Small Business Success Story: Lice Be Gone | CareerFuel.netMay 28, 2012 12:47 EDT
By AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, CareerFuel.net
This is National Small Business Week and, of all small businesses, we would like to highlight a nitpicker. Not the boss who hunts down dangling modifiers in your writing like a mad dog, but Linda Strand and her company, Lice Be Gone. Some of you are laughing or cringing (and quite likely scratching your head), but Linda is mopping up commercially. Her business is a great example of one that many of you could start as well, so let me explain…
Lice are a problem feared by most parents. Statistics show that one in three children will experience it at least once. Personally, it has struck three times in our home and naturally one of those occasions was the day after my knee surgery. With my Mom and good friend bolting for the door and my husband out of town, I desperately called Linda Strand at Lice Be Gone, who made house calls back then. She calmly checked all of our heads, removed all the bugs and nits without using any chemicals, educated us on how to delouse our home and sent the four of us off to bed with mayonnaise and shower caps to smother anything she might have missed.
Today Linda operates out of an office, where she performs lice-removal services on site. People come from far and wide for her services and she has a thriving business.
What would be a good location for this sort of business? A densely populated and relatively affluent area is an ideal market for this sort of business. These types of communities are places in which people are more likely to want someone else to solve this problem– and will pay a premium for it. Another strategic geographic choice would be close to summer camps. A parent who gets the call that their child has lice and needs to be picked up will most likely pay anything for a local solution, rather than bringing their child home from camp!
Who could do this kind of business? Medical training, per se, is not required to operate a lice removal business, however it can be helpful. Linda Strand is a nurse who worked with psychiatric patients. Her medical background provides instant credibility, as well as the social skills to understand what a client is going through. If you think you have good business skills (or can partner with someone who does) and you can deliver strong customer service (a key reason for Lice Be Gone’s success), this might be right for you.
How would I market such a business? Very targeted marketing to school nurses, pediatricians, pharmacists and hair salons in your area will work most effectively. Personal introductions, coupons, and free lice checks are your best bets and (other than your time) they do not require money.
What are the upfront business costs? Opening a brick and mortar establishment is expensive. Depending upon your location, it could run anywhere from $50,000-$100,000. If you already have an established customer base by operating as an in-home business, this can be used as leverage for an SBA loan. Local banks may also be willing to provide a loan when they see the revenue potential. In the process of applying for loans, a business plan will be required.
Lice removal is a great example of a small business that is “doable”. It is an idea that doesn’t hinge on being able to write code or envision the next great social network.
Pass this on to someone in Dallas or Boulder or Chicago who is itching for an idea—And check out CareerFuel’s Start a Business page for more great information to get your small business going!
Video production by darQlight Studios
(Originally published May 24, 2012 here)