Pretty much any business idea you come up with can be made 100% cooler with a classic car. I can immediately think of at least five classic car incorporated business ideas that would still work without the classic car element, for example:
Then there's the choice between the obvious, easy to set up options, like chauffeured wedding hire and the harder to arrange and set up, like campervan holiday hire.
Bear in mind that, whatever you choose to do, the easier the idea is to implement the more readily people will copy it and, on the other hand, if there's not that many people doing something it's probably because it is quite risky and scary to hand the keys to your pride and joy over to a group of strangers for the week, even if they did give you £850+ in peak season for the privilege.
But I'll let you mull the details. Whatever venture you do choose, make sure you always follow the golden rule of the side biz:
Your side biz should make you money with minimal effort- that is the end goal. It is not a hobby for you to sink time, money and emotional labour into with no possible hope of a return (that was what the car was for!)
I can already hear the "buts..." of people who still believe in the old 'blow money to make money' way of thinking. Well this is 2016 and I'm here to say to that simply- no!
Start Small and Grow Organically
This is a side biz. Unless you're starting a company to rival, say, Apple- in which case the advice you seek is well beyond the scope of this blog post, please stop reading this and get real about your life- you do not need to drop a load of money on advertising and promotional materials.
Starting small has never been easier thanks to the internet. Build yourself a free website. Order yourself some free business cards. Set up your social media accounts and keep them regularly updated. Do not expect a full calendar of bookings in the first year, but by doing these things rather than paying for a stand at every classic car/wedding-themed event you can find in your area, you're letting people who actually want to find you (via. search engines and word of mouth) know that you exist.
Takeaway Tip: Do not pay to attend events where there is absolutely no chance of directly selling your products/services to customers then and there.
Network... Beyond your Friends who also own Classic Cars
This one should make complete sense and yet people still pay actual money to advertise in magazines and at shows specifically for people who like and (mostly) own classic cars. Your friends share the same interests as you, which is awesome, but which also means they don't want to pay you for something they would rather be doing themselves (sorry, friend!)
And in any case, if you do somehow manage to persuade all your friends to buy your product/service, you're actually just cashing-in favours which they will expect to be reciprocated at a later date when they launch their own, similar (or maybe even more expensive!) venture.
But don't give up just yet, there's plenty of people out there who do want to pay for your products/services. You just have to expand the net. Look for people outside of your little classic car friend group. People you work with? Family friends? Look for events that intersect with, but are not specifically about classic cars (or start one yourself!) A friend of mine who makes gorgeous furniture from reclaimed wood was surprised that the best show she sold at last year was a Food Festival. But when you think about it, her hand-crafted furniture would obviously stand out in a crowd of food stalls.
Takeaway Tip: Your friends are great, but they're all just like you. Find a different crowd/event that your side biz can really stand out in.
Do Not Work for Free
Ever. People who do not want to pay for things are not your customers. End of.
Trading like-for-like services is ok, sometimes, but make sure you're actually getting something tangible in return, not just the vague promise of 'publicity'. And get it in writing. If someone doesn't want to commit to that they're probably not planning on fulfilling any promises.
Takeaway Tip: It's easy when you've put so much effort and passion into your idea to want to make financial sacrifices in the hope that they will pay off in the form of future work, but your focus should be making money in the here and now.
...And for God's Sake, Be Nice!
A last point. Your business will never be as niche and unique as you think it is. Even if you have somehow come up with the most original and amazing idea ever, it won't be long until someone else finds out, copies you (maybe even, no! Adapts it to be better!!) and you lose your edge. But the one thing that is always underestimated is how far just being bloody nice can go.
People want to feel that in buying something from you they are doing something amazing for themselves. People do not want to buy things from someone who seems pushy, desperate or, equally bad, someone who is dismissive and rude.
Takeaway Tip: Try to strike the right balance. Remember, your side biz should involve minimal effort and stress, so keep a positive attitude about it.
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