wOw’s Question of the Week: If you could start a new business, what would it be?


If you had the chance to start from scratch and open a brand new business, what would it be?

LIZ SMITH: I would try my hand, in food-crazy America, at creating the Texas delicacy — chicken-fried steak — selling it from a handsome wagon with a special dispensation from Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ry Kelly to be relieved of health issues and to make life happier for New York workers at construction sites.  (We might add mashed potatoes and creamed gravy and a mixed-green salad.)

Yeah! Yah! The “fried fat cops” might get after me, but what’s a little delicious larceny among friends?

MARY WELLS LAWRENCE: I have two possibilities I bounce back and forth. I would love to raise the money to create schools around America and the rest of the world that would teach young people to love life, to SEE it, to make the most of it and to appreciate other people’s lives. Or I would like to create schools for immigrants and people out of work that teach them technology, where more and more jobs will be. Or, if that is too heady for some of them, to create schools to teach others how to become fabulous butlers — because butlers make more money than anybody except bankers these days. (Just in Russia alone and the Caribbean there is an enormous shortage!)

JONI EVANS: I’d like to start an adoption business that could round up all the dogs that get put to sleep because they are homeless and distribute them to hospitals and old-age homes and widows and widowers where dogs would be helpful and uplifting. We would make sure the dogs were healthy enough for companionship, in good disposition, etc.  and keep them in shelters or on farms where they would have fun while waiting.  We’d eventually have a paid veterinary program,  “outpatient” services (rent a dog!), a website, and find other ways to be profitable.



21 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Few of us come out of high school knowing what we want to do in life.  . or what the best direction we might take to open our worlds and give us the most chance of having a good life later.  For years I have been sitting on so much expertise — and in “private practice” with those who hear of me – talking to high school age boys particularly who may not know the colleges choices that are available.  The most successful college in the country for those with ADD or other learning disabiities is Landmark College in Vermont.  In the one-on -one environment they provide for two years, they build the child’s abilities in what he excels in, making him confident, now having the ability to get that degree from the 4 year university.  That school performs miracles.  What that college does makes me weep.

    There are boys who just want to work with their hands . . . but no parent wants to send them out in the world without training and – if possible – a degree.  For those boys, there is the best school in the country called WYOTECH – with 6 campuses, strict rules, and the leading car, truck, and yacht companies interested in snapping them up for great salaries on graduation in 2 years.  The boy becomes a man in those years — one to be proud of as they will not turn out anything less.

    Those are but two of the directions I have sent teens who could easily have falllen off the rails and life without counseling.  It works!  So I would say “college counseling” absolutely.

    The rewards – well, they lie in my heart.  And what could be better?

    • avatar D C says:

      Sign me up for an appointment, please!  Mid-day today I had the end of year ARD (admission/review/dismissal) at my high school freshman son’s school to discuss next year’s plan.  My son has Asperger’s Syndrome, is very high functioning, but I don’t see him going to a regular University — at least none I’ve heard of yet. 

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    It is very shocking to learn that there is a butler shortage in Russia.  I am, well, speechless. Well, not really, but I will be polit and just not say anything.

    • avatar Joan Larsen says:

      As it turns out, Snooks, Mary Wells is “right on”.  .  . and articles in major newspapers and magazines confirm that there are a shortage of butlers.  . and in our country as well as in Europe — and if NYT is correct, they are making a lot more than most people can dream of.

      Men – men with background and been to college and particularly if they are divorced (and who isn’t) and more or less FREE, I too tell them that there is a butler school in NYC who not only prepares you for what will be asked for but of course, can find you employment after your training.  This is not the 1920s now — and needs range from an assistant, someone who can do the paperwork, travel with them, to being a jack of all trades depending.  But it is not forever — and opens up another world and the salary that will amaze.  Hard work?  Sure.  But sure beats Walmart and McDonalds —

      I think in these days we should be aware that – for the right person – it can open up another world with a salary to love.  I wish more writers would make us aware of possibilities for occupations that we had no idea existed.  . especially in our world now.

      Just my thoughts . . .

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        A butler is a butler is a butler.  A major domo perhaps is a little better in terms of the perception. But a servant is a servant is a servant.  Even at $250,000 a year.

        Can’t pay my bills but still get an occasional invite to the manor so to speak. And sometimes never speak to the lord and lady after I leave. You couldn’t pay me enough to be talked to the way I’ve seen people talk to the butler. And the rest of the servants. But some will do anything for money I suppose. Including becoming a butler.

        Having a house requiring servants these days to me is just more of the “I have, therefore I am” hubris that seems to have contributed to the collapse of civilization.

