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Archive for September, 2012

25 Great Businesses Start-Ups You Can Launch for $500 or Less!

SHOESTRING START-UPS:
25 Great Businesses You Can Launch
for $500 or Less!

Gas prices continue to go up and that means costs for anything that travels and ships are also increasing. Inflation is on the move in just about every category of our lives. But there is plenty of hope to start a business on a low or even no budget. Entrepreneurs launch everyday on small budgets.

A shoestring startup may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Unemployment in the U.S. is still more than 8% and many of  those millions of men and women have been out of work for a year and even longer. They may not be aware that you can start a small business on a part-time basis and pocket extra income every weekend, or go for the gold by starting a full-time venture. Even if you don’t have a lot of startup funds you can launch a business right at home. A shoestring startup may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Entrepreneurs have a knack for knowing what niche needs filling. Don’t under estimate your ability  to come up with a perfect business idea. Take a look at your community. Is there a business that needs to be started? If you already have a job, you can test the small business waters with a shoestring start-up without leaving the comfort and security of a steady paycheck and perhaps even nice medical benefits. Maybe you can turn a hobby you love into a profit-making venture.

If you have been let go from a job during our troubled economy, perhaps you can turn that work experience into a small business. As you conduct your own due diligence research, you might find that there is already a business that caters to your proposed market. Analyze the existing business. Could you complete the task faster? Cheaper? Better? If after careful analysis, the anwer is “yes,” then you should prepare to take on the competition.

Thanks to  the Internet, it is possible to do research on just about any topic quickly and easily from the comfort of your own home or local public library. Do a search online to look for business ideas and inspiration. And if you choose a seasonal business, combine it with other businesses to round out a full-time fortune. Planning is key to your success.

Whether you want to pick up extra cash or start a full-time venture, a shoestring startup is for you! Here are 25 idea suggestions that can be started for $500 or less. The businesses are listed in no particular order.

  1. Pet Biz: Pets are a $50-billion industry just in the U.S. alone! Shouldn’t you be grabbing a piece of this pie? Start a pet sitting, walking, furniture, clothing, etc., venture
  2. Sell Wholesale: Find a product that clicks with our culture and buy it wholesale; sell it a profit point that brings in big bucks to you.
  3. Lawn Service: Everyone with a home loves a green lawn but often can’t get results or take the time to care for it.
  4. Window Displays: Every storefront has a window that could be your next moneymaking assignment. If you have a flair for design, consider offering this service.
  5. eBay: Check out your attic or basement or scout out yard sales in your neighborhood. There’s real gold to be found if you’ve got a good eye. Selling your finds on  the online auction site is fun and it’s easy.
  6. Blog for cash: Visit blogger.com and start blogging immediately. Sell ads on your own site or blog for others for money. Use social media to build revenue.
  7. Tailor: If you have sewing skills you can make a mint hemming pants, taking in dresses or taking out an outfit. Work at home or even piggyback on a neighbor or friends facility.
  8. Birthday Biz: Check out your neighborhood card, gift, plant and garden or balloon shop for ideas. Put together a few concepts and sell it as a package via your website.
  9. Delivery Service: Find businesses in your community that don’t offer delivery and ask them if you can start a freelance delivery service. It’s a win-win situation for both of you.
  10. Flea Market Entrepreneur: Become a professional flea market salesperson. You can keep your own job and just run your small business on weekends. Find an old table, and some goods to sell.
  11. Detailing – Boats/Cars/RVs:  People like a clean machine but don’t have the time nor the inclanation to get the job done properly. There are a number of products you can purchase  to make the job an easy one.
  12. Holiday Decorating: There are dozens of holidays throughout the year that offer decorating potential. Scope out restaurants, diners and other small businesses to see if they’d be interested in your work. Create a portfolio.
  13. Junk Removal: Plenty of people have junk around but don’t have a van or truck to haul it. This is where you come in and turn their trash into your treasure.
  14. Personal Assistant: There are plenty of lawyers, accountants, small business owners, local figures and more who need help with their email, shopping, organizing, etc. You can take on as many clients as you can handle.
  15. DJ: A mobile disc jockey business is a very lucrative career. You can work your own hours and party your way to to profits.
  16. Errand Service: There are plenty of businesses and individuals who need help with chores and errands and you can launch a service helping them get the jobs accomplished.
  17. Gutter Cleaning Biz: Every homeowner dreads gutter cleaning. Combine this business with a few other seasonal offerings such as raking leaves, garden and yard cleanups and you are on your way to success.
  18. Concierge Business: You can start your own concierge service right from your home. Local businesses can use your service as well as tourists to the area.
  19. Assembly Service: Have you mastered the little pieces from the IKEA box? Then you can start a business assembling furniture, gas grills, bikes, etc., for your customers. Big potential.
  20. Freelance Writer: If you have some talent as a writer, you can make money putting together anything from press releases to web content for a wide variety of clients.
  21. Digitize Movies: That old video is fading fast and your customers will be delighted that you will transfer the treasured memories to a DVD. Google the various ways you can do it, and place an ad in your local paper.
  22. Just Weeds: Weeds are everywhere and there are a number of small business owners who make a living just pulling weeds and cleaning up.
  23. Power Wash: If you have a power washer you can start a business cleaning homes, decks, etc., for your neighbors and clients.
  24. Garage Sale Organizer: There are garages all over the world that are full of items that could be sold. You sell it for the homeowner and pocket a commission. Fast, easy money.
  25. Herb Garden: People love to cook with fresh herbs but many don’t have the time to start a garden. Buy some pots and start growing. Set up the gardens for your customers.

