50. Scoop Up an Ice Cream Franchise: With the ice cream industry bringing in $21 billion last year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, there's no doubt America has a consistent sweet tooth for this classic treat. You can whip up your own original flavors, dress up traditional tastes with unique toppings or take a cue from established stores and buy your own ice cream franchise. But keep your pulse on the trend: It's all about upscale desserts with a healthy twist, so focus on the ambience and don't neglect the nutrition. --C.H.
51. Go back to school: Knowledge is wisdom, so set your business up for success by taking a business class. Online courses are easy to fit into your busy schedule, and classes at a local college will connect you with your community and other entrepreneurs. But be sure to do your homework: "Pick a class that is more interactive, that's known for building off of your own business," advises Julia Castro Abrams, CEO of Women's Initiative for Self Employment. "And then actively engage with it." --S.W.
52. Get an Angel: Angel investors are high-net-worth individuals who invest, either individually or as a group, in young, high-growth businesses. Unlike investors in VC funds, members of angel groups typically decide on a deal-by-deal basis if they will put money into a particular company. To find an angel group near you, check out the Angel Capital Association at angelcapitalassociation.org/dir_directory/directory.aspx.
53. Learn More About Search Engine Marketing: For those who want to know more about search engine marketing and search engine optimization, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization offers webinars and training courses for marketing professionals and business owners. SEMPO members, full-time students and military personnel can receive course discounts, but membership is not required to sign up. The site also has other educational tools, along with a member directory and research reports. --J.P.
54. Mind Your Money: Are you looking for a CPA, news on the latest business accounting software or anything accounting-related? Get up to speed at the website of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. You'll find links to news updates, accounting-related software, state CPA societies and answers to frequently asked tax questions.
55. Bargain Hunt: Log a few minutes of web time, and chances are you can dig up some hot bargains on the tech equipment you need. Spoofee.com highlights the best deals of the day and also provides a coupon section, a collection of weekly ads and a user forum for sharing the latest finds. DealCatcher.com is an easy-to-navigate way to get informed of the latest deals, rebates and coupons from a huge number of online retailers. --A.C.K.
56. Get Vendor Financing: Looking for financing? Vendors may be willing to give you the capital you need, either with a delayed financing agreement or a leasing program. Vendors have a vested interest in your success and a belief in your stability, or else they wouldn't be doing business with you. Before entering any agreement, however, compare long-term leasing costs with short-term loan costs; leasing can be more costly.
57. Consider an Auto Franchise: With popular shows like Pimp My Ride and Overhaulin', auto detailing is finding a home with suburbanites. You might even be one of them. If you're already spending time and cash on your car on the weekend, why not make it back during the week? You can find a good number of auto detailing franchises with low startup costs. So make a clean cut in a dirty garage. --J.K.
58. Develop an Elevator Pitch: Pitching your business to a potential investor, partner or client? Get ready to think quick and talk fast. You only have 30 seconds to describe the benefits of your product or service, generate interest and secure a second meeting. "The key is to focus on things you've already done, not just things you're going to do," says Asheesh Advani, author of Investors in Your Backyard. And when all is said, take note of people's reactions to reach pitch perfection. --S.W.
59. Become a Pizza Franchisee: Pizza is an American classic and a staple in the food service industry. With an ever-present demand for it, buying one of the many established pizza franchises can be a good way to get a slice of this multibillion-dollar industry while benefiting from using an existing concept with ongoing system support. --E.W.
60. Use Factoring: Factoring allows you to access immediate cash by selling your invoices (accounts receivable) to a commercial finance company for a fee of around 3 percent. Factoring works for startups because, unlike banks, factors don't care about your company's credit--they just look at the strength of your customers' balance sheets. Jeff Callender, factoring expert and president of Dash Point Financial Services Inc., says that typically you must generate at least 20 percent gross profits for factoring to make sense.
61. Lease Equipment: By leasing machinery rather than buying it, you conserve your cash and commit to a low monthly payment schedule that you and your business can afford. The leasing company will want to see how much cash you've put into the business and a copy of your personal net worth statement before they extend you the lease. For a list of equipment leasing companies, check out the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association website at elfaonline.org.
62. Market to Plus-Size Kids: The market for plus-size kids' clothing and products is growing by leaps and bounds, says Timothy Dowd, senior analyst at MarketResearch.com. Plus-size girls spent $3.2 billion on clothing in 2006, while plus-size boys generated $3 billion in sales. "It's up to marketers to be really creative, ingenious and innovative," says Dowd. Check out licensed entertainment and sports properties--even extreme sports themes--for kids' plus-size attire. A need for plus-size kids' products--like infant seats with increased weight capacity--presents another niche. --N.L.T.
63. Become a Great Money Manager: If you're hoping to master accounting for your new business--or simply don't want to be left in the dark when talking to your accountant--check out Accounting for the New Business by Christopher R. Malburg. Offering a complete accounting course in one volume, this book features easy techniques you can use, simple solutions to common problems and everything you need to gain an overall understanding of the accounting process.
