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Old 22nd October 2008, 10:46 PM   #1

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 3
Default Web Business Idea

I'd like to get a little feedback about an online business idea. I'm in the beginning stages, mainly just brainstorming. I'll start with a little history.

I'm a 24 year-old college student in NC majoring in accounting. I'll be graduating next semester and plan to start my own business on the side. I work four days a week as a book keeper for a construction company. I plan to keep that job, but I still have a lot of free time as I'm single without kids. I have a friend likely to invest once the details are worked out and a business plan is completed. I'll have a small amount to invest also (enough to cover whatever my investor can't).

I've noticed that the internet is becoming more and more crowded with terribly-designed websites filled with ads and affiliate links. Well-designed, clean, easy-to-naviage web stores are becoming more and more difficult to find within niche markets. There are a bunch of well-built websites that sell everything from paint to dog collars, but niche markets are becoming increasingly crowded with awful sites.

I'd like to choose an up-and-coming niche market lacking great webstores and create one. I'm willing to spend quite a bit more than the average website builder. There will be no ads, nothing distracting; only clean lines, great photos, easy navigation, a great layout, and streamlined checkout. I have a relationship with a great web designer, a tallented technical photographer, a local company that specializes in SEO, and an investor who is willing to invest enough to make an amazing site with strong search engine placement. I plan to choose a market that interests me; a market about which I'll be happy to learn absolutely everything. I'd like to offer a small menu of related items (more of a boutique than a superstore), at least a few of which are high-end relative to the norm within said market.

My first idea is a sushi equipment and dry ingredients store (no fish or other perishables). I'd offer everything from mid-grade sushi equipment and ingredients to top of the line cutlery as well as sushi literature. Most sushi equipment (such as serving trays, soy sauce bowls, chopshicks, etc) can be purchased from a wholesaler for next-to-nothing in bulk. This equipment could be bundled and marked up quite a bit or sold individually. The cutlery is the major expense, and I'd maintain a small stock of mid to high grade knives until sales picked up enough to justify a large inventory.

I'm not fully committed to the idea of a sushi store, so any ideas here would be appreciated. I want to avoid major competition (such as jewelry, most electronics, clothing, etc). I want to be able to stand out as a great site and offer competitive prices, which is definitely possible with my low overhead as long as I purchase wholesale or direct from manufacturer (and I don't mean the fake-wholesale sites that people use to dropship on Ebay).

I'd love to hear some feedback. Anyone with experience in the web-store market may be able to give me some helpful advice. I'd also love to hear some ideas of niche markets I may not have thought of.


Last edited by WTL0715; 22nd October 2008 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 8th December 2008, 10:25 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Triangle area, NC, USA, North America, Earth (usually)
Posts: 4,101

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Have you seen our own Jennifer Laycock's Zero Dollars, a Little Talent and Thirty Days? (It's a free download.) Although it sounds as though you're pretty well-funded and the focus of her experiment was to start a revenue-generating site using little to no out-of-pocket money, I think you may find some interesting ideas for marketing a niche site in what she accomplished.

I think your idea has merit. Keep in mind, too, it isn't just the nice website design / user experience up front that will set you apart, but also an amazing customer service experience on the back end. Customers sometimes call with questions or problems, and this is where a lot of online businesses (and brick & mortar businesses, too, for that matter) drop the ball. If you can do better than the competition in this regard, as well, you'll definitely be sitting pretty.

Good luck (from a fellow accounting type person in NC)!


Diane Aull - NineYards.com: Helping Businesses Do Business Online
Whether you think you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.
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