Category Archives: Business Ideas

Illegal Business Idea of the Day

Possibly the most boring thing I’ve EVER done in my life is online defensive driving. In fact, the one time I took it, I cancelled it so I could take comedy defensive driving for $25 in person.

I’m sure this idea violates many, many, many laws, but it would be cool to outsource defensive driving to India.

You would signup for defensive driving online, go to the outsourcing service and have some kid in India do your course for $2/hour (maybe even less) and you’re done!

Obviously this plan is like Swiss cheese……full of holes.

Giant Sticky Note Pads

I got a sample of these “Genius Pads” and it’s actually a product with some potential….basically a giant sticky note pad. Dan Sherman took the idea and started distributing them to the U.S. with his own website which has a much better name: Mega Sticky.

I thought this was a very neat and simple product, and I’ve been using them to draw out plans and sometimes detailed to-do lists:

It’s obviously a hell of a lot bigger than a regular sticky note, so it’s good for drawing out plans etc for review.

This is a product which has the potential to be sold in places like Staples and Wal-Mart, but their packaging is absolutely hideous. I say they don’t copy Post-It packaging, but at least make it slightly more professional like theirs.

I would also recommend the proprietors to encourage usage of these giant sticky pads in the office environment rather than aiming them towards kids. It seems big corporate contracts for these would be more lucrative than individuals or schools.

I can just imagine someone like a car designer, architect or engineer drawing out ideas on these then posting them on a wall to look at “The big picture.”

Neat little product. Good luck with it Arash & Kelly!

Brainstorming Investment Ideas

I like to brainstorm investment ideas, and I always end up with these two in the pile.

I’ve always liked solar power, as I think it’s the simplest form of free energy. I did a partial post about Austin’s solar incentives a while ago. It explains how Austin will write checks up to $5,000/yr for individual households and $100,000/yr for commercial real estate to utilize solar energy. Not to mention the mass amounts of money saved on electric bills.

The Austin Convention Center has solar panels on one face of the building….

Austin Convention Center Solar Panels

….and they don’t look half bad.

I did some research a while back, and Evergreen Solar (ESLR) seems to be a big, publicly traded player in the solar market. I also want to find some other contestants in the solar game.

I already bought and sold ESLR a few days ago, selling because high oil prices are drawing attention to alternative energy companies. I plan on buying and holding the company again when the price goes down a bit.

Another technology I REALLY like is physical media cards.

SD Card

They can often be boiled in water, survive a plane crash and hold a lot of information. They are the size of postage stamps and can currently hold 4+ gigs, and within two years that number will go up exponentially.

They have no moving parts and require no maintenance or special care-taking. This is the perfect technology for the new, fast and small devices to come. I’m thinking SanDisk (SNDK) will be the biggest player in this market. I’ve bought and sold SanDisk stock in the past with success, hopefully a longterm hold will prove the same.

Hurricane Katrina Emergency Identification

Situation: In Austin there are approximately 4,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees living at our convention center in Downtown.

Problem: Most evacuees have lost all forms of identification. Certain logistics are preventing the DMV from responding to this situation.

Solution: Create Katrina Emergency Cards for evacuees.

One of my business friends and I decided to donate our time in a unique way: Create a full-fledged operation in two days to assist the city of Austin in providing identification cards for the evacuees from New Orleans.

We have already had discussions with the head Austin city planner in charge of the evacuees, and he loved the idea and wants us to start soon as possible. Robert will further explain in this video:

Hurricane Katrina Video

Robert owned several ID companies in the past, therefore he has experience in the identification industry. He still has much of his equipment, including $20,000 ID card printers and a $35,000 holographic film generator. He also has hookups like you wouldn’t believe.

One business idea I had come to Robert with just possibly got a big jumpstart. ExpressID’s might now become a reality faster than I expected in order to help the Katrina evacuees staying in Austin. However, instead of being for profit, Express ID’s will be for charity.

To get a better idea of the situation, we decided to volunteer inside the Austin Convention Center which is hosting the evacuees. Video:

This was one snapshot of the inside:

Robert has already spoke to the to the decision makers to make this a reality, so Saturday night we started taking care of some smaller things things like business cards:

I usually party on Saturday, but instead Robert and I will work through the night to get the smaller details out of the way: Business cards printed, signs made, ID card design finished, contacting people and configuring the ID equipment.

We had a friend of Roberts whip up a few sample cards, this was the first he gave back. This most likely will not be the selected card:

If this is going to happen, it will be a combined effort of many people donating their time, talent, money and resources. We are aiming to roll out 2,000 ID cards by Monday.

