Here’s a fun fantasy open thread for today: If you could start your own business, what would it be, and why? For purposes of the fantasy let’s presume it will be a successful business, so we’re really talking more about the lifestyle here. What would be your ideal business to start? Some questions to ponder:
- Would you want huge money (and probably huge stress) — or “enough money to live comfortably” plus a much lower/easier amount of work?
- Would you want to go into business seeking to own it forever — or build something that you could sell easily?
- Would you want to work with others in building/maintaining it, like with a best friend or spouse? Would you want to have a large staff to supervise personally — or be a hands-off boss with a close trusted lieutenant, or maybe just a very small staff? Would you want to work with customers or clients?
- What results would you want to see from your business — would you make or create something that is sold? Would you strive to improve clients’ lives in a measurable way? Do you want to hear from clients about your product — or would you be happy just sending it out into the universe and getting money in return? (Think of authors who write books but largely do not interact with readers, or someone who writes screenplays that sell for a lot of money — but then are never made — or even like Peloton or Beachbody “stars” who make the video but get paid regardless of whether people watch it.)
- Would you want the business itself to make money, or be funded and have salaries paid from an outside source like grants or donations, or even a subscription model?
Ways this could work, just to throw a few ideas out there:
- Do a huge startup with outside funding, a huge staff, and a few really intense years — then sell it.
- Hang out your own shingle in your current profession, work hard, earn a lot, and build a business.
- Own a small yoga studio (or, hey, bookstore) that has a loyal clientele and a small staff that you love but doesn’t make millions of dollars and the work itself isn’t very intellectually challenging.
- Own a B&B or some other sort of hotel/retreat where people pay you to “enjoy paradise” but the clientele (and to a certain degree the staff) is constantly changing.
- Write a book or screenplay or otherwise create content (YouTuber, blogger, course creator) with royalties or other passive income.
- Start a nonprofit designed to Do Something Good, where your main income is as president/executive director, but you have to solicit donations or grants to keep the business running — but you can focus a lot on Doing Good
It’s kind of fun to think about, so I thought we should discuss. Which idea appeals to you the most? If you could start your own business, what would it be and why? Do you think you’ll ever act on any of these business ideas? (If the idea that appeals to you the most is Very Different than your current job/career situation, what do you think that says, if anything?)
It would be a combo cafe/store. The cafe would have 2 or 3 daily specials, based on whatever was in season and inspired me that day, the food would only be responsibly sourced and ethical. The store part would sell local hand made items from local artisans as well as my hand made sewing upcycling projects. It would all be zero waste, closed loop, and vegan. But I know it’s just a pipe dream so I shall work my day job.
I’d love to have a side business where I rework resumes, theses, or other similar documents. I’ve done this for friends many times, and they have had very positive results. (I’m 4/4 in people getting jobs with their updated materials.) I think it would be the perfect thing to spend 5-10 hours a week doing.
Honestly, I kind of want to advertise this on some freelancing platform, I would do it for free anyways. I’d also like to teach or tutor beginner Python
I’ve already written a business plan for a mini golf course with an ice cream parlor :) Our little vacation town so needs one! (And I kinda can’t believe there isn’t one already.) I hope to open in 2023-2024. My husband and kids and I would work shifts here and there (we’d keep working our flexible real jobs), but my numbers are for an on-site manager and paid hourly staff. All debt should be paid off within 5 years, so it’s just a fun hobby at that point.
SO FUN!!! Please let us know when this happens!
I love this! When you open, please tell us where you are so we can visit.
There needs to be more miniature golf courses in this world!!! Go for it!
Yes!! This was one of my favorite activities at the beach as a child. Good luck!
I’d open a lovely little Mediterranean gift shop full of fancy towels and olive oils and lavender and spices and sunscreen and cookbooks and tins of sardines.
This is so beautiful! I want to shop there already just thinking about it. Lovely.
One of my goals in life is never to own a business.
If it’s a fantasy, I want huge money and low stress.
I’d make and sell small geometric representations of mathematical theorems as home decor. Or I’d make and sell giant geometric representations of mathematical theorem to modern art patrons.
I would buy this.
I notice some of the ideas here are things people could do right now e.g. the resume rewriting business. You can make your mathematical theorem prints and sell them on Etsy.
Id totally buy this
This exists already :) My parents are math professors and have a lot of mathematical art.
I bet your parents’ art is gorgeous. I make art that only the artist could love….I’m not under any illusions that my math art is competitive with the much better math art out there.
I’m an economist trying to get tenure so I have the huge stress and no interest in a side gig.
