Not another Mexican restaurant please!
November 6, 2012 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Want to start a new business.. but don't have an idea of what to do. Help?

My father has been wanting to go into business for himself for a while. He's tired of working for someone else. He has accumulated enough to get him going but what he is missing is the idea. Being Mexican, of course the options of a Mexican restaurant or a Mexican grocery store were considered, but our city is over saturated with them. He's had experience with the restaurant industry, running liquor stores and maintaining rental properties (houses for rent).

I've suggested renting out office space or a type of convention center or opening up a liquor store.

So the question: where can we go for ideas? I mentioned we could perhaps partner up with someone who has an idea and then he can provide the funds and be the partner to handle the finances.. make sense? Like venture capitalists who listen to ideas and then decide what to invest in .. except he actually wants to work in the business not sit on the sidelines. Just looking to point him in the right direction.

Also what businesses would you suggest knowing his experience?

We are in the Midwest.
posted by xicana63 to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Not to sound harsh, but I feel like if you don't have an idea for a business, you shouldn't start one. It's extremely hard work getting a business off the ground and keeping it running, so without the passion for what you're doing, it will most likely fail.
posted by sgo at 6:38 AM on November 6, 2012 [7 favorites]

What kind of capital are we talking about? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Millions?

Any reasonable answer will depend on how much your father is willing to risk losing.
posted by cr_joe at 6:47 AM on November 6, 2012

Please know that small businesses aren't ways to make a ton of money, they are ways to make an average living by working harder than you ever have in your life.

When you say that he's accumulated enough to get him going, how much is that? Whatever it is, it isn't enough. Not by a long shot.

Can he afford to pay rent and salaries for at least a year before seeing a profit? Will it bother him to work 16 hour days, with no breaks or vacations?

Now that being said, I think a laundr-o-mat might be a good thing to do.

Rather than buy someone else's failing business he should start his own. I like Suds and Buds or something like that. A clean, well lighted place where young, urban professionals can come do laundry, have a beer and maybe watch a game on the tv. He can even have nights for Real Housewives, or RuPaul's Drag Race. He can post a schedule of what will be on and when, so people can plan social get-togethers around what's on.

He can even provide irons, since I'd rather iron while other things are drying than doing it alone, at home.

This will require a lot of work, upfront money, and very good research. Also a beer and wine license.

Other ideas for business I've had:

Opening a kiosk near a public transportation hub where you can buy a boxed lunch for later. I'm thinking like the Trans-Bay Terminal in San Francisco. I'd call the business Bento.

A huge parking lot in South Beach, where partiers can park for $10 per night. Then run a shuttle to all the clubs on the beach. That way you can club hop, park the car and not pay stupid prices for valet service.

Offering a delivery service where someone can call and get you to bring food to them. I'd call it Crazy Cravies. So I could call you to bring me McDonalds and Oreos. (Admittedly, I was in college at the time and enjoyed an occasional bowl, if that explains anything.)

Now I have an MBA from the Wayne Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship. What I learned there is that I nearly NEVER pays to be an Entrepreneur.

Frankly, based upon what you've written, it sounds like your dad is a prime candidate for being totally ripped off by the first fast talking guy he meets.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:49 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

First he and you should get a free consultation with a local SCORE business counselor/advisor.
posted by Dansaman at 8:11 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'll answer the question first. Ideas are here: Springwise. Those are actual companies in various states of development. There are tons of other places on the web that serve as repositories for ideas, and they're just looking for someone to run with them. Like this one. Google for hundreds more. Hell, I have a text file full of ideas I've dreamed up for the past 10 years. Ideas, though, aren't nearly enough. They're just multipliers of execution.

Now, you guys don't sound like entrepreneurs. At least not like the type of entrepreneurs that are famous and successful today. I may be wrong, but it sounds like you're about to wade into a world of trouble.

I suggest this: Choose an idea that doesn't sound half bad. Spend no more than a day choosing it. Then go and take a look at the Business Model Canvas or the Validation Board and test it out. Don't just think a bit about it and chat about it. Do the exercises. It will be a very valuable dry run and may save you a huge amount of suffering and grief.

Good luck.
posted by Cobalt at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

First comes the idea, then the business.
posted by pakora1 at 9:50 AM on November 6, 2012

Contact a franchise broker. Even if you do not want to go the franchise route, they will open your eyes to the multitude of proven small business models that are doing well.
posted by rada at 11:52 AM on November 6, 2012

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