Category Archives: Business

Dress Professionally for Your Business Meeting

If you’re a business entrepreneur your mind is probably running in 10 different directions at the same time as you plan your strategy for a successful business launch. The last thing on your mind may be the way you look, yet it’s often the first thing people will use to judge your business potential when you meet them. It may not be right, but that’s the way the world works: you have to look successful and confident if you want to persuade others of your business acumen. That being said, here are some basic tips to help you dress for success without putting too much of your precious time on your wardrobe:

Don’t scrimp on the suits. This is the one area you want to splurge a bit on, as the quality of your suit will show from a distance by the way it hangs on your body. Choose top brands whenever possible and you’ll notice the difference immediately.

Go classic. Both men and women will benefit from sticking to classic styles because they don’t go out of fashion. Some trendy new styles may look great, but if they go out of style in a few months you’ll look outdated.

Shine your shoes. Skip the sneakers and go with dress shoes, and make sure they’re always cleaned and polished. Well-kept footwear shows you care about the smaller details.

Skip the perfume. Whether it’s perfume, cologne, aftershave, or lotion, you shouldn’t wear anything with a heavy scent. Many people are sensitive to perfumes and won’t be able to focus on your business presentation if they’re holding their breath or wheezing.

Go easy on the accessories. Clunky jewelry or other flashy accessories can make you look unprofessional, and that’s the last thing you want. An understated look is best for most business occasions.

Hide the skin. We shouldn’t have to mention it, but unbuttoned shirts and bare midriffs have no place in the business world. Likewise for too-short skirts: save them for your evenings out and chose a more conservative length for work.

Spend a few minutes today organizing your business wardrobe, and you won’t have to worry about it as you bring your plans to fruition!

The Best Online Business Plans

Successful entrepreneurs know that getting the details down on paper is critical before starting any new venture. For help in the planning stages, many new owners use an online business plan service. Such services provide potential investors with details on how a new business will become profitable. Online business plan software offers the tools and templates needed to create a professional presentation that can be put in front of prospective backers to demonstrate where you want your venture to go and how you plan to get there. The best services provide financial calculators and chart generators to help crunch numbers and illustrate the business’ vision in a quantifiable manner. They also offer a number of additional features such as performance graphs and goal achievement monitors that let business owners track their progress and make necessary changes along the way.

The Best Online Business Plans

#1 LivePlan

LivePlan earned this year’s TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award for simplifying the business plan writing by providing access to the work and materials from any computer with an internet connection. For those launching their first venture, the service guides them through each step. By incorporating teaching into the writing process, LivePlan produces not only an exceptional business plan, but also a more informed entrepreneur.

Document Generation Tools: Chief among the document generation tools offered by LivePlan are the table generators such as sales forecasts, budgets and profit and loss statements. Each part of the LivePlan Financial Plan section contains an easy-to-use table generator for the specific table type desired by the business owner. The service also gives advanced business owners the option of operating in its “Full Financial Mode.”

Guidance Resources: LivePlan walks users through each section of their business plan, giving precise instructions for developing each component. The service divides the writing into chapters, including Executive Summary, Company, Products and Services, Target Market, Strategy and Implementation, Financial Plan and Appendix. Each section contains specific instructions on what needs to be included and examples of what investors and lenders are looking for. Each section also has video tutorials.

#2 BizPlan

BizPlan earns high marks for providing a step-by-step process that’s accessible to users of all skill levels. While new users have resources to learn what they need, business veterans have the tools required to formulate a business plan without unnecessary handholding. A highlight is the service’s overall compatibility with other widely used applications such as Excel and cloud-based document creation and sharing services like Google Docs. Additionally, it integrates with social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

Document Generation Tools: For beginners, the BizPlan service provides a step-by-step guide to creating a business plan, making the process of building from scratch easy. In addition, BizPlan allows users to share and coproduce their business plan with an unlimited number of partners – even those who many not be central authors on the document but still have important content contributions, such as a lawyer or financial advisor.

Guidance Resources: The entire service is set up to guide users through the process with as little pain as possible. In addition to building the business plan, Bizplan offers investor information to help kick-start the hunt for funding. As users move through the process, each section is clearly labeled and explained in order to remove the ambiguity many entrepreneurs battle when they create their first business plan.

#3 PlanHQ

PlanHQ is well regarded not only for helping users write a business plan, but also assisting in executing it and setting business goals. Through a unique approach of couching almost everything in the context of goal setting, the service helps business owners fully understand exactly what needs to take place in order to start a successful business. The service also enables users to collaborate with business partners, identify demographics and size up the competition.

Document Generation Tools: PlanHQ offers a number of tools, such as financial calculators and chart generators. The service generates all these documents within the context of goal setting. In addition, the documents are dynamic as opposed to static pie charts and graphs.

