Business Ventures: 5 Examples of New Business Ideas That Worked

By Kelsey McKeon / 3 December 2020

A business venture is a way for entrepreneurs to pursue passion projects and improve income. We surveyed 501 business founders to understand the main reason they started their business venture, the worries they had before launching, and the challenges they faced in the early days of their operation. We also highlight  5 examples of business ventures that worked to illustrate how entrepreneurs can successfully launch a business.

What does it really take to strike out on your own and start a business venture?

Creating and starting a new business is a risky and rewarding undertaking for many entrepreneurs. The rewards of pursuing a personal passion or earning extra income often come at a cost, however.

Business founders often must balance business challenges such as building a customer base with maintaining personal relationships and managing worries about the business.

The Manifest surveyed 501 business founders and found one-quarter of founders (26%) started a business to improve income potential. Still, 21% started a business to pursue a passion. 

We use 5 case studies to prove a business venture can balance earning income with a personal passion, ranging from cooking and the outdoors to growth strategy solutions and cleaning products.

Our Findings

  • About one in four business founders (26%) started a business mainly to improve their income potential.
  • One-fifth of business founders (21%) say the main reason they started a business was to pursue a passion. Entrepreneurs with specific passions and hobbies must create an informed, researched business plan based on their target market.
  • Just 11% of business founders worried about maintaining a support network outside of their business venture. Founders should strategize to identify networks of support for when business is tough.
  • More than one-third of business founders (36%) say their biggest challenge was building a customer base. Entrepreneurs should leverage their professional networks and establish partnerships that build awareness for their venture.
  • Most female business founders (83%) expressed worries about starting a business. 
  • 27% of millennial business founders say balancing personal life with the new venture was the biggest challenge they faced in the early days of their business.

What Is a Business Venture?

A business venture is any new business created to make a profit that also involves risk. Business ventures can be anything from small lawn care operations to large silicon valley enterprises.

Despite the risk of financing and starting a business, more than one-quarter of business founders (26%) started their ventures to improve their income potential. 

26% of business founders say the main reason they started their own business was to improve their income potential

Improving income potential was the top reason business founders gave for launching their ventures.

These 5 examples highlight successful business ventures and the entrepreneurs behind them.

1. The Forked Spoon Turned Passion Into Success

Most people have hobbies, passions, or interests that they pursue in their free time. But, what about people who turn their passions into successful businesses? 

More than one-fifth of business founders say they started their business to pursue a personal passion.

21% of business founders started a business to pursue a passion.

Not all personal passions make great business ideas, though. Even the most passionate founders might struggle to raise funding, manage assets, acquire customers, or compete in a crowded marketplace.

Jessica Randhawa is a chef and founder of The Forked Spoon, a cooking blog that focuses on healthy, family-friendly recipes. 

“I chose to start my recipe business because food and recipes are sought year-round, and generally do well even in recessions,” Randhawa said.

The Forked Spoon Recipe Blog

Randhawa’s healthy, family-friendly meals are inspired by her overseas travels and fast-paced life with her young son. Her passion for cooking and past experiences with blogging set The Forked Spoon up for success.

Cooking Blogs and Websites Have Few Barriers to Entry but Face Heavy Competition

Websites and blogs are easy platforms for passionate entrepreneurs and writers like Randhawa to launch a passion project.

“Launching a recipe website can cost as little as $150 if you can utilize your phone as a camera to start,” Randhawa said. “The most expensive cost right off the bat is the time commitment when compared to the minimum capital and operational cost.”

Randhawa began using her smartphone camera to take photos of her recipes and creations before learning to use professional photography tools. This meant her overhead costs were low despite significant investment in personal time.

The Forked Spoon Picture

Randhawa relied on social media and blog platforms to establish a brand voice and help The Forked Spoon stand out from other online passion projects. She started by creating content on Blogger before adding content to her Pinterest account.

“All of my early content was pretty bad in retrospect, but I used the experience as a foundation to learn from,” Randhawa said.

Blogger is an online blogging platform that allows writers and entrepreneurs to create blogs and publish content without coding or web design expertise. Starting her business on Blogger helped her build writing skills and establish a home for her recipes.

Blogger Platform

Building a following for The Forked Spoon took time, but Randhawa was able to build a customer base on Pinterest after consistently publishing blog content.

