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Business Ideas in Non-Congested Markets

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deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
Hi everyone,

I am based in the UK and have tried a couple side hustles which I thought would do well, but have ultimately been less spectacular. Namely:

1) Freelance - I do some freelance work as a software developer, but find it difficult to compete with pricing with developers in say India due to exchange rates etc. I have quite a bit experience and am a top professional in my field, but I hardly get any work - even though I send proposals daily on, for example, Upwork.
2) Online book selling - I found a really good supplier for second hand books in the US. First lesson I learned was how shipping across the pond eats into margins. The second lesson I found was that Amazon take an even bigger cut of the margins and leave this idea dead in the water. I am still sitting on a large amount of stock that I am trying to think of how to get rid of in the best way possible to recover as much as possible.

With this being said, I am finding it difficult to think of business ideas where the market is not congested. If I Google, for example, items to sell, these are all congested and margins squeezed, so the only way to be profitable is to trade in high quantity.

Is anyone willing to share some advice on where I should be looking? Any products that are selling well that aren't in a congested market? Any other business ideas worth investigating?

Many thanks,
Dean
 

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MTF

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Go after premium clients. Doing something well, in a personal, customized, and flexible way, is how you can make things easier for yourself and better for your clients (who are tired of mass crap). Premium is rarely too crowded. It's the mass products and services that compete with each other most aggressively.
 

deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
Go after premium clients. Doing something well, in a personal, customized, and flexible way, is how you can make things easier for yourself and better for your clients (who are tired of mass crap). Premium is rarely too crowded. It's the mass products and services that compete with each other most aggressively.
That makes sense - I currently have a client whom I have done a bit of work for who is massively impressed. I was thinking of trying to leverage that to try get more business from his clients/colleagues/associates. But will definitely keep this in mind, thanks!
 

Eudaimonium

Contributor
Jun 8, 2017
30
21
42
Germany
Look for a market where the B2B/wholesale/supplier side is congested, globally fractured, inefficient, desperate, and not differentiated. If you have not one good supplier, but tens or hundreds, competing on price, you can find good deals.

It should be a small niche, for example tools or spare parts with a specific use, collectible/fashionable/brand items with high value on the secondary market, handcrafted products, etc.

Urgent, scarce items, that *appear* to be a hassle to get in the right amount, or of the correct type, or at the right price, or at the right time, unless you know where and how.

if you find many good suppliers, you can then source products quickly, which you then sell to business customers that lack the expertise. This becomes recurring. Preferably you first collect an order and maybe even a payment, reducing your risk.
 

17thgreem

New Contributor
Oct 3, 2021
4
4
1
Hi everyone,

I am based in the UK and have tried a couple side hustles which I thought would do well, but have ultimately been less spectacular. Namely:

1) Freelance - I do some freelance work as a software developer, but find it difficult to compete with pricing with developers in say India due to exchange rates etc. I have quite a bit experience and am a top professional in my field, but I hardly get any work - even though I send proposals daily on, for example, Upwork.
2) Online book selling - I found a really good supplier for second hand books in the US. First lesson I learned was how shipping across the pond eats into margins. The second lesson I found was that Amazon take an even bigger cut of the margins and leave this idea dead in the water. I am still sitting on a large amount of stock that I am trying to think of how to get rid of in the best way possible to recover as much as possible.

With this being said, I am finding it difficult to think of business ideas where the market is not congested. If I Google, for example, items to sell, these are all congested and margins squeezed, so the only way to be profitable is to trade in high quantity.

Is anyone willing to share some advice on where I should be looking? Any products that are selling well that aren't in a congested market? Any other business ideas worth investigating?

Many thanks,
Dean
I’d be interested in hearing a quick and dirty SWOT analysis on yourselfl, particularly the strengths and weaknesses portion and then could more appropriately tailor my answer.

My personal rule is big licks are paramount, and the nuance of this philosphy will depend a lot on your personal financial strength and outstanding obligations such as a mortgage, kids, etc. I know this is counter to a lot of what I see around FastLane (btw I’ve lurked for+/-3 years, harvesting content hear and there lol) but I do love to write and am at a point where I feel I can begin to pay something forward, whether folks find it valuable or not is a whole ‘nother topic…but I digress

My strength’s lie in relationship building, networking, critical thinking with a long term approach always at mind. I tell clients “I do not have any interest in doing just one deal with a client, I approach every individual with the end goal of doing 20-30 deals, but in order for us to get there, we have to get the first one right and I will not hesistate to tell you to walk away from a project if I think it is a dud, or will hurt your wallet more than bolster” More or less, I’m a good salesman that provides a service that when performed and executed well, can and will make individuals a lot of money. Commercial real estate brokerage fit like a glove and allowed me to live lean while hitting the aforementioned big licks…essentially a check for $100k is easier to save lump sums and compound your nest egg vs $2k checks on a monthly basis IMO.