Guidance Resources:While PlanHQ is excellent at helping users plan and achieve their goals, it doesn’t provide much in the way of actual business advice.

Turning a Great Idea Into a Business

So you’ve got a great business idea. Now what? Often, that’s where would-be entrepreneurs get stuck. They have no idea how to turn their business idea into a business plan.

Charles Lee, CEO of Ideation, has some advice on how to take the next step. His companyspecializes in turning good ideas into successful brands by developing innovative business strategies and infrastructure, strong brand presence, memorable visual identities and design, creative marketing, new media public relations strategies and a strong Web presence.

3 Steps To: Turning a Great Idea Into a Business

Lee, the author of the book”Good Idea. Now What?” (John Wiley & Sons, 2012),  said he has seen a lot of great business idea never make it beyond the idea stage.

Ideas are sexy,” Lee said. “They are attractive, unbridled and full of inspired passion. There’s no doubt that ideas are fun to think about, share and platform.”

Unfortunately, he said, many people with good (or even great) ideas will never see their ideas actualized. In fact, many will end up taking their ideas to the grave.

“In a world where ideas are a dime-a-dozen, it’s imperative that we focus on idea-making rather than idea-loving,” Lee said. Here are three initial steps you can take in turning your great idea into a viable business:

1. Stop talking and start writing

Recent studies have shown that people who immediately talk about their new ideas are less likely to actually implement them. Talking about an idea prior to doing some initial processing on paper tricks our brains into thinking that we are actually doing something about the concept.

While sharing definitely has its benefits and is highly recommended in the overall idea-making process, taking the time to document our thoughts on paper first will provide greater focus and a practical point of reference for development. It’s difficult to move ideas forward when it remains in the world of “he said, she said.”

2. Do the hard work of clarifying an idea

Business ideas that stick with customers are usually easy to understand and engage. This requires us to do the hard work of simplifying and clarifying concepts. Hype may initially sell our idea, but it will never sustain it. Carve out the hoopla that surrounds your new idea and see if it actually works on its own. Edit your idea until you feel that you’ve reached its core and then build upon it for launch.

3. Start moving and launch

You don’t need to have everything figured out before launch. In fact, it’s impossible to even know all of the questions you should be asking prior to launch. Hypothetical or irrational concerns too often get in the way of idea-making. Ideas come to life in real-life scenarios. Wisdom is usually found while you’re in motion.

Start lean with minimal features, and then build upon it by listening to your customers and stakeholders. Give yourself permission to “experiment” with the core concept while transparently asking for input during your alpha or beta phase.  It is far better to launch with 80 percent of an idea developed than it is to sit on 95 percent and never launch.

5 Wedding Businesses to Help Couples Plan the Best Day Ever

Anyone who’s ever attended or hosted a wedding knows that these events are big business. Engaged couples often seek out the best vendors in the industry to ensure their day is perfect — and they’re willing to pay a hefty price for it. According to the 2016 American Wedding Study, the average wedding cost of a wedding is $26,522, nearly as much as a year of tuition at some private universities.

Brides and grooms are (understandably) picky about the services they choose to make their nuptials special and memorable. These unique businesses help couples make their pre- and post-wedding plans as stress-free as possible.

Though not all couples choose to have one or both spouses change their last name after marriage, those that do often find the legal process intimidating. Miss Now Mrs makes it simple by streamlining all the paperwork you need in one place for one flat fee. Newlyweds looking to make the switch answer some questions about their current and married names and various accounts they hold. Then, these answers are used to complete the appropriate forms. Proofread, print and file, and your legal name change is well underway.

Kristen Rocco, founder of Love Notery, has always been a communicator. Her passion for storytelling led to a fruitful public relations career (even working with Gary Sinise, better known as Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump). Like any good romance, she took a leap of faith with Love Notery to tell great love stories. Rocco’s journalistic skills help her craft a customized “love story” through in-depth interviews with couples. The stories are then printed out as an heirloom keepsake.

This app is a multilayered wedding tool, with checklists for the engaged couple leading up to the wedding, vendor lists, ways to stay on budget, and tools to create a wedding site and registry, the site said. The Knot, which also published a print bridal magazine, even has answers to various social and etiquette questions answered by experts. In addition, the app provides a countdown to the day, so nearly-newlyweds can stay excited.

The quality of smartphone pictures has greatly improved, making collecting guests’ wedding photos worthwhile — and a pain. WedPics is a free app that aggregates wedding photos captured by guests. Users can keep photos organized with the albums feature, which is great for capturing photos of all wedding events such as the engagement party, wedding shower, rehearsal dinner, reception, ceremony and more, the site said.

