3 inspiring start-up models

When it comes to starting your own business for the first time, carving a niche for yourself or thinking creatively can help you stay ahead of the curve. More than ever, entrepreneurs are straying from typical bricks-and-mortar or franchise business models, and launching their unique start-up on the Internet or via social media.

From businesses specialising in dog treats to "mum-trepreneurs" selling cloth baby nappies or handwoven bags, the array of start-ups in cyberspace is overwhelming. We take a look at three inspiring start-up models.

Bricks and clicks

"Bricks and clicks" is a rapidly-growing business model that combines a physical presence with e-commerce operations, and according to The Economist, could be the answer to building a profitable online business  that will appeal to all demographics. Having a strong online offering combined with a physically attractive shopfront has the potential to capture customers from multiple markets (online and offline shoppers, or both).

Bricks and clicks enables entrepreneurs maximum penetration in their target markets, particularly in light of recent research showing online shopping makes up only a quarter of Australian credit card spending.

However, the Economist warns against keeping your physical business separate from your online operations or risk miscommunication - there should be a clear link between both "bricks" and "clicks" in terms of business and marketing strategy.

Mum-trepreneurs

The concept of women balancing the role of mother and entrepreneur is a relatively recent trend that is swiftly gaining traction, largely stemming from an effort to earn extra money while staying home with their children.

Women who require a flexible - and mostly creative - working environment find starting up their own business to be the antidote to staving off boredom and financial difficulties. Ideas run the gamut from baby clothing, cloth nappies, tote bags and organic skincare products to consulting businesses, freelance writing and wedding planners.

Mass customisation

According to Entrepreneur.com, giving consumers the "option to be picky" has become a sustainable business model as the desire for customisation grows. Mass customisation, or tailoring a product or service for each customer's needs and wants, is another increasingly popular option.

A survey of US online consumers found more than 35 per cent of online consumers  are interested in personalising product features, and are willing to spend 25 per cent more in order to do so. Entrepreneurs can capitalise on this trend by offering design-your-own products, such as the ability to build your own chocolate bar, shoes, jewellery and even cars.

The rise of social media and digital technologies mean that consumers are constantly on the lookout for unique products that are geared to their desires, which in turn means you can charge a premium for doing so.

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