Is the Cash Discount Program Right for My Business?

Cash Discount ProgramCash discounting is becoming increasingly popular among merchants throughout the United States. In fact, the number of businesses who are using a cash discount program has doubled over this past year alone. Cash discounting became legal in 2010 through the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and subsequent court rulings have affirmed the right of businesses to offer a discount to customers who pay with cash.

How Does Cash Discounting Work?

A cash discount program is similar to a surcharge program in that businesses charge an additional fee to customers who pay by card. A typical service fee for paying by card would be 4%. This means that, on a $10.00 purchase for example, the customer would pay $10.40.

There are two main things that a merchant who wants to implement a cash discount program must do to stay compliant with Visa and MasterCard regulations:

– Post visible signage that clearly explains the program; and

– Use a preprogrammed terminal that processes credit card transactions properly.

This signage needs to be present in a place where customers can easily see it. And the terminal must process the transactions correctly, because merchants are not allowed to make an additional profit on a credit card transaction, which might accidentally happen if they tried to implement a cash discount program on their own.

What are the Advantages of a Cash Discounting?

Of course, the number one advantage for merchants who implement a cash discount program is the ability to keep 100% of all transactions, whether they be in cash or credit card. This could mean a very significant savings, depending on your monthly processing volume. And the more you process each month, the better off you will be under the program.

Here is an example of how much you can save through cash discounting. Let’s say you have a restaurant that processes $100,000 in credit card transactions each month. On traditional interchange pricing, you are probably paying an average of 2% to 3% in overall processing fees. It could be higher if you have a clientele that likes to use high mileage rewards cards to pay for their meals, or it could be lower if most of your card paying customers use debit cards.

Conservatively, let’s say you pay 2% overall on the $100,000 in monthly processing volume. This would still mean $2,000 coming out of your profits each month just to cover the cost of your card transactions. With a cash discount program, you would keep all of that money and pay a fixed monthly fee, usually somewhere between $50 and $100 per month for your processing company to run the program and provide support. So, in this example, cash discounting would save you at least $1900 per month.

What would you do with an extra $1900 per month in profit? Use it to expand your business?  Maybe expand your restaurant? Open a new location? Or maybe spend it on some targeted marketing to help grow your customer base.

There are much better ways that you, as a business owner, can spend this money. And this is why merchants (and their interest groups) fought so hard for so many years to obtain the legal right to implement a cash discount program.

In addition to the cost savings, another major advantage of cash discounting is that it is much easier to implement than a similar program such as surcharging. In the states where surcharging is legal (which now include 45 states along with the District of Columbia), there are still many compliance hoops that you must jump through to properly implement the program.

With cash discounting, all you need is the signage and a properly programmed terminal.  There is no need to change any of your prices, because the signage will state that all prices displayed are for cash payments, and a service fee is added for debit and credit card transactions.

On a related note, psychologically, customers are much more likely to accept a cash discount program than a surcharge program. Consumers never like to pay more for the same product or service, but everyone loves to get a discount. Most consumers also know that businesses have to pay an extra fee to process credit card transactions, and when they see that the merchant is only passing along those fees to those who use cards rather than raising prices on everyone, they tend to see that as a fairer pricing structure.

What are the Drawbacks of a Cash Discount Program?

The number one potential drawback of cash discounting is of course the fear that merchants who implement the program will lose customers. This is a very valid concern, and it is really the only reason every business in America who has heard of the cash discount program has not already implemented it. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, no business wants to do anything that might cost them customers, and that is understandable.

The question is, does a cash discount program really scare away customers? The answer to that question is different for every business. The good news is, cash discounting has been around for several year now, and so far, nearly all of the merchants who have implemented this program have not seen a decline in business.

By and large, customer reactions to cash discount programs have been similar to how they would normally react when a business implements a small price increase. During the first couple weeks, one or two customers might complain. But after a month or so, everyone adjusts, and those who are concerned about the nominal service fee simply start paying in cash.

One thing you would want to look at when considering whether or not the cash discount program is right for your business is your average ticket cost. Going back to the restaurant example, customers are not likely to complain too much if they have to pay an extra $.80 on a $20 meal, or even an extra $4.00 on a $100 meal. This is about the same as an ATM fee, and consumers have grown accustomed to convenience fees like these in our increasingly digital age.

On the other end of the spectrum, let’s say you are a building contractor and your customers pay you $10,000 or more for a typical job. In this scenario, they might be a little more anxious about paying a service fee when it adds up to an extra $400. It might still make sense to do a cash discount, but the higher ticket price is something you will definitely need to think about.

Cash Discounting as a Marketing Tool

As mentioned previously, offering a discount rather than implementing a surcharge can turn your cash discount program into a positive for customers. You can even use the fact that you are offering a discount for paying in cash in your marketing to help bring in new customers.

The cash discount can also be combined with other positive elements, such as loyalty programs and partnerships with local charities, to help market your brand and foster goodwill within your community.

For example, at National Franchise Business Solutions, we work with a preferred processor that donates a portion of the proceeds from each credit card transaction to a charity that is dedicated to providing nutritional meals for poor and disadvantage kids in the local community. Merchants who process through us are able to highlight this fact, giving customers another good reason to support their business.

Is the Cash Discount Program Right for my Business?

Each business owner will have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of cash discounting for themselves and decide if this program is right for their business. We make things easier for merchants by allowing them to try out the program without any risk. With us, there are never any contracts to sign or long-term commitments to make. Just give the program a try and see if what we are saying it isn’t true.

We believe that, once you realize the amount of money you can save on the cash discount program, and once you see that the program does not scare away your customers (and can actually help you gain more customers), you will never want to go back to traditional pricing again. But if, for any reason, to the program is not working out for you, we will happily switch you back to traditional processing and still guarantee that we will save you money over what you are paying now.

If you want to find out more about cash discounting and whether or not it might be a good fit for your business, give us a call at 651-202-8636 or email us at franchisecity1(at)gmail.com.

Can Businesses Charge a Fee for Paying by Credit Card?

Credit Card TerminalMerchants are growing increasingly weary of the credit card processing fees being charged by the likes of Visa and MasterCard. These companies have been steadily raising interchange fees for several years to help cover the cost of their mileage and rewards programs, and it is starting to seriously cut into merchants’ bottom lines. Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that even large chains like Krogers are taking a stand against high credit card processing fees.

So, what can a small business owner do to fight back? Can a business charge a fee to customers who pay by credit card? The short answer is “yes”.

There are actually a few different ways a merchant can pass along the cost of credit card processing fees to their customers; surcharging, convenience fees, and cash discounting.

