Seven Ideas For Starting a Home Based Business

Forget get-rich-quick programs. If you want to earn some extra money in your extra time, or if you are a stay-at-home mom, take a look at these ideas for starting a home based business. They require a very small investment (less than $100) to get started, and have been tested and proven prosperous by thousands of people.

1. Direct Sales

No matter what your interests and hobbies are, there is a company out there selling products for it. They are recognized as Direct Sale Companies. You earn money through person-to-person sales, retail, home parties or fundraising. Some companies will bestow you with a website for online sales.

The worst thing about this type of job is that is based solely on commission and you need to sell consistently in order to bring in a profit. The good part? Commissions are usually high (20-50%) and you can earn free merchandise as a reward for good sales.

To get started, you need to invest in a Starter Kit from the company, which usually includes sample products, brochures or catalogs, and all necessary forms and applications.

Some companies with a proven record of good sales are: Pampered Chef (sells cookware, kitchen gadgets, and seasonings; Starter Kit is $90), Petra Fashions (lingerie; Bronze Kit is $79; others available), Discovery Toys (educational toys, books, games, and software; Standard Kit, $99), Country Bunny Bath & Body (bath, body, and spa products; their Managing Services Program is $89), White Lily Candles (Choice Kit, $80; cheaper kits are available).

2. Sell Discount Healthcare Plans

Discount benefits plans can be medical only, or cover dental, vision, prescription, and sometimes chiropractic services. They are aimed to people without insurance that want to save money on medical assistance. This is a relatively new service, so there is little competition out there and a potential for great income.

Although you start with direct sales, you can also make money by persuading other brokers, which would earn a commission for you with every sale they make.

AmeriPlan is the top selling plan on the market. You pay $95 for the Basic Broker Kit and then $35 each month to continue as a broker. This includes a free coverage plan for you and all household members and a free website to promote your business. You earn a 30% commission on every enrollment.

3. Sell Crafts

If you are an artist of some kind, you already have the foundation for a new business. Ceramics and pottery are particularly saleable, but you can branch into anything you like, from wood ornaments to pressed flowers to scrapbooking.

Start small, attending craft or county fairs, flea markets, or renaissance fairs. Talk to other artists to see what sells and what doesn’t. If you form a friendship with another crafter, you can offer to share the expenses of a booth with him or her. In smaller fairs, you can buy your own table. Unless you think of participating only in fine art and juried shows, keep in mind that most crafts are impulse buys and they should be priced accordingly (usually under $50).

Other places to sell your crafts are consignment shops and farmers markets. Also check sampler, an online magazine that will advertise your crafts for a small commission on sales.

4. Private Tutor

If you are qualified in an academic subject, you could take up tutoring. Math and foreign languages are always in demand, but many other subjects work as well. You can also offer after-school assistance with homework or test preparation.

Another alternative is to teach an arts and crafts or any other specialty class at a local community center. After you’ve gained some experience, or if you are truly an expert, search for a Learning Annex and examine the possibilities of teaching a workshop or presenting a lecture.

There is little to no investment required to set up this business, unless you count some incidentals, such as office supplies and maybe some used books (visit library sales for this) on the subject you are considering to teach.

5. Cleaning Services

Begin by advertising in the service directory of your local newspaper and taking on small, general house cleaning jobs until you get used to the dynamics of it. Later on you can pursuit companies, building managers, office directors, etc. for large scale jobs, which offer the benefit of being more regular and can guarantee a fixed income.

Most jobs will provide you with their own cleaning supplies, so there is little investment required on your part aside from advertising expenses.

Although not mandatory in many cities, consider getting licensed. Not only it will provide some sort of insurance should something happen to you while at work, but it will also open doors to major companies that may be hesitant to hire you otherwise.

6. Consulting Services

A consultant is an expert in any subject who helps others make the best of an event or a situation. A prime example is the bridal consultant, who’s in charge of planning a wedding to the minimum detail. Other popular areas of consulting: Art, Image, Feng Shui, and Websites & Computers. Event Planners are also consultants with a different name; so are Life Coaches, a very popular and rewarding enterprise nowadays.

Find a niche you can fill. Although there are thousands of Feng Shui consultant, you can differentiate yourself by specializing in Feng Shui for busy people or Feng Shui for the newborn.

Start by picking a area you enjoy and learning as much as you can about it. Find an online class, attend workshops and lectures, or consider a professional degree if one is available on your field.

Build a portfolio. Offer your services for free to friends and family members in exchange for reference letters. Take a few representative photographs of the final product for your portfolio.

