes products in the same category. General-purpose factories are not as knowledgeable in the nuances of what makes a product great.”

Because so much can go wrong, the vetting process is crucial when you’re choosing a factory. Here are some important questions to ask:

  • What kind of experience do you have in this industry?
  • Who are the clients you’re currently working for?
  • What is the turnaround time to produce my product?
  • What are your minimum order requirements?
  • Can you provide recent proof of inspections or third-party audits?
  • Do you subcontract work to other factories, or is all the work done in-house?
  • What are my payment options? Is a deposit required?
  • Do you make materials in-house or outsource?
  • Can you handle the sourcing of materials, or do I need to provide my own?

How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

How to find a factory to manufacture your product

Credit: asharkyu/Shutterstock

Getting a product from an idea to production is a complex process. It involves significant research, time, planning and patience. But with the right information, the right resources and the right product, it’s possible.

One of the biggest challenges of product manufacturing is finding a factory to create it. You’ll need to find one that fits your needs and budgets, and still turns out a quality product. This article will guide you through the process of finding and working with a factory as a small business.

Before you hire a factory and start producing your product, you need to take care of a few beginning steps.

  • Market research. The first step for any budding entrepreneur should be market research, said Dave Savage, an Atlanta-based mentor to investors. Whether you do that research yourself or hire someone else to do it, you should be sure to find out two things: if the product already exists, and if people will pay for it. Read our article on market intelligence to learn more about this important step in starting your business.
  • Licensing. The next step is to decide whether you want to produce and sell the product yourself or license the idea to a company with the means and experience to handle it. Licensing is sort of like renting your idea. The company handles everything — the manufacturing, marketing, distribution — and then pays you royalties based on sales. No upfront investment is required. Many large corporations license ideas, as do designated licensing companies. For more information about licensing, read this article on licensing.
  • Build and test a prototype. If you go the solo route, you’ll need a sample or prototype to make sure the product can be made to your specifications in a factory. Experts’ opinions on how to go about this vary. You can make your own, if that’s possible. This step may take several iterations and many, many months to complete. Learn more about producing a product and testing it here.
  • Protect intellectual property. You might also want to look into protecting your intellectual property. You can register for a patent, copyright your work or buy a trademark.

Once those basics are taken care of, you can begin the search for a factory to bring your product to life.

There’s no right answer for everyone on whether it’s better to manufacture in the U.S. or overseas. The decision comes down to personal preference, budget, the type of product and your patience.

Both U.S. and overseas options come with logistical challenges, said Edward Hertzman, founder of Hertzman Media Group. Due to globalization and a diminishing American factory base, it’s not always possible to find a U.S. factory that can make the type of product you want, he said.

If your product can be made in the U.S., something to consider is the fact that some audiences will respond better to products made wholly in the U.S. Another advantage of American factories is that they let you order small batches of a product, whereas overseas factories require large orders, said Tanya Menendez, co-founder of Maker’s Row.

If you’re thinking of going the overseas route, Arlene Battishill, director of digital marketing at MediaMark Spotlight, noted that working with overseas factories isn’t as complicated as some people think – but she acknowledges that negotiating with foreign factories isn’t always easy. Indeed, there are language and cultural barriers to overcome. But you just have to know how to play the game, and that means sounding like you know exactly what you’re doing, even if you don’t, she said.

Battishill offered the following tips to help you decide if a foreign factory is right for your manufacturing needs.

  • Pre-screen your potential factory. In initial conversations, use language such as, “We want to have a long-term communication” and “As we have never done business together before, I must see the quality of your work before I place an order.” This will indicate to the factory that you intend to make a large purchase, even if you’re just requesting a sample to start.
  • Be ready to negotiate. Foreign factories may charge American companies more because they expect American companies will pay it. When they come back with a price for an order, offer two-thirds of the cost. When they reject that price, offer three-quarters.
  • Confirm understanding and communicate clearly. In email communications, ask the factory representatives to repeat back to you their understanding of exactly what you’re trying to do. Better yet, create a video that shows and explains exactly what you’re trying to do. Clear and frequent communication is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.

Battishill said most foreign factories will handle all of the shipping arrangements for you, and will send tracking information. Because they manufacture in such large volume, they have the routine down. For the shipment’s arrival in the United States, she recommends hiring a customs broker who is licensed and bonded to clear the shipment. They can handle all the paperwork and logistics.

Once you’re ready to hire a factory, start with these online sources to help you find a good match for your product.

  • Maker’s Row. If you’re looking to hire a factory in the United States, you may want to investigate Marker’s Row. Menendez and her business partner launched Maker’s Row after realizing how difficult it was for clothing makers to find American factories. This service connects you with state-side manufacturers. You can also pay for one-on-one guidance through the manufacturing process.
  • Global Sourcing Specialists (GSS).  This website can match you with an ideal factory or manufacturer from anywhere in the world. GSS works with startups that need mass production or that need smaller-scaled manufacturing. This is a great resource if you want to hire a factory overseas.
  • Alibaba. Alibaba is another excellent resource if you’re looking for factories overseas. You can navigate through the website by industry to find a match that’s best for your business.
  • MFG.com. You can use this resource to not only find a factory anywhere in the world, but also to track the progress of your projects, make lists of parts to use with CAD files and more.

According to the experts we interviewed, when choosing a factory to partner with, you should look for the following attributes:

  • Demonstration of knowledge and experience. You want a factory that answers all of your questions and guides you through the process. If you’re making a food product, can the factory recommend a good food chemist? For clothing, can it offer advice on the sourcing of materials?
  • Technical capabilities. The factory should already be producing goods or products that are very similar to your own. This ensures that they understand your market and what it takes to succeed.
  • Reputation. Does the factory do work for major brands or retailers? Does it have any sort of regulatory fines or infractions? If it’s overseas, what are its labor policies, and how high is the turnover rate? It’s paramount to find a factory you can trust.

Marco Perry, founder of strategy, design and engineering firm Pensa, advised looking for a factory that not only has the tools you need, but also operates as a partner to help you make a great product.

“More often than not, the factory is going to assist in many other aspects of production than just making and assembling parts,” said Perry, who has more than 20 years of experience as an inventor. “For that reason, as much as possible, you should look for a factory that makes products in the same category. General-purpose factories are not as knowledgeable in the nuances of what makes a product great.”

Because so much can go wrong, the vetting process is crucial when you’re choosing a factory. Here are some important questions to ask:

  • What kind of experience do you have in this industry?
  • Who are the clients you’re currently working for?
  • What is the turnaround time to produce my product?
  • What are your minimum order requirements?
  • Can you provide recent proof of inspections or third-party audits?
  • Do you subcontract work to other factories, or is all the work done in-house?
  • What are my payment options? Is a deposit required?
  • Do you make materials in-house or outsource?
  • Can you handle the sourcing of materials, or do I need to provide my own?