Category Archives: Business Ideas

To Serve

I’m still immature and am slightly fascinated by monetary success, and was thrilled when I first read about this simple measure of success a while back.

It’s pretty much an easy way to see WHY a person (or organization) has a certain amount of wealth.

Simply look at a person or organization and ask: Who do they serve?

Look at what they do for other people and how many people they serve. Almost immediately it becomes apparent.

It breaks down like this:
Serve few + not valuable work = Little money
Serve few + valuable work = Good money
Serve few + very valuable work = Lots of money

Serve lots + not valuable work = Little money
Serve lots + valuable work = Good money
Serve lots + very valuable work = Lots of money

If you’re a numbers person you can make into a simple mathematic function:
People Served = a
Value of Service = b
Success = c

a X b = c

If you want ‘c‘ to be higher, you just have to increase ‘a‘ or ‘b‘ (or both).

Perhaps it’s easiest to demonstrate with real life examples:

The guy making your burger at McDonald’s:
Makes little money.
He performs a job almost any person can quickly learn. If he cannot show up, someone can easily replace him. Serves one organization and doesn’t serve much.

Cardiac Surgeon:
Makes good money.
Goes through over a decade of grueling medical training to be prepared for any circumstance that arises in their specialty. They serve relatively few people in the grand scheme of things, but they serve those individuals A LOT (he can either save you or kill you). Can he be replaced? Yes. However there are relatively few cardiac surgeons in the general population, so it’s very difficult. This means if someone is particularly “good” amongst their peers they could make quite sizable sums of money for their premium service. Serves few but serves them a lot.


Elton John:
Makes lots of money.
Provides a small amount of service (entertaining them is still serving them) to a large amount of people. Has a unique style, voice and persona that’s nearly impossible to duplicate. Serves a little but serves a lot of people.


Google:
Makes lots of money.
Here’s a fun one. Google serves A LOT of people (billions) and provides them a lot of service. Almost everything they offer is free, and it’s almost always a few grades better than competing services that charge money. They provide lots of service to lots of people. It’s no wonder they will make lots of money.

  • So who do you serve?
  • How much value are you providing them?

I bet your answers will clearly reflect your income. For fun, take a look at everyone around you and calculate their incomes using this method. Pretty cool huh?

Since you know this, you can now improve your own outcome (c) by improving one or both of those areas.

a X b = c

How to make $100 today

So I’m just chillin when I get this text message from my buddy Tim Sykes:

…instead of just emailing him back, thought I’d make a post about it.

I didn’t speak with him on the phone about this, and have no idea what he’ll be presenting on The Today Show, so I thought I’d make my own criteria based on what I THINK he is requesting.

I’m presuming he’s asking how a person of average ability can make $100 in 24 hours in a legal way without many resources, specialized knowledge or abilities.

Remember, you can see how much money you will make by evaluating the amount of service you give to others. Since $100 is a small sum of money, these are all usually small-scale jobs that only provide a marginally important service.

So here we go:

1.) Selling bottled water
I’ll start with this example simply because I’ve proven this can make money in The Bottled Water Experiment and Part Deux. If you don’t partner with a homeless guy like I did, the profits could easily be $100 on a good day. In one of the undocumented attempts of this experiment Barry The Bum made $60 by himself in one day, and would have made $100 profit if half the money didn’t go to me.

2.) Painting curb addresses
I pseudo-tried painting curbs and found out it wasn’t all that hard. It may take some trial and error testing at first, but in a day a person can easily make much more than $100 in a day. In fact one of the readers of this blog (a college student) makes $80,000/year doing this very thing. At $25/house making $100 in a day should be simple.

3.) Manual labor for a store
I’ve personally seen and spoken to bums on the street who do this from time to time: help out a store in exchange for cash. Often stores with have a very messy back-room area or trash area in the back. If you’re willing to clean this area up, the store manager wouldn’t mind hiring you for a small fee. Usually the bums I’ve seen get these small jobs are employed to break down boxes that are being sent for trash or recycling. Glamorous? No. But asking around at a few local businesses if they can part with $100 in exchange for your services can work. Keep in mind they’re going to want to pay you low as possible, lower than $8/hour.

4.) Selling goods from your state surplus store
When something gets confiscated or lost at a state building or airport, it all ends up at your state Surplus Store. I did an experiment to see if I could sell confiscated stuff from the airport and it worked. Selling these goods over eBay obviously wasn’t a one day affair, but perhaps you could get lucky, find some good stuff and sell it at a pawn shop or flea market.