Registering for wedding items often means signing up with multiple brands to create the best registry. Zola consolidates the process by allowing couples to register for a variety of brands, curated experiences and cash funds on a single page, the site said. Zola goes a step further by giving you autonomy with shipping: Each time you receive a gift, the site notifies you to ship now or later, or in the case of cash gifts, transfer to your bank or convert to a Zola store credit.

Creative Businesses That Will Inspire You

Being an art professional certainly comes with its stigmas — just ask the people who believe in the “starving artist” cliché.

Though friends and family may try to talk professional artists out of their passions (and professions), creative businesses can thrive. Startups like these keep art alive in people’s homes, phones and everyday lives. These seven art-focused businesses are putting a unique spin on their industry, and might even encourage you to better appreciate art.

Want to bring art into your home or office without hanging the pieces on the walls? Artkick allows you to display high-quality art and photography on your TV or computer monitor, with free access to photos from museums, NASA, the Library of Congress, Photos.com and Hubble. You can even import your own photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr and more. You control what photos are displayed via the Artkick mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. Think of it as art projected like you would project video with Roku and Google Chromecast devices.

Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein met and became friends while traveling through Argentina. Firestein drew a design on a pair of plain canvas sneakers for Nemani, who soon found his shoes were a big conversation starter throughout his travels. This inspired the pair to start Bucketfeet, a company that sells canvas sneakers in a variety of styles that feature original art by more than 40,000 creators from 120 countries around the world. These artists cover every medium, from graphic design and graffiti to photography and painting, and anyone can submit their artwork for consideration by the Bucketfeet committee.

Based in New York, ImageThink makes art functional in the office and the classroom. The ImageThink graphic-recording team creates illustrations based on keynote speeches, presentations, strategy sessions and more to help audiences visualize and better remember the information they see. ImageThink team members create these illustrations live during the meeting or event to go along with the presentation. The company also offers its services for creating animated videos and infographics.

Have you ever posted a photo on Instagram that’s so beautiful it could be a painting? With Instapainting, you can transform that digitally captured sunset or portrait into a real-life work of art. You can order either a mixed-media painting (the artist will print your image onto a cotton canvas and then hand-paint over at least 90 percent of the image with oil paints) or a 100 percent hand-painted painting (the artist will start from a blank canvas and paint the entire picture by hand with oil paints) based on your photo. Your choice depends on your price range and the look you want to achieve. When you order a painting and it’s in the process of being created, you can view all of the progress and changes made and talk directly with the artist, and you’ll have a finished product delivered to you from Instapainting within about three weeks.

With JuicyCanvas, anyone can customize art, turning it into canvas prints, shirts, phone cases, tote bags, throw pillows and greeting cards. Juicy Canvas allows customers to select a medium and an original design, and then “remix” the piece into a custom product by altering colors, rotating and cropping the image, and adding text. Artists can submit their work to be used on the site, and customers can easily search through the available designs by style and country of origin.

Ever wish you could have the works of your favorite artists at your fingertips? Meural offers that accessibility with a digital library of precious works of art, displayable in a “digital canvas” frame. Meural renders each image as lifelike and textured as a real painting, down to the last brushstroke, the site says. The canvas comes in a wooden frame. With a range of art collections from the Romantics to the Renaissance to Contemporary art and classic photography, there are more than 20,000 pieces (and the option to upload your own images) to bring a little culture to your home, office or art space. The website says it’s easy to upload, curate and schedule images to be displayed in your frame.

Are you fickle about your home or office décor? TurningArt is an art-rental subscription service that allows you to select new art to feature in your home or office as often as you like, for a monthly fee. As a subscriber, you can search through thousands of pieces to find what you want, and the pieces are delivered to you at no extra cost. Your first order will come in a frame, and when you’re ready for a new masterpiece, all you have to do is slide the old artwork out of the frame (to be sent back to TurningArt) and put the new order in. If you fall in love with a piece, you can purchase it through TurningArt as well.

11 Businesses Transforming Travel

Traveling is a rewarding experience. Between food, drinks and sights, there are a multitude of memories and experiences not to be forgotten.

Often, planning your trip and getting to the destination is the hardest part. These 11 businesses aim to make traveling less stressful and more enjoyable.

Snapshots are the best part of vacation; it gives you the opportunity to relive your favorite moments. Flytographer takes that concept and helps you plan a trip. According to the company’s website, you can “meet with one of [the company’s] local photographers around the world, have a stroll together and bring home the best souvenir possible — memories.” Simply search for a photographer you like in the location you’re traveling to and book a photo shoot via the company’s website after you’ve finalized your trip details. When it’s time for your shoot, your photographer will guide you around and take candid photos (though he or she will also take posed portraits, if you prefer).

