I wouldn’t call myself a business person. I’ve never had the drive to start my own business. I’ve never even explored the idea. Yet I seem to spot possible business opportunities all over.
I’ve tried so many things for the first time on this trip – would Poutine ever make it big in Australia, or is it too similar to chips and gravy? Would Aussies get the cheese curds as a tasty addition, or just a weird texture? Or what about Kombucha? A little speakeasy in a nice Sydney neighbourhood with self serve self pay kombucha could be hip right?
But it’s not that simple. After meeting a few small business owners, I realised the idea is really just the start.
“It’s my passion,” explained Link, an arts and crafts small business owner. “Your hourly pay is not very good… I could make more money in two hours in my old job than an entire day at the crafts market. You get out what you put in…You want to get your brand out there.”
And if your product or service is good, and you put in time and effort, then your business is likely to grow. But from what I’ve seen it’s really not easy. Especially the time and effort part.
“I’m a workaholic,” admits Link. “If I drink, it’s at home, and I’m still working.”
Another lady I met, Lisa, had a mission to make organic “natural” soaps that didn’t cost a fortune. But she had to learn the hard way.
“My father was an MBA, and you’d think I’d ask him, but I sat on Excel and figured it all out myself, and now I can do it!”
I saw her working constantly – making her soaps, and then selling them at the markets the next day. It wasn’t what you would think an easy, hippy job would be like. But she had a vision, she had a mission, and she was willing to work to make it happen. And business was doing well.
But what about Malaysian food? It’s totally taking off in Australia, but so many people in the US and Canada don’t even know what dishes are considered Malaysian foods. And a good Malaysian laksa is bloody delicious.
Well little did I know how difficult it is starting a restaurant. “People have suggested it to me,” mentioned Tian, the owner of a dog walking business. “But at the moment I don’t have to pay rent for an actual building…Insurance would be more expensive…Restaurants are hard – most don’t make money in the first 5 years. So many go out of business because overheads are a big cost. My business has very low overheads.”
So really, what good is the idea without without passion, drive and lots of hard work? I’m sure I’ll keep spotting gaps in various markets, but without that fire within, they’ll remain glimpses of a possibility that will never be.