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Two Minute Tips

Concierge services, life organizers are small biz stories

November 13, 2013

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JetBlue partners with Bags VIP for travelers who are too busy for their luggage.

I ran across this New York Times piece, “Outsource your way to success,” about people who hire out domestic tasks to free them for money-making chores, and thought it was pretty interesting as either a personal finance/economy piece or a  potential springboard for a wealth of local stories about businesses that perform personal tasks.   But I hadn’t really planned to write a blog post about it until a bit of nosing around turned up the notion that there is indeed now a trade group for …. professional photo organizers.

Yes, there are people out there now making money sorting through one’s digital and paper pix, discarding the duds, selecting display-worthy images, organizing computer files and helping to frame, scrapbook or otherwise enhance them for your reminiscing pleasure.

Another interesting take is this Baltimore Sun article, “More people turning to online ‘personal’ shopping services,” about services that will ship clothing and accessories on approval to clients who don’t have time to browse retail racks themselves.  Who knew?!    Particularly with dressy-occasion events in the fourth quarter, the array of personal shopping services out there, from online to personal apparel to gift shoppers — would make a colorful and informative feature; organizations like the Association of Image Consultants International and referrals from boutiques and department stores can help you find local players — and here’s a recent Wall Street Journal piece about putting four services to the test.   Go beyond purchasing — are more people using stylists to help them find or define a look — perhaps for an edge in a competitive jobs market, or to overcome ageism when attempting career networking?  That would be a timely angle.

Personal gift shopping services like The Gift Bag in Austin, Texas, which bills itself as “Your Personal Gift Valet,” are another likely profile this time of year.  Baby concierge services for expectant mothers, gift wrapping and other specialties are something you can look at.

And another aspect of the New York Times piece I enjoyed was learning about TaskRabbit, a site that matches service providers — like people who will do  grocery shopping or wait at home for the cable guy — with those in need.   Whether you focus on the plight of the over-tasked household, the career implications of being a Fiverr or a TaskRabbit (many of the commenters on the NYT piece took great umbrage at the notion of low-paid freelance work such as this) or the bigger picture of starting and marketing a business to fill an unmet need, there  is plenty of fodder here and in similar services you may find locally.   (And apparently TaskRabbit has a B2B arm as well; what are the implications of companies farming out tasks via piecework?)

Here’s an IBISWorld report on the personal services industry that may help you with more ideas, and a Reuters report on growth in the U.S. service sector. 


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