27 Service Businesses to Start Now

There are hundreds of opportunities in the service arena offering low-cost start-ups and high profit returns. Almost all can be run from home.

There's still room to grab your share of the multi-billion dollar service industry. Most of them-- the exception is the private postal center shop-can be run from home.

  1. MONOGRAMMING Everybody loves to see their name, logo or company team emblazoned on a cap, t-shirt, towel, apron, etc. You can set up a monogramming business right at your kitchen table. Promote the business at crafts shows or via flyers, and ads in local newspapers.

  2. CARPET CLEANING You can start your own residential and commercial cleaning service by tying in with a carpet cleaning giant such as Duraclean International, Inc., or Von Schrader. You can start on a part-time basis and develop the business into a full-time enterprise.

  3. BUTTON MAKING. You can start your own button making operation for $29.95. The folks at Badge-A-Mint will get you started with an easy to use hand press, designs, pinned backs and instructions. Buttons can be assembled in less than a minute.

  4. BLIND CLEANING. The Morantz family are the innovators in blind cleaning machines. Their slogan "Dirty blinds can put you in business," and plenty of entrepreneurs are making a mint cleaning blinds with a nifty, portable blind cleaning machine from Morantz.

  5. WINDSHIELD REPAIR. Car owners hate those bubbles and cracks in their windshields caused by stones or other debris bouncing from the pavement. There are a few companies who teach you how to set up your own windshield repair biz and supply you with the materials. Start-up costs vary.

  6. CHIMNEY CLEANING. Heating homes with wood burning stoves is a cheaper alternative to electric or natural gas heat. Because the creosote (sap) accumulates on the inside of the chimney, they must be cleaned regularly. (Creosote is responsible for causing chimney fires.) You can start your own chimney cleaning business for about $2000.

  7. AUTO DETAILING. Consumers who shell out $30,000 plus for a Mercedes or a BMW are not about to cut costs when it comes to keeping their car in cream puff condition. Entrepreneurs show up at the owner's home or office and completely wash, wax and clean the interior of the car.

  8. ENGRAVING. It seems like one has to be an artist to start an engraving business. But Paragrave Corporation can teach just about anyone to do it. Their system involves a process that is as easy as tracing.

  9. ADVERTISING SPECIALTIES. There are thousands and thousands of potential customers right in your region and through mail order. Advertising specialties are pens, caps, paperweights, flashlights, key chains, etc. that feature the name of the company along with address and phone number on it. The items can be given out at grand openings, sale days, holiday gifts, or trade shows. Your business is making them (and making money).

  10. TEST MACHINES. The incidence of drunk driving is reaching an all time high. Bars, restaurants and diners are increasingly working with entrepreneurs who will set up alcohol test machines; bar patrons can actually check their alcohol levels.

  11. ROOF MAINTENANCE. The Pace Products, Inc. company has developed a seamless spray process to fix roofs. The service can offered to residential customers as well as commercial customers. In fact, some Pace entrepreneurs have regular contracts with firms such as General Motors, American Airlines and Holiday Inns.

  12. MOBILE CAR WASH. Part of the appeal of many service businesses is bringing the service directly to the customer. Mobile car washing is a good way to go where the money is. You can purchase a mobile car wash operation from the Express Wash Company.

  13. GIFT BASKET BUSINESS. Today, more and more people want to ease and convenience of picking up the phone and ordering a gift. A gift basket business could be the perfect part-time or full-time money maker for you. One who knows how to start and run this business is Carol Starr who runs Starr Gift Baskets in Houston, Texas. Carol has written a manual on how anyone can start this business in their area. She also includes information on how existing shops and businesses can add a gift baskets as an additional service to their customers.

  14. HOME INSPECTION. There are dangers lurking in residential homes-bad water, radon, asbestos, termites, etc. Home buyers who shell out an average of $150,000 for a home these days don't want to buy a lemon. Home inspectors charge about $200 to come in and make a complete check of the home. Many states are requiring that homes be inspected before the sale is finalized making the opportunity even brighter for entrepreneurs who start a home inspection business. You can learn how to get started and run this business from the franchised operation AmeriSpec or through National Property Inspections.

  15. UPHOLSTERY CLEANING. You can purchase a turnkey operation from Von Schrader or Foley Belsaw and start your own upholstery and drapery cleaning business.

  16. COMPUTER PORTRAITS. A photo/computer system enables one to put any photo on just about any item including mugs, buttons, calendars, t-shirts and many more items. You can purchase a package that will set you up in business.

