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What Is the Online Equivalent of a "Boring But Stable" Offline Business?

MTF

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In the offline world, you have a lot of different businesses that are boring but stable, potentially very lucrative (as they often generate recurring income) and with little risk they'll ever get disrupted and won't be needed anymore. For example, lawn care, landscaping services, cleaning services, food trucks, vacation rentals, etc.

What do you think is the equivalent in the online world? What kind of an online business is boring but stable, potentially lucrative, and with little risk of being disrupted? What kinds of online businesses are largely ignored because they aren't glamorous enough?

I think it may be some kind of a B2B service, perhaps some consulting services or lead gen.

What are your thoughts?
 
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I think folks find Google Ads boring. It’s pretty stable too when dialled in.

I’ve been running Google Ads for appliance repairs since 2009. 12 years later people still search “oven repairs dublin”…

I’m delighted everyone’s doing sexy marketing such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
 

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Hosting with support?

Not technical enough to understand it well but can it actually be threatened by no-code software for everything you need, like Carrd, Substack, etc.? Then you don't need hosting.

I think folks find Google Ads boring. It’s pretty stable too when dialled in.

I’ve been running Google Ads for appliance repairs since 2009. 12 years later people still search “oven repairs dublin”…

I’m delighted everyone’s doing sexy marketing such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Lol when I think of a boring online business Google Ads definitely fits the bill.

The yellow pages/Manta/directory model

Interesting suggestion. So basically just creating some kind of a database.
 

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Not technical enough to understand it well but can it actually be threatened by no-code software for everything you need, like Carrd, Substack, etc.? Then you don't need hosting.
Not really, there are a lot of businesses who want decently sized online projects that are controllable and customizable and want good support that will take care of security, availability, outages, scaling hardware when necessary and such.
 

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Themes for various platforms, like WP, Shopify, etc.
Web hosting.
And yea, ad management.
 
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Maybe courses? I don’t have a ton of online experience so I’m subbing to the thread, but I’d imagine repeatable offerings for teaching things like math and science or technical courses would be great.

A mandatory licensing course would be a good example, but many here would have an ethical problem with it lol!

Maybe you make a “forklift operator” training course and businesses pay you a subscription for it so they can show their new hires.
 

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What are your thoughts?
Anything in an industry that people are NOT passionate about. In the physical world, nobody wants to scrub toilets. In the digital world the equivalent would be opening a store or affiliate website around specialty cleaning products for example.

The sexy alternative is starting a YouTube channel, starting a video game store, building an affiliate website around pets, and so on.
 

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BizyDad

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with little risk of being disrupted
I'm having trouble thinking of a business model that this doesn't apply to.

Anything you do on someone else's platform has risk of being disrupted.

Anything you do on someone else's server has less, but most of your marketing has potential for being disrupted. With regularity in fact.

And if you run your own servers, well that doesn't necessarily minimize your risk either. In fact it might increase it.

This is actually a harder question than I thought it'd be...

A paid email newsletter. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it. Newsletters are boring. Email is as old school as it gets on the internet. And if someone tries to take away your technology to do this, you can just upload some emails to a different location and keep going. Just got to have enough content that people find worth paying for...
 

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Excel courses.

I'd thought of creating them but maaaan, that would be so damn boring.
 

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A paid email newsletter. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it. Newsletters are boring. Email is as old school as it gets on the internet. And if someone tries to take away your technology to do this, you can just upload some emails to a different location and keep going. Just got to have enough content that people find worth paying for...
Shh... stop telling people.
 
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Maybe you make a “forklift operator” training course and businesses pay you a subscription for it so they can show their new hires.
I did a bit of work for a business that was doing very well selling forklift truck training and certification, amongst other things.

There's lots of boring courses people need to take every year to be compliant.
 

