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GradyS

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I've been sitting on the pot for long enough (thanks @ZCP)

In the corporate/sales world for about 13 years, and that's enough. Had a FTE last year and I've been trying to keep my head down but I just can't do it anymore.

One area I believe I excel is customer service. I've always had that comment from customers over the years. I also have a mechanical mindset and enjoy fixing things with my hands.

To me that really pairs with a service business, because I constantly hear of companies that just flat out don't call people back, or never show up to appointments.

The few first ideas that have come to mind:

1) General whole house checklist
- I haven't seen a service like that, but I'm sure it exists? Plenty of people around the area I live have lawn services and maid services. Why not a service that goes inside the house and maintains everything on a schedule? Filter changeouts, smoke alarm testing, hot water heater PRV check, checking drainage/gutters, etc. All of the things you are SUPPOSED to do, but no one ever does? Then prepare a report that shows the equipment they have, age of the equipment, estimated life, etc. Almost a way to budget ahead for potential equipment replacements.

Would anyone pay for this?

2) Septic Tank
- All of the companies I've seen have terrible reviews. It would be a disgusting job, but I also know it's very much needed. Plus, I know you are supposed to service them yearly but I don't know anyone that does that. Again, setting up some type of health check to make sure you don't get in a bad situation. Probably the highest up front cost of just purchasing a tanker and figuring out all the logistics.

3) Pressure Washing
- I feel like this is on several "home businesses!" lists. I have a pressure washer, but I don't see a lot of people paying for that type of work.

Those are the service ideas I had in the beginning.

I toyed around with an IT remote service company, but through some discussions on here it doesn't seem like the best idea. I am constantly the IT support for my family and extended family. Didn't know if there were families out there that didn't have access to tech support and I could remote in and help. Think there might be too many hurdles, and not many people would pay for that.

Another hurdle is I have an 8-5. My wife works from home, but I am the one supporting the family at this point. That's why service seems like a hard road (would force weird hours for customers) and I should be flipping products on Amazon or something else I can do sitting at a computer screen.

There are plenty of other "interests" I have but I don't really agree with the "turn your hobby into a business" idea. Seems like a good way to not enjoy your hobbies any longer, but maybe I'm wrong.

I've also looked into a few other areas, but it would require me to learn a skill I don't have yet.

That's where I'm at, and I don't want to be here anymore.
 

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ZCP

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can you buy a service business?
 

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better yet ..... challenge: turn $1 into $2 before the end of the week.......

then by monday come up with 5 businesses you could buy.....
 

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I would pay for #1. As an individual who doesn't want to call 5 different companies for home maintenance (I am one of these). Maybe as a rental house owner trying to keep rentals maintained (I'm not one of these). Definitely as a commercial building owner, keeping up maintenance on my building and appearances/comfort for employees and customers (I am one of these).
 

dillfly2000

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You're right the hobby to business thing. I used to be into building and fixing guitars. I loved it, until people started paying me. Lots of customers for years. Enjoyed the money but it ruined guitars for me forever. I still play. But only fix my own guitar when needed.

Sorry for derailing. Your post just hit a chord (yes that's a pun)
 

Andy Daniels

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The most important thing is to take real action. You have a pressure washer? Start knocking on neighbor's doors. Figure out what they need. Give. And then give some more.

I actually did the same thing with my pressure washer. Turns out, lots of neighbors had the need, and a friendly neighborhood guy came to them with a solution. Bingo.


Don't let the fear of rejection stop you. You want something? Go get it.
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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can you buy a service business?
I've never really even considered that to be honest, thought I should start small to figure out how to do everything before I jump in and attempt to purchase someone else. How do you find small businesses like that for sale? Seems like something I would need to get to know several of the players before they would open up and discuss the sell of their business.

I would pay for #1. As an individual who doesn't want to call 5 different companies for home maintenance (I am one of these). Maybe as a rental house owner trying to keep rentals maintained (I'm not one of these). Definitely as a commercial building owner, keeping up maintenance on my building and appearances/comfort for employees and customers (I am one of these).
How much would you expect from a service like that? Would you want someone to keep up with all of your annual/quartly service tasks and then recommend other contractors for actual work? Or a catch all company that would come in, maintain everything and if something breaks also fix it? It sounds like it's starting to turn into an HVAC service contract company (like Trane or something along those lines).
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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The most important thing is to take real action. You have a pressure washer? Start knocking on neighbor's doors. Figure out what they need. Give. And then give some more.

