Sweet and Low

10. Personal Concierge

If you're resourceful, energetic and you love people-really love them-there are millions of time-starved Americans willing to pay you to fulfill their needs and whims. A growing battalion of personal concierges is springing up to do everything from planning romantic weekend retreats to locating a plumber at inconvenient times.

While harried individuals are finding a need for personal concierges, even more corporations are hiring them to help ease busy employees' loads. The services performed by personal concierges before landing corporate clients often include grocery shopping, taking pets to the vet and ironing. Many work from home and gain larger clients as they pick up experience.

As a personal concierge, it's essential to be a good online researcher, because many client requests can be fulfilled by performing a Web search. Concierges must also be efficient and committed to providing great customer service-even if someone asks you to plan a birthday party for their cat.

The basics: a basic computer, Internet access, a business phone line, a fax machine, business cards and letterhead.

Total cost: $3,000

What they spend: Make sure you don't squander all your start-up capital on unnecessary business consulting fees. Even with basic office equipment and a limited budget for extras, you can build a growing business. Market yourself through personal letters, networking and word-of-mouth.

For details: The National Concierge Association, (312) 782-6710, www.conciergeassoc.org

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This article was originally published in the August 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sweet and Low.

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