Friday, March 22, 2013

New Business Ideas Don’t Always Require Substantial Risk

The Internet has been a great new tool in helping explore a variety of business ideas and options.  Sometimes I meet with success in these areas, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I end up talking myself out of ever trying such ideas well before I ever get to that point.

 This is a good thing, since exploring and trying new business opportunities can get costly.  But lately, I’ve found that sometimes I can get a good feel for what such an opportunity entails without having too put myself out there and risk much in the way of time, effort, or money.

Self-employment
Becoming self-employed took a “leap of faith” so to speak.  This doesn’t mean that I didn’t work to prepare for this transition before it happened though.  I spent several years practicing my trade, learning about the field into which I was preparing to move, and creating a financial reserve and business plan before ever quitting my regular job.  This way I was fairly confident in my abilities to make it with my work and the situation into which I was moving well before I ever left my day job and gave up the stable salary that went along with it.

Business Plans
As I mentioned regarding my self-employment, I laid out my ideas and a business plan in advance.  This was an integral way to ensure that there was some method to my madness so to speak.

By creating a business plan, I was able to consider my potential risk and possibility of success, as well as build any backup plans well in advance to actually trying my hand at my new career.  This plan consisted largely of the following:

  • Estimated startup costs
  • Forecasted expenses over the first year of operation
  • Estimated income
  • Cash reserves
  • Short and long-term goals
  • Backup plans
In this way, I was able to get a good feel for what I wanted from my new work, how I could get there, and what would happen if I didn’t. 

Commodities
When people hear the word “commodities”, they might envision crowded trading floors of a mercantile exchange with red-faced traders waving papers in their hands while yelling at one another.  They might also think of investments that could take both substantial amounts of both money and knowledge to feel comfortable accumulating and trading, adding considerable risk to entering the commodities realm.

This however, isn’t necessarily the case.  If you think about it, commodities are all around us.  From the food we eat to the coins we exchange for that food, we live in a world commodities that we can accumulate and trade.

But I don’t need to head down to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to test my hand at commodities.  I can roll over to my local coin shop and purchase some silver or gold if I like.  Otherwise, I could hit the bank and buy rolls of nickels and pennies to attain what else?  Nickel, copper and zinc.  Want to try my hand at agricultural products?  Well, I can head over to the grocery store and load up on food supplies with long shelf lives to stockpile against inflation and rising food prices or just to add to my disaster preparedness kit.

There are all kinds of ways I can test my wit against the commodities market without having to really risk much at all.

Day Trading
But lets say that I want a little bit more than hard assets when it comes to commodities.  Or maybe I want to jump into the stock market and give day trading a shot.  Again, this could seem like a potentially high-risk idea.  But in fact, I’ve been considering it as of late.  However, this doesn’t mean I’m going to dump thousands of dollars into an online trading account right away to test out my market savvy.

 There are less risky ways for me to see whether I have what it takes to make a buck in the stock market (an investment area that has been less than friendly to me in past years).  First off, I’ve picked a list of about 10 stocks to watch.  I don’t have to buy them; I can just gauge them over the next few weeks or months.  If I really want to get a feel for the hot market action after this point, I can sign up for one of those faux trading accounts that gives me the option to trade in real time, but without using actual money.  This way I’m not betting the ranch without having a real idea of what I’m doing.

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