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Category Archives: Business

Tips to Start Your Own Craft Brewery

There are now more than 4,000 small breweries and brewpubs scattered across the U.S. But like any business, surviving long term can be a real challenge, particularly because the market has become so crowded over the past 20 years.

To compete, you’ll need to carefully evaluate your market and create a clear vision of what you have to offer that other direct competitors do not provide. There is still room in the market for businesses that offer niche products and in less-saturated local markets. You’ll have a better chance for success if you can create a solid vision of what you want to offer, not just with beer recipes, but also with branding.

This article covers these topics related to starting a craft-brewing business:

There is a lot to learn to become a successful brewer. Experts recommend that even seasoned home brewers spend some time working in a brewery before starting their own business. Entry-level work usually involves a lot of cleaning, sterilizing and other tedious tasks, but you’ll learn the daily routines of a busy brewery. After you put some time in, you can move up and learn additional job skills that pay more, but it’s worth your time to learn all the job positions in a productive brewery.

If you have the time and resources, formal training programs are also available, including university degrees. Certificates and four-year degrees are offered in states such as Michigan, California, Colorado, Oregon and Missouri. International schools are also available in places such as Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Alternatively, you can find online courses and even free programs. Portland State University offers a certificate program specifically focused on the business portion of running a brewery, whileCraftBeer.com offers free and low-cost educational opportunities.

Your first plan of action will be to create a solid business plan. And then, according to many brewers, to prepare to pay out twice the amount you think it will cost to launch your business. A lot of unexpected expenses can pop up, such as additional contractor expenses for altering your building, or delays in acquiring permits that push out your production date. Depending on the size of your operation, the number of barrels and whether you plan on operating a brewpub or a stand-alone brewery, your costs can vary greatly. Most industry experts report a general range of $500,000 to $1 million to start a small brewery.

Some costs to consider include:

  1. Equipment: Kettles, boilers, kegs, cooling systems, storage tanks, fermentation tanks, filters, tubing, pipes, cleaning equipment, waste management systems, canning or bottling equipment.
  2. Building: Often includes the costs of reinforcing the floor and remodeling to accommodate equipment and pickup and deliveries, lease or rental fees, inspections, water system alterations, consider room for future expansion.
  3. Supplies: Hops, malt, yeast, bottles, labels, packaging.
  4. Utilities: Energy, water, internet, telephone.
  5. Insurance: Business, liability, unemployment, workers’ compensation, property and others as required.
  6. Licensing & Permits: Varies by area.
  7. Professional Services: Brewing industry consultant or mentor, accountant, marketing, legal services.
  8. Furniture: Varies, if restaurant or brewpub expenses will be more.
  9. Payroll & Ongoing Expenses: Hourly and salary payroll expenses, payroll taxes, sales tax, legal services.
  10. Electronical Equipment: Computers, phones, POS system, automated monitoring systems, mobile devices, security cameras, printers.
  11. Software & Services: Network security, alarm monitoring, inventory control system, accounting software, credit card processing, website URL and hosting.

Having a realistic and thorough business plan is absolutely necessary to your brewery’s long-term success. Investors want to see not just a general plan, but as many as three years of projected financials.  Even if you have capital saved, you’ll still benefit from a bulletproof financial plan. We recommend that you consult with a professional who can help you create your business plan plus provide financial advising, legal assistance and help with obtaining funding. These services are not free (often around $5,000) but worth the investment.

Before you meet with your consultant put together as much as you can, including your startup costs, expected ongoing costs and revenue projections, business vision and anything else you think of to help you and your consultant put together the best business plan possible.

If you are looking to build a new brewery, with all new equipment, and ask for large sums of investment or loan money, you’ll need to quantify your passion and present it in a way that your potential investors will understand.

The U.S. requires a three-tiered system for alcohol distribution. This has been in place since the repeal of Prohibition. The three parts are producers (you, the brewer), distributors and retailers. You sell your product to wholesale distributors and they in turn sell to the retailers, who sell your product to the end-user, the beer drinker.

Most states also have their own requirements and are often involved somewhere in the distribution process (with the exception of brewpubs, which manufacture the beer and sell it directly to patrons in the pub). Some of the more prohibitive states ─ Utah and Pennsylvania, for example ─ control at the distribution and retail levels. You’ll need to research what your specific state requirements might be, as well as those states you plan to sell in.

