There’s nothing to equal the joy of starting your own business and seeing it take off. What you need is a great idea and the ability to work really hard. Here are some stellar business ideas to get you thinking. The hard work is up to you so before you decide to start out on your own, make that commitment to hard work. Most of these ideas do not need a great deal of investment in terms of money but you do need to make that all-important investment of time.


Career coaching If you have a knack for training, why not help people find the right career match? Actually it is something like matchmaking. You take people’s skills and talents and match them with the requirements of a job. You advise them on the extra skills and experience they may need to acquire to fit the bill. You need to be a friend, philosopher and guide to succeed in this business.

Online retail consultant If you are an online buff, this could be just the right business for you. You can help people turn their online businesses into successes. You can advise sellers on how to improve their product pitches, take better product photos and write better product descriptions. You can also advise your clients on how to use social media effectively.

Personal Shopper Do you like shopping? Do you have an eye for good value? You can help busy people by doing their shopping for them. You might turn out to be an invaluable asset and if you show results, you can be sure you’ll get more clients by word-of-mouth.

Trash Makeovers There’s a germ of a great business idea in turning trash into something of value. If you are an artist or just have a knack for crafts, try turning items that would otherwise be thrown away into useful and attractive products. You’ll find many buyers at those art and craft fairs or you can offer them on your website.

Event planner Event planning is big business but you can enter it by focusing on small events where your personal involvement can stand out. People are looking for someone who can organize parties and look after all the small details that make for a successful event. Give exciting and original ideas, make sure they are perfectly executed …and you’ll be on your way.

Errand Service Busy people would love to have someone they can rely on to do a host of errands from paying bills on time to picking up the laundry or going to the supermarket with a grocery list. You should be able to say, “Leave it to me” and must deliver results. That way you will be indispensable and can command a good price for your service.

Computer Maintenance With the number of laptops, tablets and PCs on the rise, there’s a need for people who know computers and can look after maintenance and repairs on a regular basis. You should be available in emergencies and be the Mr. or Ms. Fix-it. It can be a rewarding business.

Cost-Cutter If you have an eye for detail, you could make your services available to check items on bills, going over them with a fine toothcomb. You are bound to find areas where costs can be cut . This is a service that will be appreciated. You need to be meticulous and painstaking but if you can prove your worth to your client and show results – you will soon have a roster of clients wanting your brand of service.

These are just a few examples to show that you can turn your idea into a successful enterprise. Think of an area where there are not many players. Think of an unmet need and put everything you have into meeting it. Yes, there’s a successful entrepreneur in you.

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The environment in which you work directly affects your efficiency and productivity. People have different work spaces and different needs. But, according to design experts, there are some elements everyone needs to look at when designing the perfect work space.


Windows : Are not just for looking out from though it’s amazing what a lift a good view can give. Windows provide better light for working and, it’s been found that people who work in spaces with windows get better sleep than those in windowless spaces.

Greenery A few green plants can have a real impact on worker happiness. People feel better about their jobs than in an office with no greenery. Get plants that don’t need a lot of attention but make sure they are regularly watered and have some sunlight.

Color : Accents of color are important. Do you know that color has a significant effect on our mental state? Blue is said to be intellectually stimulating. Yellow inspires creativity. Green denotes calm and balance. Red affects the body and is a dramatic mood-enhancer.

Personalized Spaces : Small office, large office, even a small corner… it can all be customized even if there is an overall design for the whole office. Personalisation is much easier if you are working on your own. Adding pictures and plants and things that are definitely ‘you’ actually makes for greater productivity. As far as possible, employees at any level should be allowed control over their work space. A uniform plan with a sea of work stations does not have that element of individuality so essential to productive and enjoyable working.

Variety : Is the spice of a happy work environment. You need visual elements that disrupt the space to get the creative juices flowing. This does not mean creating walls or partitions if that does not fit in with the design scheme. For example, a colorful tent on wheels can be pulled in over a workstation for privacy as well as for dramatic effect. The senses need to be jolted to enable out-of-the-box thinking. A varied environment is really about choice – giving people the kind of space where they can do their work happily and more effectively. Flexibility is important when designing work spaces whether in formal offices or at home. People should be able to create a work space outside of just their desks. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t provide options and is not conducive to creativity. To get better performance from people, it is important to give them the flexibility to have a hand in the environment in which they work.

