Author Topic: Where to find inspiration for business ideas  (Read 3940 times)

brian313313

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Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« on: March 04, 2017, 10:56:28 AM »
I would like to start a business and leave the work-for-pay paradigm of a salary and/or consulting. For the last 20 years, I've switched between salaried employment and independent consulting. Technically consulting is my own business but I'm looking for something that is not limited by the time I can put in. I am good with technology and enjoy it so I'd like leverage that into some sort of business. I'm not trying to start the next Amazon or Uber. I have some capital and could take time off work. I'm just short of ideas. Google helps me find tons of articles about tiny businesses and things to start up on a couple hundred dollars but that's not what I'm looking for.

Does anyone have any ideas on where I can get inspiration? When I was in my 20s, I had plenty of inspiration but no capital to do anything about it. Now I'm in the opposite boat. I'm looking to do some research and don't quite know where to start. Books would be fine but I need some specific recommendations because I'm about 5 books in and they're all focusing on the shoot big thing and I don't need that much money.

My primary motivation for this is to bring life back into my career. The first ten years were great because I was climbing and having a lot of successes. Now I'm "there" but after 10 years, I need to move on. It's not that it's terrible, but I'm pretty bored and looking for a new challenge. The business option is really the only way to step up from here. Salary-wise, I can't really go up without going into management and that is not appealing to me at all. Technology-wise, I'm in one of the top 10 high-demand, high-pay jobs so learning a new technology would just be going sideways into the same thing.

Thanks for any suggestions or perhaps a recommendation of another place I could post this question.

bwall

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 04:20:11 AM »
Lots of ideas here:

http://www.jamesaltucher.com


brian313313

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2017, 04:02:12 PM »
Lots of ideas here:

http://www.jamesaltucher.com

Thanks. I'm checking that out. I also, found a subreddit forum dedicated to this.

VladTheImpaler

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2017, 04:25:06 PM »
Binge watch Shark Tank? 😂
"Everyone has different tastes and desires. These differences make the world orderly. If everyone wanted the same things, we would all be struggling against each other to acquire what little was available. Diversity is the source of harmony in human relationships."

-Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World

CargoBiker

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 10:41:19 PM »
Think about the 5 things hobbies that you spend the most money on every year.

Do a deep dive into these 5 things and think if there's anything that would help you do X.  Maybe an improvement that could be made to a product. Maybe an easier way to accomplish X.  Something that would eliminate X frustration.


Or, you can try listening to the people around you.  Anytime you hear someone complaining, that's an opportunity.

Identify pain points. Find needs.   Then come up with a solution.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 04:08:29 PM »
I hope you become a millionaire solving the following problems for me:
1) I have to drive an expensive car to an expensive building to work on the same kind of computer and internet service I have at home. Why? Because effective management software doesn't yet exist.
2) I don't know enough about electricity to buy a matching solar panel and window AC unit that would work together on hot days to cool my house for free.
3) It takes 145 seconds for hot water to reach a faucet and shower in my house, but I don't want to spend thousands on a point of use water heater.
4) The toddler won't sleep.
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.
6) Can't figure out an easy way to pay off one rewards credit card with another rewards credit card.
7) One must wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
8) Certain things are not sold in bulk, like gluten-free noodles.
9) It's hard to find historical charts for stock options.

brian313313

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2017, 02:07:29 PM »
2) I don't know enough about electricity to buy a matching solar panel and window AC unit that would work together on hot days to cool my house for free.

Something like this is on my list of ideas. It's a great idea to just use it for the AC though to power it on sunny days. Thanks.

bwall

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2017, 10:34:22 AM »
I hope you become a millionaire solving the following problems for me:
1) I have to drive an expensive car to an expensive building to work on the same kind of computer and internet service I have at home. Why? Because effective management software doesn't yet exist.
2) I don't know enough about electricity to buy a matching solar panel and window AC unit that would work together on hot days to cool my house for free.
3) It takes 145 seconds for hot water to reach a faucet and shower in my house, but I don't want to spend thousands on a point of use water heater.
4) The toddler won't sleep.
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.
6) Can't figure out an easy way to pay off one rewards credit card with another rewards credit card.
7) One must wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
8) Certain things are not sold in bulk, like gluten-free noodles.
9) It's hard to find historical charts for stock options.

