Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Theoretical Small Businesses

I'm not much of an entrepreneur. I'm quite risk-averse and loathe anything that would make starting a small business, such as paying taxes, making payroll, following regulations, too many customers, too few customers, or the wrong type of customers, successful.

That doesn't mean I can't dream. Of course, I have no intentions of starting any of these businesses, mostly because I'm certain I have no idea the downside of all of these businesses. I more or less assume that it is

1. Start business
2. ???
3. Profit!

Anyway, if I were forced at gunpoint to start a small business it would be, in no particular order:

1. Candy Manufacturer. I'm not sure if I'd want a storefront candy shoppe. I would like it to more or less be a Ben & Jerry's version of candy bars--coming up with odd combinations that aren't really seen very much. Knowing me it would be much less about making marketable candy (or any type of profit, for that matter) and more making up cutesy pun names. 

Yet there's some charm in being a chocolatier. My wife and I recently visited one. The prices seemed a tad high, but I guess that's why you're not buying slabs of wax and chalk dust with "Hersey" written across it. But the vast array of choices--and the quantity they manufactured it in--made me assume that this was a sound business and raking in the dough. I know full well they pay Brazilians like a penny a pound for that cocoa. 

2. Board Game Company. No surprise here. The market for board games, however, is tricky. The market is small and fickle, production costs are astronomical (even if you outsource to China), and there's no after-market if your small press game doesn't sell (besides Goodwill, of course). You can't afford a license so you can't rely on familiarity, and right now the market is getting saturated with small independent games. You're never going to get rich, because the "next Monopoly" or "next party game" is never going to happen. It would be a labor of love and you might pull off some industry recognition, which, of course, combined with a buck will get you a cup of coffee.

3. The Fully Automated Restaurant. I understand they actually have a few of these in the West Coast, or at least something like it; touch screen menus, credit card only transactions, etc.  You get in, swipe your card, punch your order, and in ten minutes out it comes piping hot. (Conveyor belts seem just a bit to gimmicky and prone to constant maintenance, so food runners would be necessary.) For some reason I find this to be a particularly effective business plan on the basis of absolutely no knowledge of the food industry whatsoever.

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