These are just some suggestions to help you get started thinking how you could take some skills you may already have and turn them into money making businesses. Perhaps some of these ideas will start you thinking about other potential businesses you could start easily from home.

This posting is excerpted from an article that originally ran in SMALL BUSINESSES OPPORTUNITIES November 2012 .

If you decide to consider any of these money-making ideas or if you have the need and desire to start your own business, I would like to offer you a copy of my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE at a specially discounted price. This book will show you how to take your new start-up business to the next step. You’ll learn:

  • How to get Started
  • How to find Great Products
  • How to Make Your Business Profitable Right From the Start
  • How to Price your Product or Service for Biggest Profits
  • Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
  • 14 Sure-Fire Check Off Lists that Guarantee You Huge Profits
  • and included in this newly revised edition Complete up-to-date information on How To use the Internet to Super Charge your Mail Order Business.

The book is guaranteed to provide you with an easy to follow roadmap to success in a business of your own or your money back!

The book is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h but you can now save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95. Send check or money order along with your name and address to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601. Offer is good only in the U.S. Contact the publisher for details for shipments to other countries.

How To Protect Yourself and Your Privacy On-Line

THERE IS RISING CONCERN OVER SCAMMERS and PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!

This weeks posting is devoted to helping you to protect yourself while on-line, whether communicating via email, Facebook or Twitter, accessing your bank, or making purchases through on-line merchants. Always remember that it is ultimately up to you to maintain and protect your own privacy!

Keeping your software up-to-date isn’t just a question of adding new features to your programs. It is also a critical part of protecting yourself on-line. But that doesn’t mean just having the latest version of your chosen anti-virus program. Your computer’s operating system and the programs that run on your computer must be up-to-date, too. Never ignore prompts to update your operating system or applications with critical security fixes. When updating your Microsoft operating system, only do it using Windows or Microsoft Update Tools. Macs have a similar updating program that prompts users when it’s time to make an update. All other software programs should be updated via that company’s website to ensure safety.

For years scammers have used email to dupe their victims into sending money or divulging sensitive information. While that’s still a problem, scammers are increasingly turning to social networks, such as Facebook, and using your friends against you. The message, which can appear as a direct message or a post on your Facebook wall, is designed to look like it came from your friend’s profile. A request for money or a free treat from your favorite store presented by a friend can be compelling or a tempting offer but before clicking, you should ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Does the request sound reasonable or is the offer too good to be true?
  2. Is this really something my friend would request/send/write?
  3. Does the language have awkward phrasing or a lot of typos?

If any of those questions raise a red flag, don’t click the link. If you really want to verify the message, contact your friend directly about the request or offer.

When visiting a new website, you should always take a moment to scan the site’s URL  (Uniform Resource Locator) that is displayed in a bar at the top of your Internet browser. That URL, is the address of the website and should be scrutinized for typos or other irregularities to make sure they are not just a clever imposter. Most URL’s will begin with the familiar ‘http’ before the site’s address. News, entertainment and other general interest websites all use this format for their URL’s. But if money is to change hands or you’re asked to share sensitive information such as your Social Security Number, look for a URL with an extra letter. Make sure  that when providing sensitive information that the Web address starts with ‘https‘ instead of ‘http‘. That little ‘s‘ stands for secure, meaning the website has additional security and you are less likely to have your information compromised.

If you use Twitter you’re probably familiar with so-called shortened URL’s which are a method for streamlining a link so it  can fit in Twitter’s 140-character limit. While it  is handy for sharing information, it can be dangerous. Even if you know the person who has posted the link, it’s a good idea  to  proceed with caution. Take the time to expand the link before clicking on it.

Never assume that mobile applications (apps) are safe. Smartphone users who want to use mobile banking should only use apps provided by their financial institution. Third-party apps may not have the same privacy protections as apps offered by your bank and many continue to run even after you exit them. This increases the risk  that keystrokes and touch screen selections will be intercepted. Security on mobile devices will get better but for now don’t do it!

