Hot Biz:Tech Security
One of the biggest computer stories of the past few years is the rise of technology security. It's a wide-open area that encompasses everything from biometric thumbprint scanners to VPNs to consulting to firewalls to virus protection and beyond. A 2002 study released by IDC expects the IT security market to jump from $17 billion in 2001 to $45 billion in 2006. Three areas leading the charge are security hardware, services and software.
David Kaufman, 39, CEO and co-founder of Intense School , has helped his 64-employee company find a niche on the training side of security. When it started in 1997, the Plantation, Florida, company featured Microsoft and Cisco certification training. After 9/11, in response to the growing demand for security services, the company shifted gears to focus on information security boot camps. Its menu now features security-professional certification training and a popular professional hacking class from which 2,000 attendees have graduated. "It's one area of our business that is really blossoming," says Kaufman. Intense School illustrates the diverse opportunities available for entrepreneurs in the technology security sector. With the boom in wireless networking, Kaufman points to wireless security as a high-growth field.
Worms, bugs, viruses and hackers aren't going away anytime soon, and companies and consumers are looking for ways to make using the Internet safe again. Growing businesses working in security software and hardware development will find demand for products that fill niches, are easy to deploy, and are cost-effective to meet the needs of tight IT budgets. Entrepreneurs with technology security backgrounds can parlay their experience into consulting, development and security implementation work. Whether you're into thwarting hackers or scanning irises, there's room for new business in security. -A.C.K.
- Computer Security Resource Center - A division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, this organization's mission is to research, develop and raise awareness of risks and vulnerabilities for new technologies.
- SmallBusiness.ITWorld.com - This Web site offers news, white papers, a newsletter and information regarding small- and medium-sized businesses and their IT concerns.
The definition of "spa" is expanding. Today there are medical spas, spas for men, spas for kids and teens, even spas for the whole family. The spa industry, like the fitness industry, is diversifying its offerings and how it provides them. "A lot of spas are including memberships where you sign up for the year and [get] a variety of services at reduced rates," says Melinda Minton, a spa consultant and founder of The Spa Association .
Customers are taking advantage of these special deals: 45 million Americans-one in five people-visited a spa at least once between June 2002 and June 2003, according to the International Spa Association. And 2004 will bring continued steady growth, says Linda Lewis, executive editor of Dayspa, a magazine read by 32,000 salon and spa owners.
In June 2002, Susan Tierney opened Seventeen Studio Spa Salon with husband Steve Tierney, 42, and Kathy Karagin, 44. The Plano, Texas, spa licensed the rights to use Seventeen magazine's brand in the United States and Canada. The spa's 30 employees cater to the 12-to-34 crowd with acne facials, waxing, hair styling and other services. But it's not just girls getting primped and pampered: 20 percent of Seventeen's customers are teenage boys coming for haircuts and highlights. "It's a very cool place, and they get to see the girls," says Susan, 44. The company estimates sales of $1.3 million to $1.6 million in 2003 and plans to expand to 150 locations by 2010.
Minton sees the industry trending toward "away day" spas located just outside major metropolitan areas; "wellness spas," where spa treatments are aligned with specific health goals such as nutrition; and "mind spas" that specialize in mental alertness for an aging population. But here's the rub: Minton has watched spa enthusiasts start their own spas without realizing how overhead can drain the bottom line. "Some spas only make 5 percent profit," Minton says. "It's still a great opportunity, but you have to treat it like a business."
For more information on starting a day spa, read " Great Escape ." -Chris Pentilla
- Virtual Spa - This Web site is a one-stop resource, covering everything from the physical facility to the programs and services your spa can offer.
- SpaTrade - An online spa business management resource, SpaTrade offers news, article links, expert advice and more.
- International Spa Association - The International Spa Association is recognized as the professional organization and voice of the spa industry.
Hot Biz:Upscale Pet Services
People love their pets, and it's showing. In fact, their overwhelming displays of affection and concern have transformed the pet industry in an explosion of new offerings. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. (APPMA) estimates $31 billion was spent on pets in the United States in 2003, up from $29.5 billion in 2002. With over 80 percent of pet owners purchasing at least one accessory for their pet in the past year, the exponential growth of the upscale pet services sector signals a seismic shift in pet owners' attitudes.
"More people are treating their pets like humans, thus looking for human-like services and products," says Bob Vetere, managing director and COO for APPMA. "We're seeing everything from pet hotels with heated floors to a guy who does liposuction and chiropractics." Other luxury pet services out there include limousine rides, day cruises and personal shoppers-proving what's good enough for humans is definitely good enough for pets.
Tom O'Leary, co-owner of Dog Spa in Beverly, Massachusetts, caters to coddling pet parents by offering a full dog spa in addition to upscale products. Grooming and spa treatments in "quiet rooms" include exfoliating treatments, hair revitalization and aromatherapy. O'Leary, 48, launched the business in June and projects sales of $750,000 to $1 million for the first year.
The two top U.S. pet supply chains, Petco and Petsmart, have boosted sales by adding high-end merchandise and services to their stores. While that may sound ominous for entrepreneurs, the good news is that many pet service consumers prefer boutiques to the larger stores. The key is specialization. "You have to identify your niche and work it to your advantage," says Vetere.
There's also a growing demand for products that help bridge the emotional gap between creature and man, like greeting cards from pets and Bow Lingual, by Tokyo-based Takara Co. Ltd., the first dog bark translator that scientifically analyzes barks and interprets dogs' emotions. With dog yoga being all the rage, maybe "ouch" is what Fido's really been trying to say. -April Y. Pennington
- PetWalk.com - This online pet directory offers a free newsletter, product reviews, pet-care tips and more.
- Pawsperouspets.com - Geared toward pet lovers, this site provides information and links for services, training, products and articles.