“If I had not been actively creating content before Pinterest, I don't think I would have been in a position to stand out and establish my customer base,” Randhawa said.

Randhawa was able to populate The Forked Spoon’s Pinterest page with content from the blog that she had already created.

Forked Spoon Pinterest

The online recipe and food space is a highly saturated market, though. Few barriers to entry mean extremely high competition among chefs and recipe developers looking to grow a following.

Randhawa’s Pinterest following enabled The Forked Spoon to stand out from major competitors, including AllRecipes and Food Network.

Randhawa’s passion for healthy cooking drove her to create a successful business based on personal interest. This passion helped her through the challenging early days of her business.

“In retrospect, it is probably best that my business did begin as a project of passion,” Randhawa said. “If I had the mindset of chasing profits right from the beginning, my first year or so would have been very challenging mentally.”

“In retrospect, it is probably best that my business did begin as a project of passion,” Randhawa said. “If I had the mindset of chasing profits right from the beginning, my first year or so would have been very challenging mentally.”

Passion projects may seem risky, but the right amount of preparation and work could help turn your passion into a business venture.

2. Dr. Brite Founders Established a Support Network

Business founders are motivated to establish and grow their ventures, but they don’t want to do so at the expense of their personal support networks.

Still, only one-tenth of business founders (11%) worried about maintaining a strong support network the most when starting a business. 

11% of business founders worried about maintaining a support network in the first 3 months of their business.

Support networks provide moral and sometimes financial support to new business founders. Support networks can include:

  • Business partners
  • Family members
  • Close friends
  • Romantic partners

The demands of launching a new business venture can be isolating for new founders. Entrepreneurs should prepare by building a support network into their operations.

Some business founders maintain a support network by starting a business with a partner. Dr. Pooneh Ramezani co-founded the household cleaning supply company Dr. Brite in 2015 with her sister, Dr. Paris Sabo.

“As Doctors, sisters, and co-founders, Paris and I have devoted our lives over the years to help and serve our communities,” Ramezani said.

Dr. Brite Cleaning Essentials Business Venture

A co-founder or business partner can be a sounding board for ideas, as well as an empathetic source of support. A business partner can also offer a complementary set of skills and expertise.

Ramezani's co-founder and sister, Dr. Paris Sabo, is also a physician.

"I love having a co-founder. It allows me to focus on the areas that I am strong at so that I don't have to do everything," said Ramezani. "In the early days of the business, you need all the support you can get."

"I love having a co-founder. It allows me to focus on the areas that I am strong at so that I don't have to do everything."

Dr. Sabo is a cancer surgeon and biochemist, so she brings a different set of medical knowledge and expertise to Dr. Brite, as well as a passion for the company's mission and vision.

Dr. Brite Co-founders

Starting a business with a trusted partner can help distribute the new business’s workload, allowing for greater work-life balance. Having a partner within the company can also provide a support system in the challenging early days of a business.

"Maintaining a support network outside work was very difficult in the first 3 to 6 months," Ramezani said. "As you are building your business, you spend the majority of your time at the office trying to get things done and stay on track. You don't have time for socializing or networking."

"As you are building your business, you spend the majority of your time at the office trying to get things done and stay on track. You don't have time for socializing or networking."

Business founders often launch businesses with small teams. That means accounting, marketing, strategy, and operations all fall to one or two people in the first few months of the business's operation.

Taking on a business partner can provide a support system during times when it's difficult to find support outside of work, whether in the first 3 to 6 months or during periods of demand increase.

Ramezani saw a massive increase in demand for Dr. Brite's cleaning products at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase in demand made work-life balance difficult, even though the business was already well-established.

Fortunately, having a family member as COO helps ease the burdens for Ramezani.

"There is no one I trust more than my family, so it is a blessing to have my sister who has the same values and mission as our co-founder to take on research and product development, product formulation, and innovation," Ramezani said.

3. Pure Cabo Established a Customer Base Early

New business ventures can only get off the ground if they can grow a loyal group of customers to buy their products.

More than one-third of business founders (36%), though, said building a customer base was the biggest challenge when starting their business.

36% of business founders said establishing a customer base was the biggest challenge when starting a business.

A customer base is different from a market or group of potential customers. A customer base will keep buying a business’s goods and services and can be relied on as a steady source of income for a new venture.

