Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:
Craig first noticed the need for business guides in the 1980′s. He was growing a breed of apples that are not found in stores. Through his connections as a crop grower he soon found out that there were a variety of produce that could yield big money if people just knew about it. That was when he wrote his first book and started a chain reaction that would become Headstart Publishing.
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
Headstart Publishing provides a series of start-up guides to help readers start their own small, home-based business, as well as over 250 free articles at our web site to help those who are exploring a specific business or want to learn more about how to improve an existing one. There are currently 11 eBooks available.
Can you tell us a little about each book and what it offers?
1. HOW TO START A PROFITABLE BACKYARD PLANT NURSERY. Describes how to start a backyard specialty nursery, growing high-value landscaping plants. There is detailed information on three of the most profitable plants… ground covers, ornamental grasses and landscaping trees and shrubs. A resource section list sources for thousands of wholesale plant seedlings.
2. HOW TO START A COURIER BUSINESS. Describes how to start a local courier/delivery business, specializing in packages, documents and other time-sensitive items. It’s a simple business, and can be started with a reliable vehicle and under $500.
3. DRIVE BY PROFITS. This start-up guide describes how to become an independent field inspector, doing property inspections for banks, lenders and insurance companies. This field is hot, as the real estate crash has doubled the demand for field inspectors to do inspections on foreclosed and bank-owned properties on a regular basis. The guide includes a list of over 60 national firms who use local independent field inspectors.
4. GOLDEN HARVEST. “Microfarms” as small as a quarter acre are springing up across the country in and around the fringes of cities. This eBook explores four of the most profitable and easy to grow specialty crops for microfarms: bamboo, garlic, ginseng and gourmet mushrooms, with complete growing and marketing information for each crop.
5. GROWING FLOWERS FOR PROFIT. Flowers are one of the best (and quickest) backyard cash crops, as a gardener can start with just seed money and begin harvesting flowers and profits in less than three months. The guide covers the four best ways to make money, including: cut flowers, flower bulbs, woody ornamentals and everlastings (dried flowers.) There is a section about the 18 best markets for flowers, a complete list of the most popular varieties, how to make more with value-added floral products, and a wholesale source section.
6. GROWING HERBS FOR PROFIT. By focusing on the high demand herbs and growing them in containers, ready to sell, a grower can make more money with less work than traditional methods. The eBook covers the top ten culinary and the top ten medicinal herbs. Also included are herbal teas, how to build a mini-greenhouse, marketing herbs, making value-added herb products, medicinal herbs for dogs and cats, and a list of wholesale sources for starts and seeds.
7. HAUL IT AWAY. Starting a junk hauling business is one of the most profitable low-tech service businesses around for those who have a pickup truck or van, with earnings over $50 an hour for those, and a steady demand for haulers. The eBook covers how to find customers, how to charge, five ways to get free advertising and how to make even more recycling or re-selling much of what you get paid to haul away. It’s a true “shoestring startup”, as it’s possible to get started for under $500.
8. PROFITABLE PET SITTING. Each year, pet lovers are spending more and more on their four-legged family members, including hiring a pet sitter when they’re away. Pet sitters average $175 a day in earnings, and enjoy a flexible schedule. This guide includes all the start-up basics, such as setting rates, finding customers, additional services to offer, how to tap into the “planned community” goldmine, and complete ready-to-print forms.
9. PROFITABLE WINDOW CLEANING. With hourly rates averaging over $50 an hour, this service business is very profitable, considering start-up costs are less than $600. It’s a great business for extra income, as window cleaning can be done on weekends just as easily as during the week. Because windows get dirty over and over again, it’s a steady, repeat business. The eBook covers the basic toolkit, how to bid jobs, how to get all the customers you can handle, links to training videos, and a sideline business that can bring $75 an hour. A resource section covers cleaning products, trade associations, marketing materials and online forums.
10. HOW TO START A PROFITABLE SENIOR ERRAND SERVICE. With close to 40 million seniors and growing, there’s a new opportunity to help aging seniors with everyday activities, like running errands. As seniors become less mobile, they need help with grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions or dry cleaning, a trip to the post office or taking a pet to the vet. All you need to start is a reliable car and a cell phone. The schedule is flexible, which makes this an ideal business for part-timers, such as stay-at-home moms. The rewards can be great – not just in dollars – but in helping seniors live better lives by retaining their independence as long as possible. The guide covers setting rates, how to get referrals, the sixteen best errand services to offer, how to earn an income even if seniors are on vacation, and ready-to-print essential forms.
11. USED BOOKS INTO GOLD. You can partner with Amazon.com and sell used books from local garage sales and estate sales at their web site. There’s no cost until you sell your books, and the markups can be amazing- it’s not uncommon to pay a dollar or two for a garage sale book that can be re-sold on Amazon for $20 or more. This guide shows you how to find books in your home town, how to price them, the “dogs” to avoid, the best high-demand books, finding and selling high-value textbooks, and a wholesale buyer’s guide for books and shipping supplies.
Back in the mid 80s, I started an orchard of “antique” apple varieties, because these rare apples were simply unavailable at local stores. To learn more, I started networking with other small specialty crop growers, and found there were dozens of “niche” specialty crops that yielded a high profit. Because information about growing and marketing specialty crops was almost impossible to find at the time, I wrote my first book, titled “Backyard Cash Crops” in 1986, and it became a best-seller, with thousands of copies sold. In 1998, I wrote another book about specialty crops, titled “Profitable Plants.” Many readers asked for more information about specific crops, such as bamboo and flowers, so the current series of eBooks provides that focused information about growing and marketing an individual crop, as well as information about starting other home-based businesses.
What inspired you?
About three years ago, two friends lost their jobs, and decided to start their own home-based business. I tried to help, by searching the internet for suitable businesses that matched their skills, training and financial resources. I quickly discovered that there was a lot of useless, outdated, overpriced junk out there, and not enough well-researched high quality information. That was my “tipping point”, and I thought, with my background as a successful small businessman and writer, I could do better. I interviewed over twenty successful small business owners… errand runners, pet sitters, window cleaners, couriers, junk haulers, book sellers and property inspectors, to find out more about their businesses… what made them successful…how they marketed their businesses, and what advice they would give to a “newbie.”
What separates you from the competition?
What separates my books from the competition is a focus on providing useful information, not just “filler” designed to increase the number of pages in the book. Each book is designed to provide all the basic start-up information for the business, plus list resources for supplies and products needed for that particular business.
In addition, the businesses had to meet two requirements: First, start-up costs had to be low… a few hundred dollars in most instances. Second, each business had to be simple, so an average person could get started without a lot of training or experience.
The last thing that separates my books from the competition is that, unlike so many of the home business guides sold on the web, mine are quite affordable, at under $20 each, as opposed to the usual $47 to $97 for a start-up guide.
Do you have any plans for new books in the near future? If so, care to give us a hint as to what we can expect?
There are three more eBooks in the works now, and they should be published in 2011. They are about other simple home-based service businesses that can be started for just a few hundred dollars. That’s the goal for 2011.
What are some lessons you’ve learned as an author/entrepreneur?
After several decades and quite a few successful businesses, I try to encourage anyone who plans to start a home-based business to start small in both business size and dollar investment. That way, the learning curve is easier and less costly. Second, despite the general perception that business is a “dog-eat-dog” world, I’ve found that, when you practice the golden rule (treat others like you want to be treated), you will succeed. We’re all human beings, and we all still appreciate being treated like we are special. Treat your customers well, and you will thrive.