64. Ask About Franchise Incentives: If you're a woman or a minority looking to purchase a franchise, you may be eligible for special financial incentives or assistance from franchisors. Ask franchisors you are considering whether they have such programs and what the requirements are.
65. Advertise on the Silver Screen: More than 27,000 movie screens run advertisements before showing the main feature. Screenvision Direct works with local advertisers to produce advertising slides that run during pre-show entertainment. And with reasonable weekly rates per screen, you'll be able to reach nearly everyone who sees any movie at your neighborhood multiplex, without breaking the bank.
66. Get It Together: With people managing greater workloads and busier lifestyles than ever before, helping others get organized is a great franchising opportunity. To follow the home-improvement trends, start with closets and garages--two clutter-filled areas that most Americans dread sorting through. There are more than 97 million households in the U.S., which means about 400 million closets and 50 million garages are in desperate need of assistance. Whether you opt for organization services or products, one thing is for sure: Life can always use a little cleaning up. --K.H.
67. Start a Jewelry Business: Starting a jewelry business requires being able to spot trends, yet still create your own signature look, says Cindy Edelstein of jewelersresource.com: "Your marketing and message for your jewelry has to be rock solid, then add to your line twice a year to respond to trends." Current hot trends include white and clear gemstones and Lucite jewelry, as well as big cuff bracelets, wood bangles, long necklaces and a mix of metal colors--e.g., using a mix of pink, white and yellow gold. One hot niche is handmade jewelry--especially under the $100 or $200 price point. --N.L.T.
68. Check Out Photo Franchises: Life is full of exciting moments waiting to be captured on film. From everyday activities to special occasions, the photo opportunities are nearly endless, and it's clear that digital days are here to stay. By 2009, digital print revenue is expected to hit $107 billion, according to IDC. The popularity of wedding videos, child photography and pet photography are all on the rise, providing a perfect way to tap into the latest crazes. --K.H.
Interested in buying a photography franchise?
69. Find Investors Online: The Angel Capital Education Foundation offers diverse information and educational tools for both entrepreneurs and angel investors. The website includes a list of angel groups and their websites in the U.S. and Canada, organized by region. --J.P.
70. Find Marketing Images: OnRequest Images provides original and creative images and photography for businesses. The company has a global network of photographers and models along with a unique licensing platform to help companies with their marketing and branding needs. Clients can view and comment on images and photos quickly over the web, and even e-mail them to colleagues. --J.P.
71. Do Trade Shows Right: Betsy Bozdech and nationally syndicated columnist Rhonda Abrams have co-written Trade Show in a Day, a step-by-step guide to exhibiting at a trade show. The book helps entrepreneurs choose the right trade show, design a booth and pull in buyers. Those new to trade shows will find useful tools like the trade show timeline handy, while trade show veterans might appreciate the book's tips on how to increase foot traffic to their booths. --J.P.
72. Find the Right PR Contact: Matchmaker ThePRSite.com pairs entrepreneurs with the appropriate PR contacts to pitch their businesses to. It also matches entrepreneurs with PR agencies they can hire. In addition, business owners can try the site's various products and resources, such as the "Yes, You Can Get On Oprah" CD and transcript. The site has several informational articles, links and a blog. --J.P.
73. Hire Your Friends: Who better to hire than the people you already know, love and trust? It worked for Duff Goldman, founder of Charm City Cakes, a specialty, high-end cake bakery. His friends already had the specific skills that would make them assets to the business. For example, one has the artistic ability to build architectural models; that and his willingness to learn made it easy for Goldman to train him.
Discuss all possible contingencies before hiring a friend, and determine exit strategies in case it doesn't work out. Don't oversell the job. Be realistic about the pay and responsibilities. And always treat your friend like any other employee, regarding both positive actions like raises and difficult disciplinary actions. --N.L.T.
74. Outsource Overseas: Finding an overseas manufacturer that can create a quality product for you and also give you amenable terms (such as lower minimum orders) is a challenge. Your first step is solid research. Speak to entrepreneurs, lawyers and consultants with experience in overseas outsourcing. "There's no substitute for due diligence," says Philip D. Porter, a partner with law firm Hogan & Hartson LLP. He suggests getting references and doing background checks to make sure your international manufacturing partner is legitimate, and thoroughly investigating any information and sources found online. Meeting your overseas manufacturing partner in person is a definite plus if you can manage it.
75.Buy a Recreation Rental Franchise: Recreation rentals appeal to a wide audience, whether it's bikes, boardwalk pedalers, motorcycles or RVs. Insiders see the RV industry reaching nearly $16 billion by 2011. But RVs may not be as popular in your particular neighborhood. Take a look around and see what's being taken for a spin in your area. From local beach or park activities to cross-country road trips, you can easily find crowds ready to go. There's always a market for fun. --J.K.