One way to identify and attract a customer base is to find a clear gap in knowledge or products that your business can fill.

Dwight Zahringer is an entrepreneur who founded his company, Pure Cabo, because he saw a need for improved hospitality services in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

“I would frequently take trips here multiple times throughout the year whenever I could,” Zahringer said. “I saw a huge gap here for hospitality and activity booking catering to tourists. People want an online service that's secure, trustworthy, and simple to book, plus has great customer service. Our customers are on vacation, after all. They don't want to stress about booking anything from scuba diving guides to private tequila tastings.”

Zahringer used opportunities for bespoke vacation experiences, such as dune buggy and yacht rentals, to identify a base of customers traveling to Cabo San Lucas.

Pure Cabo Tourism Business

He also relied on his existing network and referral partnerships in Cabo San Lucas for partnerships in the early days of his business.

These early partnerships, where Zahringer would co-host events and booking experiences with other businesses in the hospitality industry, helped Pure Cabo build momentum and scale operations.

"I viewed the first 16 months or so as an investment, not a time to expect huge profits,” Zahringer said. “We focused on a great website, a great social media presence, stellar customer service, and most of all those intuitive partnerships with agents and others in the hospitality business. That got the momentum going by year two.”

Business founders can identify a customer base by clearly defining their products’ value proposition, and then envisioning the ideal customer for that product. 

They also can define an ideal customer by demographic information, location, purchasing habits, and buying strategy. 

Partnerships and marketing investment eventually allowed Zahringer to scale his operations. Eventually, his services were able to take on larger group bookings. Now, Pure Cabo is able to accommodate large bookings and services for hundreds of people at a time - a far cry from the individual and family travel he was planning initially.

Building strategic partnerships with companies offering similar services in Cabo San Lucas allowed Zahringer to establish a consistent customer base of individuals and small groups of tourists. This built the foundation for his expansion into larger bookings and events.

4. Elevate Diamond Strategy Breaks Gender Barriers to Founding a Business Venture

Women entrepreneurs often face unique challenges when starting a business.

Female business founders experienced more worries starting their business than male founders: 83% of female founders identified worries when starting a business compared to 75% of men.

One in five female founders (20%) worried about accessing funding, and 11% of female founders worried about paying off debt. Only 7% of men worried about paying off debt.

20% of women founders worried about access to funding before starting a business.

Not all women business founders experience worries, though. Michelle Diamond is a female CEO and founder of Elevate Diamond Strategy, a growth strategy, development, and execution advisory and interim executive firm. 
 
Diamond saw a need for efficient growth strategies that were easy for large and small businesses to implement, leading her to found her own business consulting firm. Elevate Diamond Strategy provides growth strategy consulting for businesses of all sizes. Growth strategy is a business strategy that allows a company to grow its market share quickly and efficiently. 
 
"I started my business because I wanted to provide growth strategy development and execution services and solutions in a way that was effective and easy to implement and understand for companies of all sizes,” Diamond said. “Large companies usually have problems with execution because many growth strategies are overly complex and are not executable.”

Elevate Diamond Strategy Offerings

Diamond has used her expertise to help businesses of all sizes implement growth strategies. Despite being in a male-dominated industry, Diamond faced no challenges because of her gender.
 
“My biggest challenge in the first three months was getting potential clients to consider me and my services even though I was not from the city where I started my business, Diamond said. “The people from the city acted like a close-knit small town and were not automatically open and inviting to "outsiders" like me.” 
 
Consulting often relies on interpersonal relationships and referrals.  Diamond eventually met this challenge by connecting with local firms and partners to build a network and build word-of-mouth marketing.

When she started her business, Diamond was among the 17% of women who did not have any worries about financing the company, balancing work and personal life, or finding a support network.
 
“I was confident in the services I was providing and got great advice from people who were successful in this field,” Diamond said. “They helped me to understand the time it would take for my business to take off and what I would need to do to be successful."
 
Diamond’s expertise combined with advice from others in her professional network contributed to her confidence in her business venture.

Women entrepreneurs may still face structural barriers in the workplace, particularly women of color. Diamond’s growth strategy, however, shows what’s possible when an entrepreneur understands their market, value proposition, and their own expertise.

