By Timothy Sanchez
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Last week I introduced my plan to open up Avalon Packaging and Shipping services or Avalon PASS. I have been in the planning stage of the business for over 1 year already and I have been operating on a limited scale. During my research and planning I have been talking to many people and have been getting valuable feedback about what is needed in our community for such a business.
For anyone who wants to start their business; community involvement in the plan is an important step. Some people may think that they should keep their business plan secret for fear that someone else might steal your idea and beat you to it. That is an understandable concern but it is most important is to get the feedback that you need to develop your plan to cater to the needs of your target customers and your community.
What is needed in your community and how can your business fill that need? Find what problems people are having and find out how your business can solve their problem.
Here is how I am crafting my business plan. I live in a unique island resort community. The US postal service does not deliver mail in Avalon. The only way to receive mail is in a USPS provided post office box. PO Boxes are only provided to full time year around residents, but we have hundreds of seasonal workers who live here for 3 to 8 months out of the year who need to receive mail and packages. Additionally many people have a need to send packages via UPS or Fed Ex but there is no way to do that and pay with cash or credit card. There is a contractor that handles UPS and Fed Ex deliveries but can only pick up packages with pre paid labels, or we have to write out credit card number on the box and they charge it on the mainland. Another local issue is the fact that most seasonal workers live in group employee housing or sort of bunk house arrangements and receiving parcels securely is nearly Impossible. Addresses are not really used here and not clearly recognizable, therefore Packages are mis-delivered, lost or stolen on a regular basis.
Avalon Packaging and Shipping store plus mailbox rentals will solve these problems. I am in the process of contracting with the US postal service as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency. Avalon PASS can rent mailboxes to anybody; including seasonal residents. A box holder will therefore have a safe place to receive mail and parcels from USPS, UPS and Fed Ex. We can also ship packages via all the major carriers and we can even professionally package the items they wish to send. That is the basis of my business idea. I see a need in my community so I am building a business to fill that need and solve a problem.
There are many other products and services that easily pair with a pack and post store, therefore there are a lot of ways to make money. Many pack and post businesses also offer print and copy service, notary public service, key copying, promotional products and there are a host of other possibilities. The motto for many such businesses is diversify, diversify, diversify. Find out what people want, see if you can do it and be profitable and add it to your menu of products and services.
I am in the process of securing a retail space for my store. I am going through necessary legal paperwork for the business and establishing accounts with suppliers. If you are interested in building your own pack and ship store or business; feel free to contact me if you want specific advice or have questions. I will be writing a complete guide based on what I am learning and will make it available when it is complete. I will say the first thing you must do is write a business plan. That sounds easy enough, but there is a lot to a proper business plan. I got a little help from an Ecourse and you may find it helpful too, click here to check it out.
If you have the money to invest or can get a business loan and live in a place with a high enough population, buying into a franchise like mailboxes etc. or the UPS store would be a very good way to open a pack and ship business. Franchise companies offer a lot of support and marketing that will help you be successful. For people living in small isolated communities or if you are starting your business on a limited budget; a franchise may not be the best route. My blog focuses on do it yourself entrepreneurs building businesses from scratch with very little money to start.