Being an entrepreneur is a double-edged sword. The positive side of becoming one is that you have the ambition and drive to work for yourself and forge your own way in the world. The flip side is that no amount of passion, drive, intelligence, or persistence will do you any good if you’ve picked a bad business idea to devote your time to. Although figures differ from survey to survey, there are some studies that suggest up to 90% of new business start-ups will fail within their first three years. More often than not, the business was doomed from the day it opened its doors because of a poor choice of function or industry.
If you spend a lot of time on new business or entrepreneur-focused websites, you’ll have seen plenty of articles offering advice on what kind of business is likely to succeed here in the 2020s. There are even a few on this website. Most of them have good points to make, and they’re worth reading. We don’t want to add to that list of articles. Instead, we’d like to look at the other side of the scale and tell you what probably isn’t worth considering as a business idea in the modern age.
If you’ve made the big, bold decision to go it alone and open up a new company with yourself at the top of it, avoid using any of the below ideas. Their time has been and gone, and it’s unlikely to come again.
Coffee shops are everywhere. They move into high street spaces vacated by other small business that have closed down. They’re seen as an essential part of the gentrification of an area. A lovely coffee shop with outdoor seating and a menu full of rare and exotic coffees is precisely the sort of thing that makes a street look more upmarket. The problem is that there are far too many of them already. There’s a town in England that has fourteen of them within five hundred yards of each other, which is frankly ridiculous. At least half of them will fail within the next two years. There’s also the problem of big-name coffee stores opening new premises all the time. Unless you happen to live in an area that has miraculously avoided being visited by a spate of well-known coffee shops already, give this idea a miss.
If you’re over thirty, you probably remember a time when there were three or four computer shops in your town or city centre. Most of them were probably independently run. With very few exceptions, most of those shops aren’t around anymore. There are several reasons for that. One of them is that the primary source of revenue for independent computer stores is repair and maintenance, and that’s something that most people now take their machines to big brand retailers for. Another is that people are more likely to buy a new computer through the internet than they are to visit a local store and pick one up “off the shelf.” The world of computers is a digital one, and the digital world has no space for physical stores. They’ll soon become a thing of the past.
Owning a casino probably sounds like a license to print money. If you’re lucky enough to live in Las Vegas or Macau, it probably is. If you live anywhere else, you’ll probably find yourself struggling to make ends meet. Physical casinos have struggled ever since the day the first online slots website opened. Every popular casino game suddenly became available from home, with no need to pay an entry fee or dress up for the occasion. You’ll find more online slots and casino games at a website than you will inside any brick-and-mortar casino, and most of them can even be played on a mobile phone. The fact that the Rose Slots brand has recently extended so far that Rose Slots for New Zealand Players is now available is a sign of the global reach of these websites. They usually offer incentives and promotions that physical casinos can’t match and are obviously far more convenient to visit. Unless you live in a gambling hotspot, you might lose more than you win from playing the casino game.
Clothing stores are yet another victim of the internet. If you spent time performing research, you’d probably find that more clothing stores have closed in your home town than have opened up in the past five years. The last vestige of convenience that a physical clothing store had over an eCommerce clothing store is that you could take clothes back to a physical store for easy returns if they didn’t fit or weren’t suitable for you. Most online retailers now accept returns and even give you a Freepost address to send them to. The final advantage has disappeared, and so physical clothing stores are disappearing too. We all have our own feelings about what big-name companies like Amazon are doing to high street stores, but the reality is that smaller clothing stores can’t compete with them. Don’t find this out the hard way by trying to get involved.
Every new business needs a website. New businesses start up every day. Combine these two factors together, and you could easily come to believe that a career as a web designer is a guaranteed money maker. If only that were the case. It’s more important than ever before for a business to have a website, but it’s also easier than ever before to create one. With Wix, WordPress, and every other “do it yourself” drag-and-drop website builder, even someone with no previous programming knowledge can build a serviceable website and upload it without needing to pay anybody else for the privilege. You can get around this by becoming a “high end” web designer, but you’d need to have detailed knowledge of multiple software packages and techniques, and that knowledge isn’t easy to gain. Learning the necessary skills costs time and money without any guarantee that you’ll ever find enough customers to earn that money back. The barriers to entry are high, and the rewards are harder achieve than they were as recently as five years ago.
In short, most business ideas that involve opening a high street store are a bad idea. Almost every business idea that involves offering the same product or service as a globally famous and popular brand is a bad idea, too. Even some web-based ideas are bad ideas. Picking a business that’s likely to succeed is difficult, and that’s why so many entrepreneurs fail. Don’t become one of them. Avoid the ideas we’ve listed, do your research, and come up with an idea that involves having an easy-to-reach customer base and a lack of prominent competitors. That’s where the road to riches begins.
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