When we think of starting a business these days, our thought is subconsciously drawn towards the disruptive startups that have helped their owners earn millions while propelling them to celebrity status. But have you considered that it's possible to have a successful business that does not require groundbreaking VR technology, expert advertising skills, or expensive video equipment?
Of course yours won't be the trendiest of startups, but if done correctly, it will help you achieve your primary objective, i.e. make money. I'm someone who doesn't have a lot of money or time to invest in a business, so I looked around and came up with a list of business ideas that aren't very demanding.
Opening up a restaurant can be an expensive affair. From hiring chefs to renting space, it can easily cost a few hundred thousand takas. You can pull this off with half the money and effort. If you can make mouth-watering gourmet dishes yourself then become the chef and replace a physical store for an online one, like The Brownie Coterie did. Use Pathao or Cookups for deliveries—you'll be surprised by the demand for your homemade food.
If you have a good fashion sense and can mix and match apparel to come up with unique designs, then this is the business for you. Many people don't have the time to buy fabrics and go to the tailor to have them made, and you can provide them with a solution to this. Let people customise colours, fabrics and designs and you'll have a loyal customer base in no time.
Paper crafts, art prints, candles, notebooks, and handmade jewellery are appreciated by increasingly more people these days. Due to the patronage of companies like Made in Bangladesh and Moar, local consumers now value uncommon handmade crafts and are willing to pay a high price for the effort.
4. Pop culture merchandise
Although there is some pop culture merchandise available online, I believe this is still a niche that can be exploited. Merchandise for many fandoms is still very limited. Here lies the opportunity for you to come up with your own unique merchandise, such as posters, printed mugs, notebooks, or even t-shirts.
5. Freelance graphics, logos, slide decks
Some people just have a natural instinct for designs, colours, and fonts. Instead of
just using this skill for free at your school or university, try to pursue it as a profession. Companies are always looking for good designers, and if you're a pro at Illustrator or Photoshop then you can make some considerable income on the side. Prezenta is such a business that makes custom slide decks, logos, and animations for its clients.
6. Things not available online
Much of the urban youth prefer buying some products online rather than actually going to stores for them. A successful trend that I've noticed is selling products on Facebook which are usually not available online. These include sunglasses, greeting cards, computer accessories, and even common stationery like pens.
In the end it must be realised that startups, of all sizes, require some commitment. To ensure it doesn't feel like a burden, choose something you are genuinely interested in and would like to see it grow big someday. Make sure to keep your costs low, and in turn, your prices low. Or else you'll never make it in this competitive market. Put more effort into the quality of the product than you do in your marketing content. At the end of the day, quality matters, not flashy sponsored posts.
Shahriar is a junior at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.