Here is a quick overview of these three options:

Surcharging

Credit card surcharging is currently legal in 45 out of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia (DC). As of this writing, the practice is still not legal in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Kansas. There are also some additional restrictions that apply if you want to implement a surcharge program in New York or Maine.

With surcharging, the merchant adds a fee for all credit card transactions. The fee is typically around 3.5%, but it can be as high as 4%. This fee covers the credit card processing costs, allowing the merchant to keep 100% of the funds received from the transaction.

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover have strict compliance requirements to implement a surcharge program, among them being that clear signage must be displayed at the point of sale thirty days prior to implementing the program. Another restriction is that surcharges cannot be imposed on debit and prepaid debit card transactions.

This means that merchants still have to cover the cost of debit card transactions. But the good news is that, with most of these types of transactions, the fees are only around 1%, as opposed to the 3% to 4% it can cost a merchant when a customer pays by credit card.

Convenience Fees

Convenience fees are similar to surcharges, and they are legal in every state. However, they can only be used in very limited circumstances. A convenience fee can be imposed only when the merchant is providing an alternative method of payment from the way most customers purchase their product. The most common example is in the ticket industry.

You may find that, when you try to buy a ticket for an event, there is an extra convenience fee for purchasing the ticket online rather than in person. The fee is there not because the customer is using a credit card, but because they are paying online. If the customer were to buy the tickets at the gate, they would pay the same price, regardless of whether they paid with cash or by credit card.

Cash Discounting

Like convenience fees, cash discounting is also legal in all 50 states. This has been the case since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act in 2010. The Durbin Amendment within Dodd-Frank permitted businesses to offer a discount to customers who pay with cash.

Since the passage of this law, the rights of businesses to implement a cash discount program have been affirmed by court rulings. And in 2011, Federal Trade Commission spokesman Mitchell Katz said that Dodd-Frank prohibits payment card networks from “inhibiting the ability of anyone to provide a discount for payment by cash, checks, debit cards, or credit cards.”

Cash discounting works similarly to a surcharge program, but there are some key differences.  With a cash discount program, the merchant technically offers a discount to customers who pay in cash, rather than charging them extra to pay with another method. Like surcharge programs, clear signage is required at the point of sale.

The merchant does not have to change all of their pricing to implement a cash discount program – the signage just has to inform customers that the prices displayed are for cash purchases, and an additional fee is added when paying by credit card.

Aside from the fact that cash discount programs are legal in all 50 states, the main difference between this type of program and surcharging is that, with cash discounting, there is no distinction made between credit and debit cards. The discount is given only to cash paying customers, and the end result is that an additional fee is charged to all customers who pay by card.

Another important difference is that surcharging can be done in person or online, as long as customers are properly notified. Cash discounting, on the other hand, can only be offered when the customer has the opportunity to pay cash and receive a discount, which can only happen with face-to-face sales.

Finally, the two programs are presented to the customer differently. With surcharging, you are telling the customer that there is an added fee to pay by credit card. With cash discounting, you are telling the customer that they can save money by paying in cash.

This may not seem like a big difference, but psychologically, it can be. Customers don’t like to be charged extra. On the other hand, customers love to save money. By presenting the program as a cash discount, customers might tend to see it more positively.

Is it Right to Charge Customers a Fee to Pay by Card?

This is a question that a lot of merchants wrestle with. Just because you can charge customers extra to pay by credit card, should you? Ultimately, this is for each individual merchant to decide. But in considering this issue, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

It costs you extra to take credit card payments. When the price of goods and services go up, businesses usually pass the cost on to the customer in the form of a price increase. Is it fair to do the same thing with credit card processing fees?

Many customers who pay by card are receiving generous rewards for doing so. And this has been driving the cost of credit card processing higher in recent years. Do you believe it is fair for customers to help cover the cost of their own rewards programs?

With interchange fees continually going up, your business may eventually have to raise prices to cover these fees. Which would be more fair – making all your customers pay for this, or charging only those customers who pay by credit card?

How Will my Customers React to a Surcharge or Cash Discount Program?

This is perhaps the most important question merchants want answered when deciding whether or not to pass the cost of credit card processing fees onto their customers. Understandably, merchants have an inherent fear that if they implement a program like this, customers may get mad and leave them.

Fortunately, cash discounting and surcharging have both been around for several years now, and those who have implemented these programs have found two things to be generally true:

Cash Discounting and Surcharging do not Seem to affect Consumer Behavior: Studies conducted with merchants who implemented either cash discount or surcharge programs found that credit card processing volume did not change significantly after they were implemented.

By and Large, Customers have No issue with these Programs: Studies also found that 99.2% of customers did not bring up the program at the point of sale. In other words, in the vast majority of cases, customers do not have a problem with paying a little extra to use a card.

Of course, this will play out differently for each individual merchant. What usually happens is that a customer or two might mention the extra fee during the first couple weeks after the program is implemented, similarly to when a business implements a price increase. But after another week or two, customers adjust, and those who have an issue with the extra fee just start paying by cash.

There are also ways for merchants to turn the cash discount into a marketing tool. As mentioned earlier, the psychology of saving money by paying in cash can actually bring in new customers. And if you combine this with other positive elements, you can build greater customer loyalty.

For example, at National Franchise Business Solutions, one of our preferred processors gives a portion of the proceeds from the cash discount program to a local charity that is dedicated to feeding poor children in the community. This partnership not only goes a long way toward providing nutritional meals to disadvantaged kids, it is also something our merchants can highlight to their customers with signage at the point of sale. And when customers find out that proceeds from their credit card transactions go to such a great cause, they are motivated to continue doing business with these merchants.

Is Cash Discounting Right for You?

At the end of the day, only you can decide whether or not it is a good idea to pass your credit card processing fees along to your customers. If this is something you think might be right for your business, we are happy to help.

You can try it out with us risk free to see how it goes. Experience has shown us that, once you get past 30 days, you will realize that customers are just fine with the program, and you will never go back to traditional processing again. But in case we’re wrong, there are no contracts or commitments, and you are free to switch back to your old processor at any time.

To learn more about cash discounting or surcharging or to get started with the program, give us a call at 651-202-8636 or email us at franchisecity1(at)gmail.com. We look forward to serving you!

How to Write an E2 Visa Business Plan

E2 Business Visa in USAMany foreign nationals have been able to successfully establish a new life in America by obtaining an E2 visa. The E2 is an investor visa that is granted to entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the United States. Applicants must invest a substantial amount (typically more than $100,000 USD), own at least 50% of the business, actively participate in its operation, and be involved in a real business, as opposed to something sketchy like a multi-level marketing scheme. One of the most important ways applicants show that their business is legitimate is with their E2 business plan.