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I'm in a rather boring online business. Most of it is online, there is a small portion that revolves out the outside world. The forklift training model reminds me of @Rabby
 

Kgatewood

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In the offline world, you have a lot of different businesses that are boring but stable, potentially very lucrative (as they often generate recurring income) and with little risk they'll ever get disrupted and won't be needed anymore. For example, lawn care, landscaping services, cleaning services, food trucks, vacation rentals, etc.

What do you think is the equivalent in the online world? What kind of an online business is boring but stable, potentially lucrative, and with little risk of being disrupted? What kinds of online businesses are largely ignored because they aren't glamorous enough?

I think it may be some kind of a B2B service, perhaps some consulting services or lead gen.

What are your thoughts?
All I can say is read unscripted , all your answers will be there. There’s to many red flags in your question that the unscripted book will help you uncover if your willing to see them.
 
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doster.zach

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In the offline world, you have a lot of different businesses that are boring but stable, potentially very lucrative (as they often generate recurring income) and with little risk they'll ever get disrupted and won't be needed anymore. For example, lawn care, landscaping services, cleaning services, food trucks, vacation rentals, etc.

What do you think is the equivalent in the online world? What kind of an online business is boring but stable, potentially lucrative, and with little risk of being disrupted? What kinds of online businesses are largely ignored because they aren't glamorous enough?

I think it may be some kind of a B2B service, perhaps some consulting services or lead gen.

What are your thoughts?

A lot of stuff that just helps peoples business get running, that blocks people from executing.

  • Shopify / eCommerce UI Widgets
  • HR management tools
  • Customer Service / Customer Experience tools
  • Product / Inventory management
  • Product / Inventory Fulfillment
  • Software Implementations (Something that needs a developer to hook up to your site, can't just click "Install"
  • Hosting (This one has kinda been taken over by the big guys)
  • domain management
  • Billing & finance tools
  • Maintaining Low-Code / No Code sites
 

MTF

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Themes for various platforms, like WP, Shopify, etc.

I guess it's very popular but also so extremely crowded and concentrated (most people go for a few main customizable themes) I'm not sure it's that stable.

Maybe courses? I don’t have a ton of online experience so I’m subbing to the thread, but I’d imagine repeatable offerings for teaching things like math and science or technical courses would be great.

A mandatory licensing course would be a good example, but many here would have an ethical problem with it lol!

Maybe you make a “forklift operator” training course and businesses pay you a subscription for it so they can show their new hires.

I like this idea, particularly for more fundamental things like math and science that aren't going to change (that much).

Perhaps teaching foreign languages also fits the bill here though I'm not so sure it'll be such an important skill as translation tools get better and better.

Also, teaching people how to perform popular services offered on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr (for example, basic graphic design).

Anything in an industry that people are NOT passionate about. In the physical world, nobody wants to scrub toilets. In the digital world the equivalent would be opening a store or affiliate website around specialty cleaning products for example.

The sexy alternative is starting a YouTube channel, starting a video game store, building an affiliate website around pets, and so on.

Good suggestion. I think this would mostly be B2B.

A paid email newsletter. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it. Newsletters are boring. Email is as old school as it gets on the internet. And if someone tries to take away your technology to do this, you can just upload some emails to a different location and keep going. Just got to have enough content that people find worth paying for...

Paid newsletters are super sexy these days. You'd have to choose a boring topic that no "content creators" touch. Otherwise you'll be just another guy doing the exact same sexy thing as everyone else now.

So, a paid email newsletter on crypto or self-help would be a bad idea. A paid email newsletter on corporate management strategies could probably work.

Excel courses.

I'd thought of creating them but maaaan, that would be so damn boring.

Haha. What are other main "boring" tools people have to or want to use daily but struggle with them?

PowerPoint? Salesforce? Slack? Trello?

There's lots of boring courses people need to take every year to be compliant.

How does it work? Do you have to sign up with some kind of a governmental agency to be able to issue certificates that let people stay compliant? Does your course need to be somehow approved by the government?

