A Free Business Start Up Guide Archives

One of the easiest start up ideas that demonstrates all the principles of how to develop a business is equipment rental. Here, you decide on an item that is reasonably expensive so that people might not want to buy it yet have need of it from time to time. The item could be a power tool, an event marquee or a motor car. The item has a cost per unit, and can be rented out for a certain amount on an hourly/daily/monthly basis. Effort will be required keeping the item in good repair, delivering it, collecting it and ensuring that its hire is paid for promptly. All these aspects of the business can be examined in detail and fitted to the start up finances you might have available. Then there is scope for expansion, economies of scale and further add on businesses such as retailing the item and on line sales.

Many items can be rented in this way. For this example I have chosen aquarium rentals.

Have you ever been in a doctor’s surgery and admired their tank of tropical fish? You may be surprised to know that providing and maintaining aquariums stocked with a variety of fish can form a very lucrative business opportunity for any practical person with a little space available in a box room or even better a garage in which to keep their own back up fish tanks and some spare equipment. This article explains how easy it can be to build a profitable aquarium rental business from a home base and how to earn extra money from it.

Ideally you will have some interest in fish keeping and perhaps have your own fish tank, perhaps in your own front room. If you are a complete novice, setting up your own pilot scale tank can be a very enjoyable project. Even if you are no newcomer, it would be a good idea to set up a pilot tank in a different location, such as in a friend’s house or the office of a business associate. In this way you will be able to learn the constraints involved in keeping live fish in remote locations, such as when there will be convenient access to the tank for cleaning etc.

It can cost very little to establish a rental business, adding a customer one at a time from a carefully planned marketing campaign. So where do you start?

You must decide on the equipment that you plan to supply. There are a number of ranges of complete aquarium set-ups on the market that would be preferable to attempting to piece together units from separate sources. The latter may be cheaper, but to get started an integrated unit will give you less trouble. You may decide to develop your own range in the future, by locating the best sources and even buying wholesale. Try a recognised brand such as Juwel, Fluval or Rena.

At the start with you will be looking at a complete aquarium kit for freshwater fish (filter, tank, lighting and stand) system that costs in the region of $200 – $300. You will be able to purchase kits that retail for around $300-$500 by negotiating with the aquarium shop for a bulk purchase of say 10 units. Before you throw your hands up and cry “I can’t afford this!” read on…you will only be collecting your tanks as and when you need them for your clients, at which point you will be collecting your deposit for the rental contract. The cash flow will mostly take care of itself!

So you will start with a brand new boxed aquarium set and your cheap stock tank at home. With marketing, stock fish and sundries this is all going to be an up front investment of not much more than $500. The aquarium shop that you have bought your first couple of tanks from will have given you a good price on the promise that you will be coming back for more. It may be worth contracting to buy say one a month in order to drive the price down even further.

Set up your stock tank at home with a dozen fancy goldfish. Do not bother with an electric heater unless you are forced to keep the tank out in a cold garage. Keeping simple goldfish that a more tolerant than fancy fish is an easier way to start. Forget marine fish or tropical freshwater fish at the start, there is nothing more dispiriting than losing a tank full of sensitive fish at the start due to inexperience. Further down the line you will have the know how to supply more exotic residents in better systems, and which command much higher rental prices accordingly. You are now ready to market your business.

Starting in your postal area you need to build up a database of all doctor, dentist and other medical surgeries (such as homeopaths, physiotherapists and chiropodists) that are likely to have waiting rooms. Add to your database every business that you can find on the various different trading estates in your locality. Have a walk or drive around estates local to you to see which ones have upmarket receptions and waiting areas that would benefit from an elegant aquatic display. Hopefully you will be able to secure more than one customer on each trading estate which makes your business of traveling between customers when carrying out routine maintenance much easier. You will need to start with a list of at least 200 businesses and surgeries, but remember you will be adding to these all the time.

Now it is down to you to sell your business. If I tell you that I am aware of two small but successful companies renting aquaria in this way were both started during an economic recession several years ago but are still going strong you can see that it is very possible to find customers. You need to be prepared to deliver leaflets, follow up with phone calls and visit every potential customer that shows some interest. You must be able to convince somebody of the proven therapeutic health benefits on staff and nervous patients of having a fantastic aquarium set up. Add to this the fact that you will do all the work, guaranteeing healthy fish and a clean tank 100% of the time. The benefits of having an aquarium are well known and most people like to see them.  Therefore, it is up to you to convince that they will be trouble free and that you are a reliable and likeable person.