A solid, comprehensive E2 visa business plan gives USCIS officers a clear blueprint of what your business will be about and how it will contribute to the U.S. economy. Consular officers thoroughly review the business plan to ensure that your business is credible, and that you have a realistic path to profitability. Remember, the primary goal of the E2 visa program is to build successful businesses in the U.S. that create American jobs. Your business plan will help show the officer that your application is worthy of approval.

What to Include in Your E2 Visa Business Plan

E2 Visa Business PlanEach industry and each business within each industry is unique. As such, what is included in your E2 visa business plan will vary depending on the specifics of your business. That said, here are some elements that should generally be included in the business plan you are going to show the USCIS officer:

Executive Summary: This section should provide a clear and concise summary of your business. It is the first section that the USCIS officer reads, so be sure it sets a strong impression on the reader. The executive summary should be about a page long and provide an overview of the business plan; including the nature of the business, target market, growth strategy, advertising and marketing strategy, and number of projected employees.

Business Description: This is an overview of your business explaining who you are, how you plan to operate, and your business goals. In this section, include the legal structure of your business (e.g., partnership, corporation, LLC, etc.), the products/services you plan to provide, your short-term and long-term business goals, and how you plan to become profitable.

Industry/Market Analysis: This section should describe in detail the industry you are in, your products and services, suppliers and your target market. Include historic, current, and projected future data for the industry, as well as the demographics of your targeted customer segments. In this section, it is a good idea to focus on the unique needs of your target market and how your products/services will benefit your customers.

Marketing Plan: Describe in detail your advertising and marketing methods and how you plan to promote your products/services to your target market. Explain the projected promotional costs in relation to the prices of your products/services, as well as what your average customer acquisition costs will be.

Organization and Management Team: List the organizational structure of your company, including the key personnel and what areas they will be in charge of. List the credentials of each team member, what they bring to the table, and how their background and experience will contribute to the success of the business. Also list any advisors such as accountants, attorneys, and consultants that are part of your team.

Financial Projections: This section should be created with the assistance of an accountant/CPA after you have already done an industry/market analysis and established short-term and long-term business goals. Since E2 visas are typically approved in five-year intervals, your financial projections should show how your business will reach profitability well before the expiration of the initial five-year approval period.

E2 Visa Business Plan Assistance

National Franchise Business SolutionsFor many foreign nationals, preparing an E2 visa business plan is a daunting task. It can be a major challenge to put together the necessary information and present it in a way that will be clear and make sense to the USCIS officer. This is one of the reasons a growing number of foreign nationals prefer E2 visa franchises. There are hundreds of established franchise brands in the U.S. that welcome the opportunity to partner with entrepreneurs from other countries. They serve a wide range of industries; including fast food, automotive, senior care, cleaning, children’s care, health and fitness, and countless others.

Franchisors work closely with E2 visa applicants to provide the training and support necessary for them to start a successful business in the U.S. One major part of that support is the creation of a comprehensive E2 visa business plan. Working hand in hand with a known franchise brand, foreign nationals have a far greater chance of being approved for their E2 visa, so they can start their new life in America.

At National Franchise Business Solutions, we have access to over 600 franchise brands across a wide range of industries, and through a proven multi-step process, we work closely with aspiring entrepreneurs from throughout the world to match them with the franchise business that best suits their passion, skills, and budget. There are never any consultation fees for our services, and the franchise fee you pay is exactly the same whether you work with us or directly with the franchisor.

If you are interested in learning more about which franchise brands are E2-friendly and will help you with important parts of your application such as the E2 visa business plan, we invite you to contact us using the form below.

 

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E2 Visa Israel to U.S.: New Regulations Could Clear the Way for Israeli Investors

E2 Israel to U.S. Since 2012, the United States has had legislation in place allowing Israelis to apply for E2 visa investor status, but there was a catch. E2 status would not be made available (to Israelis) until Israel provided a similar status for American investors. The Israeli government passed legislation in 2014 making B-5 investor status available for Americans. Further regulations were necessary, however, because there was no clear path for foreigners to obtain work permits in Israel based solely upon their investment.

Last month, the Israeli Knesset finally approved the regulations necessary to allow Americans to invest and work in Israel. The new regulations are currently under review by the U.S. State Department to determine if they meet the reciprocity requirements necessary to allow E2 visas from Israel to the U.S. This review may be completed as soon as this coming September.

Up until now, Israelis have only been able to obtain E1 treaty status, which has much stricter requirements, among them being the requirement to already be carrying on substantial trade between the two countries. This rules out startup businesses, including tech entrepreneurs and those who want to start an E2 visa franchise in the United States.

The E2 visa requirements are much easier to meet, and availability of this status will pave the way for thousands of Israeli entrepreneurs who want to own and operate a U.S.-based business.

What are the Qualifications for an E2 Visa?

Israeli investors and entrepreneurs who want to capitalize on the E2 visa investment opportunity must meet certain qualifications. These include:

  • Investment Must be “Substantial”: The U.S. government wants you to invest a significant sum of money into the E2 business you are starting. Though there is no clearly established dollar amount, experience has shown us that you should expect to invest at least $100,000 USD to have a good chance of approval. Some applicants have been approved for a lower amount, but to be safe, $100K is a good benchmark to adhere to.

  • Investment Must be “Non-Marginal”: You must convince the USCIS that the business you are starting is not a “sketchy” enterprise such as a multi-level marketing scheme or something similar. In other words, you must show that this is a real business, and back that up with a solid business plan. The U.S. government also wants to see that your business will create jobs for American workers.

  • Must be Active Participant in the Business: The E2 visa is not for passive business investors. This category is for business owners who plan to live in the United States and actively participate in the operation of the business.

  • Must Own at Least 50% of the Business: You may have other business partners, but the E2 applicant must have at least 50% ownership in the business.

  • Must Obtain Investment Funds Legally: Some of the investment capital for your business can come from family members, loans, and sources other than your own bank account. Wherever they come from, however, the funds must be obtained legally, and the sources must be fully documented.

Which businesses work best with the E2 Visa?

As stated previously, the business you invest in must be “non-marginal” and this must be demonstrated with a strong business plan. One of the best options for Israeli E2 visa applicants is franchising. Franchise businesses are those offered by well-established brands in various industries. These include fast food, cleaning, automotive, senior care, children’s care, and many others. Franchise brands are recognized by USCIS officers, and they know these businesses are real. In addition, the franchisor provides applicants with a comprehensive business plan that helps satisfy the requirements for approval.

The training and support applicants receive from the franchisor is another major benefit. When you partner with an established franchise, they have a vested interest in ensuring that you are profitable. It is their brand and reputation at stake, and they are highly motivated to give you all the tools necessary to position you for success.

Where do you start?

