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7 Winter Business Ideas for 2021

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There’s no point in resisting the winter season—it comes every year like clockwork and along with it can sometimes come a lull in business, especially if your business is one far more conducive to the spring or summer months.

If you’re looking for a way to revamp your business for winter or want to start a business geared toward the winter season, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to go over seven winter business ideas, as well as how you can prepare your business for the cold months to come and tips any seasonal business owner should know. Let’s get started.

Winter business ideas 

Before choosing one of these winter business ideas, make sure you do some research into what’s needed in your area and what the competition is like so you know there’s actual demand for what you’re going to be offering.

After all, the most common reason businesses fail is that there’s no market need for the products or services they’re offering. Before starting your winter business, make sure there’s demand for what you’ll be offering.

1. Sell Christmas trees

If you have the extra outdoor space, consider selling Christmas trees around the holidays as a winter seasonal business.

Stocking this specific and in-demand item can lead to some extra income. This winter business idea is especially good for those who already own hardware stores or garden centers, and it can help replace the lost income your business may typically experience during the winter season when people are doing fewer home or landscaping projects.

See if there are any farms near you with trees they’re willing to sell you. Consider starting this winter business idea fairly small with a few dozen trees and see how they sell, then get more if you can or keep it in mind for next year. You can also sell other Christmas greenery like wreaths or garland for those who are looking to add some extra holiday cheer to their homes.

2. Make winter gift baskets

Our next winter business idea can be done by a variety of different businesses. Whether you’re a bakery or a boutique retailer, you can put together festive gift baskets and offer them for sale as great gifts for coworkers, friends, or family. You can include your own products in the gift basket, as well as some weather-oriented or other seasonal items people might enjoy.

If you don’t want to premake each basket ahead of time and instead offer more customization, you can also offer different packages and allow customers to choose what they’d like in the basket before putting it all together and wrapping it nicely. For an added bump in income, offer to deliver the baskets within a certain radius of your business, or ship them to farther destinations.

3. Snow removal

Businesses like contractors and landscapers might find that they have less work in the winter when it’s difficult to do any work outside. However, a related winter business idea is to offer snow removal services to fill this gap.

If you already run a contracting or landscaping business, you likely already have trucks necessary for such work but might need to invest a bit more for plowing equipment or a snowblower in order to be successful in this winter business. If those additional pieces of equipment are too expensive to buy outright, equipment financing could be a solution.

Snow removal is an in-demand winter business—as long as you live someplace where it snows—and contractors or builders likely already have a client list of people who might need some digging out when the time comes. However, you don’t need to be in one of these careers to leverage this winter business idea for yourself. As long as you have the equipment and enough potential customers, this can be a lucrative winter business for just about anyone.

4. Host corporate events

If you own a wedding venue, restaurant, or other event space, you might find it lucrative to offer packages to companies looking to host their annual holiday parties. These parties are often scheduled for the early evening and usually during weekdays when you may not be as bust as you are on the weekend, for example.

The nice thing about hosting these parties is that they likely don’t vary much from one another: You can offer each company set menu options to choose from and standard decoration options. Hosting such parties can be an added boost and bring in more revenue than a regular weeknight might.

5. Home winter weatherproofing

Making the winter weatherproofing process quick and easy is another one of our winter business ideas. This is another idea that might be best suited to the handymen and contractors out there, but wouldn’t be off-limits for a hardware store to take on. During the wintertime, people are always looking for better ways to weatherize their homes and keep the heat in and the cold out without having to do too much work.

You could offer a premade kit someone can buy and use themselves, or your own services in the form of house calls, for weatherizing windows and doors to keep the drafts from getting in and driving up your customers’ electric bills. Consolidating all of the items customers will need for them makes the process simpler, and if you want to take it a step further you could offer services to complete the process for them.

6. Home cleaning business

No matter the time of year, no one enjoys cleaning. However, during the winter months, people are not only extra busy, but they are also likely expecting family to visit or to host a party of their own. So offering a cleaning service to people in your area could be a lucrative winter business idea to help people prep for their home-based winter events.

A big perk about this winter business idea is that, for the most part, you’ll have reasonable daytime hours, as many people will have their parties at night.