In a matter of 24 hours, we have:

  • Come up with an idea
  • Talked to the right people – Several major banks have agreed to endorse the card for check-cashing and we already have approval from the guy running evacuee operation.
  • Created a Project Image – Things run a lot smoother when you’re organized.
  • Got Website Up – The ExpressID’s website is by no means perfect, but it’s up.
  • Got donors – Robert obtained donors willing to fund the project. If we end up replicating this process in Houston and other places, it will cost a significant amount.

I decided to document this whole process. Even though this is a volunteer effort, in many ways it is much like starting up a company. We’ve been taking video with my Casio Exilim EX-S500 at every step:

We’ve recieved the permission from the proper authorities and we have the resrouces to carry this project out quickly. It will be interesting to see how it goes!

Study Posters Business Idea

I came up with a new business idea while talking to a law school student. I got excited about the idea, but then realized I have entirely too much on my plate to pursue it.

Well, to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, I’ll give it away:

Study Posters. The domain is even available to the first person who goes to and spends $9 on it……

…..Talking to a law school friend studying for her bar exam, she showed me an elaborate flow chart she made containing much of the necessary information needed for the exam. The chart was about half the size of a large poster board, and packed to the brim with tiny, neatly sorted, color-coded handwriting.

I thought to myself: “How cool would it be to computerize that flowchart, and make a giant poster of it??” You could sell these posters to law school students, or better yet, SCHOOLS or TEST PREPERATION CENTERS. Students could put them in their rooms and see them every morning and every night….perhaps like this:

Law school students spend $2,000 – $5,000 on preparation courses, and having a giant poster of some critical information to view each morning and night would be a GOLDEN idea.

They have these posters for medical memorization already, but they can also be applied for:
Law school students taking Bar exam
Prospective law school students taking LSAT
Students taking medical MCAT
High school students taking SAT/ACT etc.
Sell posters with Javascript commands for programmers
Common Spanish verbs for Spanish students
Common math equations for calculus students
Specialty professions and beyond.

…..just go wild with possibilities. The cool part is, all this information you will put on the posters is free…but you might want to pay someone who specializes in the field to give you input on what would be useful to themselves and their colleauges.

I think the big money in this idea would be selling large quantities to schools, colleges, test preparation centers and companies. Thanks to the internet however, individual sales can be extremely profitable.

Hopefully someone runs with this idea. It would be a great 1st business.
Good Luck!

More Business Ideas

If I have an idea, I write it down on my:

Here are three business ideas I formulated from reading, one of my favorite websites.

Office in a bucket:
Buy a couple of these portable offices/booths and store them at your place. They are around the size of a large trash can, and inflate into a semi-private room. Place some ads and you can rent them out. Unlike traditional inflatable buildings, these Office In a Bucket structures can be setup and taken down by the renter.

Super Fast Pizza:
This idea seems like a great money maker, especially if you get in early. Fast, hot pizza. The difference is the pizza is actually made during delivery in the van. This means the pizza comes out of the oven and is delivered to your door within the next minute. Delivery times are under 15 minutes and the pizza is less expensive. As an avid pizza connoisseur, this sounds profitable and delicious.

Oil Cleaning:
After an oil change, oil is generally discarded. Now there is a portable machine that can separate good oil from its impurities. With tons of oil being wasted everyday, this seems like a golden opportunity for anyone who can pull it off. Take the dirty oil from oil change stations, run it through the machine, re-sell. You could even get people to bring you their old oil for free if you dispose or reuse it in an environmentally safe manner.

That’s all for me.

Billion Dollar Ideas Are WORTHLESS

After talking to a couple wannabe entrepreneurs last week, I noticed some extremely strong misconceptions about starting new businesses and entrepreneurship in general.

One phrase that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship:

“It’s not the idea, it’s the jockey”

To prove this point. I am going to give away an almost sure-fire way to get rich:

As China is currently undergoing its own industrial revolution, simply replicate some of the services offered in the fully developed western countries. Start large chains of dry cleaners, gas stations, coffee shops, law firms, tax firms, shipping centers etc. and you will become filthy rich.

There, I just gave away a very feasible idea to literally become a billionaire. But who will act on it?

The person that has the courage to relocate to China and hurdle over the untold amount of obstacles is worth a billion dollars. NOT THE IDEA.

I told all my friends about my first online business idea, but I was the only one who acted on it. The idea wasn’t exactly unique, I just had the audacity to carry it out. After the business became lucrative, everyone wanted to be a part of it.