For Israeli investors who want to apply for an E2 visa, it may be hard to know which franchise business (or other type of business) is right for them. There are numerous options out there, and unless you have a particular brand in mind, you could spend countless hours looking at each company to determine which direction you should go.

At National Franchise Business Solutions, we have access to over 600 franchise brands across a wide range of industries. Through a proven multi-step process, we work closely with E2 visa applicants to match them with the franchise brand that best suits their passion, skills, and budget. We never charge any consultation fees, and whomever you choose to partner with, you will pay exactly the same franchise fee whether you work with us or with the franchisor.

If you want to know more about our services, fill out the form at the bottom of the page and a franchise consultant will be back in touch with you shortly.

 

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3 Types of Franchising and the Differences Between Them

Types of FranchisingFranchising is a business relationship that allows companies to expand their product and service offerings while giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to partner with an established brand and business model. The franchisor licenses its business model, procedures, know-how, and intellectual property, and the right to sell its products/services to a franchisee in exchange for fees and an agreement to adhere to company standards. There are various types of franchising and hundreds of franchise opportunities in countless industries, allowing those willing to invest some capital and work hard the chance to own and operate their own business.

When we speak about franchising, it is important to understand which type we are talking about. There are three general types of franchising:

  • Product Distribution Franchising

  • Business Format Franchising

  • Social Franchising

Here is a closer look at each type of franchise model:

Product Distribution Franchising

Product Distribution FranchisingThis franchise type closely mimics a supplier-dealer relationship and is typically found in the automotive, computer, and soft-drink industries. Product distribution franchising deals mainly with large products such as automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, auto parts, vending machines, and some of the inventory for gas stations and convenience stores. Some well-known examples of this franchise model include Pepsi Cola, Ford Motor Company, and John Deere farm equipment.

Though product distribution franchising is similar to dealer-supplier business relationships, the key difference between the two is that product distribution franchisors are more closely tied to their franchisees. For example, in a supplier-dealer relationship, the dealer might carry the products of the supplier as well as several other competing products. With a product distribution franchise, the franchisee is required to carry/sell/distribute the franchisor’s products on an exclusive or at least semi-exclusive basis. In return, the franchisee usually receives a far greater level of support from the franchisor than in a typical dealer-supplier relationship.

Business Format Franchising

Business Format Franchise The business format is by far the most common type of franchising in the United States. More than 80% of all franchises in the U.S. use the business format model, and this franchise type has been replicated successfully in numerous industries. In a business format franchise, the franchisor licenses the brand and business system, and the franchisee operates the business independently, but in keeping with certain standards laid out ahead of time in writing by the franchisor.

Some of the best-known business format franchises are in the fast food industry. McDonald’s and Subway are the two largest fast-food chains in the world, and they have been incredibly successful using this business model. In recent years, the business format model has been used to create successful franchise brands in industries such as maid service/cleaning, senior care, health and fitness, children’s services, pet care, and many others.

The main difference between the business format and the product distribution franchise types is that the franchisor is primarily receiving a business system which they can replicate, rather than a product which they market. That said, a product distribution franchisor may also provide a business plan, but that is not the main part of the package. By the same token, a business format franchise may also provide products to sell (e.g., McDonald’s and Subway supply their franchisors with food products), but the primary benefit the franchisor receives through the relationship is the brand and business model, not the product.

Within the business format model, you will find franchises of all types and sizes. There are the traditional franchises that require low to mid six figure investments for a location, building, inventory, and other start-up costs. But there are also franchise businesses you can operate out of your home with very little overhead other than the franchise fees and a few other costs to get started. Some franchisees have single locations or territories, others may decide to invest more and lock down several territories. The multi-territory strategy is great if you identify an emerging franchise brand that looks likely to become much bigger and more profitable.

Another potential strategy for those with high-level management skills is the master franchisee/area developer. When a franchisor expands into a new region or another country, they often award master territories to those with a proven ability to oversee several individual franchisors. Once you become a master franchisee, you collect fees from individual franchisors who start businesses within the territory. For the right person with the right skillset, this can be a very lucrative opportunity that could quickly turn into a six or seven-figure annual income.

Social Franchising

Social FranchisingA new and emerging type of franchising that is worth mentioning is called social franchising. This model is a variation of business format franchising that is used to help promote social services primarily in third-world countries. Social franchising focuses mainly on the delivery of essential products and services such as food, safe drinking water, quality healthcare, and education that have been traditionally provided by churches, charities, governments, and non-government organizations (NGOs) often with less than satisfactory results. Unlike these other organizations, social franchising uses the business format franchise model to train local entrepreneurs to provide these essential offerings, generate profits for themselves, and create local jobs within their communities.

Which Type of Franchise is Right for You?

These days, franchising options are virtually limitless. If you are in the United States or another first-world country, there are numerous product distribution and business format franchises to choose from. For most entrepreneurs, however, the business format model has a lower barrier to entry with far more franchising options. If you live a third-world or developing country and/or you’re looking to start a business that helps lift a community out of poverty, social franchising is worth looking into.

At National Franchise Business Solutions, we deal primarily with business format franchising. We have access to over 600 franchise brands across a wide range of industries, and through a proven multi-step process, we work closely with aspiring entrepreneurs find the franchise business that best suits their passion, skills, and budget. There are never any consultation fees for our services, and if you eventually choose to partner with a franchise brand, the fee you pay is exactly the same whether you work with us or directly with the franchise company.

 

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Trump’s 4 Pillars for Immigration Reform: How will Proposed Changes Impact the E2 Visa Program?

Trump's 4 Pillars on ImmigrationIn his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, President Trump laid out his four pillars that must be included in an immigration reform bill. The plan involves granting a path to citizenship to over 1.5 million so-called “dreamers” (those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children). Currently, many of them are part of a temporary program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is scheduled to expire in March.  

The President wants three things in return for granting dreamers a path to citizenship:

  • $25 billion to fund construction of a wall along 700-800 miles of the southern border with Mexico, as well as several other enhanced border security measures;

  • An end to the visa lottery program;

  • An end to so-called “chain migration” (i.e., limiting family-based immigration visas to just spouses and minor children).

The reasoning behind the President’s proposal is that we need to fully secure the southern border, and that must include construction of a wall – this was one of his central campaign promises when he ran for President. President Trump also wants to get rid of what he calls a “random” visa lottery system and award those visas to skilled workers. And as for family immigration, he believes it doesn’t make sense for one person immigrating to the U.S. to eventually be able to bring parents, grandparents, siblings, in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

It is important to keep in mind that, at this point, this is only a proposal, and it is a long way from becoming law. The Democrats are highly motivated to grant some kind of permanent legal status to DACA recipients, but most believe that President Trump is asking far too much. This dispute led to a three-day government shutdown in late January, and could produce similar standoffs in the coming months.