Because you are managing your new business, you will be limited to the number of tanks that you can easily maintain comfortably. The upper limit is probably around a couple each working day, say around 40 per month, when  you take into account all the other tasks involved in running this business.  However, if you were intending building an empire, and employing a couple of maintenance technicians, you will probably be able to hire out tanks at up to 200 different locations. This would be a $quarter million turnover per year business! And remember, if you are fortunate to live in or close to a city and are able to offer a great service, some customers may take multiple tank systems from you.

So what are the basic finances involved? I have said that you need a tank system that would retail for up to $500 in the pet shops as a starting point. This will hopefully cost you less than $300 to buy wholesale. You can expect to recover around $50 minimum per month for maintenance and should be able get between 2 and 6 months advance rental in addition. You need to decide how big your initial business will be – if you are trying it out on a part time basis 10 tanks might be a good number with which to learn the business and still make some extra money without having to give up your day job immediately! If you do the maths and manage to recruit one new customer each month – it would be possible to break even during the first year taking into account all capital and trading costs. One way of looking at this is that in one year you have set up a business machine that you fully own – and clears $500 in profits each month going forward!

There is much more to the finances than can be covered in this short article. There are ways to tweak the monthly revenue – in practice many customers pay $100 – $200 per month and some much more. You will find ways of setting up better and more reliable aquaria for the least capital outlay – and when interest rates are low it is best to actually borrow in order to buy the capital equipment. Also you will offer both aquaria rental and maintenance contracts – customers see more for their money. Once you get your business model straight you can consider gearing up, with rented storage space, delivery vans and maintenance staff. When you are sourcing your own equipment you will be able to branch into retail sales from your existing base. This is one business opportunity area that does have a wide range of ways in which you can expand – for the serious and practical person.

If you like or fancy fish keeping and are looking for a practical business you can build from a modest capital base into a substantial organization, aquarium rental may suit you. It is not an easy way how to earn money fast, but is a way to build a serious repeat business one step at a time.

Chapter 13: Use Outsourcing To Make Money Doing Nothing

Can you make money by doing nothing? Of course you can’t. This chapter is dedicated to managing your business by letting others do the hard work. For example, your business required the production of a five hundred word report on marketing opportunities for climbing equipment in Iceland. Your client will pay you $250 for this report and if you put your mind to it you could finish it in five hours.

So your job is worth $50 dollars per hour of your time. However, you could pay an outsourcing agency to do the job for you. You may have to pay somebody $10 per hour, and their lack of efficiency means that they will take 10 hours to complete the job. Therefore you will have a $100 bill to pay and it will probably take you an hour of your time to organize the subcontract and to administer your client’s needs. Therefore, your hour of work will repay you $150.

Working for $150 per hour is much better than working for $50. By outsourcing you have increased your chargeable rate threefold. This is the whole purpose of outsourcing, and it is possible to gear up your efforts much more than three times! So you may not be making money doing nothing, but you are able to make much more money than when you do the work for yourself. The trick is to be able to find the right persons to do the work, at the right price and in an efficient and appropriate way.

Decide on your business plan

Deciding on what business to pursue and how to go about setting it up are the two big questions being covered in this business start up guide. They are also the two hardest areas to cover. However, once you have started you must ensure that progress is efficient and not loss making. I have met a lot of people who have made the break and started their own businesses. They have become busy, sometimes too busy to realize that they were only just keeping their heads above water. One of the biggest drivers to starting a business is to go it alone, but that attraction has almost always been derived from a desire to do well. You must not lose sight of the fact that if you are not successful.simply working for yourself will soon lose its attraction.

Therefore, whatever you are doing, start thinking of ways to farm the work out to others. It could be running a shop – not only managing the sales but also the buying, the routine cleaning, the accounting and the business development. It could be market gardening – staff are essential for any business that requires labor – but also think of advertising (including web development), new product development and market research.

Targeting professional service businesses

There is no doubt that non physical businesses that provide services to others are perfect candidates for outsourcing.

Tips for instructing outsource workers


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