Art : Is, of course, aesthetics. But it’s also so much more. It enhances people’s sense of an environment that’s not just a pre-planned space. Art adds dimension to a space and is conducive to creativity. And what could signal ‘individuality’ more than art? Whether you like abstract art or landscapes or film posters, use art as a design element with your distinct ‘signature’ on it.

It’s not easy to plan the perfect work space specially with budget and space constraints. But with a little imagination and a flexible approach, so much can be done. And the result of all that effort is greater productivity and happiness in the workplace.

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Goodbye 9 to 5 & Hello Flexi Hours

Remember 9 to 5? Forget it. The trend today is flexi hours. This means flexible scheduling of work to adjust to responsibilities at work and home. It can mean starting and ending workdays at different times or doing some of your work at home. Parents may choose to arrive at work later so they can take their children to school. There may be other reasons like avoiding rush hour commutes for starting work early or late. Whatever the flexible schedule an employee follows, there is usually a window of time during the day when everyone is expected to be present in the office for reviews, consultation or collaborative work. There are exceptions, of course. For instance, when people work in locations a distance away, which makes it difficult for them to come in to work during those ‘common’ hours every day. Conference calls or video conferencing can help compensate for these absences.

Many organisations find that offering the option of flexi hours enables them to retain employees who may otherwise have to give up working because of the demands of the family. This usually refers to women who feel they might have to leave work after having children. However, both sexes may have responsibilities such as caring for elders and managing disabilities and need flexi hours to continue working and fulfill those responsibilities. No organisation wants to lose a good worker. It is in the organisation’s best interest to make adjustments for flexible schedules.


Flexi hours boost productivity. When employees manage their own schedules, their stress levels decline and they focus better on the task in hand. There is a direct correlation between worrying about the family when at work and decreased productivity as well as absenteeism.

It has been found that people are most successful when they have the flexibility they need to meet the demands of their professional lives and accomplish the things they consider priorities in their personal lives. That’s why many forward-thinking companies are accepting flexi hours as a way of life.

Changes need to be made within the organisation to ensure that while flexi hours benefit the employee, clients’ interests are safeguarded. There are several ways this can be done. Strengthening teamwork ensures that multiple employees share the responsibility for a given project so flexible schedules do not affect deliverables. Sometimes a ‘buddy’ system is put in place with colleagues doubling for one another so there’s always someone responding to a client’s needs. To help employees balance their personal and work commitments, some organisations offer resources such as quality childcare facilities. It helps the final output. For employees to be fully involved in their jobs, they need to feel that they don’t have to worry about their personal responsibilities.

Greater emphasis is being placed within many organisation on stress management. There’s an increasing pressure to perform. Organisations offer their employees programs on how to cope with stress. These programs are carefully designed to be accessible, convenient and engaging.

With flexi hours, reduced stress and increased concern for the employee’s well-being, a desirable work-life balance can be achieved. It results in a better quality of life for the employee which shows in better performance in the workplace. There are 24 hours in the day for everyone. How to get the most from them is the challenge. The flexi-hour culture is a welcome step in this direction.

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Give Your Workspace a Makeover

You spend most of your working day at your workspace and it’s the same old scenario day after day.The same walls, the same shelves. And the same old piles of paper that just keep mounting up. It’s depressing and hardly conducive to productivity.

So, it makes sense to refresh your workspace. Give it a makeover. You need a budget but it need not be very high. There are several ways in which you can give your workspace a fresh new look without a huge price tag.

The first thing to do – which doesn’t cost anything but involves serious commitment – is declutter. Old newspapers and magazines, out. If you haven’t read them as yet, chances are you still won’t have the time to get to them. If there’s a particular item you need to save, it’s better to cut it out and keep it in a ‘to read’ folder than keep the whole newspaper or magazine. Read items from this folder whenever you have small amounts of time or when you want to take a break from the project you are working on. When this folder gets too bulky, it’s time to clear it out. File those letters and documents lying on your desk. Go digital with papers and documents as much as possible. It’s well worth the time and effort. The aim should be a clean, clear workspace to come to every morning.