5 Business Ideas for Fashion Fanatics

If fashion is your passion, then there are plenty of ways to turn it into a career. You don’t have to be a model or a well-established designer to make fashion pay; the possibility of turning your fashion sense into entrepreneurship is far more real than you might think.

Only a select few will ever make it to the runway, but plenty of fashionable startup opportunities await. They all take hard work and a great eye for fashion, but most have very small startup budgets. Here are five startup ideas for the entrepreneurial fashionista.

Putting on a fashion show is no easy feat. Fashion event producers works with designers and models to help put together a show, and may even help coach runway models.

“You would help the designer with runway show casting and have an understanding of how clothes should be portrayed on the body and how the models should carry themselves,” said Kerry Bannigan, founder of Nolcha, a New York-based fashion event production company.

While startup costs are minimal – you won’t need employees or even an office – you will need to do some heavy self-promotion. Relationships and referrals are key for this type of work, Bannigan said. Business cards and a user-friendly website showing an online portfolio are a mus,t as well as a printed portfolio. Networking through industry websites is also essential, she said.

Before you embark on this career, you should understand fashion shows, have the ability to work with the creative-minded people and be flexible enough to deal with diverse personalities, Bannigan said. Income potential is based on the number of clients you have and how big they are.

This business is ideal for someone with a corporate background who wants to make a move into fashion. A fashion business coach helps guide design firms in all aspects of running their business – from growth plans to everyday tasks such as invoice collection and bookkeeping . It also can involve coaching the creative designer on how to perform and interact in different business settings, Bannigan said.

Startup costs for a fashion coaching business are minimal, but earning potential is significant.

“Research consultancy services with established businesses can make six-figure salaries with constant clientele,” Bannigan said.

It might be hard to believe, but influential websites such as the Sartorialist and Racked debuted as small fashion blogs. They’ve since come into their own as industry thought leaders, and they sell lots of advertising.

Not too much investment is needed in a fashion blog – website development and hosting can be quite inexpensive – but it will require lots of legwork. Whether you’re stalking the city streets in search of fashionable photo ops or following the moves of leading designers, you’ll need to be tracking changing trends at every moment.

On the plus side, a fashion blog can be a complement to your existing job, said Angie Wojak, director of career services at the School of Visual Arts.

“You can start a blog on your own while looking for job, and it doesn’t take a big outlay of cash,” Wojak said.

Photo stylists work with photographers to scout shoot locations, get clothing to shoots, buy furniture and accessories and generally make sure the photo shoot goes as planned. It requires a good sense of fashion, an understanding of fashion history, and the smarts to know where to source your products, according to Sara Petitt, coordinator of the fabric styling program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York.

Successful photo stylists can come from any background. They usually make their mark by doing a good job and gaining business through word of mouth. Photo stylists can be paid hourly or by the project.

Do you love to talk your favorite designer brands up to friends and family? Are you always searching for the latest fashion news and sample sales? If so, you might consider starting your own fashion public relations business. Fashion PR is a difficult field to break into, but with the right skill set and connections, you can help designers and other fashion businesses get noticed by the media and fashionistas.

In an article on PR Couture, entrepreneur Jonathan Leger writes that there are several key components to success as a fashion PR professional. You must first be able to create a strong brand for your clients to differentiate them from other designers. You must also know how to work with fashion editors to get magazine placements, and with models and celebrities to get your clients’ work in the public eye. You should also have a keen understanding of media trends and be able to prove the value of your work.

As with any PR job, Leger noted that fashion publicists have to be ready to put out fires and handle any crises that arise from unhappy clients, models or editors.

6 Smart Business Ideas for Retirees

Looking for a new challenge now that you’ve retired from the corporate world? Why not start your own business?

Many retirees who’ve been employees all of their lives get excited at the thought of running the show, and building a business that reflects their interests and values. If you’re thinking of launching a business during your retirement, here are six ideas to get you started.

Many new business ideas well-suited for retirees harness the power of the internet, as long as you don’t let technology intimidate you.

“Online businesses are truly some of the best types of businesses for people over 50, but they need to get over their fears,” said Diane Eschenbach, owner of startup consultancy firm DE Consultants and author of “How to Quickly Start a Business Online.”

