Original question from Quora:
What are some great business ideas that you wouldn’t mind giving away for free?
Any idea, small or big that you just dont care enough to try on your own for whatever reason. Any random idea that has ever popped into your head that you thought was cool or brilliant. I just think this would be really good to get the ball rolling for alot of people, spark the creative process.
I have an insanely great business idea that I can totally give away for free, and if you want you can use it yourself. But I warn you, you might think it’s too boring or obvious to pursue.
Funny enough, most of the best ideas are too boring and obvious to pursue. Well, even if this is a boring idea, it comes with quite the story, so check this out.
Not long ago, I was on vacation with my family driving halfway across the country to California. We drove all the way from Nebraska all the way to California in a minivan filled with children.
Oh and when I say we drove, I mean I did all the driving and my wife did her best to keep the children sane over the three day trip.
Yes, it was a solid three days of driving.
Some parts of the long trip were mundane, some parts were beautiful, but there was one part that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
It was a Sunday and we woke up in Utah. We were in a town in the southwest corner of the state, just a couple miles from the corner of Arizona and Nevada.
As a side note, if you drive the interstate across Utah and Colorado, it is quite beautiful and at times the views are simply breathtaking. They even have some rest stop viewing areas that are great for stopping to take pictures.
Back to our story, on Sunday morning we woke up and I was driving across Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and eventually California. It was mother’s day and I think I called my mom to say happy mother’s day.
You gotta do that on mother’s day right?
So anyway, I was driving and I got to Nevada and I noticed that on one border there was this odd casino and resort city seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It was odd to have this decent sized city along a road where decent sized cities happened once every couple hundred miles or so.
Down further on the road we made it to Las Vegas. I’ve never driven through Las Vegas before, but on a Sunday around lunch time the traffic wasn’t bad. Again, it’s a weird city in the middle of the desert, but we all know that about vegas right?
Quick side note: Trump Tower in Vegas is shiny gold on the outside. That seems fitting doesn’t it?
After we got past Las Vegas, we spotted more weird little towns along the interstate with a casino, hotel, and some kind of entertainment or shopping. In fact, we got to one town right on the border that had an amusement park, a big hotel/casino, and even a bunch of outlet mall shopping.
That’s when things got less awesome.
Up until now traffic moved smooth through the Nevada desert, but for some strange reason it stopped right before we got through this town.
We were stuck in a traffic jam, which sometimes happens along the interstate. It sucked, but once we got past the city, traffic flowed again.
What seemed to happen is the merging traffic caused the three lane traffic to grind to a halt. Every time you’d get going, you’d just end up stopping again. I hate when that happens.
Oh well, onward down the road. Well, for a few miles.
We got to a canyon along the California and Nevada border and traffic completely stopped. Totally and completely stopped. For no reason!
Picture this, it’s a hot Sunday afternoon in the desert and you have miles and miles of traffic, three lanes wide, completely stopped, bumper to bumper, not moving at all, suck.
To make matters worse, people decided to drive on the shoulder to skip ahead. That just meant even more merging and stopping for people obeying the law!
So we are stopped, it’s hot, people are driving like fools, and only every five or so minutes do we creep forward at all.
This went on for the better part of an hour. It was awful.
Then it got worse…
By now it was two or so hours since we ate lunch and my son had to go to the bathroom. “Dad I’ve got to go to the bathroom!” He can hold it, but he’s young enough that he can’t hold it forever.
This is my nightmare.
So here we are, barely moving down the road, in a sweltering hot desert, we can’t pull over because it isn’t safe to be on the shoulder of the road, and my son might pee his pants.
It was not my lucky day.
Somehow, my son was able to hold it longer than I expected and we made it to a tiny gas station along the side of the road.
You have no idea how much of a relief it was just to get off the road and away from the crazy California drivers heading back to L.A. after a weekend of partying in Vegas.
Now, when I say there was a tiny gas station along the side of the road, I mean like a tiny station with something like four pump stations that could service maybe eight vehicles at a time. The building itself wasn’t very big either.
Which brings us to the next crazy part…
We weren’t the only ones who had to stop at this gas station. In fact, at least fifty vehicles of every shape and size were all stopping at this tiny gas station.
That means there were long lines just to get gas. Speaking of long lines to get gas, not only were there long lines, the gas was a good $2 per gallon more expensive than we paid everywhere else. Most places had gas around $2.25 per gallon, and I believe gas here was over $4.50 per gallon.
The gas station was totally swamped with people. The line was easily five cars deep for every gas pump and there wasn’t enough parking to fit all the cars.
Most people parked in the empty desert lot across the street.
Did I mention this is a tiny gas station in the middle of an empty desert? Just making sure you realize how desolate and empty this area is. There is nothing else for miles and miles.
Okay, now I wait in line to get gas and this woman in front of me is having problems filling up. She thought the pump was broken. I had no problems making it work myself, but some combination of her inability to understand the basics of swiping a credit card and pumping gas and the universe’s sense of humor made it impossible for her to put gas into her vehicle while dozens of other people were desperate to spend $50-100 to fill up with gas.
Looking back, it’s sort of funny to see all these people in fancy BMW’s and less fancy Ford Fiesta’s and even someone pulling a very large pontoon boat with a very large truck trying to squeeze into this tiny gas station just to fill up.
Oh, speaking of squeezing into the tiny gas station, my son needed to go to the bathroom, so his mother took him inside to wait in line. Oh boy was there a line.
Both the men’s and women’s bathrooms had lines of over a dozen people waiting outside the bathroom. By the time I got inside myself I had to go to the bathroom real bad myself.
So, I had the joy of standing in line for I don’t know how long just to use the toilet.
Oh and you know what’s really strange? The bathroom was incredibly small and instead of a traditional urinal, the owner had put in some kind of waterfall style thing you peed into. It was sort of like a homemade faux-fancy pee trough made of pebbles an mortar that a few men could use at the same time. It even had a waterfall sound in the bathroom.
And I thought peeing into a trough at sporting events was weird.
Goodness, I forgot to mention, aside from the gas being overpriced, this particular gas station sold overpriced organic jerky to the tune of $18 per small bag! I know this because I spent fifteen minutes or more staring at it while I was stuck in line for the bathroom.
By the end of this misadventure, I was ready to get back to my van and move on down the road. If I had payed more attention, I would have likely saw that all the knick-knacks and random crap they were selling was probably very expensive and probably sold better than it should.
If I had to guess, that tiny little gas station has to be one of the most profitable per square foot in the entire world. The sheer unbridled desperation dripping from every traveler was like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Here’s the most unbelievable part. As I understand it, this sort of thing happens almost every week as people from Los Angeles drive back home after a weekend of partying in Las Vegas.
So, every weekend there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people who stop at this little gas station, pay almost double the going rate for gas, nearly pee their pants waiting in line, and end up buying more expensive stuff they never even wanted because they are tired, hungry, and desperate in the middle of the desert.
That gas station is likely raking in millions of dollars a year, far more than I could have imagined a gas station in the middle of nowhere could.
Now, to the original question, here is my business idea…
Put up a gas station in the middle of nowhere along interstate between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. There you will find a steady stream of desperate people who are literally begging to trade their money for gas, snacks, and a bathroom break.
Any fool could put up a gas station out there and make a small fortune. It could be it’s own little California gold rush if anyone is smart enough to do it.
Now as I said in the beginning of this answer, it might seem too boring and obvious, but I still believe it’s an insanely great business idea and now it’s yours to do with whatever you want… for free!
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