I was on the way back home from Minneapolis and started going through my notes from the week.  I came across a list of ideas I have had or explored over the past 1.5 years while I was figuring out what was next.  I also included two detours working for other people.

Everyone says that entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas and many times are all over the place.  I never thought of myself in that way (I am focused!) but looking at the list below, I guess I am.  The list doesn’t include all the ideas that I had that weren’t worth writing down (i.e. really bad ideas).

I found it amusing how many ideas I had and hopefully you will as well:

  1. Restaurant social network: a resource for restaurant owners that helps them understand the business in a deeper way and gives them additional resources to be more successful.
  2. Groupon meets Loyalty meets Woot.  A dynamic way to offer restaurant customers one coupon a day based on what they likely wanted to eat that day and where they were.  This wasn’t my idea but I worked on the concept with a potential co-founder. He had some tech he wanted to repurpose but ultimately it was a square peg in a round hole.
  3. An “essentials” kit for the “Burning Man” festival.  I actually think this is a great idea but I couldn’t make the margins work.
  4. A resource website for the Burning Man festival where new participants can go, get all the info they need, and find sellers of custom gear on a marketplace.  This is another great idea and is really needed.  80% of all event goers are new and there is no single resource on the web.  
  5. Import products and sell on eBay and Amazon.  This one actually got off the ground and is a nice side business I have.  I import running gear, private label it, and sell on eBay.  It requires minimal effort (10 min per day) once you set it up. Although setting up and figuring out products did take effort.
  6. Data aggregation and analytics for restaurants.  I worked on this one for 5 months and couldn’t get it off the ground.  The idea was to get local area benchmarking and trade area analytics for restaurants. This is an awesome idea and no one executes it well….I guess that would include me
  7. Co-founder / COO of a on-demand company.  The team wasn’t a fit and after 3 weeks I left.
  8. COO of an outsourced executive assistant company.  I thought this was the safe choice; Silicon Valley darling, 450 people, 4 years old, and a truly needed service.  This was going to be my rock and maybe my next gig.  Unfortunately, I discovered it was insolvent after 3 weeks and the company blew up.
  9. Building a small portfolio of internet businesses.  I investigated two approaches in parallel.
    1. Buy very small sites (each <100k) that are complimentary and roll up.  I was looking into this until a seller I was speaking with gave me his honest opinion and said I would spend as much time and money on a site that made 50k as one that made 500k.   Next idea.
    2. Buy a single site that made 200k+ in net cashflow post debt service.  This would give me extra cashflow to reinvest in the business.

It turns out #9 was the winner but I ended up doing something I hadn’t anticipated.  I spent almost double what I initially thought and bought a small portfolio of three websites.  

The point of all this is to let those of you who are on the entrepreneurial journey know that it takes time to figure out what is next.  Stick with it and it will work out.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

I would love to hear what ideas some of you have had and why it didn’t work out for one reason or another.