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(Peter Tym)
(Peter Tym)

Small Business Briefing

'Fantasy' maid service puts unique spin on cleaning Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Maid service with a twist

Melissa Borrett was struggling to make ends meet in her home town of Lubbock, Texas.

So she decided to get creative. Her new venture, Lubbock Fantasy Maid Service, has been in business for about a month. On the surface, it's like any other maid service. But if you'll pardon the pun, when you peel away the layers, you'll notice a decidedly different approach. Employees will take their clothes off at a customer's request.

"To book one maid it is $100 an hour," she told NBC affiliate station KCBD. "To book two maids it's $150 an hour."

Ms. Borrett says her business is not a joke and the maids do clean. In terms of safety measures for employees, the company's website clearly states the maids do not exchange sexual services for money. "We have security who travels with my workers to all their appointments," she adds.

Lubbock Police Sergeant Jonathan Stewart, however, says he considers Lubbock Fantasy a sexually oriented business that requires a permit, which it doesn't have. "Just the fact employees are topless or semi nude in this case, it's just not allowed," Mr. Stewart explains, adding if the company continues to operate, it could face a fine.

That wouldn't sit well with Ms. Borrett, of course. To build bridges, she is offering a discount to law enforcement.

Oh, and business is booming. Which comes as no surprise.

Three areas of concern in France

The Agence pour la création d’entreprises (APCE), set up in the late 1990s, and the special fiscal treatment of independent or “auto-entrepreneurs” has led to a dramatic increase in the number of start-ups in France, serial entrepreneur Nathalie Gaveau writes in a guest post for TechCrunch. The country offers top-notch technical talent and excellent web infrastructure, she adds, but there is still room for improvement leading into the first round of presidential elections this month. Small businesses have produced 2.3 million of the 2.8 million of the jobs created in France in the past 20 years. To win over entrepreneurs, Ms. Gaveau says presidential candidates should focus on three key areas (which might sound very familiar to Canadian readers):

  1. Education: mandatory technology training and the development of entrepreneurship programs
  2. Administrative red tape: make it light and simple
  3. Easier access to capital

Facebook game gives Ottawa company a boost

Ottawa-based RocketOwl Inc. landed a finalist slot at the Canadian Videogame Awards with its Facebook game GreenSpace, which makes picking up virtual garbage fun, the Ottawa Citizen reports. The 18-month old company was nominated in the Best Social/Casual Game category. The awards take place in Vancouver April 21. GreenSpace is free to play, and takes place in a future where players must clean up hundreds of years of garbage and restore the planet’s natural environment by building sustainable energy sources. It cost $800,000 to develop. At launch, RocketOwl had five founders and total capital of $600,000. It has since expanded to 18 employees, with the assistance of angel investments and tax breaks.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Entry deadline approaches for American Business Awards

The final entry deadline for the 10th annual American Business Awards is April 25. If you haven't received your 2012 entry kit, you can download it here. There is a step-by-step video called How to Enter The 2012 American Business Awards designed to help candidates with the submission process. The ABAs have a range of categories to recognize achievements in all facets of the workplace, including customer service, HR, IT, management and marketing. Finalists will be announced mid-May and winners at one of the two awards banquets: the first on June 18 at the Marriott Marquis in New York, and a second tech-focused one in San Francisco on Sept. 17 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

BarCamp sets up in Calgary

BarCamp, a community-powered "unconference," with open events, discussions and workshops, is coming to Calgary on May 5, running from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The agenda is collaboratively created and run by participants, rather than predetermined speakers. The first BarCamp took place in 2005, and since then the events have been held in more than 350 cities. BarCamp Calgary will focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, start-ups, technology, mobile applications, social media, education and all things in between. Sessions vary from random hackathons to roundtable discussions on best practices.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

What to do when Dr. Oz weighs in

Every time Dr. Oz touts hemp on TV, Mike Fata panics a little. The co-founder and chief executive officer of Winnipeg-based Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods knows the U.S. TV talk show host’s very mention of hemp will send demand for his company’s hemp-based food products through the roof. Of course, Mr. Fata loves the plugs for hemp. But he never knows when they are coming, and Manitoba Harvest sometimes simply can’t fill all the orders that follow the attention.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Your product featured by the stars

Whether you work at a multinational corporation or a small Canadian start-up, having your company’s creation featured by a daytime TV star is the holy grail of product placement, Mia Pearson wrote in August, 2010. With a diverse audience in the millions, stars such as Ellen DeGeneres and other favourites have a loyal following and an established tradition of surprising audiences by handing out products the host believes to be the greatest, or just the quirkiest, items on the market.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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