Since 2018 is a mid-term election year, both parties are treading carefully in dealing with this issue. Democrats are leery of looking responsible for another government shutdown just to help gain legal status for people brought to the country illegally, and Republicans are worried that since they control the White House and Congress, they may ultimately be the ones held responsible if a prolonged shutdown occurs. In the meantime, some Democrats and Republicans are trying to find common ground for a deal that would satisfy both sides and keep the government open.

While no one knows exactly what will finally be negotiated between the President and Democrats in Congress, it is clear that the President’s goals are to shut off the flow of illegal immigrants and reform America’s legal immigration system to make it less family-based and more merit-based. If I were to guess right now, I would say that the final compromise might be to grant legal status (with no path to citizenship) to just the 500,000 or so dreamers who have signed up for the DACA program in exchange for most (if not all) of the $25 billion requested for the border wall. This would leave ending the visa lottery system and chain migration as issues to be tackled in a more comprehensive immigration reform package down the road.

Immigration Reform and E2 Visas

E2 Business Visa in USAThe E2 visa program has been widely used by foreign nationals in recent years who want to start a business in the USA. Thousands are approved each year under the program, and it is widely seen as one of the easiest pathways to residency in the United States. So far, the E2 program has remained mostly off of President Trump’s radar.

In 2017, E2 visa processing times were a little longer than in years past. In addition, applicants were more heavily scrutinized to ensure that their investment amount was “substantial” (in general, this means at least $100,000 USD), their business was “non-marginal” (not a sketchy business model such as multi-level marketing), and that their new business was creating at least two new American jobs.

When Congress and the President finally tackle comprehensive immigration reform, there is a strong likelihood that the E2 visa program will remain in place and not be changed much. There was a report late last year about E2 visas from Grenada, but this has to do with Grenada’s “Citizenship by Investment” program, and the fact that many foreign nationals are using it as a back door into the United States. This has caused E2 applications from Grenada to be looked at more carefully, but this is only because of their specific policies, and has nothing to do with the E2 program as a whole.

So how will immigration reform affect the E2 visa program? The President’s goal is to bring more foreign investment and more skilled workers into the country, and the E2 program is perfectly aligned with these objectives. For this reason, I don’t expect lawmakers to do away with the program or tamper with it too much. If anything, they might be leaning more toward improving the program for those who hold E2 visas.

Last July, Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL) introduced the E2 Visa Improvement Act of 2017, a bill that would allow E2 visa holders who have been in the United States at least 10 years and created at least two full-time jobs for Americans to obtain a green card. Though the bill did not pass last year, this type of change could end up in a broader immigration overhaul.

Another thing to consider is the future of family-based immigrant visas. Whether it becomes law this year or not, the President clearly has his sights set on seriously limiting family-based visas. One of the major advantages of the E2 visa program is that it allows qualified applicants the ability to come to the United States without family, employment, or school connections.

As long as you meet the requirements, you can bring yourself, your spouse, and any children you have under the age of 21. And while you are living in the U.S. and operating your business, your spouse can get a work permit to find outside employment. This can be very helpful in supporting your family, especially during the first year or two when you are building your new business and adjusting to your new life in America.

 

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Private Employers Add 234,000 Jobs in January in Sign that U.S. Economy is Heating Up

Jobs ReportThe first month of 2018 is in the books, and it looks like the economic growth many predicted after the tax reform bill was signed into law is starting to materialize. ADP and Moody’s Analytics report that private employers added 234,000 new jobs in January, exceeding their estimate of 185,000. The Labor Department will report January non-farm payroll jobs tomorrow, and many economists are predicting a similar number.

Update 2/2/2018: The Labor Department report shows that the U.S. economy added 200,000 non-farm payroll jobs in January, 20,000 more than the 180,000 that was expected. Unemployment is at 4.1%, and wages grew at their fastest pace since 2009.

Today, Reuters is reporting that the Atlanta Federal Reserve is now forecasting a whopping 5.4% annualized rate economic growth for the first quarter of 2018. This latest estimate is more than a full percentage point faster than the 4.2% growth they predicted just last Monday. Obviously, it will be a while before we know the actual numbers, but one thing is abundantly clear; the U.S. economy is poised to grow at rates not seen since the 1990s.

Doing Business in the USA

For aspiring entrepreneurs, the positive economic news is a welcome relief from the anemic growth we’ve seen in recent years. Millions of consumers are now getting new jobs, raises and bonuses at existing jobs, and tax cuts, all putting more money into their pockets. And more income means the ability to spend more money on products and services they want and need. If you have been thinking about starting a new business or expanding an existing business, now may be the ideal time.

One way to more quickly capitalize on the economic activity is by franchising. Hundreds of companies across a wide range of industries have franchise opportunities available for those who want to be in business for themselves. The best part about franchising is that although you are in business for yourself, you are not by yourself. The franchisor provides a business plan and training and assistance during the startup phase. And once you are already in business, they provide ongoing support to ensure that you are on track to succeed.

The West Virginia Recovery

West Virginia InvestmentOne of the states that is poised to benefit greatly from the economic resurgence is West Virginia. Late last year, President Trump signed an agreement with China Energy Investment Corporation for the company to invest $83.7 billion in shale gas development and other energy projects in the Mountain State over the next two decades. The $83.7 billion figure is larger than the state’s entire annual gross domestic product (GDP), and is sure to create tens of thousands of jobs in the energy sector.

Energy will not be the only sector that benefits from the Chinese Energy investment, however. Think about all the gas stations, restaurants, automotive centers, children’s services, pet care services, entertainment, and other types of products/services these workers will need. These ancillary businesses will be necessary to support the energy workers, creating countless opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs to get in on the action.

The West Virginia story is just one of numerous examples of major foreign investments in various parts of the United States, all with multiplying effects on their local economies. There are also billions of dollars being repatriated by U.S. companies from abroad. Apple alone has announced that it will bring back hundreds of billions of dollars in capital it has had parked offshore, and they will invest at least $30 billion of that money to create a new campus and add 20,000 U.S. jobs.

E2 Visa Provides Avenue for Foreign Investors to Cash in On U.S. Economy

E2 Investor VisaIf you are a foreign national who wants to be part of the American economic boom, one of the easiest ways to do so is through the E2 investor visa program. With the E2 program, you can obtain a visa to bring yourself, spouse, and children under age 21 to the U.S. when you invest in a U.S.-based business. The requirements of the program include:

  • The amount of the investment must be “substantial”;

  • You must be able to prove that your investment capital was obtained legally;

  • The business you invest in must be “non-marginal”;

  • You must own at least 50% of the business;

  • You must live in the U.S. and be involved in the operations of the business.