One simple new business option involves researching and compiling information on websites.

“One of my favorite types of online businesses for the ‘post-50 group’ is curation sites,” said Eschenbach.

As people get older, the time invested in activities (such as a new business venture) becomes very important, said Eschenbach. She is a big fan of the idea of retirees learning to use technology because of the time saved by automated programs, but she stresses the importance of choosing a business you enjoy.

“The key to a great retirement is doing what you love and finding a way to monetize it quickly,” said Eschenbach.

Retirees considering starting businesses should start by thinking about two areas: skills from their previous jobs and life lessons. These experiences make retirees well-positioned to share their knowledge.

“Since they have a lot of life and career experience, a consulting and coaching business suits them well as a new endeavor,” said Dolly Garlo, business coach and president of Thrive!! Inc. By capitalizing on existing knowledge, retirees can spend their time learning the ropes of running a new business.

“Retirees should focus on jobs and business opportunities that leverage the individual’s years of work and life experience, such as consulting, teaching or tutoring,” said Jamie Hopkins, Esq., assistant professor of taxation in the Retirement Income Program at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and associate director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income.

Instead of sharing knowledge through a face-to-face business, retirees may prefer to teach or coach through a freelance writing business. “Writing and blogging can be a way for the retiree to stay engaged in an online or other community, generate some income and leverage their knowledge,” said Hopkins.

As you brainstorm new business ideas, Garlo suggests asking a few key questions. “How much time do you want to spend working? What kind of flexibility do you require? Do you want to work from a fixed location or be able to work virtually? What subject matter in particular excites you?”

Garlo says it’s also important to consider your potential business customers, and if they can afford to pay you. “This will determine whether what you provide becomes a hobby or charitable endeavor, or is an actual business,” she said.

Have you left a successful career after establishing a large network of valuable and experienced business contacts? If so, the main ingredients of your new business idea may be as close as your address book.

“[Retirees] have learned lessons that many business owners won’t learn for another 10 to 20 years,” said Tobe Brockner, author of “Mastermind Group Blueprint: How to Start, Run and Profit from Mastermind Groups” (Aloha Group Publishing, 2013). “This is why starting a mastermind group is a natural fit for retirees.”

Members of mastermind groups meet regularly to collaborate and solve the problems or issues of their members, tapping into the collected experience, skills and knowledge of the group.

“Many [retirees] already have a network that they can tap into to find excellent mastermind group members, and by being the group organizer and facilitator, they can make a nice supplemental income,” said Brockner.

Depending on the size of the area in which they live, Brockner said enterprising retirees can start and facilitate multiple mastermind groups, and charge a premium for the value of being a member.

“Mastermind group facilitators can generate between $1,500 to $3,000 per month per group for just a few hours [of] work,” he said.

Providing services has long been a popular idea for younger, active retirees who want to start their own businesses; however, familiar choices like handyman services, tutoring or pet sitting aren’t the only games in town.

“There are many options for service-based businesses, but one area particularly well-suited for retirees is to provide eldercare services,” said Nancy Collamer, career coach and author of “Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement” (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

“Many elderly living on their own need someone to help out with the tasks of daily living: housekeeping, shopping, errands and cooking,” said Collamer. “They also hire people to help out with special projects such as relocating, medical claims assistance and bill paying.”

As the total number of entrepreneurs increases, so does the number of entrepreneurs over the age of 50. Why not start a business catering to them? There is a tremendous opportunity for you to assist new entrepreneurs with building, managing and marketing their businesses, said Collamer. While older entrepreneurs have solid core skills from previous professions, they often fall short on the skills needed to capitalize on their expertise and turn their knowledge and talents into a profitable business.

“So think about how you can apply your skills in a small business environment,” suggested Collamer. “Are you a talented graphic designer? You might be able to design logos, brochures or menus for a new restaurant in town. Do you have strong financial skills? Perhaps you could work as a small business coach or a bookkeeper.”

Few business people have the time and know-how needed to handle all the tasks required to keep a business profitable, Collamer said. And filling this need suits aspiring business owners who are also retirees.

“Most small business people can’t afford full-time staff, so this can be a nice way to earn income on a flexible or part-time basis.”

There are many ways to take advantage of the spreading “active living” philosophy, which is especially popular among Boomers. Who better to help show them the way than a peer with the know-how to stay fit and age gracefully? One of the greatest things about starting a business focused on active living is how creative you can be about what exactly your business looks like.

