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Everybody’s Little Helper

You don’t have to make things to make money. Just help people get things done and rake in the bucks!

It is often said that it’s better to give than to receive. Some of today’s entrepreneurs might also say it’s better to serve than to be served. Keep that principle in mind as you prepare to start a business, and you may discover that service-themed businesses are not only profitable, but also often overlooked….

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That kind of devotion to customers is integral to any good service business-whether it’s caring for socialites’ coats or something a bit more, shall we say, down-to-earth. Cara Brown, 28, and Erin Erman, 29, combined a desire to provide excellent service with a passion for dogs when they launched Dirty Work, a pooper-scooper service, in 1998.

The pair publicized their Atlanta business through fliers and ads in the local paper, but Erman notes that the cheapest and easiest marketing tool was their Web site. “It was one of the smartest choices we could have made,” says Erman. “People want to investigate you first, get a feel for your business and [determine] if they like what they see before they commit to talking to you-and feel like they’re being pitched for a sale.”

Getting the word out to people was the biggest challenge, says Erman. “[In our area], people had never heard that you could hire someone to scoop your yard,” she says. Because Dirty Work is dependable and inexpensive, customers quickly grew to love their service. Erman and Brown recouped their $1,500 start-up costs in about six months, and sales have continued to grow.

Be it hobnobbing with the rich and famous or keeping pet owners’ yards clean and fresh, serving can be the best way to receive-a profit, that is.

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