While there is no set dollar amount necessary to qualify for the E2 visa program, experience has shown us that your chances of approval are much greater if you have at least $100,000 USD available. Also, since the new administration took office, there has been a much greater emphasis on the number of American jobs your investment will create. It is expected that your new business will create at least 2 jobs for American workers. The more jobs you will create, the better your chances of getting approved.

Finally, to meet the “non-marginal” business standard, you need to stay away from sketchy business models like multi-level marketing and internet marketing. You need to show that your business has a proven model, and that you have a detailed business plan that can realistically produce a viable income for you and your family in the near future.

One of the best ways to help ensure that your business will be approved by a USCIS or consular officer is to partner with a known U.S. franchise brand. Franchises work well with the E2 program because they are established companies that are well-known and recognized by the officer doing your interview. In addition, franchisors provide extensive startup support and a detailed business plan to present at your interview. This makes partnering with a franchisor one of the smoothest paths toward realizing your dream of owning a U.S.-based business.

 

 

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E2 Visa Business in USA: How Foreign Investors Can Start a U.S.-Based Business

E2 Business Visa in USAThe United States is open for business. In 2017, the U.S. economy experienced two consecutive quarters of GDP growth exceeding 3% for the first time since 2014, and just barely missed hitting that mark for three consecutive quarters. At the end of last year, lawmakers enacted a tax reform bill that will make it much easier to build a profitable business in the U.S. For foreign investors, there is a major opportunity to cash in on the friendly business climate and booming economy with an E2 visa business in the USA.

Why should foreign investors consider a business in the United States?

America boasts one of the most vibrant economic climates in the world. The consumers in the U.S. have money to spend, and there are countless thriving industries for foreign investors to take part in. Recent changes have made the business climate even better. The aforementioned tax reform bill lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% down to 21% – making the corporate rate in the U.S. among the most competitive in the developed world. What’s more, countless regulations have been rolled back or eliminated in the past year, making it far easier to do business here.

Living in the U.S. is another factor to consider. The U.S. is perhaps the most developed country in the world, and virtually every convenience imaginable is at your fingertips. More importantly from a business standpoint, it is far easier to sell products and services here, and investors have greater access to venture capitalists, angel investors, and others who specialize in startup investments. If you have a dream to be in business for yourself, there are few better places to make that dream a reality than in the U.S.

What is the E2 visa?

The E2 is an investor visa that allows foreign nationals who originate from a qualifying country to immigrate to the United States and invest in and operate a business. Citizens from approximately 80 countries qualify for the program; including countries such as Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Though most major countries qualify, there are some exceptions. For example, if you are from Russia, China, or Israel, you are not eligible to obtain an E2 business visa for the USA. For a full listing of qualifying E2 countries, go here.

If you are from an eligible country, you can qualify for an E2 visa by meeting certain requirements. These include:

  • Making a “substantial” investment in a U.S.-based business;

  • Investing in a business that is “not marginal”;

  • Owning at least a 50% interest in the business;

  • Living in the U.S. and participation in the day-to-day operations of the business;

  • The ability to prove that you obtained the funds for investment legally.

Many of these requirements are subjective, meaning there are no concrete guidelines and the determination as to whether or not you qualify is at the discretion of the USCIS officer.

Perhaps the most important variable that falls into this category is the investment amount. The USCIS provides no specific dollar amount that you have to be investing, just the term “substantial”. However, though there is no set amount, you can get a pretty good idea of what you need from past experience.

Experience has shown us that $100,000 USD is the minimum amount you should have to invest in an E2 visa business in the USA. We have heard of approvals for smaller amounts, but going that route is far more risky. In fact, since the new Administration took over last year, $150,000 USD seems like a safer figure to work with. The USCIS also likes to see that your investment is going to create at least 2 jobs for American workers. This is one of the primary objectives of the program, so plan on showing how your new business will employ workers in the U.S.

Another area to consider is the type of business you are investing in. The USCIS does not want to see “marginal” businesses. And by that they mean businesses that are sketchy and lack a proven model and concrete business plan. Examples include multi-level marketing (MLM) companies and internet marketing. Though not all businesses in these categories are scams, there are simply too many of these types that are not legitimate, and it is too difficult for the USCIS to sort out the good ones from the bad ones.

Advantages of the E2 Business Visa

The USA is one of the most desirable places in the world in which to live, and the E2 investor visa helps you get there without family, employment, or school connections. This makes the E2 visa a unique path that anyone from an eligible country who meets the other qualifications can take advantage of.

Some of the most important benefits of the E2 business visa include:

Quick Processing: From the time you lodge your application, you can typically gain approval for your E2 visa within 2-4 months. This is much faster than many other types of visas.

Family Can Come: You can bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 to live with you in the USA.

Spouse Can Work: Your E2 business is not necessarily your only source of income. Your spouse can also work and provide additional income. This can be especially advantageous in situations wherein your spouse is a nurse or is in another high demand profession but cannot find a U.S. employer to sponsor a worker visa.

Can Renew Indefinitely: Technically, the E2 is a temporary non-immigrant visa that is valid for 2-5 years depending on your country of origin. However, you can renew the visa as many times as you want as long as the business you invest in is still operational.

Does an E2 business visa in the USA lead to a green card?

The short answer is no – not directly anyway. As mentioned earlier, the E2 is a non-immigrant visa that provides temporary residence in the USA. It cannot be converted directly to a permanent resident immigrant visa with green card status. That said, if your goal is to obtain a green card, an E2 visa can be combined with other avenues to help you get there.

Here are a few examples of how an E2 business visa can lead to a green card in the USA:

Family-Visa Conversion: If you have a family member already in the U.S., you may be able to enter now on an E2 visa while your family-based visa petition is being processed. Family visas can take several months to several years to process, depending on the category you are in. An E2 visa can allow you to stay in the U.S. until your family-based petition comes through.

Employment Visa for Spouse: I mentioned earlier that spouses can get a work permit to obtain employment outside your business. This could provide your spouse the opportunity to find a company willing to sponsor a worker visa. These types of visas are complicated and have annual caps, but if your spouse is already here and employed by a U.S.-based company, he/she can gain an inside track that can allow them to become sponsored much sooner than those who are outside the country and waiting to come in.

Conversion to an EB5 Immigrant Visa: What if you have no family connections and no employment connections from your spouse but still want a green card? There is still a way to obtain this through an EB5 visa. The EB5 is a permanent visa investor program for foreign nationals with larger amounts of capital to invest – typically $500,000 to $1 million USD or more.

The challenge with the EB5 program – aside from the higher capital requirements – is the complexity of the program and long wait times. Like employment visas, there are annual caps and it typically takes up to two years or longer for approval. If you go the E2 route, however, you can come here immediately (or in 2 to 4 months), start your business, and apply for the EB5. By the time your E2 is up for renewal, your EB5 should already be approved and you will have your green card.