“The spectrum of involvement is pretty wide,” Jonah Bliss, director of community for electric bicycle company EVELO, said. “[It could be] anything from opening up franchises for electric bike stores to being ambassadors for healthy living brands, or running tours and treks to outdoor locations.”

These types of businesses not only work well as a way to bring in some money after you retire from your career, but they also help others maintain their health as they age. Be creative and use what you know to find your niche in the growing active living marketplace.

7 Business Ideas for Couples

It’s not easy to run a business with your spouse or significant other. But for couples who have built up a solid foundation and who know how to handle conflict with each other, small business ownership could be a step toward financial independence and even a stronger relationship.

If you and your partner have made the decision to start a business together, you can choose from plenty of startups that are well suited for a two-person team. As with any partnership, these business ideas work best when you each take on roles that best fit your skills and strengths. An entrepreneurial relationship, like all business ventures, is truly a labor of love.

Some couples constantly fight over who has to cook dinner, but for others, preparing and sharing a meal together is an enjoyable bonding activity. If you and your partner fall into the latter category — and, of course, you’re actually good cooks — you may want to consider starting your own catering business. Let the resident gourmand take care of most of the food prep, while the other serves as customer service rep and sous chef.

For those foodies who also love to travel together, consider opening up shop as a food truck vendor. Whether its music festivals, block parties, or private events, food trucks are a great way to make some extra money while traveling and meeting new, interesting people. For many food truck vendors, the freedom of the open road and the appeal of their favorite activities has led them to strike out on their own; doing exactly that with the person you love might just be the best way to see the world together.

Crafty couples who share a passion for DIY projects can launch a successful e-commerce business on platforms like Etsy or Zibbet. One of you can handle marketing; the other can handle customer service, and both of you can work together to fill your orders. Not only does e-commerce represent a money-making opportunity, it also offers you and your partner a chance to be creative together; what’s better than having fun while turning a profit?

If you’re the type of couple that goes running and hits the gym together, launching a fitness business could be right for you. Whether you’re interested in personal training or class instruction, you can become certified through organizations like the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, and begin taking on clients. If you both specialize in the same area, you can double the number of sessions or classes you book. Alternatively, if one of you is a personal trainer and the other teaches a class, you can expand your client base through your service variety.

For working parents with long hours, cleaning the house can quickly fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Offer your weekends and evenings to these families, for everything from light housework like vacuuming and dusting to heavy-duty chores like cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. With you and your partner working as a team, you’ll be able to get these tasks done twice as quickly.

Do you and your partner love animals? Spread the word to friends and neighbors that you’re available to watch their pets while the owners go on a vacation or weekend trip. Pet owners often feel more comfortable leaving their furry friends in the care of a trusted homeowner rather than placing pets in a boarding facility, so getting referrals shouldn’t be too difficult. Offering two caretakers also means more individualized attention for your clients’ pets, which can be a great selling point.

SAT prep and subject-help tutoring are just as in-demand as ever for students across the country. With strong teaching skills, a wealth of knowledge and great personalities, you and your partner can make extra money educating local students in your home. While self-employed tutors are usually solopreneurs, this business can be even more lucrative for a couple if both of you can tutor. Otherwise, one of you can do the actual tutoring, while the other focuses on marketing and spreading the word.

6 Business Ideas That Don’t Require Employees

Are you ready to start your own business, but not ready to hire employees? There are plenty of options for people who would prefer to be “solopreneurs” and keep their business operations simple.

Here are six ideas to inspire you to start working on your solo business plan right away:

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!” Learn more about starting your own craft brewery in this Business News Daily guide.

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.

7 Business Ideas for the Pet-Obsessed

Were you one of those kids who always dreamed of working with animals when you grew up? If you never made it to vet school, you can still make a living working with your favorite four-legged friends. If you love your pet but aren’t sure how to turn that passion into a business, here are 7 great business ideas for animal lovers.

Want a ready-made business concept that lets you work with dogs on a daily basis? Consider becoming a franchisee of a top-rated pet care company likeCamp Bow Wow, Dogtopia or K-9 Resorts. These doggy boarding facilities allow you oversee the care of dogs while their humans are at work or on vacation. While boarding and daycare make up the bulk of revenues, some franchises let you offer additional services like pet grooming to generate more income. Professional training is provided for franchisees, so your customers can rest assured that they’re leaving their pooches in good hands.