Love the water but not sure how to properly rent a boat while away? GetMyBoat provides a peer-to-peer marketplace giving boat owners the power to rent their boats and vacationers the opportunity to experience a yacht, speedboat or watercraft of their dreams at an affordable price. GetMyBoat is bridging the gap of boat ownership costs. Boating enthusiasts get the benefits of worldwide inventory without the cost or headache of ownership. And as the average boat is only used 8 percent of the year, boat owners get the chance to make owning a boat more affordable by earning some income from their under-utilized asset, the site said.

Remove the hassle and pressure of planning activities on vacation with Peek. The site curates a selection of fun activities for you that you can book online or via the company’s mobile app. You can also use Peek’s Travel Guides to see an overview of the top things to see or use the “Perfect Days” feature to book a complete itinerary with “insider tips and hidden gems from tastemakers,” according to the website.

If you’re flying solo but would prefer to travel in a group or make new friends while on vacation, The Trip Tribe makes it easy. The company allows members to create a profile and search for trips — they’ll use your profile information to match you with other travelers who share your interests so you can book a trip with like-minded people. When you view trips on the site, you can see which other members are going, as well as the dates, price per person and other important details. Some of The Trip Tribe’s featured trips include an eco-retreat in Puerto Rico, a food and beer tour in Ireland, and a cycling and boating adventure in the Czech Republic.

Welcome Beyond is dedicated to those travelers who prefer to forgo staying in a big-name hotel and would rather have a unique vacation experience. Welcome Beyond strives to curate hotels and vacation rentals that are “truly original.” These exclusive rentals range from quirky to posh and are easy to search for and book. Choose a country and region for your stay, and search by interests like architecture and design, nature and ecotourism, and secluded retreats. You can also refine your search by accommodation type, with selections ranging from boutique hotels to private islands available in more than 30 different countries, including the United States.

If you thought UberBlack made you feel like you were riding in style, try traveling on a jet. Book a seat on a private jet with BlackJet. According to the company’s website, “BlackJet members enjoy the convenience, reliability and private jet experience at prices you would expect from American, Delta or United first class.” As with all flights, costs vary depending on your origin and destination locations and the date of travel, but prices start around $1,000. BlackJet memberships are limited but free until you book your first trip — after that, there’s an annual fee.

Travelers with a spontaneous streak will love Triposo, an app that gives you personalized suggestions for things to do on your trip while you’re on the go. Users can book tours and activities via the app, as well as learn important information about their destination’s history, culture, currency and language. Before you go on your trip, download Triposo’s destination guide to your device, and while you’re there, get real-time updates about what’s going on nearby. Bonus: The app works offline too, so you don’t need to search for Wi-Fi to find your next activity.

Weddings are expensive, and honeymoons can quickly add up, eliminate stress and lower costs with Wanderable. Rather than have your friends and relatives buy items off a registry, register with Wanderable where they can contribute to your honeymoon fund. But the company does more than just collect cash for your dream trip — Wanderable allows you to search destinations and curate your trip based on your interests. Wedding guests can also contribute to specific costs, like transportation, lodging and even special tours or events offered at your destination.

Most times, airlines will help you rebook a canceled flight and accommodate you. When they don’t, AirHelp steps in. You can either use the company’s online form or download its free mobile app to file a claim with your flight details, and AirHelp will take care of communicating with the airline for you so you can avoid feeling stressed and confused. The company will even file a lawsuit, if possible or necessary. If your claim is successful, the company will take a 25 percent service fee out of the money you’re awarded as payment, but if you lose your claim and you don’t get paid, you won’t owe AirHelp anything.

Have you ever found the perfect flight, only to come back to it a day or two later when you’re ready to purchase your tickets and find that it’s sold out? Options Away lets you search for flights and save them while you wait for your next paycheck or to finalize the rest of your plans. You can save flights for two, three, seven or 14 days, and in doing so, will also lock in the price of your tickets — if they go up, you can still purchase them for the price they were when you found them, but if the price of your airfare drops during the wait, you’ll pay the lower price when you decide to purchase.

Exploring a new city doesn’t have to be about meandering around looking at tourist attractions. Turn your next trip into a real-life scavenger hunt with Stray Boots. Download the app, select and purchase the tour you want to go on, then activate it while you’re connected to the Internet (you only need it to load beforehand, and it can be offline during play). The app will guide you through your chosen city while you and your friends or family members complete challenges, answer trivia questions, take fun photos and earn points. Along with many popular U.S. cities like New York and San Diego, you can also participate in scavenger hunts in London, Paris, Copenhagen and Tel Aviv.

Negotiation Lessons I Learned from My Media Career Experiences

In life, you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.” – Dr. Chester L. Karrass

The moment we start to understand how the world works, we start negotiating. Children start negotiating their way out of eating their vegetables and extending their bedtimes as soon as they can talk. But there is a lot we can learn from our kids – a lot about being creative and bold in our negotiations.

