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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Culinary Businesses

The restaurant business isn’t the only entrepreneurial option for food lovers. The desire to offer people a unique culinary experience has spawned interesting food trucks, subscription services and green eateries, to name a few.

These 10 businesses have succeeded because of their off-the-beaten-path approach and delicious delicacies.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and Philly pizza joint Rosa’s Fresh Pizza truly lives up to its hometown’s name. The restaurant is decorated with a wall of colorful sticky notes worth $1 (or one slice), which feeds its homeless visitors.

“One day, a customer asked to buy forward a slice for a homeless person,” Mason Wartman, the owner of the shop, said in a video for the Ellen DeGeneres show. He then purchased sticky notes, which now cover the wall of the restaurant. “Then a homeless person takes a sticky note and trades it in for a slice of pizza.”

According to the video, Rosa’s feeds approximately 40 homeless persons a day. Visit for a slice of pizza and the gift of giving back. If you’re not in the Philly area but still wish to help out, the restaurant has set up a donation page.

Since the growth of subscription services, items for dogs (made by the humans obsessed with them) have gotten really popular. The Farmer’s Dog is a subscription service which delivers healthy farm-to-dog bowl dishes carefully formulated for your dog’s breed.

Answer a questionnaire about their breed (mixed or otherwise) weight, activity level, current dog food, and The Farmer’s Dog suggests the perfect combination of healthy ingredients, all of which are sourced from restaurant suppliers and human food purveyors. According to the site, the dog food is never frozen and delivered days after it is cooked. Furthermore, the recipes are tested on humans, for a happier and healthier pup.

If basic, store-bought ice cream isn’t unique enough for you, Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery will likely meet expectations. Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery is an Oregon-based ice cream parlor that serves liquid nitrogen ice cream, and every order is custom, so you can have any flavor you want.

According to the company’s website, the liquid nitrogen “freezes everything so fast that ice crystals don’t form,” making its ice cream extra smooth and creamy. Customers choose a base — premium milk, nonfat sugar-free milk, or vegan coconut milk — then from more than 30 different flavors like caramel, cheesecake, coffee, gingerbread, and mint. From there, customers can choose from dozens of different mix-ins like almonds, bacon, cereal and chocolate chips. Mix ‘n’ Match makes the ice cream right there in front of you, with a blast of liquid nitrogen.

Opaque, a restaurant in California, promises to change your view of going out to eat by wining and dining you in the dark. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—you eat your meal in a pitch black dining room.

When you arrive at Opaque, customers look through the menu in a lighted lounge and order food. The restaurant’s staff will then check coats and bags, and lead you to your seat. According to the restaurant’s website, Opaque is staffed by blind and visually impaired servers who have been specially trained to serve food in the dark.

Dining in the dark may seem like a strange concept, but according to Opaque’s website, it’s all about having a more in-depth sensory experience with your food. Opaque has multiple locations in California.

The food truck trend has hit its stride. Popular trucks in major cities have long lines of eager customers waiting outside on their lunch breaks. But Drive Change, a hybrid profit/nonprofit organization, is taking food trucks to a new, socially-responsible level by giving back to the community.

The organization hires, trains and mentors formerly incarcerated young adults, and the food trucks serve as a form of transitional employment with the ultimate goal of preparing these young people to go back to school or start full-time employment.

Drive Change currently operates only one food truck, located in New York and called Snowday. It farm-fresh foods prepared in their kitchen in Brooklyn and served at the truck. Drive Change plans to open more food trucks in the future, and each truck “employs and empowers 24 young people per year.” All food truck sales go back into the organization’s re-entry program to help more former inmates get on the right track.

Back to the Roots was started by two college students who were inspired by something they learned in a class: You can grow mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez wrote of their experience, “After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers.”

In an effort to get people more connected with their food, Back to the Roots created an easy, 10-day grow-your-own organic-mushroom kit. Their organic mushroom farm comes in a small box (the mushrooms grow right out of the box) and simply requires watering twice a day.

The company also sells a “garden in a can” product that makes growing organic herbs at home even easier, a self-sufficient water-garden aquarium (the fish feed the plants and the plants keep the water clean), and ready-to-eat organic cereals.