5.) Pawn or Ebay your stuff
Self explanatory. You got junk, trade it for around market price for cash or PayPal funds. This isn’t really “making” money, so I’m not sure if this will qualify for Tim’s list.

6.) Power washing driveways and houses
I’ve also actually performed this a long time ago (unfortunately it went undocumented). I borrowed a power washer from a friend, rolled it around a neighborhood and asked people if they wanted their driveway power washed. My only cost was $2 worth of gasoline, and you can power wash a driveway for $45, and a house for well over $100.

7.) Mow lawns.
This one’s pretty obvious.

8.) General help wanted post
Post an ad on Craigslist in the “Gigs” section or alike saying something along the lines of, “Hard working, general help for one day. Will do anything (legal) for 8 hours. Price $100.” I’ve seen posts like this on Craigslist, and based on my experiences from finding ANYTHING on Craigslist, it’s highly likely you can find someone who needs some general help for the day.

If you have some special talents, abilities or skilled set of knowledge, you probably stand an even better chance of #8 working. If you know how to setup Quickbooks for a business, or are good with computers etc. you can post those qualifications (and command a higher price).

9.) Experiments on college campuses
Go to the psychology building of many college campuses and scout for flyers boasting “get paid for research.” I used to participate in these experiments if I had some free time. They usually pay between $10 and $25 for an hour or two of your time. This suggestion is more wishful thinking than the others. Yes, it COUULLDD make $100, but it’s unlikely you’ll make more than $30 in a day (if you are even lucky enough to catch an experiment taking place on a certain day).

10.) Bum it….creatively
I’ve always wanted to try this out, and would LOVE to see it done. Make a big ass card board sign that says “NEED $100 FOR (insert purpose here)” and then draw one of those fundraiser thermometers next to it. Stand on corner and basically fly the sign like bums do.

I never give money to bums, but would probably toss a few bucks someone’s way if they had a sign that said “Need $120 more for rent” and showed their progress through the day. Whenever someone gives you money, use a Sharpie to bump up the amount on the sign. After the bottled water experiment I got to know a lot of bums and see who gives what at the street corners, and sincerely think this suggestion could make $100 quicker and with much more ease than any other suggestion! Artist rendering of what it might look like:

Anyhow, there you go Tim; my suggestions for how anyone could make $100 in a day.
-Nev

Idea – More Efficient Highway Lighting

Here’s an idea that could be widely used:
Self power generating highway streetlights.

Whilst driving along the freeway one night in Austin I realized everything was darker than usual. Apparently a large section of freeway had the overhead lights turned off.

Suddenly I realized, “I drive by this freeway every day and never consciously noticed the whole thing was beautifully lighted the whole way.” I looked ahead and saw literally hundreds of tall, light posts illuminating the freeway, and my first thought was, “I wonder what the electricity bill is like?”

*Notice: I’m simply theorizing here. I’m sure all you smart alecs out there can poke huge holes in the feasibility of this plan…it’s just a thinking excercise.

A typical freeway system will have hundreds of these high-output lights populating urban lengths of road:

In an effort to save on the massive electricity costs, it would be cool if these tall posts could take a hint from those widely available solar garden lights you can buy at any store:

A quick Googling of something similar reveals that solar light posts do exist. However they generally run off L.E.D. lights and are not very bright.

Even better would be to have a wind energy component since the lights are generally very tall and must catch a lot of wind. This “city-turbine” (which is in actual use already and can be readily purchased) spins no matter which directing the wind blows from:

These are compact enough to where they could fit nicely atop a pole, something like this:


(Please excuse my poor, non-scaled Photoshop rendering)

Not only would the turbine create energy to operate off, but it would most likely create an excess amount of energy which could be put back into the power grid for a profit.

Obviously a self-generating light pole would cost more money upfront, but the longterm benefits could offset those costs in the long run. It would also be great for more remote areas without access to the main power grid.

3D Printing and Review Website Business Idea

I’ve discussed 3D printing before and how it’s poised to be a huge field in the coming years…but it’s still got time.

Perfect opportunity for the early bird.

I wanted to do this project, in fact I already started it, but I’m also at a position in my life where I realize I’m not Superman and can’t handle 10 projects at a time….well, I can, but each one suffers from lack of attention, therefore stifling its growth. So this is another one of those good ideas that bites the dust on my end, but there’s no reason it can’t be done very successfully by someone else with the proper expertise and time.