Those are all great ideas. The person who can solve those problems has the opportunity to make a staggering amount of money.

HipGnosis

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2017, 01:18:17 PM »
Lots of ideas here:
http://www.jamesaltucher.com
Thanks. I'm checking that out. I also, found a subreddit forum dedicated to this.
Link please


gaja

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2017, 04:56:23 PM »
I hope you become a millionaire solving the following problems for me:
1) I have to drive an expensive car to an expensive building to work on the same kind of computer and internet service I have at home. Why? Because effective management software doesn't yet exist.
2) I don't know enough about electricity to buy a matching solar panel and window AC unit that would work together on hot days to cool my house for free.
3) It takes 145 seconds for hot water to reach a faucet and shower in my house, but I don't want to spend thousands on a point of use water heater.
4) The toddler won't sleep.
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.
6) Can't figure out an easy way to pay off one rewards credit card with another rewards credit card.
7) One must wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
8) Certain things are not sold in bulk, like gluten-free noodles.
9) It's hard to find historical charts for stock options.

The person who solves #4 will get sainthood and a Nobel price.
Travelling southern Norway, Iceland and the Faroes in an electric car: http://travelelectric.blogspot.no/

mires

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2017, 06:46:02 PM »

3) It takes 145 seconds for hot water to reach a faucet and shower in my house, but I don't want to spend thousands on a point of use water heater.

Aftermarket recirc pump. Costs less than $200 at Menard's and installs on your water heater. Instant hot water throughout the house and can be installed DIY. You're welcome.

bwall

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2017, 07:24:22 PM »

3) It takes 145 seconds for hot water to reach a faucet and shower in my house, but I don't want to spend thousands on a point of use water heater.

Aftermarket recirc pump. Costs less than $200 at Menard's and installs on your water heater. Instant hot water throughout the house and can be installed DIY. You're welcome.

By the time you include the cost of installation and operation of the pump and additional water heater usage, you are looking at the same cost as OP mentioned.

CargoBiker

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2017, 01:57:14 PM »
The person who solves #4 will get sainthood and a Nobel price.

Google "toddler alarm clock".  There's a patented product out there making an absolute killing on this pain point.

stclurker

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2017, 03:41:58 PM »
Good ideas,  I'm still trying to work out the cordless extension cord 😁

VeggieGirl

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2017, 08:58:20 AM »
7) One must wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

For newer dishwasher these days there's no need to wash the dishes before putting them in.

HipGnosis

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2017, 09:38:16 AM »
 I got the following (these are my notes from reading it) from https://codeable.io/find-business-ideas/

grow entrepreneurial ideas:
its not "think up" startup ideas   but "notice"
  everyday issues  anything or anyway that would improve them?   prevent?  address?  handle it faster? cheaper?
  Use the Internet to gather insights; what products and services people love using, what pains are they experiencing doing which activities, what they complain about 
  customer service sections of websites show what people are complaining about
  Browse through Quora,  HackerNews..
  reddit subreddits like /r/Entrepreneur
Write down your take on a specific issue, how you're thinking to address it     and read it out loud some while after

HipGnosis

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2017, 01:58:31 PM »
Just found this Business Idea Generator web site; http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3253-business-idea-generator.html

You answer a bunch of yes / no questions and it gives you some small business ideas that match and some info on each.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2017, 02:17:54 PM »
Another mental framework to uncover opportunity is to look for existing businesses that are doing a crappy job for their customers.

Why is fast food so unhealthy?
Why does it cost so much to buy and sell a house?
Why aren't plastic grocery bags reusable as insulation?
Why does radio music suck?
Why can't I remove outbuildings coverage from my homeowners insurance package when I have no outbuildings?
Why can't I see only the personally typed posts on Facebook?
Why are gas station restrooms always filthy?
Why do alarm clocks have snooze buttons if the point of the device is to NOT make me late?
Why does my microwave cook unevenly?

cantgrowone

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2017, 11:42:52 AM »
Why does my microwave cook unevenly?

I don't have business ideas to share, but I do have to share some knowledge.

Microwaves cook unevenly on a high power setting. Setting the power lower, ~70%, for a longer time cooks the food evenly. I learned this 4 years ago and it changed my life; no more burnt tongue.
I didn't proof read.

