Business Ownership and Ideas
  • FS Community,

    Do any of you currently own a business, plan on owning one, or have owned one? I'm always curious as to what types of businesses are out there and am always exploring new thoughts and ideas. Not to mention, I enjoy hearing success stories, as well the failures, and I'm always willing to learn from others' experiences and lessons. I know that this is a pretty broad topic but feel free to share your experiences. My end goal is to have multiple streams of income; one (or few) of them from businesses.

  • @Junior I'll start off with my business history and future plans. Perhaps someone will learn from my mistakes or see something that they think is interesting. I have a history of trying new things, but the main thing I've realized is to stick with something so I can master it and see it bear real fruit...

    * Worked with another guy in college (2004) to create a Dropshipping website that was paying me over $3,000 monthly in ownership cuts. Unfortunately, he got ahead of himself and tried to expand the business and everything went under. But it was a nice ride for a couple years.
    * Made a website selling computer games from 2004-2005. As it started to break even, I gave up on it - I didn't have the business mentality for the hard work it takes back then.
    * Made a life coaching website, in 2008. It gets 100 visitors a day and makes about $10 a month, so nothing too special. I don't work on it regularly anymore.
    * Made my own website, in 2010 during my back surgery, which I write about entrepreneurship and finances, along with some thoughts about my life experiences. It gets about 70 visitors a day and gives me a place to share my ideas.
    * Since Jan 1st (this year, 2013), I've started a computer/video games business and have been working hard on my first game, Tower of Eglathia (a modern day rogue-like adventure). Games, especially role-playing games are in my blood as I've been playing them since 5 years of age. I'm excited to see how this goes as I stick with it :)

    What has everyone else tried? I've yet to make a business really work, but am thankful I live in a country and have a job that lets me keep trying.
  • @Junior - Out of all the sectors I've studied, there's no better sector than the internet due to low startup costs and scaleability. Margins can grow HUGE with an online business, while your customer base is only limited by language and connectivity.

    For a small business, the internet is the way to go. The hard part is marketing and an idea.
  • My own experience with internet businesses has been really poor. The startup costs are very low, but that only means that every bored college student has an internet business so the competition is huge. Plus, people assume that everything online is always free to use, so say goodbye to your cashflow. Here's some business lessons I've learned:

    * Ideas (even good ideas) are worthless. All value comes in the implementation
    * Having a website does not mean having a business
    * Focus ruthlessly on cashflow - without it, you will fail
    * Marketing is 10-100x more important than technology and your budget should reflect this
    * Do not work with anyone that doesn't understand internet technology very well

    That being said, I'd never do a "pure" internet business again, and I'm a web programmer!

    But, that's not to say the internet is useless. If I had to start a business, I would start by developing a viable business idea that is "internet agnostic". Then I'd use or develop technology as a tool for competitive advantage. That's where the internet really shines, when it enables and streamlines what you *already* have. But, you have to have something to begin with.

    Hope that helps
  • @jason That was insightful. I am also a web developer at my day job, typing this on my lunch hour, and sometimes checking these forums throughout the day because they are addicting. Anyhow, as a technology developer, I find it harder to see the good ideas for business I think because I am so attached to my coding and building systems rather than seeing value first and then building it.

    Thanks for sharing.
  • @JeremyNoelJohnson Yes, as a tech professional, a common attitude is "if I build a better mousetrap (and I will because I'm the most brilliant person ever), they will beat a path to your door". Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I guess that's why I went so hard into real estate; it's the most not-internet, cashflow-oriented thing I could find.
  • I suppose I can now be considered a business owner, though I'm yet to turn my first profit. My business is my blog and I agree with @FinancialSamurai. The Internet cannot be beat in terms of cost of business!
  • I run a small language school with my wife. We are profitable but it takes too much of our time at the moment -currently working on replacing ourselves with staff. We've been doing that for nine years now.

    In addition to that and my day job, I'm an educational consultant, presenting and writing on behalf of companies.

    I also have a blog that makes pennies per month :)
  • @Jason is right. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Have to execute with GREAT fervor. It takes a lot of time to write articles on FS, but it is paying off. Marketing is more important than you can imagine. I know so many folks who start business and AREN'T willing to spend money to get their word out online and then they fail. Here is my post on Why Businesses Fail with Marketing as #1:

  • Let's see... DH bought and sold brass back in the day, that was quite lucrative for a while and was his sole-prop company when we met!!! He had the second largest account in CA.

    As a kid I was always buying low and selling at a profit on almost anything I liked and that carried into adulthood as well. I have always liked finding deals on used items and then flipping it when I tire of it. I rarely hold on to things I buy, but lately I just haven't had the time to do it as much anymore. I can't really call that a business but I almost always made a profit or at least broke even. There are lots of things you can buy and double your money. I was like "Pickers" but with stuff I liked and used for a while until I decided to refurb and resell. It was more fun than a business, although lot's of people obviously DO professionally make a living that way.

    At one point I did consider starting my own company in the industry I am in. But then I started doing really well where I already am so I shelved the idea to ride this wave out for as long as I can. I still have the business plan but if I were to put that back on the table, it would require my full attention and commitment which I couldn't do right now without enough opportunity cost to not justify it.

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