Personal Concierge

Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? Yes

According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 16 million two-income families in this country. And when everybody's out in the workplace, no one's left at home to take care of all those little things that take up so much of a day--things like finding a dinosaur birthday cake for a kid's party, tracking down a service to reweave slacks, running the car to the shop, standing in line at the post office, or making hotel and dinner reservations for visiting guests. If you like being on the go and in the know, doing something different every day, then this could be the business for you. You can specialize in helping corporate clients and denizens of office complexes, or you can concentrate on the homeowner who's not at home. Or if you live in an area where there's lots of entertainment, you might specialize in obtaining event tickets. The advantages to a personal concierge business are that your days will always bring something new and different, and you get the satisfaction of helping people's lives run more smoothly and easily. You'll need a strong organizational sense, loads of get-up-and-go, and you'll have to be a master or mistress of multitasking. You should have good time-management skills and the ability to track down even the most oddball requests. You should have a good source of contacts and resources in a variety of industries and occupations and the people skills to build new ones on a daily basis. And last but definitely not least, you need to be obsessive in fulfilling your clients' requests.

The Market

Your clients can be private parties and businesses--anybody who needs an extra head, pair of arms and legs to accomplish the tasks they haven't got time for. Direct-mail your brochures to people in targeted neighborhoods, those with enough discretionary income to afford your services. Send brochures to the human resources departments and executives' desks of large corporations and hand-deliver them to small companies located in office complexes and parks. Place ads in local publications and be sure to send press releases or write articles about your service--it's still novel enough that it's likely to get publicity.

Needed Equipment

To get going, you'll need a computer with an inkjet printer, the usual software, a fax machine, internet access, and your little black book of contacts and sources. You may also want to invest in an electronic data service so customers can pay by phone.

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