As I reflect on my career in media, whether working as a correspondent for Inside Edition, covering CBS Thursday Night Football, or inking the deal for my new book, “Faith in the Spotlight,” knowing how to negotiate well has allowed me to get more of what I want out of my work and life.

Almost everyone can use some advice on negotiations. Whether it’s contracts, salaries or partnerships, the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career can help you save money, time and grow your business.

I realize not all industries have the same room to negotiate. In this ever-changing economy and with companies tightening their budgets, situations may vary. But I do think it never, ever hurts to ask respectfully. This has been my experience in the media world. Times when I was told the rate was “non-negotiable,” I learned later that indeed it was negotiable.

Early in my career I was offered an hourly rate for a radio job and was told this was the rate – take it or leave it. I was young and didn’t even consider countering the offer. Several months later, when I left the job, I learned that the person before me had negotiated a higher hourly rate. Look, I was young and thankful to have a job. But it’s important to share this story because it was an eye-opening moment. Lessons like this come with experience. I would not have traded those early radio gigs for the world, but I did need to learn how the negotiation process works and understand that asking for more money isn’t a bad thing.

If you are running a small business and negotiating contracts with vendors, you know to always get a second opinion and sometimes a third or fourth. The same should be applied to employment contracts. Even if you don’t end up asking for more money, it’s important to know if the contract is in the ballpark of your industry.

When I got my first national television news contract, my agent told me to accept it and be happy. But the words of my mentors to “always get a second opinion” echoed in my head. So I called a friend who works in Los Angeles and he referred me to a great entertainment attorney who graciously glanced at my contract and made a few observations on how I could get a bit more and not rock the boat. Instead of asking for more money, he suggested I try for a few more weeks of vacation and a clothing allowance. The company offering me the job ended up agreeing to the majority of those suggestions. I would have never known to ask if I had not gotten a second opinion. And a special note to the ladies – statistics show that we are less likely to make a counter-offer, so don’t forget to seriously consider trying it.

Should you have a lawyer conduct your negotiations or should you do them yourself? Budgets and the size of your workload may determine this for you, but it is an important component of negotiating to consider.

When I covered the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” for two seasons on CBS, I negotiated the contract myself. This was an intimidating but rewarding experience. I would encourage everyone to learn how to advocate for themselves and their business. For some people, talking about money can get a little awkward, or they simply don’t desire to. That’s where a good agent or lawyer can come into play. Just make sure you partner with someone who shares your values. This person will be a representative of you and your company and can make or break your business deals. It took me awhile to find an agent I felt compatible with.

If you don’t have a solid grasp on negotiating right now, don’t sweat it. Just start figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Like anything in life, we need to start trying. As President John Kennedy reminded us, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

Get in the arena and start trying. Ask friends and mentors for advice. Read books on the subject. One of my favorites has been “Knowing your Value” by Mika Brzezinski. Often times local colleges and university business programs offer workshops on the subject. The art and skill of negotiating will help you better provide for yourself, your business and your family.

7 Inspiring Businesses Keeping It All Natural

Engaging in an all-natural lifestyle has a plethora of benefits, including ridding of wasteful materials and the avoidance of putting chemicals in or on your body. It also means doing better for the environment and sustainable products that can help agriculture and jobs.

Companies are embracing the benefits of “green” and natural products, not only for the Earth but their customers as well.

Whether you’re looking for products, or you want to start a business that’s all about bringing it back to basics, here are six inspiring all-natural businesses you need to check out.

EcoNuts is a company that has introduced soap nuts into everyday life. According to the site, are a berry shell that naturally contains soap. They grow on the Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas. The natural soap found in these berries is called saponin, which is a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing to properly clean them.

The soap nuts are gentle on clothes and skin, making the product ideal for those who find themselves irritated by chemicals used in manufactured products. Additionally, despite the name, soap nuts are a berry fruit and safe for those with nut allergies.

GrowJourney is a “seeds of the month club” — a fun, all-natural take on the popular box subscription business model for people who love gardening and want to grow organic produce. Each month, the company sends its subscribers an assortment of five different seasonal heirloom gardening seeds, all of which are certified organic and sourced from organic farmers selected by the service. And if you’re trying to get into gardening but don’t have much of a green thumb, don’t worry — becoming a GrowJourney member gets you more than just seeds. It also provides you with access to resources to help you learn how to grow your produce with ease.