A good place to get started is The Association of Professional Consultants (CONSULTAPC).

7. Pet Services

Pet Sitting – Just as the name infers, it entails taking care of animals, usually when the owners go away on vacation. Many pet sitters take animals into their own homes (works only if you have the space and no pets of your own) or visit the animals twice daily. Do not limit yourself to dogs and cats. There is an ever increasing market for owners of birds, fish, and other small animals.

Dog Trainer – Dog trainers help with proper housetraining methods, teach animals to follow commands, and provide assistance with choosing the right type of breed for every individual. They can also handle common behavior problems (excessive barking, biting, etc.) and train animals for shows and competitions. The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) offers assistance to potential dog trainers, as well as a certification exam. Check their website for more information.

Dog Walker – Although the primary responsibility is simply to take the animals out for a walk, many dog walkers do much more than that. To set yourself apart, you can learn to plan exercise routines for overweight pets, administer medications, or offer pet boarding as part of your service. Most dog walkers take several dogs at a time and charge by the hour; you can also offer the option of “private walking” and charge more.

Dog Groomer – Dog groomers are in charge of maintaining the overall appearance of the animal, including trimming and shampooing the coat, nail clipping, and brushing and combing. Many start working at pet shops or boarding kennels to gain experience before opening their own business. Mobile dog grooming is a flourishing business, which entails the groomer driving to the client’s house, usually in a van, which is equipped with all necessary tools for a complete grooming. For more information, check the NDGAA (National Dog Groomers Association of America) website.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared for emergency situations. The American Red Cross offer a First Aid/CPR for Pets certification. Even if you never have a need for it, it would show potential clients you are a serious professional.

11 Psychological Triggers To Boost Your Conversion Rate

Instincts are triggered by our brain to alert us to threats. We are programmed to respond to some instincts, such as fear, without any conscious thought to protect us from harm. As such fear and other instincts are powerful behavioural motivators and can be targeted by marketers to cut through the noise that surrounds us.

1. Use messages and images of death or dangerous events:

Fear activates and puts our information and emotional processing systems on high alert. This ensures we notice material that conveys danger and inspires fear or even death. Provided the images or messages are relevant to your product or service, try testing content that portrays danger or fear. If used appropriately they may help get an emotional response that is more powerful than conventional communication strategies.

2. Frame messages around potential losses rather than gains:

Unconsciously people are more motivated by the fear of loss than of the anticipation of gains. By framing communications around a potential loss (e.g. Don’t miss out on our latest offer) rather than the conventional approach you can create a more instinctive and emotional response. Loss aversion is probably a brands strongest loyalty driver and should be employed to help retain existing customers and attract new ones. Test headlines that are framed from a loss perspective against one that is not to see if your visitors respond accordingly.

When you identify that visitors are going to abandon a transaction or leave your site try testing messaging around what they will lose out on. Frame your messages around the loss of key benefits from your proposition when targeting existing customers who may be in danger of lapsing or switching to a competitor.

3. Let potential customers try out your product or service for free:

People value things that they own more highly than items they don’t have. This is called the endowment affect and experiments have shown that people put a higher value on things that they own, even if only partially. The ownership of goods appears to increase the perceived value of an item, especially for goods that are not frequently traded.

Free trials and samples works in a number of ways. Ownership (even if only as part of a trial) increases the perceived value of the item, it reduces the perceived risk of responding to the campaign (i.e. there is no cost), and our aversion to loss means that we are often loath giving something up once we have given it a test drive. Further, free offers can also trigger regret that people may think they will feel if they don’t take up the promotion.

4. Use limited offers or show stock levels to convey scarcity:

It always amazes me that many websites display promotional offers without any prominent end date. People value scarce or limited offers more than products that are perceived to be commonly available. Experiments have demonstrated that people are drawn to items that appear to have limited availability because of a fear of loss and a potential for regret.

We are particularly motivated by scarcity when we believe we are in competition with other people. This may be because our herd instinct uses scarcity as an indicator of popularity amongst our peers. Social validation is especially important when we are in an uncertain or new situation as we have no experience to fall back on. Make sure you demonstrate your site’s popularity for this very reason.

5. Use humour to encourage people to try something new:

People like to stick with well-known brands when they are sad or scared. We are more risk averse when feeling emotionally vulnerable. However, when we are in a good mood we are comfortable and more open to trying something new. Use humour to engage people when you want them to try something new.