I actually did the same thing with my pressure washer. Turns out, lots of neighbors had the need, and a friendly neighborhood guy came to them with a solution. Bingo.


Don't let the fear of rejection stop you. You want something? Go get it.
Just curious, did you start a business with this? What did you end up washing? I've seem most people seem to start with windows and then transition to exterior house cleaning mostly.
 

Andy Daniels

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Just curious, did you start a business with this? What did you end up washing? I've seem most people seem to start with windows and then transition to exterior house cleaning mostly.
It's an older neighborhood with lots of big trees, so driveways/patios are always filthy. I started with those.

I also recommend buying gas powered vs. electric. I accidentally shorted out my neighbors power doing a job :playful: she was still happy and paid me.


I agree with @ZCP , just get out there and start! Good luck.

Andy
 

Zcott

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1) General whole house checklist
- I haven't seen a service like that, but I'm sure it exists? Plenty of people around the area I live have lawn services and maid services. Why not a service that goes inside the house and maintains everything on a schedule? Filter changeouts, smoke alarm testing, hot water heater PRV check, checking drainage/gutters, etc. All of the things you are SUPPOSED to do, but no one ever does? Then prepare a report that shows the equipment they have, age of the equipment, estimated life, etc. Almost a way to budget ahead for potential equipment replacements.

Would anyone pay for this?
This is a good idea.
 

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Rabby

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How much would you expect from a service like that? Would you want someone to keep up with all of your annual/quartly service tasks and then recommend other contractors for actual work? Or a catch all company that would come in, maintain everything and if something breaks also fix it? It sounds like it's starting to turn into an HVAC service contract company (like Trane or something along those lines).
With an office or retail location you get little holes in the walls, leaks around windows, carpet areas that need patching, plug sockets that need to be moved or replaced. I wouldn't expect one company to do all that - I would assume they sub it out. Personally I'm not overly sensitive about what they charge for that because it saves my business the internal work of keeping track of who we use for 100 different services. You might need either a contractor's license or whatever license (if any) property managers in your area use. So I would look into that aspect if you think you might do it.
 

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Back when I had my original house cleaning business, after I added on carpet cleaning, I tried to add on a service that would change the filters every 30/60/90 days depending. My problem at the time was that a lot of those are in the ceiling and I didn't want to put my girls up on a ladder. Even the ones that didn't have the ceiling location, my girls didn't want to mess with the filter. So while I don't see it working with house cleaning, I see this as one of those great add on businesses for the doggy doo/cat box cleaning type business. They don't HAVE to hire your company for doggy doo/ cat box cleaning service but for the customers already had by these companies, it would be a great add on. Once you get it up and going, franchise it out.

On this type of subject, there is a really great guy named Blake that started a company called FilterTime.com Anything you could do like his company?
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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On this type of subject, there is a really great guy named Blake that started a company called FilterTime.com Anything you could do like his company?
Ha, of course there is a subscription service for filters!

Thanks for all the feedback. I was thinking more of residential services but it sounds like several of you have mentioned small commercial instead.

This weekend I am going to do a trial run through my own house of collecting data, finding as many "maintenance checklists" that I can and see what type of MVP I could put together.
 

Fassina

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1) General whole house checklist
- I haven't seen a service like that, but I'm sure it exists? Plenty of people around the area I live have lawn services and maid services. Why not a service that goes inside the house and maintains everything on a schedule? Filter changeouts, smoke alarm testing, hot water heater PRV check, checking drainage/gutters, etc. All of the things you are SUPPOSED to do, but no one ever does? Then prepare a report that shows the equipment they have, age of the equipment, estimated life, etc. Almost a way to budget ahead for potential equipment replacements.

Would anyone pay for this?
How comfortable do you think people would be with strange men coming into their homes, checking and messing with their smoke alarms, heaters, drains, filters ?

I'd bet most women as you might expect would be pretty uncomfortable with strange, rough men coming into their houses for any reason. I wouldn't trust anybody to do this other than maybe a big business, if that, and I'm a big boi that lifts and knows self defense.

It'd be better imho to set up a reputable upper class maintenance business with some sort of recurring up-sell, and high prices to service the affluent than to be any sort of generic service provider. Price competition is nonexistent, your costs are only slightly higher (uniform / better hiring), and marketing is easier because you can target them by area.
 

Tanu1234

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I've been sitting on the pot for long enough (thanks @ZCP)

In the corporate/sales world for about 13 years, and that's enough. Had a FTE last year and I've been trying to keep my head down but I just can't do it anymore.

One area I believe I excel is customer service. I've always had that comment from customers over the years. I also have a mechanical mindset and enjoy fixing things with my hands.

To me that really pairs with a service business, because I constantly hear of companies that just flat out don't call people back, or never show up to appointments.

The few first ideas that have come to mind:

1) General whole house checklist
- I haven't seen a service like that, but I'm sure it exists? Plenty of people around the area I live have lawn services and maid services. Why not a service that goes inside the house and maintains everything on a schedule? Filter changeouts, smoke alarm testing, hot water heater PRV check, checking drainage/gutters, etc. All of the things you are SUPPOSED to do, but no one ever does? Then prepare a report that shows the equipment they have, age of the equipment, estimated life, etc. Almost a way to budget ahead for potential equipment replacements.

Would anyone pay for this?

2) Septic Tank
- All of the companies I've seen have terrible reviews. It would be a disgusting job, but I also know it's very much needed. Plus, I know you are supposed to service them yearly but I don't know anyone that does that. Again, setting up some type of health check to make sure you don't get in a bad situation. Probably the highest up front cost of just purchasing a tanker and figuring out all the logistics.

3) Pressure Washing
- I feel like this is on several "home businesses!" lists. I have a pressure washer, but I don't see a lot of people paying for that type of work.

Those are the service ideas I had in the beginning.

I toyed around with an IT remote service company, but through some discussions on here it doesn't seem like the best idea. I am constantly the IT support for my family and extended family. Didn't know if there were families out there that didn't have access to tech support and I could remote in and help. Think there might be too many hurdles, and not many people would pay for that.

Another hurdle is I have an 8-5. My wife works from home, but I am the one supporting the family at this point. That's why service seems like a hard road (would force weird hours for customers) and I should be flipping products on Amazon or something else I can do sitting at a computer screen.

There are plenty of other "interests" I have but I don't really agree with the "turn your hobby into a business" idea. Seems like a good way to not enjoy your hobbies any longer, but maybe I'm wrong.

I've also looked into a few other areas, but it would require me to learn a skill I don't have yet.

That's where I'm at, and I don't want to be here anymore.
How about making info product - course or book for skills you have?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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Man, reading through 'How to Get Rich' based on the book thread. After that and unscripted, I feel overwhelmed and like a lazy bum. I should have started all this 10 years ago.
 

NMdad

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Man, reading through 'How to Get Rich' based on the book thread. After that and unscripted, I feel overwhelmed and like a lazy bum. I should have started all this 10 years ago.
Agree. So what would your future self thank your present self for doing today, this week, this month, and this year?
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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Well, nothing like pulling a full 180 tokyo drift!

Reading back through the cheesecake thread, I've actually had a few offline conversations with Eric as well about a food business. Plus I'm also in NC!

I have always had a dessert receipe that I make every year around Christmas, and is something that many people usually start asking about in August/September.

There is only one thing that is holding me back at this point, and if I can figure out the correct way to jump it I'm ready to go all in.

In NC, there is a very specific law that I'm struggling with:

North Carolina’s program has some restrictions and a relatively long application process, but once approved, home processors have a lot of flexibility on what, where, and how much they can sell. One significant restriction is that the processor may never allow pets in their home, even if it’s only at night.
Pets are never allowed in the home, at any time. This includes all forms of pets. It doesn't matter if your kitchen is completely closed off from the rest of the house...
This information is from North Carolina - Cottage Food Law

I have 2 wild rambunctious animals that run around my house. They cause a huge mess, and require a lot of work. And outside of my 2 daughters I have 2 dogs as well lol.

We are a dog family and that's not something I would ask my family to give up. There are plenty of options for commercial rental kitchens, but I'd like to actually validate and expand a bit first before I take on an expense like that.

In doing some more research, I found this site: Kitchen Connects Greensboro

Looks like a program you have to apply for, and then the kitchen is $10/hour. My product requires mixes, then several hours in freezer, more preparation and then additional freezing.

These are small desserts you may sell in batches of 6-12 max (just a guess).

I actually care a lot more about this than HVAC, I just thought a food business was out of the question. There is a ton of good info in Eric's thread, and it gave me a little hope at least to try. If nothing else it can be my first failure notch on the belt.
 

Kid

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I'd also echo - "General whole house checklist".

But as @Fassina said, safety concerns would have to be circumvent.
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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Well scratch all of that. Typical Grady unfortunately.

Absolutely fascinated by @Fox 's GOLD! - How to Learn Code, Start a Web Company, $15k+ per month within 9 months thread and there's something there I may be able to do.

There was a quick "call to action" plan in that thread that I will be following. I have a coding background, but want to use a quick refresher. I'm using Welcome to learn.freeCodeCamp! to brush up on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I will be doing that for 4 weeks.

My wife has her own design company. They design strategic brands for creative businesses. Mainly will redesign everything including logo, website, vision for ideal clients, etc.

She's spending a lot of money on web development after she has completed the design and the copy for the site. I would be able to help her increase her profits tremendously, and then hopefully that would give me some initial experience to start seeking clients on my own as well.
 

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Kid

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The decision about learning to dev websites is good and proven generate revenue if you stick to it.
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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Just on a whim I did a search for CPAs that ranked highly in my area. I really liked the idea of targeting higher profile services instead of little mom and pop shops. My thought process was since tax season has just passed, surely there are plenty of CPAs that didn't get as much business as they wanted, or weren't getting the right clients. These were the top 5, in order of their rank.

Greensboro, NC CPA Firm | Home Page | Debbie Brower CPA, PLLC

Greensboro NC CPA Firm / Tax & Accounting Services & Business Consulting

http://buttoncpa.com/

Paul M. Stutts, CPA, PA | Proudly Serving the Greensboro, NC Area

CPA Greensboro NC - Certified Public Accountant - Mark L. Rosenbaum, CPA, PA

Here are my initial takeaways. The most obvious thing is that the 1st and 3rd websites (debbiebrower and button) are using the EXACT SAME TEMPLATE. Even the same stock photography is scrolling along. I thought for sure they were different agents at the same firm, but I don't see anything (unless I'm blind) that ties them to a similar company.

In my mind that would be a great lead in for button.

greensboro accountant seems very generic, nothing stands out on that site.

Rosenbaum definitely appears the most dated in both design and copy (celebrating 35th anniversary in 2015).

My background (10+ years) is mostly in Commercial/Industrial HVAC Sales. I know you should target industries that you know (or at least familiar with), but I'm wondering if HVAC isn't high enough profit margins? Should I target the more lucrative industries?

I really liked the list in Fox's thread

- Construction
- Industrial Services
- Engineering
- Oil
- Legal
- Medical

Also, not sure where to start if I have zero portfolio. Upwork was mentioned, but then Fox suggested never going through that again. Is it worth doing Upwork simply as a portfolio builder? In the example above, let's say I do decide to go after mid size commercial HVAC service companies. I find one that has a sub-par website. Am I doing a quick one-page mock up site to show what it could be?
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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Also, not sure where to start if I have zero portfolio. Upwork was mentioned, but then Fox suggested never going through that again. Is it worth doing Upwork simply as a portfolio builder? In the example above, let's say I do decide to go after mid size commercial HVAC service companies. I find one that has a sub-par website. Am I doing a quick one-page mock up site to show what it could be?
Answered my own question. Started watching the YouTube series and there is a ton of good stuff on there specifically about this.
 
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GradyS

GradyS

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Alright, let's go. Enough back and forth. Enough second guessing every single thing. I've brought this idea up with a few other people and it's the first one I've had that has pretty positive feedback.

1) General whole house checklist
- I haven't seen a service like that, but I'm sure it exists? Plenty of people around the area I live have lawn services and maid services. Why not a service that goes inside the house and maintains everything on a schedule? Filter changeouts, smoke alarm testing, hot water heater PRV check, checking drainage/gutters, etc. All of the things you are SUPPOSED to do, but no one ever does? Then prepare a report that shows the equipment they have, age of the equipment, estimated life, etc. Almost a way to budget ahead for potential equipment replacements.

