“Business opportunities are like buses. There’s always another one coming.” -Richard Branson
The outside world is an interstate of business opportunity buses passing you by, waiting to be boarded or ignored. Some buses, though, are going too fast. Those buses left the station a long time ago, and there’s no hope in trying to flag them down. Some are already as full as a West African bush taxi by the time they arrive—certainly cheap and interesting, but not usually an appealing choice of travel if you have any other options.
Once in a while, though, you’ll find the business opportunity equivalent of the Bolt Bus. This bus service started on the East Coast, and last summer it came to the Pacific Northwest for the first time, taking passengers up and down the I-5 corridor from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Fares are as little as $13. Seats are comfy. The WiFi is free! What more could you want?
The Bolt Bus is a sweet ride, cheaper than Amtrak and easier than flying for short trips. In a smart business strategy, the price goes up as more people purchase. If you wait till the last-minute to get your ticket, you can still ride but you’ll pay more.
The Bolt Bus is the kind of business opportunity bus you want to flag down.
When it comes to the interstate of opportunities, one of the greatest skills you can develop is the ability to pick out passing buses and identify the ones with potential.
Two Buses I Can See Outside My Window
This post isn’t meant to be academic. I’m going to share two specific business opportunities I’ve had in mind for a while but haven’t yet been able to execute.
Case #1: Show People How to Actually Set Up a Website
Format: a free website, supported through hosting commission and/or voluntary donation
People write me every day to ask how to set up a website. Isn’t the answer simple? Well, not really. I always send anyone who asks to WordPress.org, which most of my projects are built on, and if you can’t figure out the 5-step WordPress install, there is also WordPress.com which can host your site directly (for free, yo).
But this answer, truthful as it is, isn’t comprehensive. People still have a lot of questions, and rightly so. How do you register a domain? Which webhost should you use? How do you get it all set up? What if you need help—how do you find a designer or developer or any other smart person?
Despite the fact that there is no shortage of resources available to help people with the task of setting up a website, it seems there is room for another one that could simplify it further. My idea is to create a mini-site to help people through the process with a step-by-step guide and simple screencast video. The project could essentially fund itself through affiliate commission from a hosting company.
Note: People sometimes wonder about competition. If someone else is already pursuing the idea I have in mind, should I give up? Not necessarily. Sometimes an active marketplace is a sign of strong demand, which is good. If no one is offering anything like what you have in mind, it may mean there is no demand for it.
I think this could work well. I just don’t have time for it now, so it remains on the back burner. Business opportunities are like buses! If I don’t get to it anytime soon, another one will roll by.
Case #2: Teach People How to Earn Small Amounts of Money On Their Own Right Away
Format: Microproduct (low-priced, but with additional add-ons)
In most of my business work, I try to help readers create a real business—something they can build over time and will earn money on a long-term basis. This is especially true with The $100 Startup as well as its follow-up course, Adventure Capital, and the classic Empire Building Kit that preceded both of these.
Having said that, I think it’s also important to just get started. When you earn your first sale on your own, it can feel very empowering (see: the story of Nick and the $50 print, or my own first $1.26 from a new project many years ago).
A while back I got about halfway through creating a new mini-course that would provide dozens of ways for people to earn their first hundred dollars on their own, and very quickly. Of course, there would be a couple of twists to this idea. Among other things, the affiliate commission would be flipped on end, where the affiliates would earn the vast majority of the commission from the sale price.
As happens often, however, I then got busy with other things. I had a book manuscript to finish, a tour to plan, events that were coming up, and other commitments that led me to decide the time wasn’t right for this one.
I even have a great name for the project, which is the only thing I won’t share in this post. Otherwise, it’s up for grabs if someone beats me to it—and as mentioned, I’m not that worried if someone does. You’ll be the advance team for my seeing if it really works.
So, What’s Next?
Both of these ideas came from the application of two key skills: paying attention and being curious. I noticed that lots of people struggle with setting up a website, even though there are many resources to help with it.
I know from my own experience (as well as many other reports) that making the first amount of money, no matter how small, can be incredibly empowering. Wouldn’t it be fun to help people do that en masse?
If you don’t relate to either of these specific ideas, don’t get too distracted by them. The important principle is to pay attention to things you notice as you go about your normal life.
I challenge you to look for a business opportunity that fits the model of convergence—the overlap between what you can offer the world and what the world wants to buy.
What problem can you solve? What solution can you provide?
What bus will you flag down?