I wanted to create a 3D printing review site that would also tie in a 3D printing service. The 3D print site would need regular news updates, a comparison page, a user registration system along with integrated forums. This would require the person to actually be pretty interested in 3D printing, seek out demos, post reviews and pictures/videos of actual products being made. Basically like a “TechCrunch of 3D printing” or an “Engadget of 3D printing.”

If you have no idea what the above paragraph means then this idea probably isn’t for you.

So the site would have several different things to offer:

  • 3D printing news
  • 3D printer reviews
  • 3D printer videos, demos, example prints
  • 3D print forum where users can discuss
  • 3D print files hosting where users can download 3D CAD and .stl files of ready-to-print objects (maybe even make some iStockPhoto style buying system).
  • 3D print services where a user can upload a 3D file and have it printed for a fee.


Implementation….
The technical requirements seem a little daunting at first, but it’s actually very simple with the help of content management system Joomla. I found some great Joomla Templates at RocketTheme.com and posted one on a domain I bought called 3DprintFactory.com. They already come integrated with forums, user-uploaded news features, user registration etc….so everything is basically included. You can even move the different modules around with great ease, which makes Joomla and these templates extremely easy to use.

Here’s the sample site I put up on 3DPrintFactory.com just to test the system:


Influences…..
The person doing this should try to emulate how other niche-interest sites like DevArticles.com, SitePoint.com and others got to be so big….integrating good information for a variety of skill levels and allowing for lots of community interaction (ie forums etc).

A good example of how NOT TO DO THIS is http://www.fabaloo.com/

They basically take small snippets of 3dprinting news from here and there and post it in a blog-like format. This is a decent idea, but it won’t really go anywhere because it provides little (if any) value. The goal here is to become an online authority on 3D Printing information, and eventually tie in a 3D printing service.

Some examples of a 3Dprinting service are:
http://www.sweetonioncreations.com/index.html
http://www.alphaprototypes.com/

An example of hosting 3D print files is:
http://www.bathsheba.com/downloads/

Money Would Come From….
So the site would have a multifaceted stream of income:

  • Regular contextual ads. Google, Yahoo yadda yadda…
  • Corporate sponsorships. If you make a great comparison page, have good reviews and in general do a great job on the news/information side of the website, it will eventually rank highly on search engines. Prove you have a captive audience of 3Dprinting enthusiasts, including purchasing agents for companies interested in the technology, and the sponsorship deals will sell.
  • Text links. You can probably command a high price for text links if you do a good job with the site because it’s such a niche (and profitable) subject.
  • Reviews. Company XYZ comes out with new product, and if you’re a strong authority on the subject, they request you do a review of their new product.
  • 3D Print Service. If you’re the authority on 3D printing, you can direct traffic to your own “Pay Per Print” service, or setup an affiliate sharing program with someone who already does it. This could easily be more profitable than all of the above combined.

I think this is a GREAT idea, and now is the perfect time since this technology is just breaking out of its infancy!

For what it’s worth, here’s the original design specs I drew out:

HoR Story Part 2 : Finding Something To Sell

I was a senior in high school, age 17, living with my parents, about to leave for college in a few short months and had very little cash. I wasn’t prepared to buy any inventory and ship out orders each day, so I had to get a little more creative if I wanted to sell physical products. I decided to find someone who sold what I wanted, then ask them to send the products out for me (aka Drop Shipping). First I had to find something to sell.

This was a bit hard. I took a sheet of paper, and in my tiny handwriting I listed about 300 products. EVERYTHING I COULD THINK OF. Lamps, mugs, pens, speakers, couches, guitars, software, beds, mini-blinds. Whatever popped into my head, I wrote it down. I then started narrowing the list down. The first items scratched off the list were the items with either way too much competition or things out of range for my $200 budget. Couches, computers, ceiling fans etc. were scratched out. I then started to search the competition for other products by doing search engine tests for the products.

Keep in mind, this was my first eCommerce project, so I wanted to enter a very small niche where I had a chance of survival.

I ran my final list of 10 things over with some friends and family….but still nothing was looking fantastic to me. My 12 year old brother helped me brainstorm a bit, and it was actually one of HIS ideas that stuck. Rave, club and party stuff. I did a quick search for that genre of product, and there were about 10 websites that sold them. Two of the websites were good, and the eight others were total crap. I KNEW I could make more professional and easier to use sites than 80% of the competition, so I set my sights on the rave/club/party genre of products.