The web design idea was great, and maybe in a far fetched future land I can start a second business doing that, but I want this one.

I pulled out an old copy of the $100 startup and the "one-page business plan" to fill out. Here is what I've come up with. All of this is initial marketing/planning. I am fully open to modify/shift as I grow.

What will you sell?
Full service interior home maintenance. Depending on level of contract, that would be monthly or quarterly. I will not recommend anything less than that, because the entire point is to service your house seasonally and keep things running smoothly. Be proactive instead of reactive. Protect your biggest investment.

Who will buy it?
Homeowners who do not/cannot maintain their home and equipment. At this time I don't think I will target landlords or anything larger because that becomes a property management group. Always room to pivot, and never say never. Just not to start. My initial target market is older couples/widows/widowers. My mother in law is exactly the type of customer I'm thinking about. Every time I go to her house there is a list of things to do and help her with. A handyman could easily handle several of the items/repairs on the list, but most people would not call a handyman to replace your HVAC filters or drain your hot water tank to clean out sediment.

How will your business idea help people?
"Protect your Greatest Investment." In my area so many people pay for lawn care and maid services, but no one even thinks about the things you CAN'T see. And when it breaks? Get ready to pull out the wallet for emergency fees and after hour HVAC service. I would do an initial equipment review of the home and make a checklist of items that should be done. As time goes on I will build a database of equipment and it will become easier to put together the initial plans because most air handlers will have the same items to maintain. I have no problem posting these checklists for people to use themselves when I have a website going. Most of the "house checklists" that I've looked for are not intuitive and just clunky. I will make them easy to read, and by all means do it yourself. If you don't want to, then call us. An additional benefit of working with us is I will provide an equipment list with a picture of each piece of equipment, model info, age (assuming I can figure that out from the model tag) and manufacturer's recommended maintenance routine and schedule. It will also have an average "lifespan" of the item, so you can get an idea of when you should budget for a new one.

What will you charge?
No clue, this is the biggest part I haven't figured out yet.

How will you get paid?
Service contracts. Monthly or Quarterly. Better pricing for extended contracts. Optional service of just "handling" other items and sub-contracting them out? I don't know about that one, just floating. Will completely depend on if I'm asking to provide it, then I absolutely will.

How else will you make money from this project?
Could work out a referral program for local contractors that I trust, and when we're asked on site who could perform work I would pass their info. I would not simply provide a name of the highest bidder. I will only suggest someone I would also let into my house.

How will customers learn about your business?
In the beginning, word of mouth. I understand that seems lazy, but my target market is not completely tech savvy. My mother-in-law is not going to see a facebook ad or see a targeted ad on google for "home maintenance contract." She's going to make an off hand comment at her bunco game or garden club about something breaking in her house, and one of her other friends may have an answer.
I would also have fliers, and maybe even advertise in the local paper? Again, not looking for sexy advertising. I want to advertise where my target market would actually see it.

How can you encourage referrals?
Not sure. Free month? Haven't figured this one out yet either.

Project will be successful when it achieves these metrics:
I have an annual net income number that would allow me to quit my job, and also pay for the "perks" that a job gives you. e.g. insurance, car, phone, computer, etc. Things that seem like massive perks, but at the end of the day it's just another shackle.

Specific concerns at this stage:
1) How to find time to perform the work with a 50+hour a week job currently.
1b) If I decide to hire a tech instead of performing the service myself, how to pay up front?
2) What to charge?
3) Where do I end the service? If I'm in your house and you have something broken, do I help and fix it? Does the service almost become a "honey-do-list" crusher and you are just helping people fix things around their house? I think that's getting too broad, but I could be wrong.

There are plenty of other concerns, but I want the MVP at this point and to get out there. I don't want to figure out how to have a team of techs upload their work orders on an app after geofencing at a customers location.