Don’t want to open a brick-and-mortar location, or spend the money to invest in a franchise? Spread the word to friends and neighbors that you’re available to watch their pets in your own home. People often feel more comfortable leaving their pets in the care of an individual rather than placing pets in a boarding facility, so getting referrals shouldn’t be too difficult. Some states require a pet care certification to board animals in your home, so be sure to check and comply with your local ordinances before officially opening for business. Being certified can also put pet owners’ minds at ease about leaving their animals in your care. Visit the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters for more information on turning pet sitting into a career.

Anyone with a love of dogs and a whole lot of patience can work toward becoming a dog trainer. There are currently no official state requirements to work as a trainer, so a basic education can start with reading books on the subject and getting some hands-on practice at local obedience classes with professionals. It’s also possible to apply to become a puppy trainer at a local pet store chain to help build credibility. According to the Animal Humane Society, the job of most professional trainers to teach dog owners how to train their pets, so great people skills are a must. For more information on becoming a trainer and acquiring the necessary skills to work as a professional, visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers or the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors websites.

Know of some great pet products that aren’t carried by your local pet supply store? Open up your own retail shop and sell high-quality items made by small-scale manufacturers. Many small business owners would be thrilled to offer you a wholesale discount for carrying their products, and your customers would feel good about supporting local businesses.

In larger cities with a lot of pet owners in apartment buildings, dog-walking is a great part-time business opportunity. City dwellers don’t have yards for their dogs to play in, and if they work long and/or irregular hours, they may not always have time to take their energetic pup for his daily walk. In addition to creating a website with information on your business, put up flyers in your building and see if any of your neighbors would be willing to entrust this task to you for a small fee. It’s important to educate yourself on not only the local dog walking market but also proper animal care and handling. Dogtec offers a four-day training workshop to become a certified professional dog walker.

This business idea requires a working knowledge of animal health and anatomy, as well as training and some patience. Unsure of where to start? Gain experience bathing your own pet, then look into an educational program that properly trains you in the basics of dog grooming. From there, you can get some hands-on experience by working for an independent groomer or national pet store chain, until you feel confident enough to go out on your own. For more information on becoming a professional pet groomer, visitpetMD.

The trend of healthy eating and recognizing the ingredients within food doesn’t stop at humans, people are generally more cognizant of what their pets are eating as well. If you’ve been making your own for a long time, capitalize on your talents, otherwise there are recipes for homemade treats online. They don’t require a lot of time or effort to make, and the ingredients for many of them are probably already in your kitchen. Experiment with different recipes and let your dog be the official taste tester. Once you’ve found a winner or two, you can bake them in bulk, package them and sell them online. List the ingredients on your website and packaging so pet owners can feel confident that your product is right for their dogs.

6 Ways to Turn Your Pop Culture Obsession

If there’s one thing you can learn from the media industry, it’s that people will always pay money to be entertained. Blockbuster films, binge-worthy TV series, captivating novels, addictive video games and acclaimed Broadway shows all rake in tons of cash for the creative minds behind them. But you don’t need to be a member of the Hollywood elite to profit from popular media. These six types of pop culture-based businesses, many of which are started by fans themselves, make their money outside the spotlight.

How many people might want Dr. Who’s Tardis in their home? Or how about a statue of Han Solo frozen in carbonite? Creating and selling themed decor and furniture to fans is something that will never go out of style. While it might take some significant startup capital to make high quality replicas of some of our favorite pop culture icons, there will always be sentimental demand for a piece of decor inspired by cult favorites. Just think of all those people out there just clamoring for a chance to bring the Iron Throne from “Game of Thrones” into their living room. There’s nothing like having a morning cup of coffee like the King (or Queen) of the Andals and the First Men, after all. For some inspiration, check out this list of pop culture inspired furniture.

Wherever there’s a beloved book, TV show or film, there are artists and crafters ready to create and sell their own interpretations of its characters and universe. A quick search on Etsy for popular titles like “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” or “Big Bang Theory” turns up countless apparel items, phone cases, keychains, wall art and other handmade knick-knacks for fans to enjoy. Some truly talented entrepreneurs are even able to build a steady business from their pop culture art, like comic book artist and illustrator Chad Sell, who produces postcards and large prints of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants.