Abel is a perfume company that produces signature scents with only 100 percent natural, food-grade, organic ingredients and without the chemicals and synthetic compounds found in most perfumes and colognes. There are several natural perfume companies out there, but what sets Abel apart is the craft behind the company’s packaging. Since their perfumes lack the chemicals other perfume companies use to protect their products from light and UV heat (both of which can damage the product), Abel’s perfumes come in cases hand-crafted from reclaimed wood. The company sells the gender-neutral fragrances, “Tonic,” which is made from ginger extract, black pepper oil, lime oil and peppermint oil, among many others.

Humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from going back to basics. The Honest Kitchen ensures that you can feed your beloved furry friends all-natural food and treats, too. The company makes 100 percent all-natural, FDA-approved human grade (meaning they’re made to the same standards as the food we humans eat) dog and cat food, treats and supplements. The Honest Kitchen’s products use dehydrated whole foods, non-GMO produce, hormone-free meats and organic, fair-trade ingredients in their foods. Employees even taste-test them for quality control. The company provides grain-free and whole-grain food options as well as a base mix for foods if you prefer to mix up your own pet-friendly meals and treats.

Better Life is a cleaning product company that sells everything from dish detergent and floor cleaner to stain remover and hand soap. Whether you’re scrubbing your kitchen, disinfecting your bathroom, doing laundry, washing dishes or cleaning up after your baby or pets, Better Life has a product that can fit your needs without using any toxic or harmful ingredients. Every product Better Life offers is derived from plants and is free of GMOs, alcohol, dyes, sulfates, fragrances, petroleum, not to mention cruelty. And they’re made in the USA. Better Life’s products are also safe for septic systems and completely biodegradable, so you can use them without risk in your home and in the environment.

Looking for all-natural clothing? Earth Creations is a company that sells eco-friendly clothing and accessories for men, women and children, all of which use natural, sustainable fabrics. Earth Creations’ products are made from hemp and organically grown cotton and natural clay dyes (the company’s dyeing process uses only natural and biodegradable materials). The designs are brought to life at Earth Creations’ sewing plant in Moulton, Alabama, to help maintain a smaller carbon footprint and create local jobs. Earth Creations also donates its irregular and overstock items to other organizations, such as the Audubon Society, Ogden Nature Center and Animal Acres, to help people in need.

If you’re looking for all natural skin and hair care products, TruSelf Organicsoffers a line of products complete with moisturizers, lip glosses, conditioners, and more. In business since 2013, TruSelf Organics prides itself on eliminating synthetic chemicals in favor of all natural and organic products. Founded by a yoga-enthusiast and self-proclaimed “health-nut,” TruSelf Organics entire line is vegan, save for their Raw Honey Lip Gloss which is made with honey and beeswax. Each product is designed to further the company’s mission of promoting a three-pronged approach to wellness: health, beauty, and self-love.

The Business of Nostalgia

The forgotten ghosts of pop-culture past have made a triumphant return. Between shows like “Fuller House” (the Netflix reboot of the ’90s hit Full House), the return of “Gilmore Girls,” and Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block back on tour, nostalgia is having its moment.

Whether it’s podcasts about old shows and movies, nostalgia-driven events and merchandise, or a resurgence of food and drinks made popular decades ago, entrepreneurs are finding ways to relive what made them happy in the past and create something new.

In most cases, these “comeback” businesses are a happy accident. For many nostalgia entrepreneurs, their business sprung from their passion, which has led to throngs of die-hard followers and fans.

This is especially true for the duo that runs Emo Night in Brooklyn, a monthly event with a DJ that plays the emo, post-hardcore and pop-punk hits of the aughts, drawing thousands of passionately-singing millennials to their party.

The idea for their event was planted in Boston, where British co-founders and childhood friends Alex Badanes and Ethan Maccoby both attended college. The pair started the party in their respective dorm rooms, and “rocked out pretty hard while doing it.” The guys then moved to Brooklyn around the same time and would always pre-game (partying before the bar) in a similar fashion.

“Alex and I thought it would be cool if we moved the ‘party’ to a bar, invited our friends, and maybe the [bar] would give us free beer in exchange for bringing people,” Maccoby said. “[We] went to a bar across the street from Alex’s apartment in Williamsburg. They kind of laughed but agreed that we could set up our laptop in the corner of their 100-capacity basement, play a playlist of music that we wanted, and of course, if a few people came, we would get that free beer we always wanted.”

After that initial playlist-night in Brooklyn, Badanes and Maccoby created a Facebook event, in which they invited their friends, who invited their friends (and so on).

“On the actual night, there were hundreds of people lined up trying to get into this basement to drink, party, and most importantly, rock out to the music that they grew up with. Everyone agreed it was one of the best nights of [their] lives,” Maccoby said.

Badanes and Maccoby’s story isn’t uncommon for the entrepreneurs transforming their childhood and fan-based passion into unexpected success stories.