Do you love cheese? Bet you don’t like it as much as Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann, who makes her living as a traveling cheese sculptor.

She creates cheddar-cheese carvings for grocery stores, sporting events, festivals, photo shoots, and any other business or event that needs a giant hunk of cheese. Kaufmann has carved everything from a scene of the first moon landing to the Chicago skyline.

Though she makes most of her money carving cheese, Kaufmann also hosts seminars, where she informs audiences about the art and traditions of cheese making.

Want a little wine to go with that cheese sculpture? If you still haven’t found your favorite go-to bottle, Tasting Room can help.

Tasting Room is a wine club subscription, but unlike similar services that send you whichever bottles they want, this service allows you to taste various wines to find the ones you like before you buy, so that you only get shipments of wine you know you’ll enjoy.

How does it work? When you sign up, you’ll receive a tasting kit complete with six different wines in special mini bottles. Simply log in to your Tasting Room account and follow the instructions; the site will generate a “wine profile” for you that tells you more about the types of wine you like, such as where they come from and what foods pair well with them. After that, you’ll receive shipments of wines you like (and if you get one you hate, just tell them and they’ll replace it or give you a refund).

J&D’s Foods makes a huge variety of edible products — mayonnaise, popcorn, croutons — and all of these products have one thing in common: They taste like bacon.

Founded in 2007, J&D’s was started by two friends whose mutual love of bacon led them to the logical conclusion that everything in life should taste like this savory meat product.

They started by creating a bacon-flavored salt that could be added to nearly any food to lend it that distinct, cured-meat flavor. Since then, J&D’s has expanded its offerings to include much weirder products, such as bacon-flavored lip balm and sunscreen and, of course, its highly popular Mmmvelopes (that’s right: bacon-flavored envelopes) though they are currently out of production.

What do you give to those who have recently lost a loved one? You’re probably thinking flowers. But although flowers are pretty, they’re ultimately useless to mourners. This is why David Storke, a former funeral director from Virginia, founded MealGifts.

Storke’s company delivers family-style meals to grievers all over the United States. So, if you want to send a little comfort food to someone far away, there’s no need to cook and ship your famous lasagna. Whether it’s a full pot roast or some vegetable stir-fry, MealGifts delivers all the goodness of a home-cooked meal without requiring any of the home cooking.

Start a T-Shirt Business

Thanks to online marketplaces and the many shoppers looking to buy products over the web, selling online is easier than ever. One of the possible avenues for entrepreneurs, especially those looking for a design-oriented or artistic business, is the T-shirt market.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start an online T-shirt business, you could purchase an expensive T-shirt printer or screen printing equipment. But you don’t have to; you can get your business off the ground with minimal startup capital — as low as $50, according to some experts. Compared to other types of startups, an online T-shirt company is low-priced and simple to launch, and you don’t even have to manage order fulfillment.

Your t-shirts can contain simple words, fully printed designs or a combination of both. Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop can be great tools to help you create your designs. Adobe offers low-priced monthly subscriptions; Adobe single apps are available for $19.99 per month. Adobe and online education companies such as Lynda.com offer a wide variety of Adobe classes to help you develop your design skills.

If you have ideas but don’t have the skills to produce your designs, you may find affordable graphic-design freelancers through sites such as Guru, Fiverr and Upwork. Rates are often affordable and negotiable. If you want to start designing without Photoshop, T-Shirt Magazine contributor Ana Gonzalez recommended Placeit, which offers clothing mock-ups for as little as $29 per month for nine images.

Whatever your idea is, do your best to make sure you are not infringing on another designer’s ideas. You can do this by conducting an online search of trademark databases like U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and/or hiring a patent lawyer to help you determine whether your design is similar to one that has been copyrighted or trademarked.

Printing equipment can be expensive and requires you to purchase inventory. You may ultimately want to do your own printing, but when you are first starting out, you can use an on-demand T-shirt printing company, such as Printful, Print Aura, Scalable Press, Teespring and Amplifier — all you need to do is submit your designs and they’ll take care of the rest. Many printers, including these five, offer order fulfillment services, so you never have to worry about inventory and shipping.

