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Business Opportunities And Ideas

Does anyone still read this blog? (Business Opportunities and Ideas)

on May 1st, 2015

After several years of neglect I intend to start writing on this blog again and before I do I’d like to warn anyone who has forgotten they had subscribed by email that it’s going to happen.

I hope you’d like to continue to read the blog, but if not you’re almost certainly receiving updates by email because you subscribed using FeedBurner at some stage over the last eight years. You should find a link to unsubscribe at the bottom of the email, if not you should be able to login to FeedBurner and unsubscribe there.



Hurray! I’ve finished my MBA

in: Site
on September 28th, 2013

After what seems like far too long and far too many distractions: customers, becoming a dad, taking up a sport to name a few, I’ve finally finished my MBA and submitted my dissertation on Trend Trading Strategies.

I will now try and put some of my spare time into ressurecting this blog. Especially as in the time away from it I’ve been introduced to a wide range of new business ideas and seen some interesting new business opportunities.

Whole-Life Costing

in: Finance
on February 2nd, 2011

Too many of us, faced with a purchasing decision, will opt for the cheapest quote. That might be fine when we are shopping around for a particular brand of some commodity. On other occasions, there are often hidden costs over the life of an asset. If we take the time to understand these properly, we can often save a good deal of money over the extended period that we plan to keep something.


Understanding the whole-life cost of an item helps us to make informed decisions when purchasing.


Presenting an accurate projection of whole-life costs when we are selling and ensuring that these are compared objectively with our competitors can be a real aid to successful selling.

Things to consider

Procurement costs
  • Do you need to write a requirements specification?
  • How much time will you devote to research?
  • The headline cost that we always consider.
  • Some more expensive items we need for our business can prove much cheaper to install than equivalents that appear less expensive.
  • Think about the time you will spend managing changes or without access to something on which you depend.
  • ££££££££££ – and forecast to rise in 2011
  • Not just cars…..
Running expenditure
  • Consumables, all those fiddly bits they never tell you about.
  • There is a reason that printers are cheap!
  • Scheduled or not, it might be expensive.
  • Included or extra – check the small print. Especially with software.
  • Time and money to consider.
  • Will it need specialist de-installing?
  • Can you trade it in? WEEE is now an issue.
  • For bespoke work and services, these can be extra.
  • Some service contracts have a termination penalty.
  • There is always something else.

When Buying

Request a statement of whole life costs for bespoke items. For expensive standard items like printers and cars ask about running costs. For services, read the small print and make sure that you understand all the likely costs. Get expenses capped or rolled into the standard cost – making sure you understand what you are negotiating and why. Negotiate termination clauses away. Think through the whole life of the product or service and understand all the implications. Collect the facts and use them in your decision.

When Selling

Make it easy for your prospect to understand the value that you are providing over the whole life of the relationship. Without knocking your competitors, make sure that your prospects have all the facts and data that they need. You will already have designed your Value Proposition to be compelling. Now you need to provide the right information so that there are no surprises.


The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) is the European Community directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment which became European Law in February 2003. The directive places the responsibility for the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) on manufacturers. Companies should establish an infrastructure for collecting WEEE, in such a way that "Users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should be able to return WEEE at least free of charge" – retailers can still charge for collection though!

This was a guest post by Paul Fileman of Results-Zone. Results-Zone bring extensive knowledge and experience gained in Blue Chip organisations to businesses like yours. They ensure that your business is fully exploiting a well thought through operating plan. They work alongside you and your team – as business results managers. They ensure that your team and your business are elevated to the results-zone. They bring you “hands-on” experience – similar to employing high quality management skills without the risk or costs in recruiting full time employees.

Get Out While You Can – George Marshall

on January 13th, 2011

Get Out While You Can – Escape the rat race in 2011 by George Marshall encourages you to work less, work when you choose and earn more money, doing what you want – all whilst working from home. Wherever that home may be.

