I am one of those people who comes up with a new business idea every single day. I don't execute on those ideas, because a lot of them are total crap, but they pop into my head nonetheless. A few from the past weeks:
- Starting an online bookstore for kid's books, because I really dislike Amazon's algorithms and think curation could be good, especially in that genre.
- Publishing horoscopes. Lots of horoscopes. Funny ones, serious ones, ones that are clearly meant to be read only by the clinically insane.
- Delivering Weed.
- And, as always, looking around for a ski mountain for sale.
The list goes on. And when I look at starting a business, I tend to do a ton of research really quickly on it – what do the profit margins look like? What's my distribution strategy? I look for the things that can go horribly wrong, which are usually easy to find. For example, competing with Amazon on books? I can think of about a billion reasons not to compete with Jeff Bezos.
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Then there's the other problem, which is capital. I'm already starting a company, and I very specifically decided on a capital-light model for Hopara. Everything I do is super cheap, from hosting this site ($9 / month, including all email sending) to my office set-up (it's actually cheaper to use Microsoft – which I do – than Google plus all the add-ons you need there to include project management, etc.). The only thing I 'splurge' on is analytics software for this site, which is all of $4 / month via Plausible (which I'm using over Google analytics because, frankly, I'm not interested in yet another 'free' product that gets to own my data, and because I don't need anything all that advanced). All told, it costs me about $350 / month to run my business (you know, insurance, internets, stuff like that), although that will go up a little as I need some more software add-ons. But it probably won't go up above $600 or so, and our current revenues are many multiples of that.
All the sexy business ideas generally require a lot of capital. And all of the unsexy, grind-them-out ones also require lots of money. Finding something where you have the skill set to not have to hire a lot of people to make it happen for you also means you're directly trading your own time for money, and building something that can't scale. That's where I am today – I'm building a business that can't scale much beyond me and the few other people we have on board without serious changes.
This is also why I've kept it in stealth mode (and why it'll stay there for a while): before I tell several thousand people what it is we do, I want to make sure I actually want to keep doing it. I suppose, though, that it's definitely a better business than writing these posts every day: