Advice on Starting an Offline Business?

10 replies
Hello...

I know this is mainly an online site, but I have an idea for an offline, service-based business and I was wondering if there's anyone who knows where I can go to get some advice on how much money/capital is needed to start this business and most important, whether there is a need for this business.

I know that for online businesses and information marketing, they always say to make sure there is a growing need/demand and I want to make sure there is a growing demand (and the costs involved) before I go forth in this business.

Although I do plan to have a website, the actual service itself is done offline (it would be kind of hard to do this online).

Thanks.
#advice #business #offline #starting
  • Profile picture of the author deepCode
    You need a businessplan for exactly these reasons.
    I dont know about your country, but here in Germany there are departments that can help you kickstart this process!
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Why wouldn't you just ask here? Lots of us actually have offline service businesses. If nothing else, it may be easier to direct you to resources if we have some clue as to what you're thinking about.
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      • Profile picture of the author davidhorph
        Originally Posted by umc View Post

        Why wouldn't you just ask here? Lots of us actually have offline service businesses. If nothing else, it may be easier to direct you to resources if we have some clue as to what you're thinking about.
        So, anyway, I'm going to explain how my business idea came about and then I'll explain the actual business idea.

        HOW THIS IDEA CAME ABOUT:

        It actually came about from two separate instances: The first instance was, a while back, while I was visiting one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. I knew the owner (my sister used to work for him) who was a really nice person.

        Anyway, when I went there one day, he came up to me and asked, "Table for ONE again?" I nodded and we both had a good laugh. As you can probably guess, I go to this restaurant frequently and I always go by myself, which I don't mind, but since I'm single and most of my friends are busy or away, I don't have anyone to go with at that time.

        The second instance was this: I eventually met this elderly gentleman at a coffee shop who recognized me because I also go there often. He walked up to me and started talking to me. It turns out that, like me eats out quite a bit and he was quite a talkative person.

        The only thing is (and this is not necessarily a bad thing)... he LOVES talking about politics and political events that go on around the world. He also loved talking about labor unions (I think he said he used to be the head of the labor union or something). Talking to him is almost like watching CNN ;-). Recently, he was telling me about how he planned to go the the march and protest.

        Now, at that time (a while back), I didn't really enjoy talking about politics (even to this day, I don't). Please understand that it's not because I don't think it's important, but it's not really something I'm particularly passionate about. Nonetheless, I know he enjoyed talking about it, so what did I do? I went home, went to Google and researched some current political events of that time.

        I even researched on some "homework" he gave me to do (seriously... this guy loved politics soooo much he gave me some "suggested homework"), not because I enjoyed politics and world events, but because I knew that he enjoyed it and I wanted the conversations to be somewhat enjoyable for him.

        So, now I actually have someone to invite to dinner at the Chinese restaurant, right?

        Not so fast.

        Here's the thing. First of all, I already said I don't like talking about politics that much, so why would I want to invite him to dinner only to have him talk about politics for what will seem like hours on end (he tends to talk on forever)?

        The second thing is this: he doesn't like to talk about things I like talking about! I mean, if I can make the effort to try and talk to research and talk to him about things he enjoys, why can't he at least make the effort to reciprocate?

        Now, that being said, I find most people don't really enjoy, much less have knowledge of some of the things I like. Some of the topics I enjoy (warning: some of you may find at least one of these topics pretty strange):

        (1) Stock trading. This may sound boring to most people (and probably to all of my friends)... but I actually love reading stock charts (I'm a huge fan of Marketwatch and Motley Fool. Occasionally I read The Street). Note: I'm actually starting to learn how to read an "option chain" and I am starting to find options trading quite fascinating :-)!!!!!

        (2) Musical Theater. This gentleman who I spoke to openly hates musicals, operas, classical movies or any culture whatsoever :-( and refuses to talk about them, other than the fact that he hates them. Most of my friends don't care much for it, either.

        By the way... I'm a HUGE "Phantom of the Opera" phan (I even saw the sequel! Yes... there is a sequel) so much that one time, I even went on E-lance and paid a Ph.D almost $300 to personally research for me if the "Phantom of the Opera" (along with the other characters) actually existed!

        (3) BDSM/Kink/Fetish. Uh... please see warning above. Actually, I have a more "erudite" take on these topics and have even attended seminars. Those who are into these "arts" are (in my opinion) not as "strange" as many (who are unfamiliar with these topics) perceive them to be.

        Side note: I never finished reading "50 Shades of Grey" b/c I didn't enjoy it. I think I got as far as that "...damn that [Cavanaugh lady, I think her name is] for putting me up to this..." or something like that.

        (4) Screenwriting. I write mainly short horror films.

        (5) Horror films and books. I love M. Night Shylaman's movies.

        So, anyway, from these experiences, it brings me to:

        MY BUSINESS IDEA:

        A business/service where single people (like me) could actually "hire" someone with same/very similar interests to meet them for breakfast, lunch or dinner to talk about topics they both enjoy/have in common.

        I actually researched if this business exists and what I found mainly are escort services where you have to be 21 years of age or older and most of the pictures are nude pictures that imply something other than just dinner.

        I do not want my business/service to be like that. There would be no sex or even talk of sex involved. OK, fine... if I'm into BDSM and my date likes talking about BDSM, then maybe there would be some sexual talk that is only within the confines of the topic.

        So, with that being said, I believe my business should be a legal one.

        So, anyway, with the details itself. The "client" would fill out a questionairre about himself and his interests and the service would try to match him up. Unlike a dating service where you don't find out till it's too late that your date has nothing in common with you (I actually had that happen to me on more than one occasion), hopefully, the "date/companion" will not only share your interests, but he/she will actually be knowledgeable in your subject/passion.