Competition was low and the products wouldn’t be very expensive, so this seemed like an ideal testing ground for my first eCommerce site.

——————-
ACTION TO TAKE:
——————-

If you don’t already know what you want to sell, get out some paper.

1.) Start writing down different products. Anything. EVERYTHING. List at least 100 products. Since “products” is such a general term, I’d say list at least 300-400 items.

2.) Start narrowing down the options. Start by crossing out obvious things that either have way too much competition or are out of your range. I started crossing off things like couches, airplanes, computer monitors etc…

3.) Identify possible targets and niche markets. Maybe you’ll get clobbered trying to sell books, but perhaps you could experience some success with your knowledge of antique books from the Victorian era…or some niche market like that.

4.) Start researching your potentials and even further narrowing the list. Is a certain niche already filled by lots of big players? Can you do a much better job than the competition? Is the niche large enough to make profit?

Next >>> Part 3: Finding A Drop Shipper

————————————
The House Of Rave .com Story
————————————
Part 1: The Beginning
Part 2: Finding Something to Sell
Part 3: Finding A Drop Shipper
Part 4: Getting A Site Setup
Part 5: Pros and Cons of Drop Shipping
Part 6: How It All Works
————————————

Take This and Run With It

Here’s a GREAT business idea which anyone with a moderate level of computer knowledge can do in a reasonable amount of time, and I’d say make pretty damn good money with.

Truth is I tried this with Max from HowToBePoor.com over a year ago, but we were both too busy and the project fell off the charts. Just yesterday I got a notice from the hosting company we used that our hosting plan was cancelled due to non-payment, and it reminded me of this little gem of an idea: Selling Blogger Templates.

You can go to TemplateMonster.com and other websites to buy professional looking WordPress templates, but try buying Blogger templates…………go ahead, Google it. Find any? Neither did I.

All the offerings out there are free templates, and most of them look pretty bad. Compare these to the level of professional WordPress templates at TemplateMonster.com. Someone needs to fill in the gap and make a website selling Blogger templates.

When we tried doing this, we got the website up and running within a day, I believe this was the template we originally used:

Of course we changed all the images/text to a Blogger Template selling site. We posted the site at BloggerTemplateWorld.com (now a dead link). Somehow neither of us have the original files, so I can’t even put up a sample of exactly what it looked like.

Well since I’m no longer running with this idea, I hope someone else can, it seems like a very lucrative idea.

HOW TO SET IT UP:
This was my exact plan to make money off Blogger templates:

1.) Buy a decent looking, fully functioning OScommerce store from TemplateMonster. Price: $140. (You could even download a free one if you choose).

2.) Install the system. Hosting cost: approx. $5/month.

3.) Start making some templates! The cost here varies. If you can do this by yourself, it’s free, but will take at least a week or two to get 5-10 templates made. Blogger templates are extremely easy since there’s only one template to work with, not multiple like in WordPress. You can also mockup several Photoshopped versions of what you want the template to look like, then outsource the work to a designer for around $100/template.

4.) Add screenshots and preferably working demos of the templates to your site.

5.) Buy some Google AdWords with the term “Blogger Templates” to start promoting the site at first. Proper SEO will play an important role in the future success of the site, and OScommerce pretty much takes care of most of it for you. Perhaps even have a “free templates” section to lure people in and see the quality of your work.

6.) Start selling! Open up a Google Checkout account or PayPal account to accept credit cards, these integrate right in with OScommerce and most other shopping cart softwares.

————————-

The beauty of getting this business setup is once you have a good selection of templates, there’s little to no overhead to run the business. You don’t even do anything, because when someone orders and pays, the OScommerce system automatically delivers the digital product package to their email!

There are literally millions of blogs on Blogger.com, and most of them use the same 30 or so plain-old templates…even NevBlog.com still uses the same old, ugly (but functional) Blogger template it started out with. Mainly because there’s no really attractive looking alternatives.


TARGET MARKET:

1,000,000′s+ blogs on Blogger.com.

PRICE RANGE:
$10 – $40 per template

PAID COMPETITION:
None.

STARTUP COSTS:
Between Free and $500

I figured there would be two ways to make money from this:

1.) Direct sales of the templates. This involves sending the buyer the template text file (which they just copy and paste) and uploading the template images to their own hosting service.

2.) If they are too technologically challenged to upload their own photos to a free service, you can always charge them a recurring $5/month for hosting them on your server. This way all they have to do is copy and paste ONE text file into their Blogger template. This is a good way to start building some recurring income.