  17. INSTALL SLIPPROOF SURFACES. As our population is getting older, more Americans are slipping and falling in their homes and in commercial establishments. Even young folks can fall on wet surfaces near a swimming pool or shower/tub. You can start a business installing slip-proof surfaces in residential and commercial buildings. Saf-T-Grip is a product that you install.

  18. VENT CLEANING. Atypical one day restaurant vent cleaning job can earn you $250 to $500 based on the rate of $65 per hour. Nice work because you can do it at night and on weekends. Many states are now regulating the cleaning of restaurant vents-meaning, they have to be cleaned on a regular basis.

  19. TUB & TILE RESTORATION. This is a great business opportunity to start anytime of year. It's part of the home remodeling boom and there is plenty of potential accounts no matter where you live because just about anyone can use a little touch up on their tub and tile surfaces. This refinishing/re-glazing business can be started by tying in with a leading franchisor such as Perma-Glaze.

  20. PRIVATE POSTAL CENTER. Busy people don't have time to wait in line at the local post office. The local post office also fails to offer a lot of services that private postal centers provide such as fax machines, printing of rubber stamps, answering service, and much more.

  21. SPECIAL EVENTS PROMOTIONS. Ease of operation and low start-up costs characterize all the entertainment promotions designed and packaged by Keith Namanny-the man who brought us the world renowned Rocky_bots. Keith has a wide range of promotions at that are portable and fun to play. They can easily set up in bars, restaurants, corporate events, backyard parties, you name it!

  22. AUTO PAINT TOUCH-UP. Auto-owners would love to find an inexpensive way to fix those dents and pings in their fenders and car doors and those scrapes on the roof or bumper. You can start a business offering auto paint touch-up that fits the bill.

  23. LANDSCAPING LIGHTING. Home owners who want to make castles of their environments are hiring companies to come in and set up special effect lighting around swimming pools, gardens, driveways and to do their holiday lighting decorations for them. Shop owners love this type of service, too. The Dekra-Lite company has designed a number of lighting designs for entrepreneurs. The small business owner shows a client portfolio of what's available and then Dekra-Lite ships the kit along with detailed instructions on how to set it up. No designing on how to set it up. No designing or electrician's experience required by any means!

  24. VINYL REPAIR. Just about every dinner, movie theatre, restaurant booth, doctor's office and auto or truck could use a little repair work on their vinyl. That's quite a broad client base.

  25. CUSTOM PICTURE FRAMING. A wholesaler of picture frame moldings and materials can supply small business framers with products and inventory to start and run a high-profit custom framing service.

  26. PROFESSIONAL BILLING SERVICE. There are plenty of small businesses out there who could benefit from having a small firm take control of their billing. You could be that entrepreneur.

  27. DIET & WEIGHT LOSS; About 75% of the American population is overweight. The emphasis on being fit and slim is everywhere in this health and beauty conscious 1990's decade. Entrepreneurs can still cash in on the fitness boom by offering computerized diets. Small business owners who get into this field don't have to program a computer to create the diet plans because they can be tie in with two companies who do all of the computer work, Entrepreneurs work with their clients and present the computer-generated daily menus.

Choose a Business That's Right for You

Owner and founder of Corporate Music is G.E. Maas. We asked Mr. Maas for some tips and how would-be entrepreneurs should go about choosing a business opportunity.

Mr. Maas recommends that you start by listing businesses or hobbies that are of interest to you. After choosing several opportunities, find out if you really need a franchise or distributorship to go into that particular business.

Some individuals offer do-it-yourself start-up kits through magazine advertisements. Often these do-it-yourself start-up kits through magazine advertisements. Often these do-it-yourself kits are enough to help individuals start many different types of businesses.

Some franchisors, such as Complete Music, says Mr. Maas, actually list the support that is provided, as well as what is necessary to provide that level of support for yourself with their help.

If you decide not to go it alone, he suggests, contact those businesses that interest you. Ask to be sent their information packets AND a list of owners (with phone numbers) that you may contact on your own.

This is extremely important because the literature that is sent out does inform, but is promotional in nature, whereas, actual owners or distributors are actively involved in the business you are investing.

Once all the information is received, narrow down your choices as much as possible. Check out those remaining companies as if your future depended on it, says Mr. Maas, because it does.

Have your attorney and accountant examine the legal and financial documents respectively. Weigh the pluses and minuses of each company. Contact as many owners or distributors as possible. Find out first hand their thoughts on home office support, profitability, company integrity and the day to day enjoyment of operating their business.

Ask them any questions that would help you make a good, informed decision.

"Any company you are considering should encourage you to contact their owners or distributors," he explained.

Mr. Maas also suggests that after you've made your decision, sleep on it. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into any decision by anyone. "a good company will want you to take the time necessary to make decisions that are right for you."

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