Side note. . .
My sister borrowed a drill to take to her friend 20 miles away yesterday, and my dad came over to borrow a vice and taps the day before since his workshop is currently disassembled and in storage.
A target demographic could be the young people who don`t have houses/garages yet or the older people who are retiring and downsizing, perhaps getting rid of their tools and extra space.
How about a workshop space where you provide the tools and floorspace for people to work on projects - woodworking, welding, etc.? I cruised the internet and found a few existing. I see lots of niches and directions you could go with it.
-Take home tool rental
-Teach classes (free ala Home Depot, or fee based for more in-depth topics)
-Build-a-bear style projects for kids --> teach kids how to be useful and independent (my own 11 year old can change his own bike tube, fix his chain. Most can`t.)
-Membership for open access, higher fee for one-time shop use
-Rent to businesses - i.e. independent service people who do not have their own shop & only need to occasionally fabricate stuff.
-focus on woodworking or metal, probably keep it narrowly-focused at first.
-Expensive to stock with tools and rent a large enough space.
-May have to pay others b/c I don`t have much hands-on skill myself. My husband and dad do. . .
-high cost to maintain tools when novices break stuff
I am looking for some opinions on a few things I`m thinking about. I`m in the rolling-around-ideas-in-my-head stage.
I have ~10 yrs experience in engineering, project management, and market analysis (not exactly what you may be thinking).
Return to school for MS/PhD in biomedical product development in fall of 2010. Long-term goal - build a billion-dollar corporation in the biomed product field. . .(Hey, why not me?) I would probably try to teach engineering while developing my breakthrough products.
Why a Business:
I want to make sure my kids & husband feel little to no impact from my dream-chasing.
I need to pursue something I can start now while working full-time, so that I can rely on it to supplement grad student income in a year. I am shooting for $30K in supplemental income (multiple sources if needed), but more is always better. (My husband works too - I`m not trying to replace an engineering salary 100%).
These are all pretty much centered around education and self-improvement. I guess that and bioengineering are my two big interests (yes- I am a boring, boring nerd.)
Tutoring - I haven`t done this before, but I am confident that I could do it. I have a BS in engineering and a strong math, science, and mech engr background. There are volunteer opps at a local community college if I need a way to gain experience before getting paying clients.
Website/blog - a few different ideas:
A site focused on giving advice on how to succeed in college. Is there room for another site on that topic? Is there a way to reach the slackers who need advice - obviously they aren`t googling "college success"?
Other areas of interest are nontraditional students, teen motherhood/helping others be successful after setbacks, helping people find off-the-beaten track careers for their skills/degrees.
I feel like I am being uncreative, so please, feel free to offer some new ideas, too!
Thanks - AJ
I had a "moment of clarity" about the business I am going to pursue. This is not my first such moment about many business ideas that I have since ditched, so yes, you must be wary of my advice. However, rather than saying yes! this is an awesome idea and leaping into and idea like I have in the past, I did a little informal analysis of the past and present and let the results simmer into the idea. So, the wants and needs led to my idea, whereas past ideas were divine inspiration chased down until I realized they didn`t fit my wants and needs.
What did I do?
First, I got clear. I tabled all my ideas. I put away my idea notebook. I quit surfing the web. I stayed off SUN and my other favorite entrepreneurship websites and blogs. I didn`t read any business-related books, or even industry magazines for my current career. I did nothing for a couple months.
Then, I just thought. Plain old thinking.
Common threads: I thought about both entrepreneurship ideas and corporate career ideas that I`ve had in the past and tried to find a common thread among anything I`ve ever been excited about.
Why No-Gos: What was the thing about each idea that kept me from moving forward (not wanting employees, too simple to hold my interest, hiring out too much of the key work, etc.)?
What is Missing Now: What is it that I really don`t like about my current career? (Had to be real and get beyond the annoying cube neighbor)
What am I Currently Qualified to Do: Are there things I want to do worth getting more qualifications? Does my business idea center around my competencies?
Some of my past biz ideas were manufacturing children`s gloves, independent management consultant, indep engineering consultant, website for engineering consultants. Some other past career options were getting a PhD in bioengineering or business and pursuing an academic career, working as a management consultant, becoming an orthotist/prosthotist, getting a law degree, being a project manager, being a subject-matter expert in engineering (that`s my current track, actually).
I eventually realized that the ideas that had teeth were in some way engineering-related. I saw another common thread was that I wanted to have a niche specialty and be considered an expert in that field. I also wanted autonomy and a six-figure salary. I preferred something I can start solo with minimal cash. And I wanted to do some writing and researching.
In the last step, I bounced the thoughts off my husband. This is so important to do with someone who knows you well. I get so wrapped up in my head that I can`t think straight. We were originally focused on me pursuing the subject-matter expert independent consultant idea, until he said you could train people to do it. That idea really resonated with me, and I am going to take the idea beyond training people to do what I do (although that`s where I`ll start) to a more general training of engineers. This idea meets a few more of my wants and needs than just being a consulting engineer, so that`s great.
I came up with a mission for my work, although the word "mission" bothers me.
Do work that helps makes the practice of engineering more tolerable for the rest of the world’s engineers.
I have a vision for the final form of the business. Twists and turns may lead to a different incarnation, but I feel that as long as I meet the mission above, I am doing the right thing.
My next step is to actually get started and prove that this is more than my typical harebrained idea.
ayjay6/3/2008 11:50 AM
I am right there with you. I started to reply to your thread, but I started a new one instead. (subject: How I (Just Now!) Decided)
I am a little older than you, but my experiences have been very similar. I`ve been working in industry for 8 years. After a few years of writing biz plans for different ideas and never following through, and having owned a franchise for 2.5 years (sold in `05), I have a clear feeling that I`ve finally hit upon THE idea I will pursue. I used my own as-I-went technique for figuring this out, and it`s definitely different than how I decided I would "run" with my other ideas.
Take a look at my thread. . .maybe my technique can work for you too.