2Cent

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2017, 01:42:16 AM »
Unlike you like huge challenges, avoid things involving hardware development or manufac. If you want a nice, scalable business you need to sell either information or software or pass along things that are already manufactured.

Service aggregators seem to be the ones that have the largest potential at the moment.

Axecleaver

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2017, 05:41:37 PM »
Hi Brian, one suggestion if you're doing well in the consulting services arena. You can scale out a services business by hiring more people and spending more time on sales. Basic "land and expand" strategy. It sounds like you're a bit bored and looking for a new challenge. Make sales your challenge, then make hiring good people your challenge. Boom, niche consulting firm.

If you hire the right people, you don't need to spend much time on management: take a look at flat organization and "no hr at work" articles to get an idea how to do this. Ditch the ones who don't fit your mold, pay well the ones who do.

Also - Cheap Bastard, that is an impressive list of problems waiting for someone to solve them. Well done.

Proud Foot

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2017, 01:19:56 PM »
Just found this Business Idea Generator web site; http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3253-business-idea-generator.html

You answer a bunch of yes / no questions and it gives you some small business ideas that match and some info on each.

I think I broke it.  Went through a few times changing my answers and never got any results.

2Cent

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2017, 04:46:27 AM »
One mistake people make a lot is they think a business idea should be a new product or service. But actually the best way to go about it is to take an existing product or service and do it better, or even do the same thing in another location. That way you already know the idea is viable and you don't need to convince people they actually need it.

Syonyk

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2017, 10:45:18 PM »
1) I have to drive an expensive car to an expensive building to work on the same kind of computer and internet service I have at home. Why? Because effective management software doesn't yet exist.

Man, your work cheaps out on internet.  Last place that made me show up at an office had gigabit to my desktop - and I could pretty most of that to the internet.  This was in the crappy days.



Solution: Get world class at what you do.  To the point where companies will put up with you working remote and part time for your skills.  I work 32h/wk, remotely, for a former employer, and due to not having to deal with office stuff and meetings, I'm insanely productive.  It's pretty cushy for living in rural farm country!

Quote
2) I don't know enough about electricity to buy a matching solar panel and window AC unit that would work together on hot days to cool my house for free.

That's because running a window AC unit off a standalone solar panel is hard.  Grid tie the house, for cost savings, or go with an off grid capable system if you want to ride through disruptions and power outages.  Doing a solar + window AC unit, without some batteries, is tricky.  Doing solar + batteries + window AC is expensive.  I should know.  That's how I cool my office in the summer.

Seriously, window AC units are awful for efficiency.  Get a good whole house AC, invest in insulation, and put some panels on the roof.

Quote
3) It takes 145 seconds for hot water to reach a faucet and shower in my house, but I don't want to spend thousands on a point of use water heater.

You don't need that.  You need a hot water circulation system.  Something like this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Hot-Water-Recirculating-System-with-Built-In-Timer-500800/100426993

Basically, it pushes hot water down the pipes on a timer, and recirculates back through the cold side, with a thermostatic sensor involved.  You take a shower every morning?  Boom.  Hot water.  You run the sink for the kid's bottle every night?  Boom.  Hot water.  Much more efficient than a point of use heater.

Quote
4) The toddler won't sleep.

They will if you crank the music, put the ear plugs in, and ignore them.  They will, eventually, fall asleep.  If you'd said "infant," I'd suggest a brown noise generator, earplugs, a sling, Kerbal Space Program, and whiskey (for you, mostly...), but toddler?  They can cry it out.

Quote
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.

... that's probably going to upset an awful lot of real estate types.  Valid business idea.

Quote
6) Can't figure out an easy way to pay off one rewards credit card with another rewards credit card.

The stupid "3% fee but 0% APR for 18 months" checks they keep sending you?

Quote
7) One must wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

Run the faucet to make sure the water in the kitchen is hot before you start the dishwasher.  Works well with the water heater circulating pump linked above.

Quote
8) Certain things are not sold in bulk, like gluten-free noodles.

... huh.  That surprises me.  You seem to be right.  Have you tried Costco?

Quote
9) It's hard to find historical charts for stock options.