Proposed solution to concerns at this stage:
1) I have plenty of buddies in the HVAC industry that are service techs. I would love to get a contract in hand, and then pay them out of that. In the beginning, even if I had 5 brand new customers that would be (at most) 5 visits in the first month. Most of the larger items in your house wouldn't need more than once a month service. They could schedule me for those visits and then do other jobs.
2) The only thing I can think of is treat my house, my parents and my mother-in-law as a "customer" and do an estimate of their house. Then actually time all of this work at my own house, and figure a rate? I don't know.
3) It's against everything in the business model, but I know that in the early stages if I am running a job, I will probably do extra work for them to be nice and not increase the rate. If I have multiple visits in a single day that will be an issue, but I don't see that happening for a while. I think I will have to cross this one when I get there.

And that's it. That's the plan.

I'd say my next action item is to treat my house like a customer. Go through, take pictures of every single piece of equipment and put together a check list. Then maybe send it to my wife and see what she likes and doesn't like. After a full test run on my house, I could do a 2nd and 3rd run on my parents and my mother-in-laws. That would give me 3 full test cases, and would be useful for marketing to show examples.

There were a couple of concerns about "strange people in their homes." I mean, doesn't that apply to every single service business? Maids, plumbers, contractors, etc. I will deal with that complaint if I have actual customers that are concerned.

Absolutely failure worst case scenario? I just gave my parents and my mother-in-law a document that will help them with their house equipment.

I honestly don't believe a website is the best first step here. Am I wrong? I get much more of a rise out of the "unsexy business" thread or whenever I see a Mike Rowe video.

Brain dump over. I should hopefully be updating this soon when results from my 1st test (my home).
 

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Well, nothing like pulling a full 180 tokyo drift!

Reading back through the cheesecake thread, I've actually had a few offline conversations with Eric as well about a food business. Plus I'm also in NC!

I have always had a dessert receipe that I make every year around Christmas, and is something that many people usually start asking about in August/September.

There is only one thing that is holding me back at this point, and if I can figure out the correct way to jump it I'm ready to go all in.

In NC, there is a very specific law that I'm struggling with:





This information is from North Carolina - Cottage Food Law

I have 2 wild rambunctious animals that run around my house. They cause a huge mess, and require a lot of work. And outside of my 2 daughters I have 2 dogs as well lol.

We are a dog family and that's not something I would ask my family to give up. There are plenty of options for commercial rental kitchens, but I'd like to actually validate and expand a bit first before I take on an expense like that.

In doing some more research, I found this site: Kitchen Connects Greensboro

Looks like a program you have to apply for, and then the kitchen is $10/hour. My product requires mixes, then several hours in freezer, more preparation and then additional freezing.

These are small desserts you may sell in batches of 6-12 max (just a guess).

I actually care a lot more about this than HVAC, I just thought a food business was out of the question. There is a ton of good info in Eric's thread, and it gave me a little hope at least to try. If nothing else it can be my first failure notch on the belt.
I'm a little late to this thread so somebody might have already suggested this, but why don't you just try an unofficial sales channel to validate your idea?
I've recently noticed a lot of ads on Facebook Marketplace in my area for tamales and even occasionally flan. I'm pretty sure that kind of stuff would normally require a commercial kitchen in this area, but people are advertising it openly and probably making sales. I'm sure every now and then the Health Department contacts them and orders them to stop, but in the meantime they make a few sales, and Facebook doesn't seem to care (yet). I also had a coworker a few years ago that sold his mother's tamales every Christmas to everyone in the office. You could also hang flyers on your neighbors' doorknobs and see what kind of response you get.
If a Health Department official contacts you, tell them you're just testing the idea to see whether it's worth renting a commercial kitchen.
Last but not least, why not just rent the commercial kitchen and try it out? Figure out how much money you'll lose on the first batch, and accept that as a cost of development, but you'll at least get confirmation.
David
 

Ragnar_

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
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May 13, 2019
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How comfortable do you think people would be with strange men coming into their homes, checking and messing with their smoke alarms, heaters, drains, filters ?

I'd bet most women as you might expect would be pretty uncomfortable with strange, rough men coming into their houses for any reason. I wouldn't trust anybody to do this other than maybe a big business, if that, and I'm a big boi that lifts and knows self defense.
Many successful businesses have challenged the idea of what people are comfortable with by providing incredible value to the customer. Imagine 10-15 years ago getting in a strangers car and having them drive you somewhere (Uber/Lyft)? Or letting a random person on the internet stay in your home while you're out of town (airbnb)? Even credit cards were mistrusted at first.
 

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