For die-hard members of a pop culture fandom, the best way to immerse themselves in their favorite fictional universe is to dress up as the characters themselves. Whether it’s just for Halloween or to attend one of the above-mentioned fan conventions, people are willing to pay top dollar for authentic, tailor-made replicas of character outfits. California-based Cosplay House, for instance, offers made-to-order cosplay costumes, wigs and accessories based on everything from Disney films and comic books to anime and video games. Many of these items sell for upward of $100, or more if the item is a special commission request.

Live-action film and television is often shot on-location for a more authentic feel than sound stage and backlot sets. Individuals and organizations frequently rent out their land and buildings to directors looking for the perfect place to film. England’s Highclere Castle, more commonly recognized as Downton Abbey, is a well-known example, but there are some stateside properties that generate revenue through film shoots as well. Sands Point Preserve, home of the historic Guggenheim Estate buildings on Long Island, New York’s North Shore, has provided locations for numerous projects, such as HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” FX’s “The Americans,” NBC’s “The Blacklist,” Showtime’s “The Affair,” USA Network’s “Royal Pains” and Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Jean-Marie Posner, executive director of the Friends of the Sands Point Preserve, told Business News Daily that in addition to funding the nonprofit organization, film shoots also help to showcase some of the features and buildings of the Preserve and encourage visitors to tour the property and its museums.

Production companies have long capitalized on the popularity of their media products with big-budget theme parks, studio tours and short-term exhibits for fans who want to go behind the scenes of the movies and shows they love. But some fans want to truly live the experience, and companies are willing to give them that. In the fall of 2014, New York City’s Eight O’Clock Coffee Co. and Warner Bros. Studios temporarily set up a functioning replica of the famed “Friends” coffee shop, Central Perk, to commemorate the show’s 20th anniversary. The New York Times reported that fans lined up around the block, waiting for an hour or more for a chance to drink free coffee, sit on the real Central Perk couch and purchase “Friends” gift shop items.

Another example is the College of Wizardry, a collaborative live-action role-playing festival based on the Harry Potter series to give fans the experience of attending a Hogwarts-like school. The multi-day events, which cost more than $300 to attend, are held at Czocha castle in Poland and include classes, social activities and other magical happenings run by fan volunteers.

You might not be able to make a living, but if you’ve got a knack for words and a unique perspective on a particular series or genre, you might be able to make some spare cash in advertising revenues through a pop culture-based blog. For example, FemPop, which began as journalist Alex Cranz’s blog about feminism and mainstream media, has grown into a full-fledged Web magazine with weekly podcasts, TV recaps and film reviews by a well-rounded staff of contributors. To elevate your publication above “side hobby” status, you’ll need to post frequent, compelling content and know how to market it to build up a solid following, especially on social media. BND’s guide to turning your blog into a business has some advice for doing just that.

7 Killer Business Ideas

Whether you’ve lost a loved one, buried a family pet or had a near-death experience, death is simply a fact of life. And, as it turns out, the business of death can be quite lucrative.

From afterlife preparations to unique burial methods and memorials, it turns out that there are more businesses related to death than you might expect. Here are 7 businesses that are cashing in on the dearly departed.

Just because you’re no longer alive doesn’t mean your tattoos can’t live on. The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA) hosts a website called Save My Ink, which is dedicaed to preserving tattoos of the deceased and leaving them in the care of their next of kin.

The tattoo preservation community isn’t just for the recently deceased; the living are so interested in the process that NAPSA is retooling to offer their services directly through funeral homes. The move comes just in time, as Americans are getting record number of tattoos. Will the future homes of millennials be commonly decorated with the ink once worn by their loved ones?

You’ve heard the expression, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” but what’s the consensus on spilled blood? If the idea of mopping up gore makes your eyes water (or worse), don’t worry: There’s a business you can call to tidy up even the bloodiest of messes.

Baxter Restoration, a cleaning and reconstruction company in Orlando, Florida, does something your average maid won’t: It cleans up after the Grim Reaper. Whether it’s a crime scene, the aftermath of a suicide or the remains of an exploded meth lab, Baxter will disinfect, decontaminate and leave things looking less macabre.