Humour breaks down barriers and makes us feel more positive about a situation. Research at Radboud University in the Netherlands found that humour distracts our natural resistance to advertising and creates a positive brand association. Humour is particularly effective at getting and retaining attention as most websites don’t use humour and so it also benefits from being a novelty on the web.

Humour doesn’t have to be employed throughout your website. It can range from cheeky or off-beat call to action copy, amusing headlines to attract attention and entertaining animation or graphics. PaddyPower is one site that has built their whole brand around having a laugh and not taking themselves too seriously. This aligns well with the market they are in (i.e. gambling) and helps them to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Humour benefits brands in a number of ways by:

Reduces tension towards the brand or buying process
Appeals to emotions by enhancing positive feelings and associations
Discourages and deflects criticism
Improves engagement by making messages more memorable
Distracts people from potential sales objections.
Try A/B testing using humour on your website and see if you can also benefit from using more light-hearted content.

6. Reassure new visitors with trust and credibility indicators:

Make sure people feel safe and comfortable when trying to get them to experiment or buy from somewhere new. People dislike uncertainty because it makes them uncomfortable and will avoid it at all costs. Put new customers at ease by providing clear and relevant evidence that your website is reliable and trustworthy.

To create credibility and trust in your website consider the following issues:
First impressions count. Attractive and well-designed websites help create a sense of trustworthiness.

Make it easy for customers to contact you – ensure a ‘Contact’ link is the last item in your navigation.
Clearly display your address and telephone number in your footer and if appropriate in your header.
Show awards to demonstrate your standing in the sector
Display customer numbers if impressive or a client list
Statements and claims should be backed up by third party evidence.
Show logos of well-known business partners or sponsorship partners.
Make sure prices are clearly displayed as people want to know how much your product or service will cost.
Shipping costs or other administrative fees also need to be clear as people will often want to compare what you charge with your competitors.
Ensure copy doesn’t have errors or broken links that could create a poor impression of your site.

However, you should also A/B test displaying some items such as customer testimonials, product reviews, returns policy, privacy policy, trust marks and popular payment methods. Sometimes credibility indicators can raise unnecessary concerns (e.g. around security) if they are introduced at inappropriate stages of the user journey or they may just be a distraction. This is where A/B testing can help identify when they benefit conversion and when they may actually harm your business goals.

7. Ensure visitors feel in control:

People equate choice with control and people want to feel in control. So always offer some choices. This could mean having a back button on your sign-up form so that people feel they have a way out if needed. By all means reduce exit points at key stages of a user journey to focus their attention. However, if you remove all navigation elements apart from the one you want them to take users may feel trapped and respond by abandoning the form or transaction.

At the same time it is important to limit the number of choices to 3 or 4 as if you give people too much choice they can freeze and avoid choosing anything. Too much choice creates anxiety and cognitive strain as our brains struggle to categorise and choose between all the different options available. People will avoid making a decision if they believe they are unable to make a choice that they will be happy with. This becomes increasingly difficult as the number of options we have to choose between rises.

8. Create curiosity by holding back information until later in the user journey.

Dopamine in the brain is not only a pleasure chemical in the brain but it also causes us to want and desire things. It motivates us to be curious about ideas & information. You can use this desire for knowledge by stimulating information seeking behaviour. Create desire and curiosity by giving people a limited amount of information upfront and offering them more information when they complete a task (e.g. offer a free white paper or sample if they complete an email address form).

9. Use visual and auditory alerts or novelty to grab attention:

Dopamine is also stimulated by unpredictability, when something unexpected happens, and is especially sensitive to cues that a reward is coming. To grab attention build some unpredictability into the customer experience and include an auditory or visual alert. Similarly, we are also pre-disposed to be wary of change – so also consider using novelty to grab attention.

10. Use images of food to grabs our attention when people are hungry:

Visually appealing images of food can trigger our saliva glands and get our attention. Smells of food can be even more powerful and so most food stores and restaurants try to use this to their advantage. However, scientists are also working on ways to digitise, transmit and reproduce smells through the internet. This could become a new tool for engaging and motivating visitors to sites which are food related.

However, in the mean-time high resolution images of food can still be an effective means of engaging with visitors who are looking for their next meal. Even if your site is not food or drink related why not try images of food or drinks around meal times to engage with visitors to remind them to return after their meal. It may be a way to personalise your site to align with what your customers are doing in the off-line world.

11. Sex!

Sex or the implication of sex can be a very a powerful attention getter. The desire for sex is one of our strongest and most basic instincts. We also make decisions, largely unconsciously, on the possibility of sex – having more sex or being more sexually attractive. Certainly it must be appropriate to your product or service and how it is presented is also critical.

