Ok, so I want to start my own business, what do YOU think? (longish)

I have been mulling this over in my head for some time now, but recent threads and circumstances have me thinking it is a good idea. I actually had this idea over 2 years ago, and have had many other good ones since then. Unfortunately, I am a poor student and have very few starting funds, and a somewhat limited time to work on my business. This idea is haunting me constantly though, and I cannot stop the intuitive feelings that if I don’t start this up it would be a BIG mistake.

There are no real competitors that I would have to deal with, initially though. There are similar venues, but nothing what I am planning. It seems like a very, very good idea, but since it apparently has not been done before, I don’t know. I think it could be big. Not Amazon, or Ebay big, but big enough I can imagine me making a profit big enough for me to live on pretty comfortably. It could even grow into something HUGE, like Amazon, but that is the dreamer in me. I feel that it could be revolutionary, if I do things right.

I dont’ want to discuss specifics this early into my design, but I promise everybody here will hear about it upon release. I just don’t want anybody with more skills getting the jump on me. :wink:

The business idea doesn’t involve me buying anything, holding inventory, or doing any sort of skill myself. In fact it is, in a way, like Ebay, in that people use my service to sell their property. But it isn’t like Ebay in any other way. (no auction, no physical sales) I hope to make a profit in supplying these people with a venue in which to make money themselves for work they did. Say similar to an agents fee (10-15%). The big cost and time investment for myself is setting up the website, advertising, and running the “database.”

Now, I don’t know how to do web design. I am a pretty intellegent guy, so I can probably learn, but it would likely take months to years to do it proficiently enough to design and run one myself, especially on the level I feel I need to run this website. I have done preliminary write ups on what I want and need, and some of it seems pretty complex stuff, not unlike large scale websites like Amazon. (though not on such a massive scale) I mean such things as an internal search feature, Subject heading cross referencing, seller statistics (you have sold X amount of widgets in the last 30 days), and top seller lists that autoupdate at prescribed times.

Now, I am looking at web design sites, and think that I can get somebody to design me a website if I supply the content and tell them what I want. That isn’t hard, but it looks like it may cost anywhere from 2k-10k or beyond. I have not recieved any estimates back yet, but plan on shopping around first. Now, I can probably get a hold of 2-3k initially, but anymore and I would have to figure out how to get additional loans. Would probably have to be student loans of some sort, but I vaguely remember that it wouldn’t be kosher.

So, the question is, should I buy Dreamweaver or Frontpage and spend the next year designing this website, or should I fork out the money and have them design me one? I think that I would have to learn to use some program or another anyhow to do updates and maintenience of some sort. I have thought about trying to find a business partner that knows some programming or is a student in that field at least, but I don’t know if that is a good idea or not. None of my close friends know anything about web design either.

I think this idea has potential, but I think If I miss out on the oportunity I will regret it the rest of my life. Starting this business could be the best thing I have ever done, or I could be out a mere ‘several thousand dollars’ and at least learn something. But what do you think?

I would also love to hear about your experiences with a start up business or even an oportunity you missed out on. Also any advice would be greatly appreciated. (Potential investors or any party interested in parntership feel free to pitch in. :wink: )

You haven’t mentioned anything about how you intend to market this service.
Imagine your web page is done, the hardware is all set up (the hardware you haven’t bought yet, with the money you don’t have).

So…. how are you going to get people to sign up and trust you to handle their transactions? Have you thought about that?

Having no real competitors is usually a bad thing. Is there a reason no one else has done it? I doubt it’s because no one had the idea. Don’t be too afraid to share you idea to get more meaningful feedback. If it can be easily stolen and implemented, that will happen 3 days after you go live anyway.

Fork out the money.

Building a web site as large as you say you want is part programming, part graphic design, and a lot of hard work. You want it to look professional, and you want it to work well. If you have no Web design experience, you’re not going to sit down and write a large, professional Web site that works as intended in a year, or even longer.

If this is really such a great idea, you need to believe in it enough to put some money into it, even if it means going into debt and living like a pauper.

Either fork out the money, or find someone willing to do it for free/cheap for a percentage of your profits. I’ve done a lot of “percentage of profit” work in my day, but I’m very selective as to who I’ll work with in this case.

Basic HTML coding won’t help you at all. For dynamically changing, constantly updating sites, you’ll need to know programming. PHP, ASP, CGI, etc. For storing customer’s names, profits, sales, prices, etc., you’ll need a database. mySQL is the most popular, but there’s dozens to choose from. You’ll need a host that can support the programming language and database you choose. These are all decisions you’ll need to make before even beginning work on the site.

If you think it’ll get as big as eBay or Amazon, PHP or ASP won’t do you any good. You’ll need something like .NET and dedicated servers.

You’ll need to make it pretty and professional. Someone who has never done design work will have a difficult time with this. You’ll need to make it easy to use and understand. Someone who has never built a large website will find this difficult. You’ll need it to work on as many platforms and browsers as possible. Someone who has never tried to do this will have a very hard time with it.