Most of these types of services offer features specifically for small businesses, including no minimum purchases, no inventory requirements, no monthly fees, volume discounts and mock-up generators. Based on our research, other factors to consider when choosing a printer include t-shirt selection (colors, sizes, styles), print quality, turnaround time, cost, integrations with e-commerce platforms and return policies.

You can easily create an e-commerce website using a service such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, Square Space, Big Cartel or Amazon. Many of these services will allow you to use your own domain for an additional cost, and many will work with the print company of your choice. You’ll want to verify how well the printer works with your website or shopping site technology before you purchase.

Besides the basic business website standards like your company logo, product listings and contact information, you’ll also want to include specifics such as sizing charges and fit information. Your customers will want to see detailed color variations as well. When you are first starting out, you’ll likely just start with T-shirt mock-ups and then evolve to real-life images using models as you grow.

Lindsay Craig, a social growth expert at Spaces, a website builder offered by Shopify, said most of the initial planning and creation process of starting a T-shirt business is free. The first expense you may incur is buying your custom domain. Google charges $12 per year for a domain, Square Space is $20 and Shopify starts at $13 per year. Using Shopify’s Spaces, you can build an online shop for free and then upgrade it starting for $4 per month.

Craig suggested you start with three to five T-shirt designs. If you are not a designer, you can use royalty-free fonts from 1001 Fonts and low-priced artwork from The Noun Project to get started. T-shirt templates are available so you can create realistic images of your designs rather easily. If you do not have access to Adobe Creative Suite, you can start using free applications such as GIMP to create your designs.

Once you have some designs created, you’ll want to order some sample product so you can see the quality of the shirt and printing. Craig noted that is one of the larger expenses and will cost you around $20. All of those expenses add up to less than $50. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase a business license, and prices for those vary greatly depending on your area.

When you are first starting out, you won’t need much. Minimal sales are simple to track using a free spreadsheet such as Google Sheets. But as your business grows, you may want to consider a few additional solutions. Here are a few good ones to try:

  • Accounting software: QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks and Xero are low-priced online services that provide invoicing and standard accounting features.
  • Tax services: Some business owners prefer to do their own taxes with a product such as TurboTax, but you may want to consider hiring an accountant.
  • Payment processing: Many services, such as Shopify and Square, will handle credit card processing for you. Other services allow you to connect your own payment processor. Generally, these to cost you roughly 2.75 percent per transaction.

Don’t become discouraged if your business doesn’t take off right away. Because of its minimal time commitment (once your designs are completed), an online T-shirt company makes a great side business, so you can keep your full-time job while you wait for your business to become successful. Just start with your idea, and see where it takes you.

Places to Find Businesses For Sale Online

Want to be an entrepreneur? You don’t necessarily have to start and build your own brand-new business; sometimes the best move is to buy and grow an already-established company.

Aspiring owners who don’t know where to start should consider looking into websites, which direct you to the best businesses and properties for sale. From there, you can decide which best fits your entrepreneurial goals and budget.

Here are seven companies to find a business to take over:

BizBuySell.com boasts that it is “the Internet’s largest business for sale marketplace” and offers users options to buy a business, buy a franchise, sell a business, get help with financing and more. Users can search for businesses by category, state and country, and even set a minimum and maximum price. You can also search franchises by type, state, and amount of capital you have available to invest. Or, you can search for a business broker near you.

Search on BizQuest.com for your desired businesses, franchises or business brokers by location and business type or industry. And perks for sellers are good, too: BizQuest.com allows you to post ads in just five minutes. The ads are then shared on the company’s partner websites, like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. BizQuest.com also gives you the option to browse listings in top cities as well as the most popular franchises and industries.

BusinessBroker.net has more than 30,000 business-for-sale listings just waiting for you to sift through. As with the other websites, you can search for businesses and franchises, find brokers and see listings by industry and location. BusinessBroker.net also has a finance and loan center that offers professional help to guide you in your business purchasing decisions.

MergerNetwork.com has more than 15,000 active business-for-sale listings around the world. It allows sellers to post ads for their business for free and connect with over 14,000 entrepreneurs, investment bankers and business brokers.

This website currently has more than 62,000 business listings in the United States and around the world, including available franchises. Users can search by business sector and location to find the perfect business for them. BusinessesForSale.com also has features like email alerts and a services directory for those who need accountants, brokers, lawyers and more.

