People's urge to feather their nests is a bonanza for the home design industry. Nearly one-third of U.S. adults made home improvements in the 12-month period preceding spring 2000, according to USAData.com and Media-mark Research. And Americans who had kitchen remodeling jobs done in 1998 spent big-an average of $26,888, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association.
All this is good news for those with a knack for decorating or remodeling. If this sounds a bit general to you, you're right. As fans of HGTV can attest, home design is an extremely broad field, emcompassing everything from changing the fabric on an ottoman to putting in a new wall.
Rick Glickman, 42, founder of Skokie, Illinois-based Dream Kitchens, has himself capitalized on a specific niche of the industry. Dream Kitchens designs custom kitchen, bath and other cabinetry using computer-generated drawings based on customers' sketches.
Borrowing money from friends, Glickman established a showroom in 1992 and created a thriving neighborhood business. Then, during a brief slump, Glickman turned to the Web, and things turned better than ever: "The Web site became our second location, even bigger and more important than our first since it's not limited by square footage," he explains. The site gets more than 200,000 hits per month and helped Dream Kitchens take in more than $1 million last year.
They're not adults. They're not quite teens. And don't dare call them children. They're tweens-kids between the ages of 9 and 12. They have big-time spending power-and it's getting bigger. Last year, they were expected to influence $290 billion in sales, according to marketing expert James McNeal, and kids ages 4 to 12 shelled out $23.4 million of their own money, says the nonprofit Center for a New American Dream.
Robin Wells, 40, invested "six figures" of her savings and retirement money to launch Beverly Hills, California-based Royal Heirs, a line of bath and fragrance products for tweens, in 1998. As previous owner of a graphics business marketing fragrances and cosmetics, Wells got a firsthand look at that retail market and saw the dearth of products for young girls.
Her product line features natural, botanical-based fragrances that appeal to both tweens and parents. The dual appeal is the cornerstone of successfully tapping the tween market. "Let's face it, tweens can't drive themselves to the store to buy your products. You have to draw their parents in, too," says Wells.
The two-pronged marketing approach has worked. "We doubled our sales and took in six figures in 2000," says Wells. In April, she even opened her own flagship store, Blossom a Girl's World.
Think you might want to attract a tween audience? Find out more in Keep Your Cool.
Come boom or bust, firms that provide quality employees keep the good times rolling. Staffing is a $72 billion industry that puts 2.9 million people to work each day, according to the American Staffing Association. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the staffing industry will grow by 43.1 percent from 1998 to 2008. "Demand for quality people is going up," says Tom Potenza, 34, founder and president of TechLink Inc., a 70-employee staffing firm based in Ramsey, New Jersey, mostly specializing in software developers. Potenza started his business in January 1998 with $60,000 in savings. Last year, TechLink raked in $10 million.
If working with people is your strong suit, check out The Staff of Life for more on how to start a staffing business.