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Riley_88
Riley_88 Reader
1/17/22 10:04 p.m.

We've all dreamed of being our own boss, doing the thing we want to, or just getting out of "race" at some point.  Some have had the guts to make it happen while others have weighed the pros and cons and decided to stick with what they know, for better or for worse.  I'm 47 and so far I've stuck with the secure, perceived or actual, route of "traditional" jobs.  Most of my time has been spent as a QA Manager and more recently as a Project Manager.  Now might be the right time to make a more significant change and as with most of the life's questions, I think the answer can be found here.  I have some ideas...start some kind of business, maybe home inspection, maybe something else...perhaps buy some sort of existing business...maybe something in real estate rentals.  I really don't know, but I bet there are some great ideas from some really smart people on here.  So i'm all ears, please tell me, if you were starting a business tomorrow, what would it be?

Thanks everyone!

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/17/22 10:23 p.m.

Being in the industrial hose business I like the business model that Pirtek throws out there.

Call us on Sunday night for hoses and we will get you up and running but we're not the cheapest guy on the block.  How much money per hour are you losing right now?  We will send out our truck. 

I've always felt a business that requires a sense of urgency to it can charge more as people are in a dire need or don't care about the price.  

Problem is my Buddy started something similar but couldn't find the right employees.  

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
1/18/22 1:18 a.m.

Postwar Lionel restoration and repair. You wouldn't get rich, but it would be immensely satisfying.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/18/22 4:26 a.m.

Ice Cream shop in Spain.  Hands down. 

I figure I've never seen an unhappy person buy ice cream, and any country that stereotypically sells only the bottoms of bikinis can't be that bad.
 

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/18/22 5:53 a.m.

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

In a similar, but not quite the same direction, I'd start a sit on top kayak rental business that leads snorkeling excursions in the Caribbean. Low overhead and rarely a day that isn't fantastic. 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
1/18/22 7:08 a.m.

As a small business owner for 34 years, I'd kinda like a job that only requires 40 hours a week.

therealpinto
therealpinto Reader
1/18/22 7:27 a.m.

I have a similar-ish background as the OP (and the same age...).

For a long time I have said that if I ever loose my job(s) I´d start a bar with very good beer, decent food and an acceptable interior. I would hang out with guests and just enjoy. But I have a feeling that is better as a dream than a reality.

The upside of the job I have is a lot of freedom to plan my days and still have a decent income and frankly, it is hard to find a better deal allround. Sure, I wouldn´t mind working with race cars, the race track, the inspections of home built vehicles 100% but where I live, one does not make a living out of that.

In response to HungaryBill; One of my former co-workers did something similar to your ideas. He met a woman from the French Riviera, moved from Sweden down there to be a water ski instructor in their family business. Bold move...

Gustaf

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
1/18/22 7:44 a.m.

Vintage car/bike repair. Mechanical stuff only. It always amazes me the number of people who have collectible cars that can't work on them.

I wouldn't do it, but there is definitely a market for a shop that would do welding, body work and paint ONLY for the project car crowd. Bring in a bare shell and have it prepped and painted, then pick it up so you can reassemble. 

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/18/22 7:56 a.m.

If I could do it all over again, I'm not really sure I would really change.

The important part of my job was that I had flexibility.  If I had to, I could leave and take care of family for an extended time.  For sure, working in a large company meant that I could take real vacations without keeping in touch.  And the whole thing has the distinct possibility that retiring at an age where I can do more is a real thing.

I'm not saying that I will do nothing in retirement, but if I do, it will be on my time and my terms- so that I can go out and do other stuff.

Very much a work to live person.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
1/18/22 7:57 a.m.

My current day job is investigating and starting new businesses for a large corporation. That being said, I do what I do instead of doing it myself is health insurance. If you have the right safety net, the sky is the limit. Remember that most businesses fail, some make money and can feed you, and some take off in a way that's almost not predictable (rare). Copy/pasting someone else's proven business model but making tweaks for your local circumstances is likely your shortest put. Much luck!

67LS1
67LS1 Reader
1/18/22 8:30 a.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

Being in the industrial hose business I like the business model that Pirtek throws out there.

Call us on Sunday night for hoses and we will get you up and running but we're not the cheapest guy on the block.  How much money per hour are you losing right now?  We will send out our truck. 

I've always felt a business that requires a sense of urgency to it can charge more as people are in a dire need or don't care about the price.  

Problem is my Buddy started something similar but couldn't find the right employees.  

This is a really good idea. Think about Graingers. High prices but FAST, one stop service.

When I was working for a company that sold and serviced large emergency power systems, an upset customer once told me that if our company was half as good as we professed we WANTED to be, half as good, people would pay double and beat each other up to get our services.