As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

If you’re not the type of person who wants to jump all the hurdles and face the uncertainty of opening your own business, who cares! A franchise can offer great potential along with a tried-and-proven method to running a business already backing you. I suggest you check out Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities Weblog for tons of great franchise ideas and articles about entrepreneurship.

So next time you hear someone tell you about a new idea, make your judgement based 10% on the idea and 90% on the person carrying it out.

Business Ideas – Make Money with No Money

The following is a list of several small side incomes you can make without much startup capital (or none at all). High school students, broke college students or anyone looking to score a little extra cash can take this advice. This list goes contrary to the saying “It takes money to make money”. I feel there are tons of ways to make money, but people never pursue them because they seem “menial” or “not worth their time”. Well here are a few things you can do to make quick cash without a formal business plan, investors or anything of the sort.

1.) Sell Water. That’s right. Buy a 24-pack of bottled water, ice it, then sell on a hot day. Your $3.00 investment has turned a $21 profit in a small amount of time. This may seem like something only a bum would do, but trust me, you will learn more from this experience than in any marketing class. Water can be substituted with soft drinks, hot coco etc.
Easy Factor Rating: *****
**Tried this experiment on 4-03-2005

2.) Mow Lawns. If you don’t have a lawnmower, borrow one. Go around a neighborhood offering your service. This business works particularly well for younger kids. Live in a cold area? They substitute lawn mowing with snow shovelling. You can ALWAYS get people to pay for this by lowering your price. Surprise people by offering to shovel a driveway for $3 if you are having trouble finding business. Some money is better than none, and you get plenty of excersize!
Easy Factor Rating: *****

3.) Powerwashing. Rent, buy or borrow a simple power washer and clean driveways and houses. Driveways will take 30-40 minutes depending on size. The real goldmine here is cleaning houses. This job will fetch over $100 and requires only a telescoping ladder and a bit more risk. For younger kids, their 30-40 minutes spent power washing a driveway will fetch about $20-$30. The trick here is to start off one house at a low price, then pitch to the surrounding houses showing off how clean their neighbors driveway is. Getting a company to hire you is even better. Gas stations, property management companies all need power washing services, but this may require some heavier duty equipment. Power washing can be done on any lazy Saturday afternoon where you are doing nothing better. Take before/after pictures and show off your work during your door-to-door sales pitch.
Easy Factor Rating: ****

4.) Accounting. Know accounting? Then become a part-time book keeper for a small business. These part timers get anywhere from $14 to $22 an hour for their services. Accounting CAN be self-taught, but a class is recommended. I know two accountants who make very nice livings working out of their garage. I see ads in the paper looking for part time book keepers all the time. You can educate yourself or hone your knowledge for free with books from the library.
Easy Factor Rating: *

5.) Get a job. Duh. If you feel totally inadequate to take a little risk and make money for yourself, or you need a more steady income, just get a small job. Even though I make enough money on the side, I still hold a job for the added income. If you are not picky about your job and just need some quick income, work at a coffee house, or in fast food etc. Get a job as a janitor, helping hand etc. These areas are always looking for non full time employees. You can get hired very quickly if you apply to those types of positions. Jobs are great, but you must obey the orders of others, often perform duties you may dislike and revolve around someone else’s schedule. The other ideas on the list give you more freedom to wheel and deal as you please.
Easy Factor Rating: *****

6.) Computer Cleanup. If you are decently computer savvy, charge a small fee for cleaning up slow running computers. My old 800Mhz Dell desktop can still outperform most personal computers that are four times as fast because I keep in squeaky clean of viruses, spyware, adware etc. Go door to door asking “Is your computer annoyingly slow? Got crap popping up on your screen all the time? Well I can help you solve that problem in 20 minutes.” I figure you will get quite a few people who would pay $10 – $20 (Or way more!) for your few minutes of service. Simply install all Windows Updates on their computer, install Google Pop-Up Blocker, download and run the new Microsoft Anti-Spyware program and BAM….more efficient computer. I do this for friends all the time, and they can never thank me enough for saving them the frustration of a brand new computer that runs painfully slow because of spyware. I see a huge market for this service. This is a GREAT way for a computer savvy student to make some quick ca$h. Total costs for software = $0.00. Every program I mentioned was 100% free. Who says it takes money to make money??
East Factor Rating: ****

Of course these are only a select few ways to generate small amounts of cash. These ideas will most likely not get you rich, but making cash is better than sitting around and being idle! Also, the experience you gain from trying out these ideas is more valuable than anything learned sitting in a classroom.