I tell folks that anything can be brokered.. and a lot of items that you could broker are not regulated to death in red tape such as stocks/bond sales. A quick example from my realm - General Contractors are busier than ever as of late and their are a lot of different products that go into a home/warehouse/office building construction.

Go find a product or service company that has something that you can get behind and get an edge in, and would have success selling there service and or product. I would only target business-to-business. Rule of thumb=commercial is more lucrative due to bigger deals typically being done. Dictate your own commission in an unregulated industry, for example when speaking to owner “My rate is 10% of net profit for all new business I bring you” Don’t get bogged down in focusing purely on online ventures as you are amongst a large crowd of folks who are looking to do the same.

And as always, incorporate quickly, our pals in DC love taxes and you can use write offs anywhere you can get em, not to mention it provides an air of professionalism.
 

deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
Look for a market where the B2B/wholesale/supplier side is congested, globally fractured, inefficient, desperate, and not differentiated. If you have not one good supplier, but tens or hundreds, competing on price, you can find good deals.

It should be a small niche, for example tools or spare parts with a specific use, collectible/fashionable/brand items with high value on the secondary market, handcrafted products, etc.

Urgent, scarce items, that *appear* to be a hassle to get in the right amount, or of the correct type, or at the right price, or at the right time, unless you know where and how.

if you find many good suppliers, you can then source products quickly, which you then sell to business customers that lack the expertise. This becomes recurring. Preferably you first collect an order and maybe even a payment, reducing your risk.
I like the idea of finding suppliers in a congested market - that makes complete senses. Find the right product(s) is the tricky bit I am finding! I also like the idea of having the order placed first, before holding the stock - that's basically just product arbritage in some way I guess..

I have been thinking about doing some 3D printing (in some capacity), which presumably would have the order first before running production. Any thoughts on this? Not sure how scalable, but can definitely deal with niche markets?
 

deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
I’d be interested in hearing a quick and dirty SWOT analysis on yourselfl, particularly the strengths and weaknesses portion and then could more appropriately tailor my answer.

My personal rule is big licks are paramount, and the nuance of this philosphy will depend a lot on your personal financial strength and outstanding obligations such as a mortgage, kids, etc. I know this is counter to a lot of what I see around FastLane (btw I’ve lurked for+/-3 years, harvesting content hear and there lol) but I do love to write and am at a point where I feel I can begin to pay something forward, whether folks find it valuable or not is a whole ‘nother topic…but I digress

My strength’s lie in relationship building, networking, critical thinking with a long term approach always at mind. I tell clients “I do not have any interest in doing just one deal with a client, I approach every individual with the end goal of doing 20-30 deals, but in order for us to get there, we have to get the first one right and I will not hesistate to tell you to walk away from a project if I think it is a dud, or will hurt your wallet more than bolster” More or less, I’m a good salesman that provides a service that when performed and executed well, can and will make individuals a lot of money. Commercial real estate brokerage fit like a glove and allowed me to live lean while hitting the aforementioned big licks…essentially a check for $100k is easier to save lump sums and compound your nest egg vs $2k checks on a monthly basis IMO.

I tell folks that anything can be brokered.. and a lot of items that you could broker are not regulated to death in red tape such as stocks/bond sales. A quick example from my realm - General Contractors are busier than ever as of late and their are a lot of different products that go into a home/warehouse/office building construction.

Go find a product or service company that has something that you can get behind and get an edge in, and would have success selling there service and or product. I would only target business-to-business. Rule of thumb=commercial is more lucrative due to bigger deals typically being done. Dictate your own commission in an unregulated industry, for example when speaking to owner “My rate is 10% of net profit for all new business I bring you” Don’t get bogged down in focusing purely on online ventures as you are amongst a large crowd of folks who are looking to do the same.

And as always, incorporate quickly, our pals in DC love taxes and you can use write offs anywhere you can get em, not to mention it provides an air of professionalism.
Thanks for sharing. I agree, in principle, with the big licks philosophy. I am trying to figure out HOW to get the first 100k. I recently started working at a hedge fund (no mortgage or kids etc.), and am putting away ~2k a month, but there doesnt seem to be much progress. I am constantly looking for new ideas of interest, but nothing new seems pursuing after I do a market analysis.