Consider offering a special package to help your customers prepare for visiting in-laws or a family party like a package with a deep kitchen cleaning, or offer to set up their decorations in addition to cleaning.

7. Fitness instructor/personal trainer

With the new year comes resolutions, and there is no shortage of people looking to get in better shape and be healthier in the coming year. You can be a personal trainer or fitness instructor at any time of the year, but you might see more of a demand as the year starts out.

In order to become a personal trainer, you’ll need some specific training and certifications; so this might be a better business for those looking to start a more long-term business. However, becoming a fitness instructor who teaches specific classes often has fewer requirements and could be easier to break into, especially part-time. Check with your local gym and boutique fitness studios about openings, as well as what qualifications you’ll need to become an instructor.

Tips to run an effective seasonal business

No matter when your business high season is, any seasonal business has a specific set of challenges to keep their business profitable year-round. Whether you opt for one of these winter business ideas above or are trying to pivot your own seasonal business to another market, keep these tips in mind.

1. Think outside of the box.

As the weather changes, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a bout of seasonal, business-related depression. But, now’s your time to think creatively. Your market is still there—they’re just focusing on other products and pursuits. Find what they’re interested in, and figure out how your core strength can adapt to be included in the conversation.

For instance, you can discover how to repurpose your product for a new time of year. Maybe that means expanding your product line or recreating something on your menu. Perhaps your ice cream shop turns to lattes for the cooler weather, or you switch from lavender to pine scents for your candle company. Let yourself explore outside of your default season.

2. Look deeper into your niche.

If you have a hyperspecific product, figure out what other products your niche would respond to, as well. There’s a good possibility that if your market is a devotee to your product, you’ve caught onto something special about your group of consumers.

Step back and understand not only what’s special about your product—but what’s special about your customers. You may find it useful to send your customers a survey to find out more about what they’d like to see your business offer. Not only will your customers appreciate that you want their input, but you’ll also likely walk away with some new ideas.

3. Be flexible.

Does anyone actually love to be adaptable? Every business owner works incredibly hard on their business plan, and among the most difficult things is to have to scrap hard work. But the hard truth is that just like seasons, markets change. Tastes change. And your business needs to change, too.

The more flexible and ready to adapt you can be as a business owner—whether that means turning your summer getaway into a winter resort, expanding your product line, or changing your model entirely—the better positioned you’ll be for success.

How to prepare your business for winter

All of the business ideas we discussed thrive in the wintertime, but along with that comes the threat of winter weather and storms, which might not be so conducive to running your business smoothly. If you’re considering launching one of the above winter businesses, or just want to prepare your year-round business for inclement weather, here are some tips.

Be prepared

Monitor local news and check weather forecasts at the National Weather Service website. Here are some terms you might hear and what they mean.

  • Winter storm: Winter storms involve snow, sleet, or freezing rain.

  • Ice storm: When 1/4 inch of ice or more builds up, driving and walking are hazardous, and power lines can break because of the weight of the ice.

  • Blizzard: A blizzard involves snow, gusty winds up to 35 mph or more, near-zero-visibility conditions, and a wind-chill factor that can be life-threatening.

  • Winter storm watch: Severe winter conditions might occur in the next 12 to 36 hours.

  • Winter storm warning: Severe winter conditions are expected in the next 12 to 24 hours. This is defined as four to six inches of snow or sleet, or at least 1/4 inch of ice.

  • Blizzard warning: A blizzard is expected in the next 12 to 24 hours.

Find and fix your business’s vulnerabilities

When severe weather strikes, you need to protect your building or store, your employees, and any customers in the building, and your equipment.

Start by inspecting your building for any weaknesses that might lead to structural damage in case of a storm—leaks in the roof, cracks near doors and windows, and loose trim that could blow off and injure someone. Ask your landlord to repair any problems.

If your building maintenance doesn’t already handle this, make sure snow and ice are regularly removed from entryways, sidewalks, and roofs. If a customer slips on ice outside your doors, you could face a lawsuit.

Check your small business insurance coverage to make sure it’s adequate for any damages that might occur from a storm, and upgrade it if necessary.

