How many times have you said it to yourself? "I wish I'd thought of that!" Great business ideas are hard to come by and when you see one, you often wish you'd had the idea first. Here are five business plans we think have great potential. While you may not be able to duplicate them, they are great food for thought while considering how to start a business of your own.
Sprinkles on the Go – Bringing ice cream and candy to special events
Laina Hays has wanted to own an ice cream truck since she was 7 years old. When she decided to have a family, she quit her job in accounting and started Sprinkles on the Go, a single-unit ice cream truck that she operates without employees.
Hays started the business four years ago with an investment of less than $10,000. Unlike regular ice cream trucks, though, Hays created a business plan that's unique because she focuses on bringing her frozen treats to groups, rather than trolling the treats looking for one customer at a time. While she does have permit to drive around selling ice cream, which she sometimes does, she focuses on group events, parties and picnics where she can park her truck and serve a whole group at once.
That kind of marketing has allowed her to own the business while also raising her children. While she doesn't work full time, Hays said that if she did, there would be more than enough business to support her family.
AtmosAir Solutions – Creating allergy-proof hotel rooms
Anyone with allergies can tell you that they can ruin a good time — even on vacation. That's why more hotels are offering customers "allergy-free" rooms.
AtmosAir Solutions provides the systems that remove the allergens from the air.
“Providing clean indoor air in hotels is not a luxury. It’s becoming a necessity for brand protection, filling hotel rooms and it makes smart marketing sense,” said Steve Levine, president and CEO of AtmosAir, which is based in Fairfield, Conn. The company markets and installs clean air devices in hotels.
AtmosAir Solutions has completed installation in one Hyatt hotel in New York where all 270 rooms have bi-polar ionization systems and another Hilton, also located in New York, that has AtmosAir systems located in the health club, locker rooms and in the employees' marketing area.
The company is also working on installing its systems in three Trinity Hotels in the Minnesota area.
Ring Ring – Providing vanity phone numbers
Got a salon, a restaurant or a bait-and-tackle shop you'd like to promote? Try one of these phone numbers: 1-(866)-MASCARA , 1-(866)-EAT-SALAD or 1-(866)-LIVE-BAIT.
These "vanity numbers," and hundreds like them, are available to business owners —and personal residences, too —through a company called Ring Ring. Though many vanity numbers are available directly through the phone company, Ring Ring, which has been in business since 2005, works to match business owners looking for a memorable phone numbers with the companies that own the rights to them. Ring Ring acts as a third party and "leases" the numbers to the business owners. The cost can range from a small monthly fee to thousands of dollars depending on the number.
Company president Aaron Beals said the company will also help business owners find phone numbers they'd like to use, but can't get access to through the phone company.
Kaptur.com – Creating online photo albums from all your friends' photos
Surely you've had it happen to you. Your friends post great pictures of you on their Facebook page, but the process of getting copies for yourself and assembling them in an album can be more work that it's worth.
Kaptur.com uses a proprietary technology to automatically comb your social media contacts' pages and find pictures of your events and bring them to your Kaptur album. Images can also be added manually.
The business was created by former ESPN colleagues Vik Mishra and Tejpaul Bhatia, who raised $1.3 million from private investors to launch the company earlier this year.
The company's business plan is designed to monetize the service, which is free to consumers, in three ways: Consumers can purchase prints, through nontraditional targeted advertising, and by allowing other businesses to license the technology.
"Research has recently revealed that nearly two-thirds of brides are ditching the traditional wedding album in favor of uploading all their pictures onto Facebook and other websites," Bhatia said in a statement.
CaterBid.com – Changing the way people book caterers
Finding a caterer can be stressful. And, when it comes to picking who will fit your needs, it can be virtually impossible to compare apples to apples, as it were.
Enter CaterBid.com, a website that allows caterers to bid for customers' business.
Similar to eBay, Priceline.com and other online comparison services, CaterBid.com allows caterers to name their price. It allows consumers to get a good price while giving caterers a platform on which to promote their businesses.
“Having many years of experience in the catering business, I saw a tremendous void in the market," said Rhona Silver, founding director and spokesperson for CaterBid.com. "What Priceline.com did for air travel and what Hotels.com did for accommodations, CaterBid.com will do for catering,” she said.