Industry insiders refer to such sluicing down of blood and brains as “biohazard” cleanup. And while this unusual service makes some people squirm, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone you can call to perform this most unpleasant of chores.

Leaving behind a hefty inheritance for family members to squabble over is a nice gesture. But what if you want to bequeath something more meaningful than money? There’s an app for that.

Your Last Will is an iPhone app developed by former video game publisher and entrepreneur Wolfgang Gabler. The app lets users prepare for the afterlife by recording a short video with a final message for those they’ll one day leave behind. Whatever your final words are, the app lets you record them in a 5-minute video, which is then uploaded to the company’s servers.

Your Last Will then generates a QR code for you to share with a trusted confidant who can sign in to your account after your demise and distribute your video to friends, family, archenemies, old flings and whomever else you choose to haunt. You can even make your will public and inspire (or sadden) the entire Internet.

A company that lets you send messages from beyond the grave is one thing, but a business that facilitates the sending of messages directly from your grave is quite another.

Invented and patented by Robert Barrows, president of an advertising and public relations firm in California, the “video-enhanced grave marker” is a tombstone for the modern age. Embedded with a remote-controlled video screen, this high-tech memorial caters to those unwilling to go quietly into the hereafter.

As Barrows explains on his website, the invention allows people to record messages for family, friends and even complete strangers before dying. Once the person is 6 feet under, these messages are broadcast right in the cemetery. Mourners can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

Barrows envisions a future in which graveyard visitors will pay a fee (headset included) to wander from grave to grave, listening to the dark secrets and final advice of lost love ones, as well as dead strangers.

Sure, you eat organic apples and have sworn off plastic shopping bags, but will your green lifestyle die when you do? That’s the question this next business wants you to consider before it’s too late.

The Natural Burial Company is an online retail and consulting business that sells biodegradable coffins, caskets, urns and other funeral goodies for eco-conscious mortals. The business aims to facilitate the natural burial process for those who take the whole “dust to dust” thing literally.

To that end, the company sells goods like the “Everybody” Coffin Kit, a biodegradable cork coffin that you can put together in your living room. Talk about a fun do-it-yourself project! The company’s online retail store also features a line of products for pets, including a biodegradable urn in the shape of a yarn ball for the eco-minded (but aging) feline in your life.

If you want to be cremated but aren’t sold on the idea of being hoisted onto a conveyor belt and pushed into a giant oven, then this next business is for you. Anderson McQueen Funeral Home in St. Petersburg, Florida, specializes in a new kind of cremation that utilizes water, not fire, to dispose of human bodies.

The process is known as alkali hydrolysis, or “flameless cremation.” And while it sounds less scary than its fiery cousin, the end result is much the same. In this process, the body is soaked in a tub of water and alkali for a few hours. According to the company, the process results in 75 percent fewer carbon emissions than traditional cremation, and is marketed to those looking for a greener way to go.

The process is still in the early adoption phase and is only legal in a few states. However, legislation is pending in many states that could bring this bizarre alternative into the mainstream.

Lots of people want their ashes scattered across the surface of the sea, but those looking for a unique postmortem experience may want to consider permanently joining the seafloor instead.

Decatur, Georgia-based Eternal Reefs specializes in the construction of “memorial reefs.” The company mixes human remains into concrete, artificial reefs. The reefs are then lowered to the seafloor, where they play host to local sea life and help maintain marine diversity.

The company’s “reef balls” are designed to withstand even the strongest of ocean currents, so mourners don’t have to worry that a loved one’s remains will drift into unchartered waters. Each reef also features a bronze plaque bearing the name of the deceased person it’s made from, making this memorial much like an underwater tombstone.

6 Part Time Business Ideas

Uber Driver

Living in an area with a lot of bars, restaurants and nighttime activities can be beneficial to someone looking to make a few extra bucks. If you have a valid driver’s license, proof of registration and car insurance, your car may be Uber-eligible. For those looking to spend some of their extra time driving others around, and make extra money while doing it, this should be something you consider. After you sign up, there is an online screening which will review your driving record and criminal history. You also need an eligible 4-door vehicle.

