original entrepreneur ideas

Two great startup ideas for entrepreneurs

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"Are you looking for a great entrepreneurial idea to start your new business?" If you are an entrepreneur looking to start a small or home based business then the following ideas might be just the inspiration you need.

Over the years I have toyed with many entrepreneurial ideas. Some have worked, and some haven't.

This article will list two of the most interesting entrepreneurial ideas that I came up with (some of these businesses have been done with success in other parts of the world).

Here are my two favorite ideas for small business startups, that I think have real potential to grow. If you haven't seen these ideas being done in your town, county or country then why not start 'em up?

Feel free to pass on a 15% "finder's fee" if you succeed :)

1. Silent barmen

The idea for silent barmen came to me while sitting with some friends at a popular, but crowded, bar in Cape Town.

My idea was to "get served" instantly without having to wait in a queue. Queues are inefficient for the establishment because patrons are being kept waiting to spend their money - what kind of business makes people wait to spend their money?

The problem

A round at our table consisted of four beers, which took all of a minute for the barmen to complete the transaction.

The problem was that the bar was crowded with people ordering cocktails, which slowed things down to a snail's pace.

The solution

I decided that it would be far more efficient to place beer vending machines at strategic places around the bar so that people ordering beers could purchase them quickly without having to wait for people ordering cocktails.

I would get beer companies to brand the vending machines and make them pay for advertising and having a dedicated point of sale within every nightclub or bar. The bar owner would then get the vending machines free of charge, but would be able to make far more revenue at busy times.

Why the idea is a winner

This idea has several huge benefits, many of which only become obvious as I pursued the idea further:

  1. Additional points of sale: Having beer vending machines increases points of sale, leading to higher turn over at busy times
  2. Reduces waiting time: For people ordering beers, there is no need to queue. This cuts down on waiting time at the bar leading to quicker service for those that do.
  3. Provides dedicated points of sales for brands: Beer companies could pay to brand vending machines that would only be stocked with their products.
  4. Everyone wins: Turnover at the bar is higher because waiting time is reduced and points of sale are increased. Beer companies are happy because they have dedicated, branded points of sale. Customers are happy because they get served quicker.

Obstacles to overcome

I experienced several main problems when first looking to set this business up:

  1. Unmanned liquor vending: You might encounter legal issues because vending machines are unmanned and sell closed alcoholic beverages.
  2. Vending machines are notoriously unreliable: Many bar owners were reluctant to re-introduce vending machines because almost all of them had proven unreliable and difficult to maintain in the past.
  3. High capital outlay: Our first client was interested in a trial run of 80 machines. These had to be purchased outright from the manufacturer.

2. Round-it-up

I hate getting small change. It piles up and piles up until you have a big pile that has to be used on some unfortunate pizza delivery guy, who can barely drive away because his car is so laden with small change.

The biggest small change culprits are grocery stores, or high transaction retailers and fast food outlets.

The problem

Convenience store bills often come to ridiculous tallies, like $36.29 or $15.67. No one carries these amounts with them. Inevitably, you end up breaking a $20, or a $50 and get back... small change.

Stores try resolve this problem by allowing charities to place small change donation boxes that allow patrons to quickly get rid of unwanted small change, and do some good in the process.

The problem is that this is a terribly inefficient way to collect money for charity. The vast majority of what is donated goes towards paying off collecting, collating and dispersing the donations. Only a small percent of that money gets to the charity in question.

The solution

My idea was to get retailers to add a "round-it-up" button to their checkout tills. When a customer checks out and their total is something like $23.73, the cashier asks round it up? and the customer can say yes or no depending on whether they want small change.

This allows all bills to be easily rounded to the nearest dollar or fifty cents, cutting out all that tiresome handling of small change. This is also a cost saver for retailers who would not have to manage all that small change.

Why the idea is a winner

The money collected could be used for a charity of the store's choice. All the funds could be transferred electronically after accounting had been done at the end of each month. This would vastly decrease the amount of money wasted on managing the small change from the traditional charity boxes.

The net effect is that stores get a great marketing, feel good angle to sell to their customers, because they are doing something great for a local charity. Stores also save on having to deal with mountains of small change.

Customers have a quicker checkout process and can completely cut out the need to deal with small change, while efficiently help a charity at the same time.

Charities benefit because far more people would donate this way because it saves them time and money. Also, a far greater percentage of the funds would get to them.

Obstacles to overcome

Unfortunately, I came across some real resistance to this idea from the retailers I approached. I suspect that the vast majority of their unwillingness flowed from two things:

  1. Being unknown: Almost all of the top, corporate leadership people for major retail chains that I spoke with asked me who I was and what my experience in retail was. My reply was that who I was was irrelevant and that they should base their decision to go ahead on the merits of the idea, which were abundant and self evident.
  2. Required leadership and effort: In order to implement the round-it-up idea, it would be necessary to retrain checkout clerks, reprogram the till systems and generally put a bit of effort into making the change.

Subsequent to all of this, a friend forwarded an article to me that highlighted how the British government praised a pizza chain in the UK for implementing exactly this process. The government added that they hoped all businesses would follow their lead.

I do too.

What entrepreneurial ideas have you tried? Have you had success in starting a new and unique business? Share your startup ideas and experiences in the comments or join me on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ to chat more about entrepreneurship and startup business ideas.

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