Compile the phone numbers you might need in an emergency, such as the fire department, insurance company, landlord, electrician, plumber, snow removal service, and local utility companies. Store it in the cloud, and print out several copies in case you can’t get online or use your computer in an emergency.

Review the equipment and systems that keep your business running, such as computers and manufacturing equipment. What would happen if the power went out or the building didn’t have heat? A backup generator can help keep things running during a power outage.

Make a plan and stick to it

Even if a storm doesn’t damage your building, it could lead to local power outages, downed trees, highway closures, or other obstacles to business as usual. Think through what might happen to your business in various scenarios—such as public transportation shutting down and preventing your employees from getting to work—and plan how to deal with each situation.

You, your employees, and even customers may need to shelter in place at your business if you get snowed in. Stockpile enough food and water for three days (you can ask employees to bring their own “emergency kits” with food and blankets). Have plenty of flashlights, at least one battery-operated radio, batteries, and a first-aid kit.

Plan how you will communicate with employees, vendors, and suppliers in case of an emergency. Create a list of contact information that includes alternative ways to communicate. For example, if phone lines are down, you might need to text employees. If you must close for a few days (or weeks), let customers know via your business website and social media accounts.

Decide at what point in a storm watch or warning you will let employees go home, close the business, or tell employees not to come into work. Create a chain of command so that if you aren’t available to make these decisions, someone else can.

Create a continuity plan

To keep your business running during or after a severe storm, set up the capability for people to work from home (if your type of business supports this). Having employees access your business network from home can expose it to vulnerabilities, so use cloud-based file-sharing and storage systems instead.

What if your building is uninhabitable after the storm or half your employees can’t get to work for a week? Figure out how you will keep the business running for an extended time if necessary. Business interruption insurance can help replace income lost if your business can’t operate after a disaster.

Talk to vendors and suppliers about their emergency preparedness, too. If you rely on steady delivery of inventory from a certain vendor, what will you do if the storm shuts them down? Do you have a backup vendor in place?

Be ready, be set, be safe

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to winter weather—so prepare a plan before the wind starts to howl. Rate your business’s emergency preparedness at ReadyRating.org; then visit PrepareMyBusiness.org to get a checklist you can use to prepare your business for winter weather.

The bottom line

Generally, the biggest concern you should have about your business when it comes to the wintertime is whether or not it can survive the winter months. We mean both financially and physically.

If your business is seasonal or has a slow period during the winter months, but you still need income, consider one of the winter business ideas we listed above. They can either be added to your existing business or started independently and can help you make it through the winter and holiday seasons without losing much in the way of cash flow.

Keep in mind the weather risks that come with winter weather and potential storms and have a plan to take action if there is such a storm, even for your side hustle winter business.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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How to Start a Niche Foam Party Business: Kid’s Party

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Foam parties have become popular and are great fun. If you didn’t know what a foam party is, it is a party or event where participants have fun dancing amidst foam created by a machine. The machine creates bubbles of foams that envelop the place, creating a fun environment at the party. If you are a business person, then a foam party business is a great idea.

You can get a foam machine and use it to throw foam parties and make money from it – relatively affordably.

photo credit: Roaring Foam

Can you make money through foam parties?

Yes, you can make money if you have a foam machine. Parties are common, and party-goers get bored with the usual stuff. A foam party is an innovative way of partying. It allows participants to let go, dancing in joy amidst the foam. This kind of party would be popular, and you can make money by offering a different experience to participants.

Creating a niche market

When you want to make money from a business, you will find that there are many others with the same idea. You need to do something different so you can succeed. This is where finding a niche market helps. A niche market is a specific category to which you can cater. Kids Foam Party is such a niche market. While there are many businesses catering to foam parties in general, foam parties for kids is a niche idea. This is a business idea that can help you succeed and make money.

Planning your business

Now that you have found your niche, it is important to plan your business before you get started. The first thing is to be clear with what you are offering. You are offering a foam party, which is an event where there is a dance floor filled with suds. When this party is offered for kids, they will enjoy it the most. They would not only dance but play in the foam and have a great time in general.

Taking proper safety precautions like setting the depth of the foam and insisting on face coverings ensure there are no problems.

What do you need?

