A few days ago, I spied what I hoped would be an interesting article online - it promised "hundreds of ideas for small businesses" and, since my life's work has been about small businesses, I clicked to read it. What a mistake!
I'm not going to flame - or even state who wrote the article - but after 40 years of proving that most small businesses don't work and having developed systems and processes to change that, it's frustrating to see others in the space confusing the poor souls who set out to pursue their dream of opening a business.
Let's face it, Constant Reader, you don't need an idea on what kind of business to open, you need a blueprint of how to open it! The frustrating part of that article was that it intertwined ideas to make extra money on the weekends - say, dressing up as a clown - and opening a shoe store - a far more expensive idea if there ever was one.
Unfortunately, at no point in the article did the writer address how a potential owner was to plot and plan for this Company of One.
So, allow me to retort to this article, even though you haven't read it. Opening up a small business, whether it's dressing up as a clown or cooking for other people in their home, can only be done two ways: One, as a hobby that makes you very little extra money but keeps you busy on off days and weekends or two, with the expectation that it can be built up into a viable business if you, as the creator, spend the time to imagine and build it correctly.
Honestly, as strange as it sounds, the idea of a clown company holds a lot of promise. (Except right after It was released last year). What we're really building here is a talent agency, and that agency can move into dozens of different characters, from clowns to princesses.
Before we build out a clown company from Dream to Enterprise, though, our prospective entrepreneur needs to ask themselves one question, "is this always going to be a side gig for extra money?"
For our purposes, let's assume you have the skills and tools to be able to be a clown - a real one, not an accusation from coworkers. If you do, and only want to make a little extra money each month, then it's likely that you should simply work as a contractor with a local talent agency or party planner. Let them handle the marketing, the lead generation, and all the customer acquisition and simply pay you to show up to Johnny's birthday party on Friday night.
They handle all the business, you make animals out of balloons.
Or drive for Uber. Or deliver pizzas. Or - well, essentially pick up a part time job or "gig" to make your money and not have the headache of running a poorly planned out business model that mirrors every other unsuccessful small business in the world.
But let's say that, for any variety of reasons, you feel drawn to building a business model with clowns.
Don't start putting on the makeup yet. Ask yourself this question, "how can I bring disruptive change to the clown industry?"
I know, I know, "Gerber must be off his medications."
But could you bring a disruptive change to the clown industry in your town or geographical area? I don't know much about how the clown business works, but I would think that a very simple phone app linked to a virtual scheduler, a description of all of your clowns, and the ability to review, schedule, and pay online easily would constitute a radical change from how many parents find clowns in most parts of the country.
In my opinion, though, that's not really disruptive enough, but understand this: if you are ready to open a company, you cannot be planning to be the star of the company. A Company of One that only features a Technician at the helm is a company that has no value - not to you OR the person you sell it to. Don't go to the trouble of opening another small business that is going to struggle and then close it doors. Take the time to think, to dream, and to create a truly viable and truly disruptive company that will be far more than a weekend job.