Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ideas Wanted

I was watching the Apprentice last night. It's compulsive viewing because the candidates are mostly awful, and as time goes on, might prove to be all awful. Some have not yet stuck their head above the parapet so have avoided the wrath of Sir Alan, although I'm sure he's looking carefully at how each one does all the time.

I was thinking about next week's task. Apparently each team will be given £200 and told to go out and make some money. Sir Alan tells them it's more than he had, but he did start out 40 years ago. He also had more than a couple of days to get started.

Thinking about it, it's incredibly difficult coming up with a money-making venture. If it was easy, of course, everyone would be doing it. You have to consider elfansafety so any food idea is out. Services are difficult to sell without doing a lot of PR work to build up clients over time, and that's something they don't have. They also have very little time to actually invent something, make it and sell it; no business offices or transport.

If they were in France, they could try to set up a car-washing service in supermarket carparks. Although I've seen young men doing that at Sainsbury's, I've never seen it outside Carrefour. Likewise, they could try to set up a nappy-cleaning business, visiting maternity wards to convince young mothers of the ecological benefits of using the provided cotton nappies. There again, though, it would take a while before the service became known. Word-of-mouth works well, but not at the speed of light!

There are already lots of small businesses in the UK that provide specialist services which makes it tricky for anyone wanting to start out. In France it's much easier on the ideas front, but must be more difficult administratively. If it were easier, surely there would be more small businesses.

I remember trying to make some pocket money back in 1992 by making shopping bags out of waxed provincial print cotton. I could make them well enough although the waxed cotton was hell to sew even with a sewing machine, but selling them was another problem altogether. I went to business start-up meetings and realised that either I was deadly serious and wanted to have a proper business, or there was no point; the charges were astronomical and the paperwork had to be seen to be believed.

In the end, I left them in a shop in Aigues Mortes where they sat in a dusty corner, from where I retrieved all of them at the end of the season. If only Ebay had existed then!

I have not come up with any ideas for the Apprentice groups, so I will be watching with interest to see what they decide is good a business project.

Any ideas as to what you would do?


  1. It's a good article and interesting the business ideas to make more useful to people Thinking about it, it's incredibly difficult coming up with a money-making venture. If you are interesting visit the site business ideas

  2. Buy several different pads of Didyl (sp?) notepaper. Take a sheet of each to make bundles of 10 different ones and sell them on ebay at a highly inflated price

  3. Well as you know I have my little company, or rather companies since January 07. Yes it is very difficult to create a business from scratch and I don't have any brilliant product or innovation to make it easier. But I do now have two employees and am marginally profitable.

    It is also fantastic fun, it really is down to you as to whether you succeed or not.The salaries come out of your bank account so you get a very strong opinion about sloping off work.

  4. Good luck with your company, Richard! I can see you're doing your bit to bring down unemployment. What people did you employ? Young 'uns or other 'unemployables' (according to most employers) like the over 40s?


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