It is obvious that you need a foam machine if you plan to run foam parties. A foam machine is not too expensive. However, you need not buy one immediately. Since you are starting off with a new business, you can get a foam machine for rent. This is a cheaper option allowing you to rent a machine and use it whenever you need it. This will allow you to do a pilot run of your party business.

If the response is good and you start getting many events, then you can consider buying your own foam machine. This would work out better for you.

Kid having fun in foam
photo credit: Roaring Foam

Planning and executing foam parties for kids

With these basic concepts in mind, it is time you start planning your parties. Since you have chosen the niche of foam parties for kids, you need to explore different options. You can have foam parties to celebrate birthdays. There can even be parties for no reason but just to allow kids to have fun. Explore different themes for foam parties and plan the events.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind while planning and executing foam parties for kids:

  • You need to find a venue to host the foam party. The ideal location is outdoors, so the foam does not create a mess inside. When the weather does not permit, you need to find indoor venues with a fairly big hall to organize the event.
  • Apart from the machine, you need the foam solution to create foam. You need to have sufficient foam machine solution to last the entire party.
  • Safety is a very important issue in foam parties. This is all the more important when you are dealing with kids. You need to have a clear plan for ensuring safety in your foam party. Communicate the plan with your clients so they are assured of the safety arrangements.
  • If you are doing the party indoors, you need a tarp to cover the floor and walls. It is important to cover up all the electric and other outlets to avoid them being damaged.
  • Placing plastic furniture is better since it won’t get damaged due to bubbles.
  • Safety arrangements for the kids are very important. Wearing shoes is a must. You can insist on goggles or face coverings to prevent allergies from the suds. You need to take adequate precautions to prevent kids from skidding and falling during the party. There is always a risk of accidents at a foam party, and you need to do everything to prevent it.
  • Preferably, get a waiver from guests to protect against liabilities.

With all this planning, you are now ready to execute foam parties and make neat profits from them.

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What open source-based startups can learn from Confluent’s success story

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It’s common these days to launch an enterprise startup based on an open source project, often where one the founders was deeply involved in creating it. The beauty of this approach is that if the project begins to gain traction, you have the top of the sales funnel ready and waiting with potential customers when you move to commercialize your business.

In the past, this often meant providing help desk-style services for companies who appreciated what the open source software could do but wanted to have the so-called “throat to choke” if something went wrong. Another way that these companies have made money has been creating an on-prem version with certain enterprise features, particularly around scale or security, the kind of thing that large operations need as table stakes before using a particular product. Today, customers typically can install on-prem or in their cloud of choice.

“A key aspect of these kinds of technology-developer data products is they have to have a combination of bottom-up adoption and top-down SaaS, and you actually have to get both of those things working well to succeed.” Jay Kreps

In recent years, the model has shifted to building a SaaS product, where the startup builds a solution that handles all the back-end management and creates something that most companies can adopt without all of the fuss associated with installing yourself or trying to figure out how to use the raw open source.

One company that has flirted with these monetization approaches is Confluent, the streaming data company built on top of the open source Apache Kafka project. The founding team had helped build Kafka inside LinkedIn to move massive amounts of user data in real time. They open sourced the tool in 2011, and CEO and co-founder Jay Kreps helped launch the company in 2014.

It’s worth noting that Confluent raised $450 million as a private company with a final private valuation in April of $4.5 billion before going public in June. Today, it has a market cap of over $22 billion, not bad for less than six months as a public company.

Last month at TC Sessions: SaaS, I spoke to Kreps about how he built his open source business and the steps he took along the way to monetize his ideas. There’s certainly a lot of takeaways for open source-based startups launching today.

Going upmarket

Kreps said that when they launched the company in 2014, there were a bunch of enterprise-size companies already using the open source product, and they needed to figure out how to take the interest they had been seeing in Kafka and convert that into something that the fledgling startup could begin to make money on.

“There have been different paths for different companies in this space, and I think it’s actually very dependent on the type of product [as to] what makes sense. For us, one of the things we understood early on was that we would have to be wherever our customers had data,” Kreps said.

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5 Hobbies That Make Money and How To Get Started

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Money-making hobbies range from walking dogs to blogging to creating and selling homemade goods.