Can't help there.  Business idea!

================================

To the OP: Find what you're good at, or at least what you enjoy.  Get good at it, find an opportunity.

Or go for the luck approach.  Throw a bunch of (gluten free) noodles at the wall and see what sticks.  I would not have expected to make nearly 5 figures a year on the side doing electric bike battery rebuilds based on having rebuilt a pack for a coworker and publishing a blog post about it.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com


HipGnosis

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2017, 10:42:38 AM »
If you are truly serious about starting your own business, I believe Ramit Sethi's information would prove quite valuable.
Mr. Sethi's only business acumen seems to be selling information on how to make money (in business).


Syonyk

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2017, 10:55:22 AM »
That's the most viable way to make money in a lot of fields. :/
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

ditkanate

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2017, 11:42:09 AM »
If you are truly serious about starting your own business, I believe Ramit Sethi's information would prove quite valuable.
Mr. Sethi's only business acumen seems to be selling information on how to make money (in business).

Some of his free material is pretty good about getting you to think about what marketable skills you may have.  If someone is really having a hard time coming up with business ideas, it can help.  Eventually he tries to push you into a paid product, but there is value in what is publicly available for free.

CargoBiker

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2017, 11:50:40 AM »
The best thing you can learn from Ramit is how to build sales funnels and generate traffic.  He is a master.

lexde

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2017, 07:34:47 PM »
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.

This is actually really common. Seller has Property, finds Buyer. Seller creates LLC, transfers title of Property to LLC, so Seller owns LLC, LLC owns Property. Buyer purchases LLC and all assets (and liabilities), including Property.

A lot of high-end real estate does this. Am I missing something in your question? A transactional lawyer can do this. You can probably do this on your own but I wouldn't recommend it.

6) Can't figure out an easy way to pay off one rewards credit card with another rewards credit card.

Manufactured Spending. Plastiq for a 2.5% fee, which really only makes it viable if you're churning big card bonuses, not just basic cashback/miles at 1-2 points per dollar. Otherwise, purchasing visa gift cards with Card #2, then purchasing money orders at various USPS locations paid for with the VGC, then depositing into bank to pay Card #1. I wish there was something better than Plastiq but everything charges fees that don't make the manufactured spending worth it.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 07:38:51 PM by lexde »

FIREby35

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #31 on: June 14, 2017, 07:58:10 AM »
So, I'm going to repost something I wrote to a guy asking if he can make his lawn mowing business into a small business. The basic point is that you don't need "inspiration" or to solve some huge problem with expensive and complicated software or any other "big," "innovative" opportunity. Opportunity is all around you if you choose to see it.

RE-POST

I love this thread because it demonstrates what I believe about business: "Simple" businesses are untapped opportunities out there for anyone who wants to get ahead.

I have seen many allegedly aspiring entrepreneurs, sometimes called "wantrepenuers." These people are worried about the newest app or some other fancy business they think is going to make them an IPO billionaire. Most of these people sit on the sidelines, planning, dreaming and never acting. A few unlucky souls put up big money they earned while working as an employee into their first business and are surprised to see it fail. To these people, a "simple" business isn't sexy. They think, "You can't just walk across the street, mow a lawn, collect cash and call it a business."  When you meet them for the first time at a party they say with an unsure tone, "Oh, so you mow lawns?"

You answer with a calm confidence they don't really understand, "Oh, yeah. We'll mow your lawn while you are on vacation. That's what we do and we love doing it." Then you hand them your card.

Why the confidence? Because you know the art of small business is much more than mowing lawns. The people who can mow lawns are a dime a dozen. But the person who can answer his calls, return missed calls within 24 hours, bid jobs, confirm contracts, perform good work, do it on schedule, manage  employees, have a second crew (or more?), ensure quality across all crews, eat a bad contract when your bid is off, follow up on accounts receivable, do payroll, prepare tax return, have the money to pay tax returns, get an online review, maintain referral relationships and give back to your community - that person is special. To the world, he "mows lawns." But to the discerning eye who can see the beauty of a "simple" business, he is a hero and a national freaking treasure!

So, OP are you mowing lawns or becoming a national freaking treasure?

Fireball

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #32 on: June 16, 2017, 02:21:09 PM »
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.