I like the idea of brokering products in the service area - that makes sense to me given the growth and constant work taking place - I will look into this. If you got any examples of what you mean, that would be great, but if not, thanks for sharing nonetheless!
 

Kung Fu Steve

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1. Have something good great outstanding to sell
2. Sell it well
3. Sell it often


Many people get stuck in this loop of "what should I sell" when you should simply ask "what do people want?" -- but that changes based on area. What's in high demand in one area, might not be in another. I doubt there's a lot of demand for programmers IN India... but there's a huge demand for programmers by you, which is why they come into that market and compete on price (their unique selling proposition).

If you want to remain competitive as a programmer, you'll need to either get WAY better than the average (or even great programmer), sell yourself better than they do, or find a different place to sell it (i.e. upwork, fiverr, and other online job postings often pitch themselves on lower-priced opportunities, that's what you're gonna get).

There's a great book on what you're referring to called The Blue Ocean Strategy.

... but I'll give some counter-intuitive thoughts:

  • No matter what the market is... there's always room for the best.
  • Your income is only capped by your creativity.
  • Fall in love with your customer, not your product. If you do this, you'll care enough to actually dig in and see what the customer needs/wants (instead of "what can I sell that'll make me money")
  • Innovation is not as complex as people think. Sometimes to be the best at something you just need to innovate how it's done, how it's sold, how it's marketed, how you communicate. Whatever you decide, strive to improve on it.
 

Antifragile

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Have you read MJ’s books?

maybe start there… you are on this forum. Yet your side hustles seemed rather poor fit from the start.
Used books? Not sure if you could find a more commodity type product to sell if you tried. (Commodities compete on price only, they have no differentiation to charge a premium). Hard lesson to learn on your own skin.

As far as ideas:
- what inconvenienced you today?
- how can you solve problems for others?
 

deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
Have you read MJ’s books?

maybe start there… you are on this forum. Yet your side hustles seemed rather poor fit from the start.
Used books? Not sure if you could find a more commodity type product to sell if you tried. (Commodities compete on price only, they have no differentiation to charge a premium). Hard lesson to learn on your own skin.

As far as ideas:
- what inconvenienced you today?
- how can you solve problems for others?
I read the Millionaire Fastlane , yes. I think you're a bit harsh on the "poor fit" comment. I love reading, and love books. I saw an opportunity to purchase the books at very cheap (they're publisher copies, so basically new) and sell them for a relatively good margin. I did a lot of analysis and cost estimations etc. I still sell a few here and there but the uptake wasn't that great. I make decent enough profit, the issue I have is scaling, so it seems like a dead end, and hence why I want to cut my losses short.. Even though it didn't turn out as I expected, I learned some valuable lessons. And most importantly, I am still open to new ideas and trying again.
 

deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
1. Have something good great outstanding to sell
2. Sell it well
3. Sell it often


Many people get stuck in this loop of "what should I sell" when you should simply ask "what do people want?" -- but that changes based on area. What's in high demand in one area, might not be in another. I doubt there's a lot of demand for programmers IN India... but there's a huge demand for programmers by you, which is why they come into that market and compete on price (their unique selling proposition).

If you want to remain competitive as a programmer, you'll need to either get WAY better than the average (or even great programmer), sell yourself better than they do, or find a different place to sell it (i.e. upwork, fiverr, and other online job postings often pitch themselves on lower-priced opportunities, that's what you're gonna get).

There's a great book on what you're referring to called The Blue Ocean Strategy.

... but I'll give some counter-intuitive thoughts:

  • No matter what the market is... there's always room for the best.
  • Your income is only capped by your creativity.
  • Fall in love with your customer, not your product. If you do this, you'll care enough to actually dig in and see what the customer needs/wants (instead of "what can I sell that'll make me money")
  • Innovation is not as complex as people think. Sometimes to be the best at something you just need to innovate how it's done, how it's sold, how it's marketed, how you communicate. Whatever you decide, strive to improve on it.
This has been very insightful - thank you. Funnily enough I have The Blue Ocean Strategy on my shelf, un read at the moment. Maybe this is a sign to pick it up and give it a read! Thank you for sharing, definitely paradign shifting.
 