Following these guidelines will make all your on line dealings safer and protect you from scammers.

Beware the Placebo Effect!

It’s All In Your Mind!

Everyone knows that a placebo — a fake medication or sham procedure, typcially used as a control in a medical trial — can nonetheless have a positive effect, relieving real symptons like pain, bloating or a depressed mood. The placebo effect is a result of the patient’s expectation that the treatment will help.

But expectations can also do harm. When a patient anticipates a pill’s possible side effect, he can suffer them even if  the pill is fake.  This “nocebo” effect has been largely overlooked by researchers, clinicians and patients. In an article recently published in the journal Deutsche Arzteblatt International, we and our colleague Ernil Hansen reviewed 31 studies, conducted by us and other researchers, that demonstrated the nocebo effect. We urge doctors and nurses to be more mindful of its dangers, particularly when informing patients about a treatment’s potential complications.

The placebo effect is a result of the patient’s expectation that the treatment will help.

Consider the number of people in medical trials who, though receiving placebos, stop participating because of side effects. We found that 11 percent of people in fibromyalgia drug trials who were taking fake medication dropped out of the studies because of the side efects like dizziness or nausea. Other researchers reported tht the discontinuation rates because of side effects in placebo groups in migraine or tension drug trials were as much as 5 percent. Discontinuation rates in trials for statins ranged from 4 percent to 26 percent.

In a curious study, a team of Italian gastroenterologists asked people with and without diagnosed lactose intolerance to take lactose for an experiment on its effects on bowel symptons. But in reality the participants received glucose, which does not harm the gut. Nonetheless 44 percent of people with known lactose intolerance and 26 percent of those without lactose intolerance complained of gastrointestinal symptons.

In one remarkable case, a participant in an anti-depressant drug trial was given placebo tablets — and then swallowed 26 of them in a suicide attempt. Even though the tablets were harmless, the participant’s blood pressure dropped perilously low.

The nocebo effect can be observed even when people take real, non-placebo drugs. When medical professionals inform patients of possible side effects, the risk of experiencing those side effects can increase. In one trial, the drug finasteride was administered to men to relieve the symptons of prostate enlargement. Half of the patients were told that the drug could cause erectile dysfunction while the other half  were not informed of this possible side effect. In the informed group, 44 percent of the participants reported that they experienced erectile dysfunction; in the uninformed group, that figure was only 15 percent.

In a similar experiment, a group of German psychologists took patients with chronic lower back pain and divided them into two groups for a leg flexion test. One group was told that the test could lead to a slight increase of pain, while the other group was told that the test had no effect on pain level. The first group reported stronger pain and performed fewer leg flexions than the second group did.

Just knowing that a drug can have side effects may increase your chances of suffering them.

A doctor’s choice of words matters. A team of American anesthesiologists studied women about to give birth who were giiven an injection of local anesthetic before being administered an epidural. For some women, the injection was prefaced by the statement, “We are going to give you a local anesthetic that will numb the area so that you will be comfortable during the procedure.” For others, the statement was, “You are going to feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure.”  The perceived pain was significantly greater after the latter statement, which emphasized the downside of the injection.

“Words are the most powerful tools a doctor possesses, but words, like a two-edged sword, can maim as well as heal.” – Dr Bernard Lown

The nocebo effect presents doctors and nurses with an ethical dilemma: on one hand, they are required to tell patients about the possible complications of a treatment; on the other hand, they want to minimize the likelihood of side effects. But if merely telling patients about side effects increases their likelihood, what is to be done?

Better communication is the answer. When talking with patients, doctors and nurses often say things with intended negative suggestions, like “it’s just going to bleed a bit” or “you must avoid lifting heavy objects — you don’t want to end up paralyzed.” We recommend more extensive training in communication for doctors and nurses, to help them use the power of their words appropriately. As the great cardiologist Bernard Lown once said, “Words are the most powerful tools a doctor possesses, but words, like a two-edged sword, can maim as well as heal.”

This article writtenby Pail Enck, a professor of psychology at the University of Tuebingen and Winfried Huser, an associate professor of psychosomatic medicine at the University of Munich first appeared in the August 12, 2012 issue of The New York Times.

Albert Einstein gets it right again!

Mystery Tug on Spacecraft Is Einstein’sI Told You So

It’s been a bad year to bet against Albert Einstein. In the spring physicists had to withdraw a sensational report that the sub-atomic particles known as neutrinos were going faster than the speed of light. Einstein’s cosmic speed limit; they discovered they had plugged in a cable wrong.