Something like selling pillows and sheets to hotel chains. Or salt and pepper shakers to restaurants. You can launch any e-commerce business and target large chains

Interesting suggestion. Definitely a lot of opportunities in B2B and most of it is in some way recurring (this stuff won't last long and they'll keep reordering).

A lot of stuff that just helps peoples business get running, that blocks people from executing.

  • Shopify / eCommerce UI Widgets
  • HR management tools
  • Customer Service / Customer Experience tools
  • Product / Inventory management
  • Product / Inventory Fulfillment
  • Software Implementations (Something that needs a developer to hook up to your site, can't just click "Install"
  • Hosting (This one has kinda been taken over by the big guys)
  • domain management
  • Billing & finance tools
  • Maintaining Low-Code / No Code sites

Lol I don't even know what some of these are so they're solid suggestions. I particularly like the last one. I wonder if something like "how to create a [specific use, for example hotel] website using [insert dozens of no-code solutions]" would work. For example, "how to create a vacation rental website using Carrd." If new tools would emerge, you'd just create new courses. The essence would stay the same.
 
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Odysseus M Jones

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All I can say is read unscripted , all your answers will be there. There’s to many red flags in your question that the unscripted book will help you uncover if your willing to see them.
Yes, read it, again lol
For example, lawn care, landscaping services, cleaning services, food trucks, vacation rentals, etc.
How very dare you!
These are all sexy businesses.
Shirtless hunks mowing lawns.
French maids washing your smalls.
What's sexier than artisan street food?
Vacations are all about sex, except for the 20-40 year old demographic. ;)
Something like selling pillows and sheets to hotel chains. Or salt and pepper shakers to restaurants.
Hotel beds are all about sex and salt n pepper shakers are very phallic.
But those businesses will get disrupted if there's another world lockdown.
Paid newsletters are super sexy these days.
Because you're still doing that vegan one?

Paid newsletters are sexy, another reason why you youngsters are lonely.

And now you've got Andy Black in stockings and heels in my mind.

I can't unsee that.
 

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@OMJ lol someone's having a dirty mind today.

Because you're still doing that vegan one?

No, I stopped a long time ago. I don't think that such general topics work well for a newsletter, let alone a paid one (which I didn't run). The best industries for a paid newsletter probably revolve around business and finance or anything else where you can say "sign up for $100 a year and make $10,000 or more".
 

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Yes, read it, again lol

How very dare you!
These are all sexy businesses.
Shirtless hunks mowing lawns.
French maids washing your smalls.
What's sexier than artisan street food?
Vacations are all about sex, except for the 20-40 year old demographic. ;)

Hotel beds are all about sex and salt n pepper shakers are very phallic.
But those businesses will get disrupted if there's another world lockdown.

Because you're still doing that vegan one?

Paid newsletters are sexy, another reason why you youngsters are lonely.

And now you've got Andy Black in stockings and heels in my mind.

I can't unsee that.
I must get round to disabling my webcam…
 
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Excel courses.

I'd thought of creating them but maaaan, that would be so damn boring.
Not if you make them lol.
Or you mean boring for you to make ? :rofl:
 

Andy Black

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Not if you make them lol.
Or you mean boring for you to make ? :rofl:
Thanks.

I mean it would (could?) be boring for me to make.

Saying that, I enjoyed making specific Google Sheets lessons for my Google Ads courses.

I suppose what bores me is watching and creating courses for people to “learn” rather than implement.

Courses designed for certification (or “comprehensive” courses for those who insist on consuming rather than producing) would bore me to tears to attend never mind create.
 
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Kevin88660

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In the offline world, you have a lot of different businesses that are boring but stable, potentially very lucrative (as they often generate recurring income) and with little risk they'll ever get disrupted and won't be needed anymore. For example, lawn care, landscaping services, cleaning services, food trucks, vacation rentals, etc.