Over promise AND over deliver. Price becomes secondary which is exactly where ANY business wants to be.

And your buddies problem finding employees is real. You need the best of the best and you need to pay them so much they'll never leave. Very, very difficult to do.

Our lead electrical field tech was one of those rare guys that was a people person, could talk on the same level with CEO's, electrical engineers, building technicians and janitors. Our biggest customer would request only him on their site and eventually hired him away at close to $100k more per year than he was making from us. So instead of paying us $250/hr for him and being subject to where else he might have been scheduled, they just brought him on full time. 

So we lost our best tech, our best mentor for our younger techs and our biggest customer in one fell swoop. Even after he offered to stay if we'd match the offer. I would have but it wasn't my call.

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
1/18/22 8:35 a.m.

I'm currently looking into starting a mini golf, building storage units, and starting a small emergency repair parts retail business. 

None are particularly profitable ideas, but simple, mostly hands off ways of making money. Aside from emergency repair parts, because being able to go somewhere after normal business hours or on a holiday to get the parts to fox the hot water tank, the stove, the whatever that could ruin your day lets the prices be a bit higher because available without wait. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/18/22 8:42 a.m.

Here is a business idea that I lack the skill to create but I would happily be your customer.  

Auto parts search aggregator.  

Sample:
I currently need a front right wheel bearing for a 2004 Prius.  I then open the websites of Autozone, Advance, Oreilys, Napa, etc where I have to enter the make model year every time.  

Give me one website where I can put in the year, make, model and the site will show the the offers from Autozone, Advance, Orelys, Napa, and anyone else, all in one place.   

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/18/22 8:45 a.m.

I have run /owned several businesses and I would not trade it back for a 9-5 gig. Yes there are days you want to toss it all in the dumpster and set it on fire but those are rare.   Since I have done this a couple times there are only a couple basic things I now look for that if they check out I will then take a deeper dive and even then 99.9 percent of those ideas don't pan out.  
 

Running/owning a business is a weird thing. You have to be everyone's friend but you also can not be anyones friend.  It is buisness. 
 

Oh,  owning a bar and hanging out at it with patrons is a tightrope walk you don't want to do.  Either own and run the Bar or go hang out at a bar with friends. Don't do both at the same time.  

 

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/18/22 8:49 a.m.

I have 5 years left in the military before I can retire at 20. After that, I'm opening a wedding venue and getting into wedding supplies. Like linen, furniture, decoration. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/18/22 8:55 a.m.

Another idea that I'll admit, I'm not good for but someone else could.  

We've all heard of Two Men and a Truck, moving company.  In a similar vein, Two Men and a Bobcat.  

You can get a lot of work done quickly with a Bobcat (skid steer) if you're skilled with the machine.  Aside from consumer jobs, your core customer could be small contractors who then have you sub-work for them for the day or two.  Sure, they can rent the machine the day by themselves but if they then are not good at running the machine, they can do a lot of damage too.  

The equipment rental place could too help you with work.  Potential rental customer is a complete novice and could hurt the equipment.  The rental counter might be happy to recommend you as the operator, if you're a skilled operator.  

Keep overhead low and rent equipment as needed passing that cost to the customer.   Expand to more of what the place rents out like mini excavator.  Grow business with more than one crew working per day.  Eventually manage crews not drive the bobcat yourself.   

Mr. Peabody
Mr. Peabody UltimaDork
1/18/22 9:02 a.m.
67LS1 said:
Datsun310Guy said:

Being in the industrial hose business I like the business model that Pirtek throws out there.

Call us on Sunday night for hoses and we will get you up and running but we're not the cheapest guy on the block.  How much money per hour are you losing right now?  We will send out our truck. 

I've always felt a business that requires a sense of urgency to it can charge more as people are in a dire need or don't care about the price.  

Problem is my Buddy started something similar but couldn't find the right employees. 

And your buddies problem finding employees is real. You need the best of the best and you need to pay them so much they'll never leave. Very, very difficult to do.

About a dozen years ago I was courted by a specialty contractor, and in the interview they presented themselves as a high end premium service, which they were quite proud of, and I was to be the guy for weekend, and off shift breakdowns, and industrial emergencies. And they offered me about $20k less than I was currently making and about $40k less than I though the job was worth. And that's the problem. There are a lot of companies that offer similar emergency services and charge accordingly, but I've yet to see one that's willing to pay accordingly. That's why they can't get the people.

Regarding being able to charge more for an urgent/emergency service, I once got this excellent advice from my plant manager at the time. If you try and save a buck and it doesn't work, you'll never hear the end of it. If you spend the money and it works, nobody will ever say anything. That's how it works in industry and I expect everywhere else.

birdmayne
birdmayne GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/18/22 9:05 a.m.