Now go out there and make some !!!

Crazy Business Ideas – Part 3

I’m sharing some more of the ideas I randomly write down in my tablet PC which could possibly be big money makers. Feel free to comment on these!

1.) Drycleaning ATM. Picking up dry cleaning during regular business hours is a pain, and very frustrating when you need certain clothes. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dry cleaning ATM? Drycleaners would LOVE this since it would eliminate the need for a person to attend the store for long hours. You could pick-up and drop off clothes at this ATM which would hold your account information on a current credit card or something of the sort. You could even type special cleaning instructions. The drawbacks to this system are: it would initially be expensive to install, the building where the dry cleaner is located would have to be specially outfitted with this system. If you could find a way to make an affordable and easy to use system like this, it would change the face of dry cleaning!

2.) Wind Energy. Wind farms are popping up everywhere. The only problem with wind farms are the price. Wind generated turbines are absolutely massive. The blades get larger than the span of a Boeing 747. Once set up in a good location these things generate killowatts of energy every year that you sell to the power company. Most power companies will give you a contract that buys 100% of the electricity you produce. These also qualify to get certain tax breaks, great for any large investment. An interesting note: In Austin they have a program where you can opt to buy only “green” electricity from the city. In just two years the demand for this clean energy has risen over 5-fold, meaning this type of clean energy is in high demand. Be warned, the small investor will have a hard time breaking into this market….BUT…an enterprising person with a small budget but lots of motivation can get funding from other investors easier than with other large products. This is because you can easily get a contract from an electric company to buy 100% of your product (electricity) for 10+ years.

3.) Tablet PC’s. This is more of a trend than business idea. I have a Toshiba Portege Tablet PC, and I LOVE it. It is basically a regular laptop, but the mouse can be controlled with a pen. You can also flip the screen around and write directly on the screen, and it feels exactly like writing on paper. Have no doubt, the tablet trend will continue. I generally use it in regular laptop mode, but I use the pen instead of the mouse pad because the pen is FAR superior and faster. If you can identify a need for tablet PC’s you can make a ton of money by getting in this budding market early. A family friend who sells wholesale computer equipment said, “I sell A LOT of tablet PC’s, especially to large institutions and government agencies.” The only idea I have to improve my tablet experience is the pen. You use it a lot, and it might be cool to have “customized tablet pens”. These are more sophisticated than a regular stylus, as the screen is not touch sensitive (like a PDA), but the pen is what senses the touch. Most people don’t realize this important difference. I’m sure if you play around with a Tablet enough you can find some other device that can make the experience more enjoyable. The most money in the tablet-improvement field will probably be in the software area, not hardware.

More Crazy Business Ideas

Every so often I like to list a few business ideas I write down. Some of these ideas can actually be pretty big money makers if properly carried through with. Feel free to comment. Enjoy!

1.) Color Changing Urinal. A urinal that changes color when it comes in contact with “liquid.” C’mon guys, how cool would it be to relieve yourself and draw a picture in the urinal at the same time! When you flush, the “drawing” would be erased. A fish tank urinal would also be pretty neat, and might even get some press coverage.

2.) Legal Street Racing. Around my house, people from all walks of life meet every weekend on an industrial road which is slightly longer than a 1/4 mile long. Some states have found that people will race no matter what, so they legalized it in certain areas. The racers only need a helmet to participate. This way the racers are happy and the authorities are happy they are away from street traffic. If you could legalize an operation like this in your area, you could easily sell all sorts of concession snacks and beverages every weekend. An easier idea would be to find the places racers meet, and sell chips, cokes etc. out of the back of a truck.

3.) Urinal TV Advertising. Once he is at a urinal, you have a mans’ absolute, undivided attention. When a patron approches the urinal, a 20-30 second TV advertisement can play right in front of his face. This is actually a really good idea. Don’t ask me why I have so many urinal ideas!

4.) Solar Power. In Austin they have started a program that allows residential homes to recieve up to a $5,000 check per year simply for having a solar system on your home (that generates a certain amount of power). You could offer free installation of solar panels on homes in exchange for these yearly checks. A lot of people would jump at the chance for “absolutely free” solar panels, especially in green-place like Austin. Outfitting a home with a solar panel system generally costs $15,000 – $20,000. For commerical buildings, the city writes checks of up to $100,000 per year. Looking out at my aparment complex, putting solar panels on each roof would be discreet and bring in 100 grand per year, plus save the complex tons of money. This was an idea I was pretty involved with for a while. The solar industry is becoming huge in the United States, take advantage of it!