This is actually really common. Seller has Property, finds Buyer. Seller creates LLC, transfers title of Property to LLC, so Seller owns LLC, LLC owns Property. Buyer purchases LLC and all assets (and liabilities), including Property.

A lot of high-end real estate does this. Am I missing something in your question? A transactional lawyer can do this. You can probably do this on your own but I wouldn't recommend it.

6) Can't figure out an easy way to pay off one rewards credit card with another rewards credit card.

Manufactured Spending. Plastiq for a 2.5% fee, which really only makes it viable if you're churning big card bonuses, not just basic cashback/miles at 1-2 points per dollar. Otherwise, purchasing visa gift cards with Card #2, then purchasing money orders at various USPS locations paid for with the VGC, then depositing into bank to pay Card #1. I wish there was something better than Plastiq but everything charges fees that don't make the manufactured spending worth it.

On #5, I think you're missing something in his question(or maybe me).  Imagine there was a database that listed every piece of property and its owner for the entire state of Tennessee. I wanted to sell my property to you for $75,000.  Instead of involving a closing agent to draw up & record the docs, a title insurance company to give you a title policy and the local county recorder's office to record the new Mortgage, someone instead makes about 3 clicks of a button in the database and now you're the new owner.  Imagine you were charged $11.95 for that service instead of $1,500.  It's an extremely efficient model that would receive massive push back from the industry as well as every county in the nation. 

Google MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System) and you will get an idea of something very similar.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 02:30:05 PM by Fireball »

Fireball

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #33 on: June 16, 2017, 02:24:01 PM »
Why the confidence? Because you know the art of small business is much more than mowing lawns. The people who can mow lawns are a dime a dozen. But the person who can answer his calls, return missed calls within 24 hours, bid jobs, confirm contracts, perform good work, do it on schedule, manage  employees, have a second crew (or more?), ensure quality across all crews, eat a bad contract when your bid is off, follow up on accounts receivable, do payroll, prepare tax return, have the money to pay tax returns, get an online review, maintain referral relationships and give back to your community - that person is special. To the world, he "mows lawns." But to the discerning eye who can see the beauty of a "simple" business, he is a hero and a national freaking treasure!

So, OP are you mowing lawns or becoming a national freaking treasure?

This is very, very good and 100% accurate. If you have any experience with contractors, lawn crews, plumbers, etc. you know that no one shows up on time or generally has their act together. 

cerat0n1a

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2017, 03:32:16 PM »

On #5, I think you're missing something in his question(or maybe me).  Imagine there was a database that listed every piece of property and its owner for the entire state of Tennessee. I wanted to sell my property to you for $75,000.  Instead of involving a closing agent to draw up & record the docs, a title insurance company to give you a title policy and the local county recorder's office to record the new Mortgage, someone instead makes about 3 clicks of a button in the database and now you're the new owner.  Imagine you were charged $11.95 for that service instead of $1,500.  It's an extremely efficient model that would receive massive push back from the industry as well as every county in the nation. 

One of the things I love about this site is reading stuff like this. I knew the whole process of buying and selling property was really inefficient and expensive in the US but WTF? I think we've had a central database like this since the 1970s.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Where to find inspiration for business ideas
« Reply #35 on: June 18, 2017, 07:01:50 AM »
5) The transaction costs for real estate are way too high. Someone needs to create a corporation that holds your property in a legal shell that can be transferred to a buyer for just a few hundred dollars, like a stock transaction, but tied to specific properties, cutting out all the fees and middlemen.

This is actually really common. Seller has Property, finds Buyer. Seller creates LLC, transfers title of Property to LLC, so Seller owns LLC, LLC owns Property. Buyer purchases LLC and all assets (and liabilities), including Property.

A lot of high-end real estate does this. Am I missing something in your question? A transactional lawyer can do this. You can probably do this on your own but I wouldn't recommend it.


Yes, some googling revealed several firms doing this with multi-million dollar properties. My question is... why isn't this tactic used for every piece of real estate? It doesn't cost even one round of closing costs to set up an LLC. I wonder if tax filings/forms are too burdensome, or if it's just a public unawareness thing. Honing in on the exact problem that prevents people from selling properties this way would be the first step to understanding whether an opportunity exists to remove that obstacle.