Business Owners: Do you sell stuff or offer a service?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by njmac, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. njmac macrumors 68000

    njmac

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #1
    Currently, I have my own (very small) service business of giving local cooking classes.


    If you are in a service business, how do you maximize how much you make? I mean, there's only so many times a week I can give a class and I have to be there.

    I would like to sell something so that it is not such a local business and doesn't just make money when I'm physically there.

    If you do sell a product - how did you get started? How much business came from your website? How did you get the money to get started?
     
  2. emw macrumors G4

    emw

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    #2
    I wish I did have my own business so that I could comment from personal experience, but you raised a couple of questions on which I wanted to comment:

    1. To maximize what you make, especially in a business such as yours, there may be a couple of things to think about:

    - Are you maximizing the use of your space? That is, are there unfilled "seats" at the cooking class?

    - Are you charging an appropriate amount? Would the same number of people pay more to attend the class? Or, perhaps conversely, would more people attend if the charge were less?

    - Are you taking advantage of all possible small business breaks - either local grants, or tax wrtite-offs, etc. Get an accountant, and an attorney, if you don't already.

    2. In terms of making money while you're not there, I'd see a couple of potential options. Most obviously, to me at least, would be to sell what you make. Since you do cooking classes, perhaps you could make a business of selling your final products. Is this a reasonable idea? I'm sure there are health code issues to deal with, but it's something to think about.

    Another possibility on those lines would be to do some sort of video that people could purchase. I don't know about your students, or how the class is set up, but if I do something like this in the presence of an expert, I'll think I have it down. At least until I do to do it myself in a couple of weeks and realize I forgot all about it. Make movies of you whipping up whatever it is you're making that day, and sell them.

    3. Money is available for small businesses through many local and federal programs, as well as many banks if you have a good business case. However, I'd be prepared to lose money for a little while as the business gets off the ground and you figure out how to manage inventory, etc.

    Look at the Small Business Administration website for potential help as well.
     
  3. crdean1 macrumors 6502a

    crdean1

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    Great Thread...

    I love it when people are thinking about maximizing the bottom line...I wish my employees would do more of that.

    Your situation is exceptional, because it is what you make it. You have obviously started this business from nothing, and are now looking at how you could possibly teach more (due to increased demand??) and increase your bottom line.

    I would encourage you to look outside of the box. Some of the previous suggestions are good, but I would encourage you to look at offering your classes online, where individuals could be sitting in their own kitchens with their Macbooks taking your (virtual class). You could teach the classes about three times a week, and customers could purchase either one class, two, or all three. You could take credit cards online, and all of this could be done from your home. As a treat for your local customers, you could still host a monthly or bi-monthly in house workshop for those who want to be a part of a real (non-virtual) class.

    The possibilities are endless, just be creative.

    Read a book called "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. It is an excellent picture of where business is going, and will expand your mind with possibilities.

    -Ryan
     
  4. njmac thread starter macrumors 68000

    njmac

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #4
    Thank you rdowns and crdean1 for the advice.

    I just ordered the book "The World is Flat" :)

    I think the idea of a cooking class online could possibly work. In fact, I love this idea but it worries me that no one else is doing this.
    I like the idea of a video... maybe I could put together a type of guide with a video that I could sell to my current students and online.

    There are not any extra seats in the classes I teach... but I was thinking, if I wanted to go bigger, to a wider audience that would sell more seats - I could offer more of an event. Maybe a wine class/tasting with food pairing (or something similar) and offer that at an area hotel or catering hall and sell as many tickets as possible.

    :)
     
  5. crdean1 macrumors 6502a

    crdean1

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Location:
    Texas
    #5
    The book is about us living in an "outsourced" and "virtual" world including where we came from as a nation and where we are going; however, reading it has presented me with many ideas about the future of my own business, and the possibilities are endless. You will enjoy it.

    Many people are doing "virtual" cooking, albeit via television. Many stay at home moms and dads now have TV's in their kitchens specifically for this purpose. With the advancement of technology, especially in terms broadband capabilities, I think there is a huge market for virtual cooking classes that would need a pioneer. You could be that pioneer. Remember, how you think is EVERYTHING. If you think it can be done, then it can. If you think otherwise, then it won't.

    :)
     

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