What types of businesses are likely to qualify for an E2 visa?

The USCIS is looking for businesses that are legitimate, and they will expect you to present a detailed business plan to show how your E2 visa business will meet its goals of employing at least 2 Americans and achieving profitability. One of the best types of businesses for the E2 visa program are franchises. Franchise businesses are those that represent a company and their brand.

Well-known examples of this include McDonald’s and Subway. Most restaurant locations for these two fast food chains are owned by franchisees. But franchising is not just limited to the food industry; there are also franchise opportunities in industries such as automotive, children’s services, pet care, cleaning, home healthcare, and many others.

By investing in an E2 visa franchise, you are partnering with an established brand that provides the business plan you will need for your consulate approval, as well as in-depth training and support. The company you partner with has a vested interest in your success, because their name and reputation are on the line. They will work closely with you to help choose a location and take all the other necessary steps to get up and running.

franchiseE2 visa approvals can be challenging, but by working with an established franchise brand, your chances of success at your interview will skyrocket. Franchise companies are well-known to USCIS officers, and they know the business is legitimate. By going the franchise route, you have a much better chance to realize your dream of owning and operating your own E2 visa business in the USA.

 

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What are the Costs of Owning a Franchise?

Owning a FranchiseOwning a franchise can be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Being in business for yourself can offer you the freedom to set your own schedule and finally earn what you are really worth. Franchising can be a confusing process, however, and it can be challenging to navigate the numerous steps to franchise ownership on your own. There are also many costs involved when you are getting started and after the business is in operation.

How does it feel to own a franchise? Well, that depends on which company you partner with and other specific factors. Owning a franchise allows you to represent an established brand, which carries with it many advantages. For one, there is a proven business model already in place that can be duplicated. In addition, you are given a detailed business plan to work from, which gives you more specific guidance on how you will reach profitability. This is especially helpful if you are an E2 visa candidate as it will help you obtain approval from the USCIS.

Franchisors also have a vested interest in your success because their reputation is on the line. For this reason, they carefully vet candidates ahead of time, and provide extensive support once you sign on and become a franchise owner. The support and other benefits come at a price, however. Here is a look at some of the costs of owning a franchise.

Franchising Start-Up Costs

The largest franchise ownership costs come in the beginning. Most franchisors require a franchise fee, which is basically a fee you pay upfront to use their name. This fee is typically in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, but there are lower cost franchises these days with fees in the $10,000 neighborhood or in some cases even lower. The fee may seem like a lot, and it is, but you are also gaining the right to use the brand name that the company has already established. This means you are benefiting from the reputation of the brand rather than having to spend months or years establishing yourself within your industry.

Along with the initial franchise fee, you are also looking at costs for commercial space, equipment, and inventory. These costs will vary widely depending on the type of business and industry you are getting into. For example, if you are looking to own a food franchise, the location, development, equipment, and inventory costs can easily run into the low to mid six figures. There are other industries, however, where you can start a franchise for little more than the cost of the franchise fee.

Some examples of profitable franchise models with low start-up costs include senior care and cleaning. With these two businesses, the services are provided at the client’s location, so there is no need for a large space. In the case of cleaning, you will need to purchase some equipment, and both businesses will require employees if you plan to expand. But still, the costs to get started can be well under $100,000.

One business that can be operated out of a home office is a sales-based franchise. With this business, all it will cost you is the franchise fee and a computer, phone, and office supplies. This franchise model is best for those who have a sales background and are comfortable selling essential services to C-level executives. For the right person, however, the cost of owning a franchise that is sales-based is surprisingly low, with no need to hire employees and a realistic six-figure annual earning potential.

Ongoing Fees for Owning a Franchise

In addition to the costs of operating your business, most (though not all) franchise brands require ongoing royalties for representing them, as well as annual renewals, or a combination of the two. Many franchisees see this as a positive because it maintains the franchisor’s interest in their success.

Look at is this way. If you paid a franchise brand a one-time fee for starting up and never had to pay them again, how long do you think they would provide ongoing support? Maybe for a year or two, but after that, if you were not profitable they would not put much more into it. By paying the franchisor a percentage of sales and/or an annual renewal fee, the company’s success is more closely tied to yours.

Other Fees for Franchise Ownership

Aside from the initial start-up capital required to use the name and the ongoing fees to keep using the name, there are a few other fees to keep in mind. Depending on the specific franchisor, you will receive ongoing services that they provide to their network of franchisees which require additional payments. The best example of this is advertising costs. Some companies require their franchisees to chip in a percentage of their sales for a coop advertising campaign. This is particularly common in the fast food industry. For instance, in most medium to large-sized metro areas, you will typically see McDonalds billboards all over town. These billboards were most likely financed by the local McDonalds franchisees.

Another common ongoing cost of owning a franchise is employee education and training. When you hire new employees, the franchisor may want them all trained the same way, so they understand what the brand is all about and what is expected of them as a brand representative. As a franchisee, you will be expected to, at a minimum, take care of the travel expenses for your employees to go to and from training sessions and other events. You may also be asked to pay something for each employee you send. As always, these fees will depend on the specific franchisor you have partnered with.

Franchising can be win-win situation for all parties involved if you do your homework and fully understand what you are getting into. Though there are costs involved with owning a franchise, you also get an established brand to represent, a business plan, extensive training, and ongoing support and marketing assistance in return.

There are many variables in deciding if franchising is right for you, and which franchise brand you should partner with. Of course, the costs of owning the franchise are among the biggest. Find out what the franchise fees are and how much you can expect to invest to get the business off the ground. Another strong consideration is your background, interests, and skillset. For example, if you can’t stand being around kids or animals, it is highly likely that a children’s or pet care franchise is not for you.

Finding a suitable franchise brand for your unique talents and passions can be one of the most challenging aspects of the process. You can speak with several individual franchisors, but this is very time-consuming, and you will not always receive the most objective information from representatives of a specific brand. A better approach may be to work with a franchise consultant who can assist you with your search.

 

National Franchise Business SolutionsAt National Franchise Business Solutions, we provide free, unlimited franchise consulting. Our approach is laid back, and we will never pressure you into a business you are not ready to get involved with. We have access to over 600 franchise brands across a wide range of industries, and through a multi-step approach, we work with you to narrow your search and match you with franchisors that would be the best fit for your passion, skills, and budget. There is never a charge for our services, and your franchise fee is the same whether you work with us or directly with the franchisor representative.

 

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Cheapest Businesses to Start in the New Economy

Cheap Businesses to StartWhat is the cheapest business to start that does not require a lot of hard skills? There are many businesses for young adults that they can start with a low investment, and there are also businesses that work well in small towns and for stay-at-home moms.