So how is that possible? Well as Get Out While You Can explains, the Information Age affords each and every one of us some amazing business opportunities. Opportunities that are low cost – you can start an Internet business for less than £50 (and Marshall explains how to do so) – and thus relatively risk free. Yet these opportunities have the potential to earn significant income. And even if individually they don’t amount to a significant income, several, tens or even hundreds of these businesses combined can add up to more that you’d earn working for someone else.

Get Out While You Can begins by explaining what’s wrong with our current, go-to-school, get good grades, get a good job, work hard, retire on a good pension and then start enjoying life mentality (aka Plan A). Instead it offers an insight into the alternate approaches to earning a living, using the Beckhams as an example. For those of us who are believers and are already following what Marshall calls Plan B it’s a rather lengthy introduction. For those that aren’t it should be eye-opening and inspiring.

Once the rhetoric is out of the way Plan B is introduced. This is where Get Out While You Can shines, it introduces a number of Internet business opportunities including affiliate marketing, domaining, and blogging. Each business opportunity is well explained along with a real example of what is achievable and comprehensive explanations of how to start the business.  There’s something for everyone here, even those of us that have run several Internet businesses – I certainly learned a lot about domaining.

If you’re serious about escaping the rat race, or you just want to make some extra money on the side then I’d highly recommend you buy Get Out While You Can.

You can buy it from Amazon UK or Amazon USA.

Tax On A Second Job

on January 11th, 2011

It seems that the level of income tax you will pay for having a second job is widely misunderstood.

There seems to be widely held belief that all 2nd jobs are taxed at 40%. It’s wrong.

Your tax rate is calculated based on your entire income, not on whether it’s your primary, second, third or even fourth job.

So for most people running a small business on the side, assuming they are operating as a sole-trader/partnership the additional income will be taxed at the basic rate (assuming they have already used up their personal allowance).

If you have any doubt contact your local tax office and ask for their advice, generally the local HMRC offices are quite friendly and helpful.

Lighter Than Air Vehicles

on January 4th, 2011

BBC News had an interesting short spot about Hybrid Air Vehicles and their SkyCat lighter than air vehicle today.

SkyCat can operate at up to 10,000 feet and 120 knots, with an endurance of up to 5 days. Not only that, but it can operate on just about any surface and needs no infrastructure or ground crew.

It sounds like a great business idea, and there’s obviously a lot of business opportunities that it will open up for Hybrid Air Vehicles and their customers. No doubt the military will be interested (in fact according to the BBC News story they have apparently taken a £300M order from the US military)  in it as an UAV for surveillance with interdiction, but also with a maximum payload of 1,000 tons it could be used to deliver troops and equipment into unprepared forward operating bases. Which also makes it ideal for humanitarian aid roles.

Sounds like the ideal solution to the business opportunity I presented in Robocop With Wings too.

Never, Ever Stop Marketing

on December 14th, 2010

Last week I went to see a local business run by people I used to work with in my Corporate days. We talked about all sorts of things and I suggested that a re-wording of their web-site could prove profitable. I also gave them details of a networking event that I have found to be worthwhile. The day before the event, I got an email to say that they would not attend as the web-site updates were incomplete and they felt they needed to point new contacts to the completed site. They missed a good event. And they missed out on a golden opportunity to follow up a couple of weeks later with a “have you seen our new web-site” communication.

Why Rant on This Point

It is really simple – you should never stop promoting and marketing your business. If you are open for business and you are confident in your ability to deliver value to your customers then you must Never Stop Marketing and Selling.

The Traps

  1. Procrastination– It is really easy to fall into the marketing procrastination trap. Then you tell yourself that you will start the new campaign when Something is complete. As soon as you accept that from yourself, you are procrastinating.

  2. Arrogance – As soon as you start telling yourself (or allowing others to convince you) that everyone knows where you are and will automatically buy from your business, you are a victim of arrogance. Even if there are only two suppliers in the whole of your market (there is a recent local example), you still need to run marketing campaigns –they may be very different from businesses where there are hundreds of suppliers, you still need them.