5. Wilderness Redefined Offers a Millennial Perspective on Work-Life Balance

Some may still associate the term “millennial” with a twenty-something young professional. Most millennials, however, are now in their prime earning years. 
 
According to Pew Research, a millennial is anyone born between 1981 and 1996, making the oldest millennials in their late 30s. Millennials are now the generation balancing the responsibilities of working adulthood with entrepreneurship.
 
More than one-quarter of millennial entrepreneurs (27%) say the main challenge they experienced when starting a business was balancing their personal life with the new business venture.
 
27% of millennial business founders said the main challenge was balancing a personal life with their business venture.
 
James Black is the founder and editor of Wilderness Redefined. His passion for the outdoors led him to launch Wilderness Redefined, an online resource that offers advice and information on how best to enjoy outdoor activities.

Wilderness Redefined

Black also is among the 27% of millennial business founders who started business ventures to pursue personal passions.
 
Pursuing a passion while balancing a full-time career, however, can be challenging for business founders at any age. Millennials, though, don’t have many of the financial benefits that come with age, such as hefty savings accounts or investments. 

Black manages Wilderness Redefined with a friend and business partner, allowing him to balance his website efforts with his day job as an economist.
 
"Balancing between the full-time job and Wilderness Redefined is a manageable because I co-run the website with my close friend Fraser Barker, who shares my passion for the outdoors and my reasons for creating the website, and because the "day job" offers me some flexibility vis a vis time," Black said. "The main challenge is finding the time to actually get out there!"

Black benefits from dividing responsibilities with a business partner who shares his values and love of the outdoors, as well as the flexibility of both his full-time work and the nature of his online business. 

"I am very mindful, that my full-time job, which I love, has to come first," Black said. "My paid employment has given me the resources to pursue my love of outdoor activities; I can't forget that."
 
Like business founders from other generations, though, Black also faced challenges building an audience and customer base for his business venture. Almost one-third of millennial business founders (29%) said building a customer base was their biggest challenge.
 
“The main challenge has been reaching a credible audience, one that is willing to believe my message,” Black said. “The potential for reaching out to people and sharing my knowledge and advice is greatly enhanced through the website itself and of course other social media.”
 
Wilderness Redefined is about making the outdoors accessible to people of all ages and comfort levels. Incorporating themes of sustainability, as well as Black’s own economic expertise, in his outdoors guides also helped set Wilderness Redefined apart from competitors in the space.

Fortunately, Black has established sustainable strategies to balance his business venture with his full-time job.

"For the moment, [Wilderness Redefined] offers me the luxury of bringing the outdoors inside and the ability to share that passion with others," Black said. "For now it's a hobby, but who doesn't dream of making a living from doing the things they love the most?"

"For now it's a hobby, but who doesn't dream of making a living from doing the things they love the most?"

Millennial entrepreneurs can balance their business ventures with the pressures of full-time work by relying on a support network, taking on a business partner, or seeking out advice from a mentor or consultant.

Entrepreneurs Overcome Worries and Challenges in Business Ventures

A business venture is an opportunity to increase income while pursuing a passion. Many founders, though, still struggle to balance their passion projects with the realities of business ownership, such as identifying a customer base and balancing work and personal life.

One-fifth of business founders say the main reason they started a business was to pursue a passion. Passion projects, however, require thorough research of the target market and competition.

Only 11% of business founders also worried about maintaining a strong support network before starting their business. If time outside the business is limited, it's helpful to bring on a partner or trusted advisor to empathize with specific challenges of a new business venture. 

More than one-third of business founders say their biggest challenge was building a customer base. Founders can establish an early customer base by leveraging their professional networks and building connections in the location of their businesses. 

Millennial founders have specific worries and challenges when starting a business. More than one-fourth of millennials (27%)  say balancing personal life with the new business was their biggest challenge.

New business founders can learn from entrepreneurs across about how to balance the challenges and opportunities of starting a business venture. It's possible for founders to earn extra income while pursuing a passion with the right support network and strategic planning.

About the Survey

The Manifest surveyed 501 business founders in December 2019.

55% of respondents are female, 45% are male.

44% of respondents are age 55 and older; 42% are ages 35 and 54; 10% are ages 25 to 34, and 4% are ages 18 and 24.

Respondents are from the South (38%), Midwest (22%), West (22%), and Northeast (14%). 4% of respondents did not identify their region.

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