For Jennie Whitaker, founder of the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest, she was passionate about rekindling the love of Gilmore Girls and creating something new. At the time, the show had been off the air for about a decade.

The idea came to her while in Connecticut (where the Gilmore Girls takes place). She thought, “Why hasn’t anyone organized a Stars Hollow celebration for fans?”

Whitaker couldn’t imagine a world where people couldn’t visit Stars Hollow alive and present, the website says. She, with the help of her husband and co-founder Marcus, decided it was time to “bring the idea to life at least one weekend of the year.”

The inaugural weekend drew 1,500 guests from across the globe and are planning to do it again this year. In addition to experiencing the town the show is based on, attendees were able to meet numerous cast members.

“For us, what was important was that we created something memorable, that the attendees had a great time, the cast got to get away from their day-to-day chaos, the media had a feel-good story to tell and the town we utilized enjoyed the visitors,” Whitaker said. “Really, we wanted to walk away making everyone’s weekend one to remember. And, I think we accomplished that.”

Exploring an interest in these topics doesn’t necessarily require going to a physical place, either. Fanatics of shows and movies can access numerous podcasts that chat and reminisce about their favorite episodes. From “The West Wing ” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Gilmore Girls” and even Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOM), fans of pop-culture can enjoy new content featuring their old favorites.

“Pop culture podcasts were really coming into their element when I started – shows like U Talkin U2 To Me? and Gilmore Guys were taking my social media feeds by storm,” said Zetus Lapodcast host Zach Heltzel. “I … asked myself what parts of my childhood stuck with me and were not already being covered sufficiently by other podcasts. I eventually landed on Disney Channel Original Movies.”

Though the podcast began with nostalgia, it’s grown to much more than that for Heltzel.

“The podcast is a wonderful excuse to ask amazing writers, comedians, and DCOM super-fans to hang out with me and go on little adventures for a few hours every week,” he said. “Every long-form discussion I have with my guests teaches me a lot, and … these conversations I have with these funny and smart people have helped me grow.”

Similarly, Gilmore Guys co-founder and co-host Kevin Porter said people tuned into his show “because it was specifically about something they already knew and liked.”

Porter and co-host Demi Adejuyigbe didn’t set out to make money with the show especially since there is “so little of it.”

“We did to have fun,” Porter said. “All of the money-making opportunities were born out of necessity. We wanted and needed to do live shows due to demand.”

Tickets started at $5 for the Gilmore Guys’ first show. It grew from there, and the duo eventually signed with a podcast network called HeadGum and monetized their show through ads. The “Guys” have merchandise as well, which has helped create a positive cash flow for them.

Nostalgic businesses thrive and hold fan’s attention for a reason: They remind us of things that brought us happiness in our youth.

“It’s partly an idealized sense of the past; it is also an ability to escape from the present moment,” said Jessica Koblenz, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York. “We tend to highlight positives of items that are comforting even when situations have actually improved. For example, we have nostalgia and glamorize the moments we didn’t have cell phones because we remember the fun adventures that ensued from trying to meet up.”

“I think the business of nostalgia and the reason we’ll see x-amount of Star Wars movies, “Twin Peaks” and “Full House” revivals is because people are chasing that feeling that they had when they were young,” Porter added.

Koblenz notes that some nostalgia is based on a mythical time that never was: “For example, in Disneyworld Main Street, U.S.A. isn’t an actual place. It’s cleaner and friendlier, and only has the best elements of that time,” she said.

If you want to start a business based on a nostalgic love, it needs to be based on a real passion.

“There is definitely a big market for [it]. Everyone wants to relive great memories, and the fact that you can meet other people with similar interests while doing that makes it a slam dunk,” Maccoby said. “It’s all feel-good vibes and nostalgia is a positive feeling that people will always want to experience.”

As with any business, you should understand your target audience and their needs. Heltzel suggests creating a plan for how you will make that connection.

“Have an extremely nuanced, detailed understanding of the people who share the same nostalgic feelings that you do for whatever it is you want to explore,” Heltzel said. “To get their attention, you are going to have to connect with them on a level that is deeper than just a mutual respect for a shared experience you once had.”

Maccoby notes that entrepreneurs should make sure the number one reason to pursue this type of business, “will not only be happy but that happiness will lead to success.”

When getting your business off the ground, Maccoby offered the following advice:

Be smart with your money. “Invest it wisely in your business, don’t overspend,” he said. “You don’t always need the most expensive hotels or food, or cars. Get by with what you need.”

Take care of the people that help you. “We have an amazing team helping us, including booking agents, promoters, press/social media managers, artists we work with, etc.” he said.

Create positive relationships. “The people around you will ultimately help you be more successful,” Maccoby said.