        Personally, and maybe this is just me, but if someone is totally unfamiliar with Broadway musicals, the conversation wouldn't be as enjoyable if I had to, say, spend the entire conversation educating her from the ground up. Again, this is just me.

        Also, unlike an escort service or other companion service, you could actually ask for someone of the same gender for dinner or even ask for more than one person to join you (since this service is strictly for conversation/friendship and nothing else).

        Sorry for the long post, but that's pretty much my business idea.

        P.S.: If anybody here knows of anyone who enjoys the topics listed above, let me know. I don't want the restaurant owner to be asking me again if I want a table for one ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)!!!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    You might find someone that can help you with the information you are looking for at your local Chamber of Commerce. That is the sort of service they are supposed to offer. I have worked with several Chambers before and their quality varies wildly, so you might find them helpful and you might not.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      Or, in the US, go to your local www.score.org and ask there. It's free and good.

      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      You might find someone that can help you with the information you are looking for at your local Chamber of Commerce. That is the sort of service they are supposed to offer. I have worked with several Chambers before and their quality varies wildly, so you might find them helpful and you might not.
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Yes, where I used to live, the then head of the Chamber of Commerce was very experienced and competent.

    He would get a lot of people who would not listen to him. Such as open a pizza restaurant
    after he advised not to because there were more than enough pizza restaurants in town.
    Sure enough, the new business would be closing it's doors.

    Anyway, a good Chamber or other business group should be able to give sage advice
    for niches and locations, etc.

    I would also talk to a banker or CPA about the amount of money needed and the market, if any or enough, for your business. NOT about getting a loan because you should boot strap as much as possible and loans from institutions don't generally happen until you've been in business for a year at minimum.

    Also, test the market with low cost marketing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    Originally Posted by davidhorph View Post

    Hello...

    I know this is mainly an online site, but I have an idea for an offline, service-based business and I was wondering if there's anyone who knows where I can go to get some advice on how much money/capital is needed to start this business and most important, whether there is a need for this business.

    I know that for online businesses and information marketing, they always say to make sure there is a growing need/demand and I want to make sure there is a growing demand (and the costs involved) before I go forth in this business.
    Hi David,

    First up the question you ask is "Is there a need for my type of business?"

    A simple way to check that is to search Google in your local area and see if anyone is paying for advertising the service.

    If there are advertiser then there is a market prepared to pay to attract customers out there.

    Also ...have you seen or know of other similar businesses operating?

    There are plenty of places to get statistics to help with set up.

    Here is one:
    Small Business at a Glance - Small Business Statistics

    To work out start up costs you would need to do a bit of market research first.

    There are two routes to planning a business. A simple plan and a detailed plan.

    The basic planning takes the following route.

    A Profile of your business.

    Market and competitive analysis

    Your strategic direction and objectives

    Marketing Plan

    Financial Plan

    Management an organisational plan

    Production Plan

    Annual Budget

    Cashflow statement

    Income statement .

    The more detailed route adds things like

    Executive summary

    Market profile

    Benefit analysis

    Detailed segment analysis

    Competitor analysis

    SWOT Analysis

    Rollout plan

    Detailed financials

    You should flesh out a basic plan and consider some of the items you will need to start the business and any other expenses that would be required.

    Once you sort of have a bit of an idea then sit down with an accountant and discuss whether you have covered all the likely expenses. It is always good to establish a relationship with an accountant early on

    There would usually be a business association close by that would advise on starting a business. Consult them also.

    There is an excellent business planning tool I used early on and it is still available today although it has become web-based. It is the MasterPlan software by Maus Business Planning Software | Business Planning, KPI Scorecard & Strategic Planning Software

    That would have all the components you need to build a serious plan and that can become your guiding document which is also good if you need to seek funding.

    I also wrote on another thread by Jason kanigan "A bite of reality...why businesses fail"
    http://www.warriorforum.com/offline-...sses-fail.html

    Take a look at the bit about financials and business management there.

    Some of the tools I talk about in that thread have been refined to a further degree and I discuss what they do in a regular weekly webinar that I run. If you are interested you can catch when I'm doing the next one here:
    WEBINARJAM | Three levers control all business profits

    I've been asked many times by people starting businesses and have trained several before starting and they all ask the same question...or similar question...

    "If I had 6 months to get my business going and making money, how long should I spend planning and how soon can I start trading"

    I always advise spending 4-5 months of the 6 planning and getting set up and then start trading. It does depend on how complex the business is but it is amazing how complex a simple business quickly becomes when you haven't got all the pieces in place first.

    The people asking the question usually expect the planning to take a month and then they want to open right away.

    The ones that come back to me years later always thank me for telling them to spend more time before they start and many who started too soon come back later with problems that they all could have eliminated by thinking more and planning better before they started.

    You should also have at least 6 months of total expenses put away for working capital to get you through the start-up phase.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    Kind regards,

    Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    If you're in the US, go to https://www.score.org/, they have retired and semi-retired business owners who answer questions... Used one before. He was great. It's free, too.

    Basically, you go with your question(s) and they help you get answers... In my case, it was many years ago, but I got really good coaching... Short and to the point.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    You'd be more successful opening a restaurant called "table for one"

    Have tables with one chair.

    Unique.

    Like this---->


    Let that brew for a year or two.

    Best regards,

    Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author ChristoFouche
    Even if it is a normal brick and mortar business, you still have to advertise online.

    If you can get the public to perceive your services to be better than your opposition, you have a good chance to do well.

    The other question you need to ask yourself is how much experience do you have in this new field. The general rule is that you should have about 10 000 hours of experience in any industry before you start a business on your own.
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