  3. Naivety – Many businesses simply fail to understand the power of creating awareness, generating sales leads and building a positive business reputation.

What Next

A lot depends on your market environment, the level of competition you face and the volume of transactions that you are seeking to influence. Your first step must always be to write down your marketing objectives. Areas to consider include:

  • Raising awareness of your business

  • Generating sales leads from people who are already planning to spend on one of your products or services

  • Stimulating demand for your category of products and services from people who might otherwise leave any buying decision until next year/ decade/ century

  • Making buyers aware of funding options for your services

    • For capital goods, working alongside a leasing company

    • If you sell to charities or community groups, promoting fund raising schemes

    • Bundling your offer with something else

  • Presenting your proposition to suspected customers with a view to switching their loyalty away from your competitors to your business.


Create a marketing plan to deliver your objectives. Make sure you fund activities that are in line with your objectives. If anything you are planning is completely unproven, make sure that your total commitment to spend is under your control – so that something that is just plain not working within a reasonable time can be stopped and replaced with another activity.

Test & Measure

Measure all marketing activities so that you know what works – and what does not work.

Be prepared to try experiments with some methods – and then stop them and move on if they do not work – or, best of all, scale them up if they work for your business.


It is absolutely crucial that any marketing activities you undertake are aligned with your sales team. There is nothing worse than generating leads that are not followed up. It also pays to make sure that everybody understands the lead qualification criteria and process properly so that all enquiries get a professional and consistent response.

This was a guest post by Paul Fileman of Results-Zone. Results-Zone bring extensive knowledge and experience gained in Blue Chip organisations to businesses like yours. They ensure that your business is fully exploiting a well thought through operating plan. They work alongside you and your team – as business results managers. They ensure that your team and your business are elevated to the results-zone. They bring you “hands-on” experience – similar to employing high quality management skills without the risk or costs in recruiting full time employees.

Can You Suggest A Business Idea?

on December 3rd, 2010

Naturally I get a lot of emails/comments and messages asking me to suggest a business idea for the sender to pursue.

Usually I can’t offer anything more useful than the suggestion that they read through all of Business Opportunities and Ideas. It’s not that I don’t want to help or that I’m short of business ideas, but because the person asking provides me with little to no information to go on. After all there’s no point me suggesting they start developing iPhone apps if they have not technical background or suggesting they become a driving instructor if they can not drive.

So if you want my help finding the right business idea for you here’s what you need to tell me:

  • What are your skills (list all of them be they professional or otherwise)?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What interests you professionally and personally?
  • What job do you do, what have you done in the past and do you enjoy it?
  • Where are you based? Your location will affect which business ideas are viable/relevant.
  • What educational level do you have?
  • What sex are you?
  • How old (roughly) are you?
  • What (rough) level of funding do you have?
  • What have you always dreamed of doing?

You should also include as much other information about yourself as you can. Then and only then I might be able to help and by taking the time to write down the answers to these questions you might just find that the right business idea jumps out at you before you even get as far as emailing me.

How To Make 10 million Pounds From Art?

on November 30th, 2010

A reader asks:

I want to make 10 million pounds and I have just a few talents I can use: I am an artist, creating oil paintings; I speak several languages; and I am qualified Solicitor (but not within the UK); I have customer service experience. Help!

To make 10 million pounds you’ll need to create in excess 10 million pounds worth of value for your customers. So what can you do that will create over 10 million pounds worth of value for other people. Unfortunately no matter how good an artist you are, I doubt you can achieve this from oil paintings alone – especially in the current economic climate.

There are other businesses you can start related to art however. For example you could start an art gallery, though again this might prove hard in the current economic climate, but it would fit your interests and talents.

However coming back to making 10 million pounds from art, I suspect the best way to do that would be to set up some sort of art insurance / security business insuring or protecting particularly valuable pieces of art.

Just remember that to create 10 million pounds for yourself, you’re going to have to deliver at least ten million pounds worth of value to your customers – find a way to deliver that value and you’ll have your business idea.