Focus on what you’re good at and find a web designer good at what they’re good at for everything else. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg… like I said, I’ve done freebies if I think something is a good idea. I’ve done several saying “okay, that job will cost $3000. If you don’t have it, I’ll take 30% of your profits until I hit $4500.” It takes some risk out for you, and some benefit for me. Find someone like me and throw your idea at them. Or email me with your idea and I’ll try to point you in the right direction (which may or may not be me).

  • wasson (professional web site designer)

Well, you do have a point about them stealing it after I go live. I suppose I can’t corner the entire market, only hope that I will be the only one willing to mess with the work and hassle of it.

I don’t know how I was to get people to sign up. Word of mouth (err, word of keyboard in some cases), Google, and other outlets of advertising, magazines or other periodicals.

Ok, here goes: I thought of this idea because I like to write. I have heard how hard it is to get a publisher interested in publication of an unknown author. So, I thought to myself, how does an unknown author get known? I saw the idea of iuniverse, but my mind went instantly to ebooks. I know many amateurs publish books on their websites and try to sell them, but how many do this? So I was thinking of a centralized location for unknown authors to peddle their wares.

So, details aside, I planned on offering a centralized and no loss alternative to self-publication for unknown or beginning authors. They post their ebooks online, and for a few bucks, they can sell, I take a small percentage (As an agents fee- 10%) and they make money and a name for themselves. I need to talk to a copyright lawyer, but AFAIK, if they hold onto the copyright, they can take it off my website at any time and sell the rights to a hardcopy publisher at anytime. I am not offering my services as a publisher, per se, but as a vendor renting out my space.

I sort of see it as a ‘Farmers Market’ for authors.

So, how silly does it sound? Am I being a dreamer by thinking there is something to it?

Ummm… maybe I’m not getting it, but how is your idea any different than the gazillions of eBook publishers out there already?

Because the ‘gazillions’ of ebook publishers out there sell novels from authors who are already known, and for Hardcover prices (27 dollars usually). My idea is different in that it gives EVERYBODY a chance to sell their ebook, and my idea is to recommend to them to keep the prices low. Nobody wants to spend 6+ dollars on an ebook from an unknown. I am also not a publisher. The “other” ebook sellers are not direct sales from the author, and most of the profit goes to the publisher. Here we cut out the middle man, and instead of giving the author 10% of sales, that is what I get, they get 90%.

It has it’s flaws, true. For example, I am not a publisher. I do not restrict book sales in any fashion (other than make sure they are no previously copyrighted, etc), and do not pre-edit or weed out the “bad” ones. My buisiness ideas are to allow the author to do these things themselves, and promote their own books. Books with lots of flaws don’t sell, books with terrible blurbs don’t sell, etc. I didn’t give the details- as that would be giving out too much IMO.

But I have searched around, and I don’t find anywhere on the web where unknown or amateur authors can sell their wares. So to me, it seems quite different from the other ebook publishers.

I’m guessing the consensus is that it isn’t that great of an idea. :frowning:

I suppose that is for the best, and it DOES make sense, If it was a multi-billion dollar idea it probably would have been done, though that can’t be a good gauge, because many people take the improbable and make a whole lot of money.

Or the lack of details about how I plan on running it has caused some confusion.

Either way, the spark of this idea has made me decide to change my major from biochemistry to a computer science field (IT) with a focus on database administration.
The job prospects are probably not as much of a sure thing, but to be honest, I don’t want to spend 2 1/2 more years as an undergrad, only to be going to school for another 5 or so years for a PhD, and then have to do another year or two of postdoc work just to make a living.

I can go to grad school, get an MBA, and have the knowledge and earn the skills to start and run my own business. Maybe not this one, as it apparently isn’t all that great. :wink:

Google “self publish ebook.” There’s a ton of places out there that are already doing what you propose. So the good news is… you’re not the only one who thinks it’s a good idea. The bad news is… you have a lot of competition.

Don’t get discouraged. It’s a good idea, even if it’s not entirely original.

But think about it - at their roots, eBay and Google weren’t entirely original ideas either. And at their inception, I’m sure they had competitors that were doing the exact same thing (I know Google certainly did). The key is that they had something that made people think they were better at it than everyone else. And now they’re huge.

So, take this time you have now and research. Research the biggies in this ePublishing world - how are they doing things now? What aren’t they doing? Where are their holes? What don’t people like about them? How could you make it better? What could you offer that they don’t? Then do that.

Just because you aren’t first doesn’t mean you can’t innovate and become a brand.

Luck to you, sir.

Actually I have several times, and looked into it. Many of the self-publishing sites cost you money, or they are just as selective as the hardcopy publishers.

I’m not offering the same thing these people are.

Argh! Why do I hit submit so soon. :frowning:

Anyhow, I don’t mean to argue with you, I see your point, my idea is similar, so I will have to compete with them whether I offer the same thing as them or not.

It’s a bad idea to try to get this going while in school anyhow, I will wait until I am done with all my schooling, and then put more effort into it. If something like this comes along in the meantime, I will employ its services. :smiley: And start one of my many other buisiness ideas, ones that require much more initial investment.