My FIL owns a small excavator and a dump trailer. He does small side jobs as a one man crew and I'm constantly wondering why he doesn't do more. 

I'd love to buy a small COE dump truck and make it really cool, then haul the excavator behind me and do digouts, landscape, etc.

If that fails, I guess I could try stripping

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
1/18/22 9:13 a.m.

I already did. Not making money.... but it's starting to do things. I might break even this year! Doing used oil analysis for like minded amatuer racers and enthusiasts. It makes me feel good to do it. 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/18/22 9:18 a.m.

In reply to birdmayne :

One factor is your employees need work.  You gotta keep these guys working all week or they move on.  Three day weeks don't cut it.  

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman SuperDork
1/18/22 9:22 a.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

As a small business owner for 34 years, I'd kinda like a job that only requires 40 hours a week.

^This

I'd take lower pay for a more flexible schedule. In a small business you have a lot of bosses, they are called customers.  

slefain
slefain PowerDork
1/18/22 9:29 a.m.

Been planning a few but this one could work in the right city:

"Petals to the Metal" - an emergency subscription flower delivery service focused on busy professional husbands who are always in the doghouse. Just got of a flight from Tokyo and forgot to pick up flower for the wife? We'll meet you at the airport with a curated selection of flowers and handwritten cards (we'd use A.I. to duplicate your penmanship). Forgot your anniversary again? No problem, we'll meet you at the neighborhood gatehouse with several flower arrangement choices and wine pairings. Bonus service tier includes jewelry from one of our partner fine jewelers. Service is 24/7, 365 including all major holidays. Price is.....well if you have to ask, you can't afford it. It is a true luxury, therefore a necessity.

slefain
slefain PowerDork
1/18/22 9:37 a.m.
Mr. Peabody said:
67LS1 said:
Datsun310Guy said:

Being in the industrial hose business I like the business model that Pirtek throws out there.

Call us on Sunday night for hoses and we will get you up and running but we're not the cheapest guy on the block.  How much money per hour are you losing right now?  We will send out our truck. 

I've always felt a business that requires a sense of urgency to it can charge more as people are in a dire need or don't care about the price.  

Problem is my Buddy started something similar but couldn't find the right employees. 

And your buddies problem finding employees is real. You need the best of the best and you need to pay them so much they'll never leave. Very, very difficult to do.

About a dozen years ago I was courted by a specialty contractor, and in the interview they presented themselves as a high end premium service, which they were quite proud of, and I was to be the guy for weekend, and off shift breakdowns, and industrial emergencies. And they offered me about $20k less than I was currently making and about $40k less than I though the job was worth. And that's the problem. There are a lot of companies that offer similar emergency services and charge accordingly, but I've yet to see one that's willing to pay accordingly. That's why they can't get the people.

Regarding being able to charge more for an urgent/emergency service, I once got this excellent advice from my plant manager at the time. If you try and save a buck and it doesn't work, you'll never hear the end of it. If you spend the money and it works, nobody will ever say anything. That's how it works in industry and I expect everywhere else.

My Dad was in the emergency roadside tire repair business with Goodyear for years. Finding anyone who wanted to bang tires onto 22.5" rims on the side of the road was hard enough. Trying to find someone willing to do it at 3:00 am was nigh impossible. The only reason Dad had anyone willing to do it was he paid well, took employees fishing in Florida on weekends (all expenses paid), and treated everyone well. But that was 20 years ago.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones Dork
1/18/22 10:03 a.m.
yupididit said:

I have 5 years left in the military before I can retire at 20. After that, I'm opening a wedding venue and getting into wedding supplies. Like linen, furniture, decoration. 

Make sure the wedding industry has recovered before you jump in. Most parts of the USA were not allowed to have gatherings for at least a year, and many parts of the wedding industry will never recover from it. Not only was there no business for a year, most people have pivoted to smaller weddings now, and that trend will be here for a long time. 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
1/18/22 10:09 a.m.

Self storage units are a perennial money maker, but finding someone to manage them can be a pain if you don't want to do it yourself. The next step up is, to me, a great market: small office/warehouse combo units, the kind with a row of units each having a single hole toilet, 10x10 office area, utility sink, and 1,200sf warehouse area. There's one near downtown here and I have literally never even seen a "for lease" sign on it, but it's always full. Put it in a convenient area and you'll have people calling all the time looking to lease. Everyone from small contractors to hobbyists to dance studios need space like that. You take care of exterior maintenance, make it so each unit has its own utility meter, and the tenants are responsible for interior maintenance. Include a passthrough for property taxes and any increase in maintenance costs in your lease, and if you've got tenants, you're making money.

It might not work for a run down area, but any decent town is going to have a continuing need for space like that.

My "I won the lottery" always going to lose money business idea is building high end RVs out of Tesla semis.

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