The optimal person to run this idea would be a web designer, since they can create their own highly professional and unique templates for free in the beginning. Once the site starts making money, you can then hire someone to help keep adding templates.

I’d really love to see someone bring this idea to fruition, if you do, make sure to send me a link so I can see it! Best of luck.

Business Idea / Help

I’ve been looking everywhere for a PAID service that lets me use the YouTube-like features, but without all the YouTubishness. I like:

  • Uploading my videos on a 3rd party service.
  • Free bandwidth.
  • Being able to embed videos into web pages with code snippets.

…these are all things so many YouTube clones are giving away for free. I’m surprised no one has an upgraded paid version where I can host my videos but customize them for my own businesses.

Does anyone know of one??

If not, this would be a great business idea to implement. Although it would probably be best for one of those bigger sites to just implement this. I would LOVE to pay YouTube $20/month to use their existing service, but allow me to customize the logo on the embedded video:

Not only that, but also I’d like to promote my own videos at the end, or at least post a link to another product, or perhaps show a special promotional announcement.

Of all the YouTube clones and wannabes out there, it seems everyone has been trying to directly copy the YouTube strategy, and no one remembered to CHARGE people, even if they want to pay!

Online Business Ideas

People always ask me different ways to make money online. I like seeing new ways also, so one of the sites I visit everyday is the SitePoint Established Websites for Sale section. People post small and large interenet businesses for sale here everyday.

I don’t visit the page with the intent of buying any websites, but it’s a GREAT place to see different ways people have setup businesses and see how much they make. You’ll often see small side-projects people are trying to sell off, but you will also see the occasional big-time businesses being sold that makes tens of thousands of dollars per month.

Just something to keep in mind!

Making More Money Than His Job

The Bottled Water Experiment (and part 2) were some very interesting experiments in a micro business, and since then I’ve got tons of feedback about them.

However it’s always cool to see someone else take the idea to the next level. Here’s a guy who saw these water experiment posts and tried it out, and is currently making more money selling water than his job!

Checkout this comment on part 2 of the water experiment:

———————————–
I started my own water business after reading this post. I put a twist on it however as I replaced the stationary location with a backpack lined with a trash bag full of ice and bottles, and parked my car in a stationary location with the ice chest and other water to come back and refill. I am MOBILE! I made the shirt that says “Bottled Water $1″ and headed to the river on a very hot day. People could not believe that I was doing this, everyone thought the idea was so awesome, and I couldn’t take credit. But I did sell ALL my water. 200 bottles on the first day.

I did this 5 days in the first week, for 4 hours before my shifts as a manager at chick fil a. I found out that I was making more money from selling bottled water than from my real job. So I posted ads on craigslist, offering to pay college students $10 an hour to do my bidding. I got 14 responses, and hired 5 people. Now I have a guy at the river, one at the biggest local park, two on the college campus of VCU and one in the popular downtown business sector. Each person generates about $100 a day for 4 hours of work at ten dollars an hour. thats 20 hours of labor for me to pay so 200 dollars gone, but 300 dollars are mine, minus my costs of getting water from costco, which costs me roughly $100 dollars each day. and I make $200 a day for myself, and all I have to do is go buy water once a day. Thanks nev!
———————————–

I love how he took the concept, put a small spin on it then scaled it to make $200/day. That’s some serious summertime cash (not to mention good experience)!

Stereo 3D Pictures

I randomly saw these stereo images on Digg, and realized you could make pseudo 3D images without any special skills or equipment.

Part of my scheme for the up and coming BodyMonkey is to let potential customers have a fun browsing experience while going through the products on the site, and I thought these would be pretty interesting on some products. Worth a shot.

I first tried to see if it would work on a picture of my guitar…It doesn’t look very 3D right now:

So to make it a stereo 3D image, I took one photo of it, moved a few inches to the right and snapped another photo. When quickly switched back and forth, they make the picture look 3-Dimensional!!

So I figured this could be an interesting thing for BodyMonkey.com on some of the product photos. Little gimmicks like this wouldn’t necessarily provide anymore incentive to buy more products, but it will keep people curiously wandering through the site, and have some entertainment value.

Most of the items BodyMonkey will sell are much smaller than the guitar, so the effect was not quite the same when I tried to make a 3D image of the Rocket Shaker, but it still works:

It might be a little too much or provide too little value, but it’s an idea to keep in mind!