Now scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have reported that they have explained one of the great mysteries of the space age, one that loomed for 30 years as a threat to the credibility of Einsteinian gravity.

The story starts with the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes, which went past Jupiter and Saturn in the late 1970’s and now are on their way out of the solar system. In the 1980’s it became apparent that a mysterious force was slowing them down a little more than should have been expected from gravity of the Sun and planets.

Was there an unknown planet or asteroid out there tugging on the space-craft? Was it drag from interplanetary gas or dust? Something weird about the spacecraft? Or was something wrong in our calculation of gravity out there in the dark?

General relativity has passed every test on Earth. Without it GPS systems would not work.

That last explanation would have been big news indeed. Much of what we know about the universe — for example, the existence of dark matter, which seems to swaddle and shape the galaxies, and of dark energy which seems to be speeding up the expansion of the universe — comes from presuming that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity which describes gravity as the warping of space-time geometry — is correct over cosmic distances.

General relativity has passed every test on Earth. Without it GPS systems would not work. But some theorists have suggested that if gravity behaved differently over large distances from what Einstein thought, it would relieve astronomers of the embarrassing need to posit that 96 percent of the universe consists of various kinds of unknown dark stuff. A similar, but larger kind of deviation from Einsteinian theory could explain the Pioneer anomaly, as it is called. Pioneers 10 and 11 were launched in 1972 and and 1973, respectively, and are now both about 10 billion miles out. They were last heard from in 2003, when the radio signal from Pioneer 10 got too weak to be detected. They were the first spacecraft to go past Jupiter and Saturn, though their biggest impact on pop culture until then might have been a controversy over the nude human figures on a plaque designed for the benefit of any distant aliens who might find them.

In 1988, however, John D. Anderson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and his colleagues discovered that the spacecraft were running a little late on  their timetable to eternity, it seemed as if general relativity might be up for grabs — allowing the news media to ask their favorite science question: Was Einstein wrong? There was talk of a special deep space probe whose only mission would be to track its own movements.

The effect was slight — slowing the spacecraft by about 300 miles a year — but the crack interplanetary navigators at J.P.L., who can slip a probe through Saturn’s rings or buzz the moons of Jupiter, take great pride in their knowledge of the forces and foibles of the solar system.

Slava G. Turyshev, a Russian physicist and gravitational expert working at the laboratory, heard the challenge and took it on, feeling “a sense of responsibility to get to the bottom of it.” And so he set out to reconstruct the history of the Pioneer voyages.

You might think that would be easy. But the Pioneers spanned the history of the space age and also of the computer age, occasioning a major effort in what Dr. Turyshev calls “space archaeology“.

He and his colleagues had to scour NASA labs for old punchcards and magnetic tapes and for vintage devices that could read the data stored on them — then reformat all that data to a single modern standard.

Among other things, that meant ascertaining the positions of every antenna in NASA’s Deep Space Network to an accuracy of one centimeter over all that time.

It took much longer than Dr. Turyshev had imagined, and he had to depend on money from the Planetary Society as well as from NASA to keep the project going, all the time aware that nobody was ever likely to retrace his footsteps. So he had better get it right.

The more we learned, the less optimistic we became about the new physics,” he said. It became apparent that the fault with the Pioneers’ travels turned out to lie not in the stars or the shape of space-time but in the spacecraft themselves.

As designed, they radiated more heat in one direction from the circuits and generators that produced their electricity. And that imbalance, Dr. Turyshev and his colleagues concluded in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters, was all that was needed to explain the Pioneers’ behavior.

Gravity did not need to be fixed! Einstein was right again! In fact he was doubly right, as it turns out.

The idea that light, of which heat radiation is one form, can carry momentum and thus a propulsive force is implicit in the basic equations of electromagnetism. A comet’s tail, blown by sunlight, is one example. But it acquired new visceral meaning when Einstein, beginning in 1905, showed that light can be thought of as little particles — now called photons — that carry energy and momentum. As with bullets, if you shoot them in one direction, there will be a recoil in the other.

If you drive at night, Dr. Turyshev explained “your high beams would emit photons and it would push you back.”

So the Pioneers’ problem is that they have been driving the solar system with their high beams on. Dr. Turyshev said he had set out in search of new physics. When I asked him if  he was disappointed at the final results, he laughed and replied; “Of course. People were ready for something big.”

Still, he said, the Einsteinian explanation “also helps.” The findings should help in designing new spacecraft for sensitive missions like measuring gravitational waves.

“It’s a win-win“, he said. You may dream of freaky new physics, but sometimes the freaky old physics is all you need.

If Albert Einstein were alive today, he would probably have said “I told you so!”

This article first appeared in the New York Times July 24,2010 written by Dennis Overbye.

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