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Antifragile

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I read the Millionaire Fastlane , yes. I think you're a bit harsh on the "poor fit" comment. I love reading, and love books. I saw an opportunity to purchase the books at very cheap (they're publisher copies, so basically new) and sell them for a relatively good margin. I did a lot of analysis and cost estimations etc. I still sell a few here and there but the uptake wasn't that great. I make decent enough profit, the issue I have is scaling, so it seems like a dead end, and hence why I want to cut my losses short.. Even though it didn't turn out as I expected, I learned some valuable lessons. And most importantly, I am still open to new ideas and trying again.

It is not my intent to be "harsh" or "nice", I am trying to be useful to you with my comments. It is up to you how you want to receive or ignore what I say.

You say " saw an opportunity to purchase the books at very cheap" and I am interpreting it as a backward approach to building a business. If you said " saw an opportunity to SELL the UNIQUE books that a niche club wants but has no access to" - I would applaud the idea.

IMO, you are focused on the wrong side of business.

Same with being a programmer. "I do some freelance work as a software developer, but find it difficult to compete with pricing with developers in say India due to exchange rates etc." To me this is backwards. I would charge highest prices and find people who need a local resource. A friend of mine built an app and paid over $300k for it by hiring local developer company. Why local? Because he needed to move quickly, be able to communicate with the team and get advice! Not just coding, but advice.

Want to make that $100k in one shot? Focus on solving a $1M problem for someone and they will pay you more than $100k and be happy doing it.
 

deadevil

New Contributor
Mar 4, 2020
9
4
12
London
It is not my intent to be "harsh" or "nice", I am trying to be useful to you with my comments. It is up to you how you want to receive or ignore what I say.

You say " saw an opportunity to purchase the books at very cheap" and I am interpreting it as a backward approach to building a business. If you said " saw an opportunity to SELL the UNIQUE books that a niche club wants but has no access to" - I would applaud the idea.

IMO, you are focused on the wrong side of business.

Same with being a programmer. "I do some freelance work as a software developer, but find it difficult to compete with pricing with developers in say India due to exchange rates etc." To me this is backwards. I would charge highest prices and find people who need a local resource. A friend of mine built an app and paid over $300k for it by hiring local developer company. Why local? Because he needed to move quickly, be able to communicate with the team and get advice! Not just coding, but advice.

Want to make that $100k in one shot? Focus on solving a $1M problem for someone and they will pay you more than $100k and be happy doing it.
I 100% understand where you are coming from, and I haven't chosen any way to recieve what you say. I thought the comment was a bit harsh due to lack of understanding of the whole, that's all.

What you say here resonates with me. I respect the honesty, and this is what I need to hear. The concept around the book selling - agree totally! Would you recommend I hold onto the stock and gradually sell off, or just dump them with another seller (for next to nothing) and call it a day on that?

I also appreciate the idea around the freelance stuff - I think I will take this approach and see where that leads me. My philosophy has always been to maximise value as best I can..

Thanks for the advice!
 

Antifragile

Gold Contributor
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Dump the books you already own. Value your time more than anything. Because they are a distraction from your time. In that time you could make some calls, write proposals, find another way to make 1000x the profit you would make on those books.

I know @Kung Fu Steve mentioned Blue Ocean but honestly, I didn’t get as much value from it. I think it’s more useful to you to read MJ’s unscripted book. It’ll be way more practical. Blue Ocean was written by Harvard people, not always “street level” useful.

most importantly, keep going! Keep posting here and people will help. I find big money comes quickly, market rewards those who deliver real value. You’ll find your path!
 

Itizn

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I'm a seller of niche products myself. The good thing is once you develop an audience, they will buy off you without hesitation assuming you have what they want. The tough part is actually finding the product, because in my situation, the ones with the desired products are doing well for themselves and can't afford selling them because it will have them lose revenue.
 

Kung Fu Steve

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I've read the book twice. It was alright.

But I think entrepreneurs who are in the trenches understand that saturation is a figment of someone's imagination.

People have been talking about over-saturation for years and years and years... in my eyes, it's just an excuse. I've got close friends who say it to me on the phone every week and I just keep my mouth shut.

Washing machines is a saturated market... they still sell lots and lots and lots of washing machines.

Everyone has a refrigerator ... but surprisingly they still sell them all day every day.

The only caveat to this is where competition has driven the price so low that nobody is making profit and they have ruined those waters.

A t-shirt shop opens up across the street from another t-shirt shop. They now charge $20, the other charges $19, then the other charges $18... and so on until they're selling $1 t-shirts and losing their a$$.

But you can do a MILLION things to change those "red waters" -- you could open up in a different part of town, sure, or you could sell other things, or you could create a better experience, better products, whatever.
 

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