What do you think is the equivalent in the online world? What kind of an online business is boring but stable, potentially lucrative, and with little risk of being disrupted? What kinds of online businesses are largely ignored because they aren't glamorous enough?

I think it may be some kind of a B2B service, perhaps some consulting services or lead gen.

What are your thoughts?
Most of the offline business that have stable revenue had some geographical specific reasons reasons for their success.

There is skill shortages in traditional blue collar job related services in Singapore but because the it is a fairly open economy that can always get affordable skill laborers oversea, the profit margin in those services (plumbing , electrician and cleaning services) aren’t as obscene as they are in the west.

There are cultural specific factors as well. I noticed English speaking countries and Chinese speaking countries spend a lot more in wedding than other cultures, and that it a specifically good market for the wedding business.

There are no physical boundaries on the internet. In theory everyone is competing with everyone globally if your online business does not have an offline connection. So the key thing is offline connection and hence barrier to entry against margin erosion.

One example is b2b saas. In theory is the competition is online and global. But because of management culture and practice the global market is still heavily focused on American companies serving American market.

One segment that could have defensible margin online is online content/education/consulting, where language of the recipient is a major barrier. Most of the innovation today still takes place in U.S. and as a result, if you are operating in the space in UK, Canada and Australia these market could be easily colonized by leading business from U.S.

On the other hand you can just learn what is the new thing that is happening in U.S. and apply/copy/teach the German/French/Chinese/Japanese/Spanish speaking market it could have a very solid barrier against leading U.S. colonization.

Just take MJ’s books for example while he could translate his books in Japanese there is no way he can build a fastlane forum in Japanese. There is nothing stopping a Japanese guy copying this idea and build a similar forum in Japanese.

I call this the “language barrier arbitrage strategy”.
 
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woken

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Courses designed for certification (or “comprehensive” courses for those who insist on consuming rather than producing) would bore me to tears to attend never mind create.
But isn’t that where most sales are ?

What I mean is :
Even though not intended, @MJ DeMarco books are consumed by a lot of people that do not even take the action of joining the forum( sure he can confirm that book sales > users on forum by a factor of at least 10)
Yet he still made those sales, which helped propel the books a bit forward toward other people willing to take action.

Sure thing it must feel good when you know you’ve helped so many people take action, but if you can’t control that.
 
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Andy Black

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But isn’t that where most sales are ?

What I mean is :
Even though not intended, @MJ DeMarco books are consumed by a lot of people that do not even take the action of joining the forum( sure he can confirm that book sales > users on forum by a factor of at least 10)
Yet he still made those sales, which helped propel the books a bit forward toward other people willing to take action.

Sure thing it must feel good when you know you’ve helped so many people take action, but if you can’t control that.
I don’t mind having to sift through lots of rambling in free YouTube videos or podcasts. I figure the price that’s the price to pay if I don’t pay in cash.

What bugs me is lots of rambling and unnecessary teaching in courses I pay for. I pay so I can get through the course fast and go implement. I’m after the results and the learning that comes from taking action, not the “book learning”.

I think people appreciate courses that are no fluff and actionable. That’s been common feedback on my courses.

Whether folks take action or not doesn’t bother me in the slightest. They’re big boys and girls and it’s not on me to make people take a course they bought.
 
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On the other hand you can just learn what is the new thing that is happening in U.S. and apply/copy/teach the German/French/Chinese/Japanese/Spanish speaking market it could have a very solid barrier against leading U.S. colonization.

Theoretically, yes. In reality, in many countries with less popular languages few people buy digital stuff online. Also, you won't benefit from geoarbitrage (getting paid in USD, spending in a currency of a cheaper country).

But yeah, for German and French it could probably work as they're both international languages with some wealthy countries where they're spoken.
 

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Service businesses that farm the work out to contractors/freelancers and take a cut off the top. Commercial and/or residential appraisers, notary publics... tech will never be able to take over these jobs as by law they require an individual.
 

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