If we go total fantasy, it’d be probably something like a startup for a really great app or other IT product my husband and I came up with, got to market, then sold off enough to retire early. With his software engineering expertise and my data knowledge + business minor, we could probably go pretty far just the two of us.
Realistically, if I had any interest in seeking out clients I would love to go into some kind of boutique analytics consulting – think perhaps helping small businesses with their analytics or something like that. I can wear a lot of hats in the IT world so I think I could really help some places out, but I think I’d hate the “hustle” aspect of it. Too much of a fear of rejection here!
Rebecca in Dallas
I would love to own a bookstore! My ideal bookstore would have lots of community events with a focus on local writers. We would host some book clubs with different themes (ex: maybe a women’s business group, a sci fi group, a teen group, etc). We would definitely carry some gifts as well, again a focus on local vendors (things like stationery, art prints, maybe some food gifts). Maybe a small cafe with coffee and baked goods.
My grandmother owned a book store for a short time, I know they generally aren’t big money-makers. But in my ideal fantasy world, I’d make enough money to get by (or maybe I’m independently wealthy by that point and it doesn’t matter) and be able to pay my staff well enough that they stay on for a long time.
Also a bookstore. Preferably in an old 2-level house in a seaside town. With a red dutch door and a porch with chairs, maybe with a little coffee stand and a yard for community gatherings. It would have one room be the children’s room, with places to sit and read and have story hour. It would also have themed rooms, like one old bedroom would be romance with floral wallpaper and fairy lights and another would be mysteries/true crime/horror with dark green walls and framed Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys covers. It would sell both used and new books, and I’d have a little free library out front that I’d stock with great books so that they’re accessible even if someone can’t afford them. I’d have discounts for locals, teachers/educational professionals, and healthcare workers.
If you have any interest, the book “Confessions of a Bookseller” is hilarious- written by the owner of the Wigtown Bookstore in Scotland!
Rebecca in Dallas
Oh, that sounds cute! And the kitchen would be cookbooks!
I’ll look up the book, thanks!
Your bookshop and my mini golf should be in the same little town <3 (I'm aiming for a New England lobster pound vibe with mine.) Yours is such a darling vision! I'd shop there and never leave <3
I wouldn’t go for a business of my own, but I would love to work for Medecins sans Frontieres. I have a good background in fund-raising and in accounting, and I hope I could do a lot of good that way.
If it could be magically profitable and also somehow low stress- I’d have people that help you with travel. I’ve expressed on this site before, that I’m fine once I’m traveling, but planning a vacation is a special form of torture to me. The stress of selecting a destination, weighing a direct flight vs. a stop vs. time saved vs. money spent… too much. I’ve even used supposedly “full service” travel agents and they still ask too many questions (in my opinion).
So, in my business, they’re be travel agents, but also people that could do all sorts of things that I also dislike about traveling. Maybe there’s a person who comes to your house and helps you pick out clothes for yoru destination and pack efficiently (and makes sure you don’t forget something crucial, which I always seem to do). Someone else that would help you load your car for a long road trip (maybe the same as the packer person, maybe different). I have images of my dad play “luggage tetris” trying to fit everything into our car for the 10+ hours trips to the Outer Banks when we were younger Someone, especially if you have kids and are flying, that helps you get all of the stuff (car seat, maybe stroller, maybe kids entertainment/snack bag that they have refused to carry) through airport security and helps watch your kids at the gate. Then there’s a person at your destination airport that greets you at the gate and gets the stroller/car seat prepared for you, and gets your rental car set up with the car seat.
I have no idea how this would work in reality. But I’d pay big bucks for this service to be available to me.
I have always wanted to live in tune with nature. So the ideal setup for me would be to own a farm , grow my own produce along with a community of like minded people. Providing employment opportunities for women on the farm. Probably would like to have a sort of weekend getaway for city people to come and relax in nature and partake of food grown on the farm. A rustic farm to table sort of place.
I’m actually in the process of starting my small business: a small batch distillery. My great grandmother was a bootlegger during Prohibition and the stories my grandmother told me about the adventures of living in a house where illegal activities were happening were funny and exciting to me. I figure it’s in my blood, and my family traces back to Kentucky and Tennessee so, why not?
I want to focus on ingredients and techniques in the Diaspora (like yam, date palm, hibiscus, etc) and also come up with really unique “limited edition” flavors just to make things interesting. I would focus on vodka, gin, rum, and a rice based spirit at first, and eventually have whiskeys once they’ve had time to age.