Today I’d like to share with you the answer that I recently gave to the following question on Quora: “What business can I start with $1000?”
It addresses the typical subject of “What businesses can I start with (enter small amount of cash)…”, which is something that I don’t regularly address for a single reason:
A business idea will only lead you to take action if it is aligned with your unique traits.
You know, starting and running a business isn’t simple, for sure it isn’t a walk in the park, and there is a huge gap between being motivated to create something and actually taking the initial steps. Because you can feel motivated with pretty much everything; who never thought that he had finally found the golden idea?
If you think that the lack of an idea is what’s stopping you, I actually have a list of 100 ideas that you can start on the side, in parallel with a full-time job. But my gut feeling tells me that you may go over the entire list and even if you select 2 or 3 that could work, you won’t take action because they aren’t perfectly aligned and coherent with your unique status in life.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into the answer. Here, you’ll find a structured methodology that I’ve been developing to help anyone coming up with a business idea.
Hope you find it insightful. If you apply it, let me know what kind of results you obtained, I’d love to know your story.
Hey there, thanks for the A2A Elisabeth.
Candidly, this is the typical question I don’t answer frequently. You see, with 1000$ you can create pretty much anything – especially if we’re talking about online – but more importantly that knowing what you CAN create is knowing what is THE business that is good just for you.
So, in this answer, I’ll try to add value through a system you can use to come up with business ideas that are PERFECT TO YOU, instead of simply telling you a list of 100 ideas you can start today that will lead you absolutely nowhere.
Let’s jump right in.
#1: Understanding your strengths and context
First, begin by asking yourself:
- What are you really good at?
- What do you love to do?
- What’s your current status in life? Responsibilities, and etc.
- What’s your ideal lifestyle?
This is the baseline that will set your goals. You want to create a business around something you’re interested in, and that fits your current resources and your ideal lifestyle.
2#: Coming up with potential target markets
So, when you have all those 4 answers, you should select the one area of interest that is commonly shared amongst the answers. And, then, you need to come up with several potential target markets for your area of interest. Imagine you’re really good at organizing your house (a hardly monetizable skill, right?), who could benefit from having an organized house? What types of audiences would be interested in learning or paying for what you know? Here it’s really all about brainstorming and chatting with friends, colleagues, family relatives. There’s no website that can tell you potential market audiences.
3#: Finding business ideas for those potential target markets
Next, when you have the first list with different audiences that could be interested in buying or knowing your skill (ex: organizing houses interior), you have 3 ways to come up with specific business ideas.
- You can search on Google if it’s somehow common, using the keyword formulas like “How to start a ENTER BUSINESS” or “Create a ENTER BUSINESS”
- You can search on forums such as Reddit and Quora. You can literally create subthreads on Reddit or questions on Quora to ask people how you can add a specific audience through your skill. Say, “How can I create a business based on teaching people how to be organized at home?” And you’ll receive several replies, for sure.
- You can come up with your own ideas if you ask yourself a set of specific questions: i) How can I solve the specific problem I’m trying to solve? ii) How much are people willing to pay for it? and iii) what do I need to serve the customers? That way, you’ll be basically structuring a solution, the revenue per customer and the costs, a very basic framework for a business model.
If this sounds too overwhelming, let me know.
#4: Evaluating business ideas
Now, let’s imagine that by this stage you already have a list of 3 up to 5 specific business ideas that you could implement. So, suddenly you go from 0 ideas to 3 or 5 and you have too many!
So, what can you do?
You should evaluate them, grade them, and pick up the one that is best aligned with your interests and baseline (remember? what you love to do, current resources, ideal lifestyle).
To evaluate the ideas, you can use this methodology I’ve been developing:
Note: The reason why I say a Niche Market with High Margins is better than a Mass Market with High Margins is because of the rivalry. Usually, the large market will be an oligopoly given some specific market entry barriers. That’s why it has high margins and it’s still mass market.
Basically, you want to grade from 1 (the worst scenario) to 4 (the best scenario) each idea based on 3 main criteria:
a. Setup: Is it easy or hard to start?
b. Profitability: Are people spending a lot of money on that? And what’s the size of the market?
c. Scalability: how much of the business could you potentially outsource to scale?
If you notice, each dimension has a weight % that you can adjust to select preferably what you most value: if you have no money, you can increase the importance of the dimension Setup.
#5: And there you go
And this is it. Perhaps overwhelming, but it’s a structured way that has worked for me at least, and I’m now doing something that can be set up easily, is highly profitable and scalable, and it perfectly aligned with what I like to do, with what I’m good at, with my current status and ideal lifestyle.
Makes sense? Was it too overwhelming?
If you need any help, feel free to email me to email@example.com.
All the best