Indeed, Adore Me, a lingerie website, A/B tests some of the world’s most attractive models to understand what works and what doesn’t work for selling its products. Perhaps surprisingly, blondes don’t work, props are a distraction and couches are OK. Fascinatingly the model has more impact than the price.

“If customers see a lacy pushup on a model they like, they’ll buy it. Put the same thing on a model they don’t, and even a $10 price cut won’t compel them. Pose matters as well: the same product shot on the same model in a different posture can nudge sales a few percentage points in either direction.” Fast Company, The lingerie company that A/B tests the world’s hottest women.

Popular models can also help sell more expensive versions of the same item which can add millions to the bottom line. So, if anyone ever tells you that sex doesn’t sell, just point out that if done in the right context and in an appropriate way, it certainly can.

13 Bridal Shower Theme Ideas

As the bridal shower party planner, you’ll want to plan a shower that accentuates and celebrates your bride-to-be’s personality. To begin, list everything that you can think of that describes her. Maybe she loves wine, maybe she loves gardening, maybe she’s a homebody and can’t wait to decorate, or maybe she’s just super-excited about her honeymoon. Any personality trait that fits the bride will be helpful as you decide on a theme for her party. Once you have your list in hand, use these Bridal Shower Theme Ideas to help plan the perfect celebration.

Wine and Cheese Tasting Shower
If the bride loves wine, arrange an afternoon or evening of wine tasting. Hold the shower at the bride’s favorite winery or someone’s house, and include different kinds of wine and add cheese for guests to sample. Shower gifts might include wine, wineglasses or other wine-themed gifts.

Makeover Shower
Inviting a small group of friends to the shower? Invite a makeup consultant to do makeovers. Gifts for the bride might include lovely lotions, nail polishes, facial creams and body washes.

Naughty & Nice Shower
If the bride is all about fun and games, have each guest bring one naughty gift for the bride’s honeymoon, and one nice (normal) bridal shower gift. All of the naughty gifts can be collected and placed in a satin pillowcase for use on honeymoon night.

Stock the Bar Shower
Ask guests to bring their favorite alcoholic beverages and/or mixers to help the bride stock her bar. For a stress-free, mess-free time, consider holding this shower at the bride’s favorite bar or restaurant.

Lingerie Shower
If the bride and her guests aren’t shy, why not plan a lingerie party? You can set the mood with candles, cocktails and chocolates, and ask each of the guests to bring a gift of lingerie for the bride.

Patio Shower
If you’re having a couple’s party, host an outdoor patio shower! Fire up the barbecue, entertain outside, and have guests bring a gift for the couple’s patio.

Home Improvement Shower
This shower is great for the do-it-yourself couple! Even the man-of-the-house will appreciate the gifts when guests give you tools and supplies to fix up your home or apartment. If you don’t know exactly what the bride and groom need, request gift cards to their favorite stores.

Kitchen Shower
Have your guests bring their favorite recipe and a gift for the kitchen. Have the guests’ recipe “match” the type of gift they’re bringing. If they bring a recipe for a cake, cake pans are in order. If the recipe were for soup, a stockpot would be the perfect gift.

Stock the Pantry Shower
Similar to the kitchen shower, the pantry shower will get the bride and groom ready to get things cooking! Have your guests bring their favorite recipe and all the dry ingredients needed to make it.

Garden Shower
The bride-to-be is an avid gardener? Hold a garden party! Gifts for the bride and groom might include a variety of plants or gardening tools. Not sure what to buy? Gift cards from a local nursery would be great. Or…how about having a tree planted in the couple’s yard (or in a pot, if they don’t have a home yet)?

Honeymoon Shower
Whether it’s an exotic beach location, a camping trip or a different locale, a honeymoon shower should celebrate the couple’s honeymoon destination. Gifts should follow the theme, so let guests know what the couple’s needs are for travel. Luggage would be a great gift for this type of shower, as well as gift cards for the bride’s favorite boutiques.

Pajama Party Shower
Want a girl’s night in? Have a pajama party…complete with P.J.s! Everyone should arrive in their cutest pajamas and bring gifts to pamper the bride. Activities might include manicures, pedicures, facials and massages.

Scrapbooking Shower
Have your guests get creative by bringing photos, recipes and other memorabilia of their friendship with the bride. Provide each guest with a blank page or two of the scrapbook to decorate as they wish. The bride will end up with a great book of memories!