As an entrepreneur, you have two main avenues to explore: profit or innovation. If you start with innovation and you’re engaged in the Silicon Valley/start-up world, this is the riskier of the two, because a ground-breaking app/invention could become a complete flop due to low consumer interest, rapid obsolescence, or other factors. On the other hand, it could become another Groupon or Uber and turn you into a billionaire.

If you’re looking for a proven business model that will be profitable, you likely won’t end up a billionaire, but you could become a millionaire in as little as a few years. The best way to move in that direction is by starting a small business that services the community in some way, and eventually branching out by hiring other people and/or eventually buying out a competitor and becoming a larger player in your industry. If you want to become your own boss but you have a low investment to start with, there are countless lucrative small business opportunities, and the business you start will depend largely on the economic conditions and other factors in your local area or target market.

With the three example businesses listed in this post, you will only need between a couple hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars in start-up capital. You also don’t need a lot of expertise, and you can learn most everything you need to know about operating the business from the internet. You do need to get a little creative in attracting the right clients, and of course, like with any business, be ready to work hard and pound the pavement, especially during the early months of operation.

These three businesses are relatively low-risk, because these services are in high demand, and will likely continue that way for the foreseeable future. Two of them are in-person businesses that serve your local community, meaning there are a limited number of people that could provide these services where you live. The last of the three is internet-based and can be operated from anywhere and marketed to anyone in the world.  

So without further ado, here are three cheap businesses that just about anyone can start and make money with in the new economy:

Dog Walking Business

Dog Walking BusinessThis can be extended to pet care in general, but dog walking is the most popular variant. Essentially, you take a number of dogs for walks and charge customers by the hour for your services. The hourly fee is higher in wealthier communities, but this service is in-demand everywhere. Many people don’t have time to walk their dogs and they’d rather pay a small hourly fee or a weekly/monthly fee depending on how flexible your rates are. You can start by walking a few dogs for people you know, build up a reputation, then acquire more clients. When you start gathering a lot of clients, consider hiring employees and opening a storefront in your area to promote your services.

There is zero start-up capital required aside from a website and marketing. And in fact, you really don’t even need a website for this type of business – you can get started by placing ads for free on sites like Craigslist. If you want to ramp your business up and beat out competitors in your area, you can market your services fairly cheaply using Facebook advertising. Just set up a Facebook business page, put out an occasional post promoting your services, then boost the post to be seen by dog owners in only the zip codes you target.

Facebook actually has an algorithm that scans for pets in people’s images and immediately identifies dog owners. This way, when you publish an ad and you select “dog owner in [x] city” you can directly market to dog owners in your area.

Obviously, you could expand this by offering care for different pets (you’re not just restricted to dogs), special prices/discounts, dog treats/packages and more. You can get ideas from services like Bark Box. It’s basically a box that contains a few treats/toys for the pet and people pay them $20 a month to deliver a single treat box. You can create packages like that and sell them to your customers for extra income.

Dog walking is among the simplest and cheapest businesses to start that we could find. All you need is the ability to control the dog while on a leash without hurting the dog or allowing it to hurt others. You will need a business liability insurance policy to cover your activities as there is the chance of the dog escaping from the leash and doing damage. Other than that, there is not much else to it. You can run the business from a home office, and collect all your payments by credit card with a smartphone app like Square.

Lawn Care/Property Maintenance

Lawn CareThis requires a bit more expertise and start-up investment, but it’s still surprisingly easy to get started in the lawn care/property maintenance. You can start with simple services such as grass cutting. The only investment/start-up cost here is a lawn mower, and if you are really short of cash, you can get a second-hand lawn mower in top condition for a few hundred dollars. Of course, if you have the money, it is probably best to get a new mower, but you can even get a brand-new model for around $500.

You can start by charging a flat fee for the whole property, or you can charge by the hour if you service people with large properties in rural communities. Why not become the #1 property maintenance business in your community? This doesn’t end at simple grass cutting work, because there is seasonal work for property maintenance such as spring/summer seasonal yard cleanups and snow removal services in the winter. You could also do tree care or even branch out to cleaning cars, which would set you apart from most other lawn care businesses in the area.

Cleaning cars can be a lucrative business in and of itself. All you need is a pressure washer that costs somewhere between $100-200. They can remove hard stains, and most of them work on simple water, which means you don’t have to purchase gas and chemicals for the job.

How do you find customers for property maintenance? The same way you do with dog walking – on Facebook. Facebook allows you to do micro-targeted marketing to ensure you are reaching the right demographic. Just send these folks good content about your service offerings and you’ll have clients in no time. If you don’t have the funds to do Facebook advertising, Craigslist works fairly well for landscaping services, and you can also try Takl, a newer and increasingly popular home services app.

Social Media Expert

Social Media BusinessThis is among the cheapest businesses to start, especially for those who are tech savvy and enjoy being on social media already. Most businesses have an online presence, but some don’t have the time to promote their products/services on all the popular social media outlets. If you can help your local grocery store or plumbing business get online for example, you can charge them a flat fee for the initial work and monthly fees for updates/maintenance. You only need to manage a dozen or so businesses in your area to turn this into a full-time endeavor.

If you can combine social media management with search engine optimization (SEO) services and/or services such as Facebook ad management (that benefit your clients directly), this can turn into a very lucrative business for you. The main advantage here is you don’t have to spend any money on an office or equipment – the business is totally digital and can be run right out of your home. You can also do this from anywhere there is an internet connection. And although you can market your services to anyone in the world, you will likely experience better results if you provide social media and related digital services to businesses in your local area.

These are just a few of the cheapest businesses to start in the new economy. There are numerous others across a wide range of industries, and as the economy picks up steam, there will be more emerging business models that can be started for next to nothing in the years to come. When you are able to start a business cheap, the risk is lower, and the upside potential is greatest. So if you are on a limited budget, this is definitely a good route to explore.

If you have more start-up capital and want a more concrete business plan, you may want to consider a franchise business. Starting a franchise provides several advantages; such as the ability to partner with an established brand, a proven business model that has been tried and tested, and unmatched support from the franchisor. The challenge with franchising is finding the right business to give you the best chance of success.

At National Franchise Business Solutions, we have access to over 600 franchise brands across a wide range of industries. There are traditional options such as fast food, which are more expensive because of the cost of building a restaurant, inventory, etc. There are also emerging industries such as senior care and sales-based franchises where the startup costs are much lower, and the profit potential remains strong.

NFBS provides free, unlimited franchise consulting, and through a unique multi-step process, we work closely with aspiring entrepreneurs to match them with the business opportunity that best suits their passion, skills, and budget.

 

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