Put up a visual pinboard. Instead of just post-its with things to do, put up some interesting pictures and inspiring quotes. A corkboard is ideal for this. Make sure you change the items on the pinboard frequently.


Plants can change the look of any workspace. Get some low-maintenance indoor plants and see how much brighter and happier they make you feel. Fresh flowers on your desk will make you feel special and motivate you to get down to work in a positive upbeat way.

Rearrange the furniture around you and try to create different hubs for different types of work or just to ring the changes. You could have a hub for brainstorms or to get the creative juices flowing. You could have a separate hub for doing concentrated work, another for collaborative work. You should also have a comfortable place for just relaxing before getting back to work.

Personalising your workspace can make a world of difference. Put up photographs, postcards, souvenirs from places you visited, a quote you specially like, a recipe that you’ve tried and others can share. It’s also a good idea to have a blank sheet near your desk to encourage people to write a comment, a joke or scribble a sketch. This should be changed frequently. If you like to feel hospitable, have a jar of cookies on your desk that people can help themselves to while passing by. It’s a great way to make friends as well.

Lights can completely transform your workspace. So do go in for a good overhead lighting system and stylish lamps. See how much better you feel in a well-lit and inviting room. Colours are great mood enhancers as well. While you may have to conform to a uniform colour scheme across the office, you can always add accents of colours in your particular workspace. Walls and shelves should be freshly painted. That always seems to be like a breath of fresh air and helps people feel renewed and invigorated.

With a little imagination, you can change the look and feel of your workspace. You’ll find it helps boost creativity and infuses enthusiasm and excitement. This is one makeover that pays dividends.

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It’s important for start-ups to establish a professional corporate image. The question is, how to accomplish this on a limited budget? Leasing or buying office space is way off budget for most start-ups and there’s also the cost of getting equipment, furniture and all the other peripherals needed to set up an office. And let’s not forget what one would need to pay the staff – even a bare minimum of two or three. There are seriously low overheads, a big plus for a start-up. Besides, running and maintaining an office is in itself time-consuming. This time can be better spent focusing on getting the business up and going.

Virtual Office

Fortunately, there is a way around these stumbling blocks. It’s summed up in two words: virtual office. It’s like having an office without actually having one. For a reasonable amount of money a month, a virtual office can give you all the facilities of an actual corporate office. A receptionist receives and answers calls on your behalf. You have a professional mailing address – generally more impressive than your home address – which you can use on your calling card and stationery. You have a place where you can meet clients and business associates and create a good impression. You can make use of a conference or meeting room, order in coffee, tea or meals. You can call upon a host of administrative services like secretarial services, getting documents printed and bound, getting a courier service. Generally, all these services are on a pay-by-use basis. It all adds up to a budget-friendly option for start-ups.

There are other advantages, too. Start-ups need people of experience and calibre on their teams but their costs can be unaffordable. Giving them the option of working from a virtual office can become an attractive proposition and you would generally be able to draw premium employees with this benefit. Many of them might prefer to work from home (or anywhere else convenient) instead of having to come in to the office at regular times at a lower cost than their usual fees. With a virtual office, you are also doing your bit for the environment. If you and your colleagues were to commute to office every day, it would add up to a serious amount in carbon emissions over time.

What most users of virtual offices consider a really important benefit is a feeling of freedom. Nowadays with just a laptop and mobile phone, you can set up office anywhere: on a park bench, on the beach, on a mountain top, in a coffee shop, or even your car. Ideas and inspiration can come anytime, anywhere. So you can be miles away from the office and yet not miss that important call. You can set up a meeting in the ‘office’ and come in just in time to attend it. You can, in fact, do everything you need to do in an office but not have an office at all.

Productivity is known to increase with such a flexible system of working. Also having a virtual office frees up your budget to attend industry meetings, network –all important activities to help you canvas for more business. Add it all up and you’ll find the benefits are not virtual – but real.

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