Small Business Is Big Business 2016 is here and there’s no better time to kick start that desire for starting your own small business. If you’re feeling that entrepreneurial spirit, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in America and they account for 54% of all U.S. sales. 55% of the workforce is employed by small businesses. And the small business sector continues to grow while corporate big business is declining. In the last 25 years, small business created 8 million jobs, while corporations eliminated 4 million positions. The climate is right if you’re ready to start the new year by making a brand new business start. There are a multitude of options these days for starting a small business and marketing and selling your goods. Gone are the days when the only options were a traditional store front or a push cart. Entrepreneurs are combining the best options: e-commerce, mobile trucks, mall kiosks, and short term brick and mortar pop ups in the most unlikely venues and buildings. Here are some top ideas for your small business startup and options for selling:
Go Mobile Versatility and flexibility are key to any successful small business. And what’s more versatile and flexible than running your business out of a truck? Food trucks are a growing trend and a fabulous as well as affordable way to enter the market. Traditional brick and mortar restaurants are expensive to set up and a risky proposition—less than half of those started, survive. Food trucks on the other hand are much more affordable and come with a lower risk.85% or more of food truck businesses make it. Costs run from $40,000 to $130,000 for an outfitted truck, a huge difference from what it would cost to purchase or rent a building and restaurant space and install a kitchen, not to mention decorate. With specialty foods and international cuisines in high demand, if you’re an aspiring chef eager to start out on your own, then the food truck is a great choice. With lower overhead you can provide innovative and quality food at an affordable price point. And being on wheels means you can travel and set up where your business is the best, and even hit different locations at different times of day. And trucks don’t always have to be kitchens on wheels. The ice cream truck has been a popular mainstay for well over a century now and it’s possible to retail clothing and fashions from one as well.
Put It In A Kiosk Want the benefits of selling in a high traffic area to targeted customers, with low cost market entry and lease term flexibility, all in a small footprint? Then the kiosk might just right be the right kind of business for you. Kiosks are now a $12 billion dollar industry, and there are thousands of kiosks in malls, airports, rail stations, and sports venues. You can retail almost anything and everything from a kiosk, from sunglasses and designer fashions to pastries and ice cream. Chances are, whatever your small business idea, you can sell it from a kiosk. They range in size from the traditional 3‘x6’ cart on wheels to very involved, specially fabricated larger units with lighting and decor that complement the mall space with design features that draw in consumers. They boast a low cost of entry into the marketplace—starting investments for kiosks run in the $2,000 to $10,000 range, about 1/10 or less than the cost of rental for permanent prime retail space which can run upwards of $100,000. The kiosk holds many advantages for a new small business. Their small footprint means lower square footage costs and lower overhead, so you can set up in a high traffic area with great exposure, for a fraction of the cost. You can experiment with a short term commitment: Most malls offer month to month leases for kiosks, so you’re not locked into a 3 or 5 year commitment—perfect for growing businesses to test products and locations and move when and where necessary quickly. Short terms on leases lets you try out a specific location but gives you the flexibility to move to a different spot within the mall or a whole other locale altogether if the current one isn’t generating enough business. With a kiosk you can have a temporary or seasonal presence depending on your product and you can take advantage of high traffic and big spend months like November and December.
Pop It Up If temporary is your thing then consider the pop-up shop. Exciting and innovative—the pop-up shop is a temporary retail space for selling just about anything—from the smartest designer fashions to mobile smartphones and everything in between. The trend is reinvigorating retail by building surprise, interest, awareness, interactivity and engagement with customers. Pop-ups can last for a day to a few months. They appear, disappear and reappear in another section of town or as a branded event / sale. Pop-ups are usually temporary, they can be small or large, fixed or mobile. They can be in traditional retail locations, or a store within a store, or a space within a mall, gallery, theater or other venue. They’re fantastic for trying out new ideas and products or for taking the latest trend viral. And the location doesn’t have to temporary. Consider the restaurant style pop-up where the chef and cuisine changes on a weekly, monthly or seasonal basis. Again, versatility is key and the pop-up provides many options for the creative entrepreneur.
Make It Fresh Farmers’ markets, craft fairs and festivals are also great options for new small businesses. They’re the perfect incubators to test and perfect your product, find your niche and create a loyal, dedicated following and customer base. And you don’t have to be a farmer, most markets split their vendor base between primary producers (you grow it, create it all yourself) and secondary (you use natural, locally sourced ingredients / products to create your wares). They are great market entry points for bakeries—selling bread, pastries and cupcakes, for artisans (potters, painters, photographers, fiber artists, wood workers, furniture makers, carvers and sculptors, natural fashionistas making clothing and accessories from natural fibers and traditional methods), blade sharpeners, cosmetics, brewers and winemakers and the list goes on. Need some inspiration for what’s possible? Just attend your local market and see the possibilities. Many famous and now very successful brands started this way—think Ben and Jerry’s and Burt’s Bees. The advantages are: very low overhead—table fees are weekly or seasonal and you can create product in your home/workshop/basement or rent a commercial kitchen at low cost. A dedicated, caring and receptive customer base—consumers at farmers’ markets value product quality and the individuality of the maker and seek that out. Another advantage is it also can give you time to retail your product online through your own webstore or etsy as well as wholesale locally and nationally.
Create A Combo If you are thinking of your new business as operating in a more traditional brick and mortar route, a great trend is to combine services with retail products. It’s a smart way to lower your risk by selling a wider variety of products and services that appeal to a wider variety of clientele. The coffee house / bookshop is one favorite in this category, but there are many other possibilities like a bar or restaurant with gallery/gift shop. Creating your new small business doesn’t have to stay a dream and it’s not as daunting as you think. There are many options for market entry. It’s all about delivering great products in a unique way or unique environment, being genuine and cashing in on your own creativity and individuality.
eHopper Free POS No matter what kind and type of small business you opt for, if you’re making and stocking and selling anything, then having a dedicated point of sale system is a must in the modern 2016 marketplace. You’ll need to track your ingredients and inventory, order from suppliers/vendors, generate purchase orders and receipts, take payments of any kind—from cash to credit, split bar/table checks if you’re running a restaurant/cafe, track sales and inventory, track your customers and their preferences, communicate with customers, and sell and stay connected to your business on mobile or web. It’s the best tool you can have to keep your business organized, your operations streamlined, your service and sales smooth and consistent, and your business competitive and profitable. It’s one of the most important and the best investment you can make towards ensuring your business success. And the best part, with the eHopper point of sale system for small business, that investment is FREE. The eHopper Free POS is ideal for any type of small retail business. Learn more: http://ehopper.com/ or call 212-742-2301