Critique My Small Business Idea

So I do, as a little part-time job in addition to my regular job, sweepstakes online. I know, go ahead and snicker, I’ll wait. But hey, I’ve won almost a thousand dollars worth of cash, gift cards, and products just in the last month, so really I’m the one laughing, all the way to the bank.

My small business idea is to teach others how to do it. Sure, it is something that you can learn to do yourself- in fact, there are websites out there just for sweepers with all kinds of info on how to do it, for free. However, there are so many little tricks and things to know that it took even me several months to learn everything and to get really good at it. So I figure it’s a valuable service to teach others how to do it all in one day.

I figure I can do it one of two ways: Go to people’s homes and help them set everything up on their computer and get them started. I would probably advertise on things like craigslist, of course being very careful and cautious about creepers and rapists. I was thinking of charging around $50/hour with a one hour minimum, and it takes about an hour to two hours to teach someone completely. Or I could hold seminars, charge ~$25? per person, and hold them in… the library? Or some other free/low charge meeting place. I’m very shy and not a good public speaker at all, though, so I’m not sure about that concept.

I did, just this weekend, put in a little test ad on craigslist for it, just to see if anybody would bite, and I did get one response and went over and taught her and got paid for it. I haven’t reposted the ad as of yet, though.

Got any ideas, criticisms, comments, or concerns about this idea for a little side business?

What about a service where you just enter all the contests for other people? Or both?

A lot of sponsors keep track of your IP address, and disqualify you if multiple entries are made from your computer. Otherwise, it would be a good idea.

Using your tips and tricks, what is your average rate of return per hour spent working on it?

I think it’s a tough concept to do as a business. A hobby maybe, but not so much a business.

First, your customers will likely be cheapskates. It seems your target demographic would be people who have a lot more time than money.

Second, your sales pitch will likely look very scammy. “Give me a $100 and I’ll show you how to enter contests.” It sounds a lot like those envelope stuffing ads.

If you are really winning $1000/mo, you would be better off optimizing your own setup instead of teaching others. If you are successful in your teaching business, you won’t be winning those sweepstakes anymore–your many students will be.

Have you thought about getting accounts with multiple ISPs? Get cable, DSL, and phone internet accounts. Each account may be $10-20/mo, but if you can get $1000/mo in prizes per account it will be worth it.

Have you considered making an e-book or something similar? I’m sure you could offer a $5 or $10 PDF and it would probably sell well enough.

I’d suggest getting a professional to typeset it though, you’d want to inspire confidence, not look cheap.

As **filmore **said, the trouble is it sounds like a scam. Not that it is one, but it has the ring of it. That said, people pay lots of money for scams.

Look into this before you decide to do it. My library system, for example, would not permit you to use our meeting rooms in this way.

I don’t know- it takes me about 2 hours a day, and while this has been an unusually profitable month, I have won at least $500 worth of cash or other things per month since I started doing it at the rate I am now.

As for the library, I was just throwing that out there as a question- I’d have to research places to hold seminars for free or cheap.

Once you write your book, you’ll have to keep on top of the situation for updates. This sounds like the kind of niche that can be very easily disrupted by a change in legislation.

It also sounds like the kind of activity that is self-limiting: as soon as a lot of people do it, the sweepstakes operators will notice the increase in money flowing out and alter things so that they’re not losing as much money.

Definitely get a professional to set your book. You don’t want to look like a crank with a photocopier.

I think the fact that you want to do the seminars in person makes your audience severely limited. This is something where the entire WORLD is your audience (anyone can do it from anywhere) but since you want to visit people’s homes your audience shrinks to whoever lives within driving distance.

I think a professional-looking ebook will have a much wider appeal.

I hadn’t thought of an ebook, but it seems like it might be viable. I’ll look into how to do that.

eBook, absolutely. It’s now a lot of no-name chess authors publish their stuff. They charge, like, $1 to download the book that’s about 20 pages of material. Totally worth it for students like me, and totally worth it for authors like them.