Yoga teacher

If you’re a yoga aficionado, you can turn your passion and skill into a part-time business by becoming an instructor. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to become a certified yoga teacher, you can teach classes at different gyms and health clubs. You can even run a mobile yoga business by offering to teach classes at local schools, businesses and other organizations. And if you eventually decide you want to start a full-time business and open a yoga studio, you’ll have the certification and experience to do so.

Tutoring service

Whether you’re an academic or you have a special skill (like computer expertise or fluency in another language), it might be time to get into the tutoring business. First, figure out your target audience of students — for example, are you looking to help high school students with math, or teach computer skills to adults? Once you know whom you’re looking to reach, start advertising your services. If your students are happy with the results, ask them to refer friends or other organizations that can use your help, and build up a clientele from there.

Software Trainer

If you’re proficient in a highly specialized software, you can get paid to pass your knowledge on to amateurs and professionals looking to expand their skill sets. Technical manuals are available for programs like QuickBooks and Final Cut Pro, but these are often expensive and difficult for the average user to get through. Schedule small group workshops or private sessions, and charge by the hour for a full tutorial of the program. Patience and a great personality are critical.

Handyman

Do they call you Mr. or Ms. Fix-It? Starting a part-time handyman (or handywoman) business is a great way to work with your hands, help people in your community and make some extra cash. A new handyman can put up fliers, advertise in local publications, and recruit friends and family for an online social media blitz. Then, you can get to work repairing everything from leaky pipes to faulty electrical wiring — just be sure you read up on the proper techniques and procedures, and check with your local government to make sure you have the necessary permits for any projects you might take on.

Entertainment Service

While the term “disc jockey” might be a little outdated in the age of streaming music, there’s no question that event entertainment is still in high demand. With your music collection, mixing software and your laptop, you can get people out on the dance floor at weddings and birthday parties, or simply provide background music at more casual events. DJ equipment is a big investment, but plenty of companies offer daily rentals of speakers, subwoofers and other accessories that you can use until you can save up enough to buy your own.

7 Business Ideas We Love

On-demand transportation

Cars are expensive. Car insurance is expensive. Gas is expensive. The result is that more people are looking for less-expensive ways to get where they need to go. Even in places with mass transit systems, the market for on-demand transportation services like Uber and Lyft only continues to grow. If you can afford to buy or lease a roomy car and provide reliable service, you may be in business.

Energy Efficiency Consultant

Cold winters, hot summer and high fuel and electricity costs all combine to create an opportunity for anyone with the experience and know how to help create more energy efficient homes and businesses. From providing advice on how to do it to actually performing that labor there are all sorts of opportunities for businesses that can help consumers save money by becoming more energy efficient.

Tree care

If you’ve tried to call a tree service lately, you probably already know there’s a big gap between supply and demand. Increasingly severe weather in all parts of the country is causing tree damage that only professionals can repair. It’s not a business for the timid, but if you can find some experienced employees, you’ll probably have all the work you can handle. 

Residential environmental-assessment service

People are increasingly aware of and concerned about indoor pollution. Fumes from paint, carpets, kitchen cabinets and furniture are of concern. Radon, electro-magnetic fields, lead toys and wireless and cell phone radiation are all concerns, too. The problem is, it’s very hard for your average homeowner to figure out how to test for each of these concerns. Local health, children’s, baby and environmental fairs would provide ample marketing opportunities for a business that offered a reasonably priced home-health assessment.

Social media services

By now, small business owners know that they need social media to promote their businesses. However, few have time to figure out exactly what to do and how to do it. A social media who could offer an a la carte menu of reasonably priced services to local mom-and-pop businesses that have yet to embrace Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn would be the toast of their virtual town. 

Education consultant

College isn’t as simple as it used to be. Now, parents and prospective students must wade through a long list of academic choices including four-year colleges, two-year colleges, online courses, for-profit colleges and trade schools. It’s hard to know which education choice is best and what you can afford. As education offerings keep expanding and changing, busy parents need some help figuring out how to navigate the higher-education waters. A consultant with a background in education who can simplify the process will be at the head of the class.

Kids consignment shop

Everyone’s looking for a way to save money, and what better way than to buy your kids’ clothes for less and sell their old clothes back? Kids consignment shops can include baby equipment, clothes, furniture and books. Best of all, the inventory is cheap and, in most cases, you don’t have to pay for it until the items have sold. For the cost of the monthly rent and a marketing plan, you could be in business in no time.