“Find something worthwhile that won’t feel like work most of the time,” Whitaker added. “Work harder than you’ve ever worked, and one day hopefully it’ll make you burst with pride.”

Five Ideas Brought to Life by Entrepreneurs

We’ve all had an idea for an invention that we’re sure will make us rich. Few, however, actually see that idea through to completion. We get discouraged or distracted. For those who do stick with it, there are hurdles to jump and rejections to endure.

In the end, however, it’s not impossible for your great idea to go global. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with a few inventors who turned their ideas into new businesses.

Reflecting on success:

Brent Thomas loves mountain biking, road biking, and commuting to work on his bike. His enthusiasm inspired him to invent a product that would make biking safer.

In June Thomas started BikeWrappers LLC, a company that sells sets of reflective wraps for the main tubes of  bicycles, making them more visible to motorists at night. The wrappers are removable and reversible (with a decorative pattern on the other side for daytime viewing). The San Francisco-based company sells BikeWrappers for $45 per set.

Thomas, who has worked as a business-development specialist for an Internet advertising company, designed the prototypes with his own sewing machine, found a manufacturer and is now selling them mainly online. He has also started selling a line of reflective dog products called DogWrappers, meant to make dogs more visible at night.

Though the company is not quite profitable yet, Thomas says he hopes to be running it as his full-time job soon.

Riding the wave of success:

 Colin Pyle had a degree in Spanish and a job at his father’s construction company, but he always wanted to start his own business. He had no idea how, though.

“I didn’t have any design experience and I didn’t have any business experience,” he said.

Pyle decided not to let that stop him. He started his San Francisco company, Golden Hour, to sell a product he had invented called the Wrist Shot, a camera that straps onto your wrist and can be used for any activity in which you need to have free hands while taking a photo. For instance, while riding a surfboard.

“If you have ever tried to take a camera surfing, you know that it is very difficult. You need to have complete use of your hands and arms at all times, you don’t have any pockets, and you are likely to lose it during a wipeout,” Pyle said.

Pyle was inspired. He took apart his surfboard leash and mocked up the concept with construction paper and tape.

“Then I went to my friend who is a fashion designer; we used her industrial sewing machine to make the first prototype,” Pyle said. “It was pretty clunky looking, but it allowed me to test the concept, and it worked beautifully. From there we made a few rounds of revisions streamlining and adjusting the dimensions.”

With a $20,000 investment, Pyle’s company was born. He ushered the idea through every stage of the process, and even traveled to China to find a manufacturer.

Pyle, who’s 31, expects Golden Hour to be his full-time job by 2011.

Mother of invention:

 As a mother of four, Karen Racer knows a thing or two about morning sickness.

After learning that an oft-recommended cure is the smell of lemons, she designed a product to help women with morning sickness even when there was no citrus in sight.

Her invention, called Morning Sickness Soothers, is a disposable nose clip that comes in one of four scents: lemon, orange, peppermint and spearmint. They sell for $14.95 for a box of 12. Her invention recently was patented .

So far, Racer says, she has invested between $50,000 and $75,000 in the business, which is based in Teaneck, N.J.

“The most difficult part of bringing this product to market has been educating the public,” said Racer. “I’ve become my own PR, marketing my product using social media forums such as LinkedIn, Helpareporter.com, Facebook and Twitter.”

Bright future:

 Micaela Birmingham used just $5,000 to start her business, City Mum, which sells a sunshade she invented for baby strollers.

“After other parents started to ask where they could get a stylish shade like mine, I took the pattern originally made in my kitchen out of a dishcloth, perfected it and produced it,” Birmingham said.

Birmingham had to get creative when it came to finding a manufacturer. She needed a small, flexible factory that would accept small orders at first, and she was able to find it in New York’s Garment District.

Her company is now profitable, she says, and the CityShade sells all over the world.

Cool idea:

 Jamie Burke worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where her responsibilities included working to address the epidemic of adolescent obesity.  She has since transferred her skills to the world of small business by developing garments called Cool Shapes. They’re pairs of contoured shorts that contain chilled gel packs. The cold packs press on fatty areas.

She and her sister, Lark MacPhail, have invested $65,000 in the business, which is called FreezeAwayFat.

“It uses the science of cooling brown fat to shrink white fat cells and get rid of stubborn problem areas,” said Burke.

The sisters relied on their own skills and reached out to family and friends for help getting the business off the ground.

“We have been very fortunate to have the network of friends and family who are within the legal, business, science and social media community,” Burke said.

The most challenging part of the process was finding a domestic fabric source and garment manufacturer.

“Everywhere we went we were counseled to go offshore.  However, we were committed to having the garment made in the U.S.A.,” her sister said.  “This caused almost a four-month stall while we searched for a full service-operation (pattern making, grading, sewing) to work with us.”