With more than 800,000 listings available, it’s easy to understand why LoopNet.com is a reliable resource for discovering businesses for sale in your region. If you’re already a business owner or an entrepreneur with a busy schedule, LoopNet is available in app form (on Google Play and in the App Store) to peruse listings on your schedule, from wherever.

Additionally, the site is partners with commercial real estate firms like Century21, Chusman & Wakefield, CBRE, Sperry Van Ness, and Re/Max Commercial.

On the other end of it? If you’re looking to sell your current business, LoopNet provides the opportunity to list your business.

BusinessMart.com, like many of the other websites, has both businesses and franchises available as well as resources and services to help you get funding. It also allows you to search by location and business category, or search franchises by your available capital.

PDF Business Plan Templates

Business plan templates come in all forms, shapes and sizes. The beauty of PDF business plan templates, however, is that users can create their own business plans while having a guide or reference point readily available in front of them. Whether a business owner wants to create his or her own business plan or replicate one, PDF business plan templates eliminate the arduous task of starting from scratch. Below are 10 PDF business plan templates to help you get started.

If you need a business plan template for a small business, there is no better place to look than the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA not only offers a Web-based business plan creator, but also a downloadable PDF business plan template from sba.gov’s 8(a) Business Development Program. This no-fuss, straightforward business plan template hashes out the details of a business, with more than 50 prompts to help users answer the questions needed for a complete business plan.

Another government organization, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), also provides useful resources for starting a business. In addition to offering a business plan template and financial projections charts, the VA’s Writing a Business Plan PDF contains information on why an entrepreneur should create a business plan, basic business plan guidelines and tips on the do’s and don’ts of writing a business plan.

Used as the official business plan for the New York StartUP! 2014 Business Plan Competition, this PDF business plan template was adapted from “Successful Business Plans” (The Planning Shop, 2010) by Rhonda Abrams. Each of the 12 sections of this business plan template includes instructions explaining what type of information to enter, as well as chapter references so you can look up more details. In addition, the template includes a SWOT analysis and optional technology plan.

Need a quick and painless, albeit unconventional, business plan? Try the Business & Entrepreneurship Center’s (BEC) elevator pitch business plan. Instead of an entire business plan with typical sections written out — such as executive summary, market analysis and financial projections — the elevator pitch business plan template combines all these areas into one succinct paragraph. Find examples at the BEC’s downloadable PDF elevator pitch small business plan template.

Hate the idea of writing out an entire essay for a business plan? The One Page Business Plan Company offers a one-page business plan separated into several sections — vision, mission, objectives, strategies and action plans. You can answer all of these sections using keywords and short phrases. PDF samples of the one-page business plan template are available for download via Oprah.com.

Business plans don’t have to be complicated. The $100 Startup’s One-Page Business Plan template helps users craft a business plan by answering several short questions. You can answer each question in one or two sentences. This PDF one-page template covers everything from an overview of your business to marketing, money matters and obstacle projections.

Biz Kids, an online portal where kids teach kids about money and business, offers a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan. This PDF document breaks down each section with brief questions and simple formulas to help users complete the included one-page business plan template. Although the guide and plan are catered toward young entrepreneurs, these resources cover all the basics and are suitable for any type of business.

Thinking about starting a consulting business? Check out Rowan University’s sample consulting business plan template. Part of the university’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship 2013 Rohrer Business Plan Competition, this 30-page PDF business plan template is a comprehensive example of what a consulting business plan entails, complete with financial charts and balance sheets.

IPlanner.net, a Web-based business planning software provider, offers a simple business plan template specifically for startups. The downloadable PDF business plan template includes instructions and tips for completing each section, as well as sample charts to help users complete the financial areas of the business plan.

If you want to cover all of your bases, look no further than the Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development Company’s (SNIEDC) PDF fill-in-the-blank business plan template. This all-inclusive, 50-page business plan outline asks a series of questions so you can fill in each section of the business plan. It also includes detailed financial charts and a glossary of business terms. The SNIEDC is a Salamanca, N.Y.-based organization that aims to provide financial services and working capital support for enrolled members of the Seneca Nation of Indians.