Asking John:
Do you have a business question you would like me to answer? If so you can Ask John or or you can ask on the forums where you’ll get both my input and that of your fellow entrepreneurs.

Expect the Unexpected

on November 19th, 2010

How do you stay on top of your game in an ever-changing business world? By being prepared for the unexpected. When business owners and their managers are up-to-date on business change, they are better prepared to know when to act and when to wait. Just as investors must understand and learn when to act in the stock market, so business owners need to understand which market or local changes require action.

The most successful business owners are not necessarily those who are able to motivate their team to excel, but rather, those who are best able to anticipate and react to change. By being skilled in researching industry trends, keeping up with all types of technologies, and being able to handle the unexpected you will find it a lot easier to lead your company into the next growth phase.

Four Simple Initiatives

  1. Watch Your Industry

  • The simple act of keeping up with industry trends is often overlooked. Do you know what is going on in your industry while your company is buried in its own projects? Think about current trends, new developments heading the agenda at industry conferences, and of course, what the competition is doing.

  • Successful businesses are most often those who develop a niche and do this best. These companies also seem to know when it is appropriate to expand. What about less successful companies? How often have start-ups made a great start, only to creep off into the mists of mediocrity – or worse – a few months later?

  • Do you know which of the latest developments show most potential? You need a structured approach to deciding which new developments to back. You cannot exploit every trend that comes your way, no matter how tempting or how big the financial return appears to be.

  1. Understand the Short- and Long-term Benefits of Technology

  • Technology affects all aspects of your business, regardless of whether or not you are in a technical business or not. Businesses of all size rely on a wide range of technologies on a daily basis; a simple breakdown in one area can hold up the rest of the company very quickly. Just as the breakdown of a single machine on a manufacturing line can stop production, so too can a breakdown of the simplest technology start to cost your business a lot of money, time and, potentially, lost customers.

  • Make sure that you understand both short- and long-term benefits of technology. Knowing when to act can provide big savings, or even prove expensive.

  • You must understand the benefits of a technology before you can make wise decisions about its use. Many current technologies are enticing, promising quick results for a fraction of the cost. Do you know which technologies will be around in the next few years? Make sure you know whether a new development is worth the investment. Information on new technology is everywhere – often too much to absorb. Make sure you have a structured approach to ensure that your decisions are objective.

  1. Expect the Unexpected

  • Is it possible to expect the unexpected? Anyone can say they’re ready for the unexpected. Having an idea what the unexpected will be is quite another matter, which is why it is so important for you to keep looking at your industry and to stay current on technology. Aim to develop a clear sense of where your company is going and have a plan in place – complete with contingencies. Expecting the unexpected means planning for the unexpected.

  • Be prepared for both success and failure and have plans in place for all scenarios – then the unexpected may not come as such as surprise.

  • Forecast what is to come and modify your operations, administration, sales and marketing, and customer communications to accommodate it.

  • In your cash-flow forecast, make sure that you have highlighted any risks. You might need to delay non-essential expenditure until any risky revenues have cleared at the bank.

  • Encourage everybody to stay vigilant on industry developments. Promote communication between people and compare notes with colleagues. Use the collective information to make your forecasts as accurate as possible.

  1. Involve the Team

  • Get people involved where you can – you cannot do all of this alone – and your team will benefit from being asked to make some of these factors part of their job.

  • Animals know that multiple sets of eyes are more likely to spot a predator. Your business needs multiple sets of eyes looking out for the things that might catch you out.

This was a guest post by Paul Fileman of Results-Zone. Results-Zone bring extensive knowledge and experience gained in Blue Chip organisations to businesses like yours. They ensure that your business is fully exploiting a well thought through operating plan. They work alongside you and your team – as business results managers. They ensure that your team and your business are elevated to the results-zone. They bring you “hands-on” experience – similar to employing high quality management skills without the risk or costs in recruiting full time employees.