Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Business Ventures

I'm always dreaming up new business ideas. Some are ok, some sound great but would probably never work, and others I just may try before I die. At the risk of losing all of my potential income I thought I'd share some of my ideas.

Boring Ideas:
Make and sell items you'd find at a farmer's market (kettle corn, goat cheese, and knitted clothes). Purchase a car wash, snow-cone stand, billboard space, or a coffee shop.

Fun ideas that I'll never do:
1. Open a dollar pancake shop - Three types of batter, 4 types of toppings, eggs and meat on request. Pancakes are $1 each, toppings are $.25 per topping per pancake. Meat is $1 per two slices. Eggs are a dollar each.
2. Do-it yourself carpentry shop - Think Kinkos for wood working. Have classes like "make your own table." Charge a nominal fee for storage. Charge by the cut or by the hour for "drop-ins."
3. Bio-fuel/solar powered landscaping company - This actually has three parts. Part one, a business that makes bio fuel. Part two, a business that makes bio-fuel powered and/or solar powered lawn equipment. Part three, a business that uses the products from the other two businesses to run a landscaping business.
4. Corn Maze - Buy a bunch of land outside of Houston and create a HUGE corn maze around Halloween time.
5. Bikes for kids in need (non-profit)- I thought about collecting a bunch of old bikes and having people volunteer to repair them. We'd then give them to kids who can't afford bikes or sell them for cheap. There is an organization that does this in Portland. I won't do this because I don't know anything about bikes...let's be honest.
6. Cheap Computers for low to no income (non-profit)- As information continues to become digitized people unable to access a computer are falling behind. This company would operate kind of like Tom's Shoes. I'd sell a computer at full price and use 100% of the proceeds to make other computers and sell them for an extremely low price. Much like the bike program, I won't ever do this because I don't know anything about computers.

Fun ideas that I may do:
1. Renovate an old house and turn it into a bed and breakfast.
2. Make wooden boats in my garage during my free time and sell them (a friend from Portland already does this).
3. Training program for immigrants (non-profit) - This would be a three year program that lodges immigrants, teaches them classes on American culture, language, and financial management, and trains them in a trade. We would probably run side businesses employing the residents to help fund the training. At the beginning, they would not get paid much but their lodging and food would be free. By the end, they would make a full wage but they would have to pay full price for their food and lodging.
4. Short-term Missions Organization (non-profit)- There are already a ton of these. All of them have particular strengths. However, I don't know of any that do a good job of a) equipping people in need to help themselves b) helping the participants learn the social injustices that can lead to poverty c) helping the participants realize they are there to LEARN from the people in need and NOT simply serve them. I want participants to walk away with a deeper understand of the gospel, a better understanding of social injustice, a higher respect for those in "need" and a more missional approach to EVERY aspect of life.
5. Thrift Store for Food (non-profit)- I keep hearing reports that programs like food banks are a problem in the long run. They tend to make people dependent and unable to provide for themselves. Why not take a bunch of food donations and sell them for cheap? That way, people would still have access to cheap food but they'd also have to work a bit to get it. Sure, we can have programs for people who are unable to provide for themselves (children, disabled). But for those who CAN work we can create a system that doesn't end up hurting them in the long run.

That's all I can think of right now...I swear I had like 10 more.


mandi said...

ahh...coby's business plans. i joke, because, as you know, i too am always coming up with crazy ventures. seems like a lot of our conversations are about new businesses we can start. anyway.

funny...john and i were just talking yesterday about an earth/people friendly lawn business.

i LOVE the pancake idea. i think you should do that. in your bed and breakfast.

and what's so boring about selling goat cheese at a farmer's market? that sounds like heaven to me! you got your farmette, your family all together all the time, meet new people- the good life!

Gregory said...

i hear you on that boat building, really tugs at the heart... but man, there ain't no money in it. don't even try it. boats are money holes and nobody buys in wood these days.

on another note... do yourself a huge favor and check this book out from the library... "The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It." (John Seymour). It will help you out with all the cheese and cooking and homesteading and farmer's marketing tidbits. a real treasture.

Culpster said...

What about our nonprofit health insurance? Don't leave me hanging man!

Can dollar pancakes really make a profit, or even just break even? I would like to see a report on the cost of producing dollar pancakes:)

Coby said...

I can generally make 10 six inch diameter pancakes with two cups of flour. There are about 4.5 cups in a pound. I've seen flour as cheap as $.65 per pound (in bulk). So it costs me $.32 in flour to make 10 pancakes. Then you add a little milk, an egg, a little butter, salt, and baking powder (MAYBE an additional $.32 per 10 pancakes). So, your looking at 10 pancakes for under $.75. In any flour business (bakery, donut shop, etc.) you have to sell a lot of product to make money...but you already have over 1000% markup on the product.

Coby said...

make that 10 four inch pancakes...

steve and beth said...

Wow, Coby, if you start that short term missions organization I'll join. That's exactly what I would like to see short term missions doing. Actually the closest thing I know of is Lifewind International ( but not usually short term. See also Walking With the Poor by Bryant Myers.

johnny b said...

charge by the cut. it's genius.