Good IDEAS for Starting a New Business
The possibilities are endless but the selection process can be easier. I started 5 successful businesses in my 70+ years applying these three rules:
1. Pick a business and/or a location that has little or no competition. This can also mean that you pick some aspect of an existing business that is not being served - for instance, rather than compete with dozens of companies offering a particularly popular style of management consulting, I offered a service to measure and quantify the effectiveness of their efforts. Companies hired me to insure that their improvement efforts paid off. I had no competition and was able to charge a high hourly fee.
2. Pick a business that has little or no inventory or up-front investment. If you are a startup, you can't afford to wrap up money in inventory or a large equipment investment until you are absolutely positive that it will be a success. If you are selling a product, then sell by drop-shipment first. Buy one of the item you are selling and use it for demo only. Then sell its "direct from the factory" instead of out of your inventory. This can also eliminate some possibilities such as a restaurant - but those are very high risk startup businesses. If you are making some product - buy the minimum equipment or lease/rent the equipment until your sales justify purchase. Operate out of your home or garage at first. If you need a space or office, rent it from a business incubator service or from some private person or relative.
3. Pick a business that will allow you to determine if it is going to be successful in a relatively short period of time. You cannot afford to continue to invest in an effort that is destined to fail because of unforeseen circumstances.
Once you have an idea, do a formal business plan. That will force you to look at the business in an objective manner.
Here are a few examples of how this works: A young recent high school graduate came to me saying he could not find a job. He had few professional skills but was good with tools and knew about computers, but there were tons of guys already mowing lawns and doing handyman jobs or in-home computer work - mostly working at $15-$20/hr. I advised him to use his competition to his advantage. At my suggestion, he formed a business that acted like a job broker for all those lawn and handyman jobs. He also added in-home technology assistance. His investment was to use his own phone and computer and flyers and posters to advertise. He "subcontracted" (no employees) to his many high school buddies and did their advertisement, collection and marketing for them. He standardized the hourly wage at $20/hr for manual labor and he took $2 of that. He offered his technology service at $25/hr and he took $3. He would take a call asking for a service and then call one of his "subcontractors" to do it. He also setup recurring services. He estimated his time at around 4 to 5 hrs per week but he averaged about $350/wk.
Another example: I recently advised a young college student that needed money to continue his education and could not spent a lot of time at a job. I suggested he start an internet business. After a little research, we discovered that 1 out of 4 people in the world read their horoscope at least once a week and 1 out of 5 allow it or believe it will influence their lives. Doing a horoscope over the internet would be easy but there were hundreds of such sites already. So I suggested he do Palmistry. People would put their hand on a scanner or copier and send in the image or paper copy and he would "read it". I takes him about 30 seconds per reading using a selection of canned responses, sends the results back by email and collects $8.95 for each one. He paid for his college.and a new car in the first year of operation.
One more: I had a long time email exchange with a man in Singapore, China. He was a professor teaching economics and business at a college there and wanted to come to the west but he did not know what he could do. He had learned to write and speak English very well. He said he would probably come to Canada if he came. I found that there was a large community of Chinese in Vancouver. I suggested he setup a business of consulting with other Chinese that wanted to do business with westerns and vice versa. His English and business skills were perfect for him to advise new Chinese immigrants and to negotiate with locally owned suppliers and business to buy from or sell to the Chinese community. He now has several people working for him in Vancouver and is doing very well.