Small Business Model Series Entry #1 – Getting an Idea

“I have the urge”, I said to my wife. “You need to do something, you are not happy unless you are busy” she responded. “Go do it”, she smiled.

 This entry is part of a series of entries exemplifying the steps an entrepreneur takes from starting a business to selling the operation. It is a step by step process addressing the multitude of business concepts every small business owner must face. This is a 6 year example from Day 1 to the day the owner receives a check for selling his business. Read this series as if it you were experiencing all of the trials, tribulations and joy of owning and operating a business.

That’s it, I’m going to go into business for myself. I want to own and operate a business of some sort and make some extra money. Who knows, I could be the next Warren Buffett. At age 27, I’m still young enough to have the energy to do the physical part and mature enough now to know that I need the guidance of others to help me. But what do I do? I need an idea.

I need a really good idea. Where do I start? How do others come up with their ideas? 

I sat down and began the research of what others do to make money. I was mostly interested in not doing business for the sake of just having a business, but my goal was to make some good money for my time investment. My first step is to address the business concept of time and money. I should receive a reward for my personal time investment. I just don’t want $10 an hour kind of return; I want the good stuff, like $70 and $80 hour for my services. I want to make some real money. But I need to understand this concept first before I venture off into an idea. 

My first good reading was which explained to me the business principle involved in owning a business. It taught me to trade my personal resources for a good return on my time investment. There are outside forces at work that will control the final outcome of how much I will earn in life. This article taught me to evaluate my personal attributes and what will be best for me given my personality. My first step is to look at myself and identify my personal characteristics.

Well, one hour of self-evaluation and I came up with this:

  • I’m more of introvert and would prefer to not interact with customers or suppliers. Although I’m friendly and respectful, I would rather spend more time with my own thoughts than listening to others or interacting with people for extended periods of time. 
  • I am resourceful, I have learned to read and understand a problem before jumping in and getting physically involved.
  • I enjoy mechanical equipment and fixing things around the house. As a boy I took the lawn mower apart just to see how it worked.  
  • I hate shopping.
  • I’m ok with technology. 
  • No college or advanced education other than the electronic skills learned in the apprentice school.

Based on my personality traits, I definitely don’t want to be involved in retail sales, I don’t like shopping or dealing with customers. That knocks out restaurants and customer service based businesses. Hmmm…. That is quite a bit of the potential business opportunities right there. This has helped me to eliminate potential business opportunities, but it hasn’t determined my idea yet. What else can I do to narrow this idea down? Well the article mentions outside forces at work too. Alright, let’s take a look at these:

  • I have a full time job, so whatever I do, should be in the evenings or on the weekends in order for me to properly deal with the business. I want to start out small and work my way into the business ultimately earning me a living. My primary responsibility is to support my family and my regular job provides for us financially. This business is more of an exploration initially and hopefully it will grow into something I can work with full time.
  • I have $40,000 saved up. My wife and I agreed that at this point in our life, it would be disappointing to throw it away on some far fetch idea. She tells me to be conservative and invest the money into some type of an idea that has a low risk. If I invest the money, I can get most of it back if the idea goes south. Alright, the idea must be more liquid based and not investing into some type of a very slim customer based market. I want liquidity. Read to gain an understanding of liquidity. 
  • Geographically speaking, I live where there are lots of roads and many different paths to take to get to the same location. Not a city, rural mostly but a lot of heavy concentrations of population to support just about any type of business. There are military bases nearby, so there is a possible source of customers there. 
  • Weather wise, I live where we actually experience all four seasons. No real tourist destinations, just a lot of manufacturing and government based work.
  • In general, mostly middle class and lower middle class population. 

Based on the outside forces at work on the idea, and my background anything along the lines of office type work or professional services are out of the question. No certifications to my name, so I can’t do any type of work related to HVAC, plumbing or electrical. If I get involved in construction, it will be limited.

Any type of business involved in the medical industry is out due to the certifications required. Just about anything you do for them requires some form of education and/or tested background. This knocks out emergency type services like owning an ambulance service or geriatric services.

Based on the above, what is available to me? All of the below have limited customer interaction, rely heavily on me to perform the duties, do not require certifications or state licenses, and have a minimal investment of capital.

1.   Construction type work (no trades though because I’m not licensed), so this would include painting, sheetrock, insulation, tile, cabinetry, flooring, trim carpentry.
2.   Landscaping including arbor based work,
3.   Welding/sheet metal work, metal fabrication
4.   Marine industry to include boat repair, motor work, electronics
5.   Auto mechanics including towing services, auto storage, etc.
6.   Coin operated machines, including Laundromats, food vending machines, coffee suppliers, route driver,
7.   Internet based business, selling products or running a website
8.   Distributor of products to stores such as batteries, food, parts, etc.
9.   Cleaning service such as janitorial, minor night time maintenance for commercial facilities
10. Catering, weekend event service provider such as weddings, community events, charity events

I now have a master list of potential businesses to evaluate. My next step is to narrow down the list based on some reasonable assumptions and my personal knowledge about each. I also should just indicate in a flat out yes or no whether I really want to get involved in that particular industry. 

Entry # 1 – Getting an Idea     Time Invested:  3.25 Hrs.   Cumulative Time:  3.25 Hrs.

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