Monday, March 30, 2015

Business ideas

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     My lifetime has been spent starting my own businesses and helping others start theirs. It has convinced me that you can make a business out of anything.

     It makes sense. If you are interested in something, others will be as well. And they can become the market for your products and services. 

     Not all markets are as big as others. If you are only interested in selling the herbs you grow, and you only show up at farm markets, your bottom line won't be very big. But if you sell herbs to a supermarket chain, you might be overwhelmed with orders. 

     Example: Jason loved cars and motorcycles. Growing up, he tinkered and repaired vehicles and spent hours hanging out at auto shops. He went on to college and got an engineering degree. Then he set up a business specializing in two things: restorations of older vehicles back to original condition and building motorcycles from the ground up. He brought some of his work to car shows, and his reputation spread. Restorations of cars that are 20 to 50 years old and in poor condition can take months, sometimes years. While waiting for parts, Jason would concentrate on building or customizing motorcycles for clients. His backlog of work now extends years into the future. 

     Example: Marie loved designing women's clothes. She called it "Throwing together some odds and ends in new ways." Her designs brought compliments and sales. She wanted a business of her own, and she was forced to make a strategic decision. Either she could open her own high end, exclusive design shop, or she could become a design house. She chose the latter. Today, Marie has established herself as the design arm for several manufacturers. She sells her designs to them, freeing her to move on to next year's possibilities. 

     Example: Several years ago, I met a man whose business was repairing and selling old vacuum cleaners. Many in his showroom were 40 or more years old. Old vacuum cleaners were built to last--with all metal parts. Today, many vacuum cleaners are cheaply made--with plastic parts that break and wear out. People in the know, he explained, pay big bucks to have their old vacuum cleaners repaired, or they buy one from his display. He also sold parts. "Where else can you find a part for a vacuum cleaner that's been doing the job for years?" he asked me. 

     Whatever your interests, consider building a business around them. There's a market out there, just waiting to be tapped. True, many are niche markets. But with today's social media, you can reach far and wide to attract attention--as well as more dollars to your bottom line. 

     Collectibles offer many opportunities for unique businesses. I know a store that specializes in LPs, for example. Another offers unique and rare growing plants. Still another sells jigsaw puzzles--and other older board games. And then there is the shop that sells old manual typewriters--restored and ready to begin life again.