Read about these profitable hobbies, as well as what you can expect to make.

1. Driving

Enjoy cruising around town? Give others a ride and make money by becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. Uber drivers make an estimated $5 to $20 an hour, and Lyft drivers earn about $5 to $25 an hour, according to SideHusl.com, a review site for money-making platforms. Note that earnings depend in part on when, where and how often you drive.

To become an Uber or Lyft driver, you must be the minimum age to drive in your area. You must also meet specific requirements related to your driver’s license, insurance and vehicle. Learn about these exact requirements in our guide to becoming an Uber or Lyft driver.

If you enjoy driving but don’t want people in your car, look into becoming a full-service Instacart shopper, which involves shopping for and delivering groceries. Uber Eats and Amazon Flex also offer opportunities to deliver food and other products to homes. Each of these gigs has its own set of requirements, though, so do your research before signing up.

2. Caring for dogs

If your favorite hobbies involve belly rubs, smooches and long walks in the neighborhood, try Wag or Rover. These apps enable you to walk, dog-sit or board pups overnight for money.

Rover and Wag work in similar ways. They both require you to be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and meet other requirements. For both, you create a profile, set your own rates, and use the app to choose which gigs to take. (See our Rover vs. Wag comparison for more specific sign-up and payment information, as well as how the apps vary in the services they allow.)

On both apps, the amount you earn depends on what you charge, how much you receive in tips, and which types of services you provide. As you would guess, boarding typically pays more than walking a dog, for example. But both companies take a bite from your earnings. Rover charges a 20% service fee per booking, and Wag takes 40%.

3. Blogging

If you have a blog that gets decent traffic, try making money from it. Blogging for money can take a few forms. One way is to host ads on your blog through a service like Google AdSense, which is free. Here’s the gist, according to Google: If your website is approved, then you choose where on it you would like ads to appear. Then advertisers bid to place ads where you designated, with the winner’s ads appearing in that spot. (People make money on YouTube through the same service.)

You earn some money when a reader clicks on one of these ads — but determining exactly how much you’ll make is tricky. Explore our guide to Google AdSense to learn more about it.

You could also try writing sponsored content, meaning companies pay you to write about their products. Or, become an affiliate through the Amazon Associates program. That involves linking to an Amazon product from your content and earning a commission when one of your readers clicks through and buys that item. Learn more about how to make money on Amazon through your blog.

4. Posting to social media

Love posting to social media and building a following? On Instagram and TikTok, many users earn money through sponsored photos and videos. Say you regularly post about your at-home exercise regimen. You may agree to post about a retailer’s resistance bands or sweatpants in exchange for cash or free products. (Sponsorships and affiliate marketing are also ways to make money from podcasts, in case that’s one of your hobbies.)

Sponsors may reach out to you to set up this kind of arrangement; you could contact them; or, in some cases, you may consider working through a third-party agency.

The type of content you post, as well as your number of followers and their engagement, will likely impact sponsorship opportunities. Learn more about how to make money on Instagram or on TikTok.

5. Selling your wares

There’s a marketplace for just about everything. So if you’re skilled in a hobby, consider trying to profit from it. For example, if you create jewelry or have an eye for thrifting quality clothes, try selling those items at a local flea market or yard sale, or on a neighborhood website such as Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace.

Or look into an online market that could attract a wider range of buyers. Consider Etsy for crafts or Poshmark if you want to sell clothes online.

These websites charge fees that will cut into your profits. This guide to selling stuff online will help you think through the math and determine if your hobby can become a viable business.

What to consider before making money from your hobbies

Before taking any of the routes listed above, keep in mind that this work will likely affect your taxes. See our guide to self-employment taxes, which includes expenses you can deduct, and how to avoid penalties.

And as you aim to profit from your hobbies, consider whether you will continue to enjoy them through this new business lens. Let’s say knitting helps you relax. Will it continue to do so if you’re pricing, promoting and shipping your homemade wares through an online marketplace? And that blogging hobby: Will writing still be fun or cathartic if you’re occasionally throwing in a sponsored post?

It may be hard to answer these questions until you give the money-making approach a shot. But it’s worth reflecting on the potential trade-offs as you think about turning your hobby into a job.

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