        Just my thoughts.  Which perhaps I should keep to myself.

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    As for the chicken-fried steak all I can say it that it probably would end all wars – send the bad boys to Texas for a “peace conference” at one of the little roadside cafes out in the country and serve them all a big platter of chicken-fried steak with mashed potatioes and creamed gravy and then tell them they cannot have another platter unless they agree to behave. And then send them all home with a nice fudge pecan pie. They really should just move the United Nations to Texas.

  4. avatar Maggie W says:

    A couple of months ago, I attended a country wedding complete with a wedding march and dance band.   This was one of those Texas wedding dances where little girls in frilly dresses danced on their daddies’ boots. Country fried steak was served to around 250.  Just fantastic and so very Texan. 

    About a start up business.  Been there, done that.  It was a big risk when my husband and I were in our 20’s and not afraid of a failing bank.  We also didn’t know what we didn’t know. It has served us well, but I would not take that same risk today. 

    Once a month, I am a volunteer at a barn that houses abused horses.  These horses have trust issues and require much patience. Too often, people buy a horse but have no idea how to care for the animal.  Teens complete community hours (assigned by a judge) there.  They are wonderful with the horses although most have never been near one before.   If time and money were no object, I would start a program that could pair the two… a  neglected teen paired with a neglected horse.

  5. avatar D C says:

    I would open a quaint little event hall so people who do not spend all their savings on fabulous weddings could still have a nice little reception and dance, and on weekends when there wasn’t a little wedding, 50-somethings could come and dance the night away and not feel like freaks.  My husband and I go dancing at least once a month (it was our 2011 resolution) but the place we go is 45 minutes away.  It’s the one place we’ve found where they play great dance music that young people enjoy too, but we aren’t even close to the oldest people who go there. 

  6. avatar JKristen says:

    I would start a children’s museum. Of course it would focus on education being fun, but I would also like to teach children how to care for fish in an aquarium and pets. Maybe we would have a petting zoo, or work with the local shelter and have adoptable pets that visitors and members could help care for. Long term members would grow up to be docents and volunteers. We would have permanent exhibits and special activities on different days, different themes, new things to learn and to do all the time. A place where learning “everyday” things is fun.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      These children museums are wonderful. We have one in Houston. They actually engage a child. Which is more than the schools do. Succiess in life is not determined by how well you do on the tests. Eventually someone will figure that out and return “engagement” to education.

      • avatar JKristen says:

        I have spent hours reading through “core curriculum standards” in order to make sure a school tour conformed to what the kids needed. It is not easy at a small house museum to make our history important to ev ery grade level.

        I like engaging the kids and they enjoy thinking for themselves!

  7. avatar Linda Myers says:

    Years ago, I wrote a mission statement for myself and where I was and what I would do, I think it will happen – though some days right now, it feels more like being in the center of a tornado spinning rather than completing the dream direction. When the spinning stops, just hope I am not still in Kansas. Dorothy might have preferred that, but not me.

  8. avatar Ana says:

    I am approaching my 49th birthday and have worked many different jobs in my life, 4 years in the army as a truck driver, more years after as an 18 wheeler truck driver, drove 300 ton mining trucks for awhile, restaurant jobs, security jobs, correctional officer in a federal prison, construction jobs, and many types of odd jobs. So most of my life has been working occupations which are mostly male dominated and being a woman I’ve certainly had my share of contempt.

    But I had finally reached a point where I said to myself, I want to work in something in which I’m not so hated and can make people happy. As it turned out I saw a commercial for a massage therapy school one day and thought, I could do that and it would make people happy. So several thousand dollars and 2 years later I emerged as a state licensed massage therapist. But I had also learned during that time that there was no way I wanted to work in one of those spa’s where the office politics and gossip was intolerable. So I determined to start my own business and that I did about 2 years ago.

    I expected difficulties and being an older person who had worked all her life for other people, I had a good idea of what I would be dealing with as a business owner. However, it honestly came as a complete shock to me that massage was linked to prostitution and I was not at all prepared for the types of clients I would be dealing with who did know about that and made assumptions about me that made me feel worse about myself and my occupation than any other person had ever done in all the other jobs I had ever worked.

    I still believe very strongly in massage and all it’s amazing health benefits and quite frankly I absolutely love the work I do, I have difficulty charging people because I almost feel I should be paying them for the privilege. I feel like I have truly found my calling in life and going to work is exciting. Being my own boss is the icing on the cake. I’ve moved to a new town and opened up a new shop about 2 weeks ago. It’s a better town and the few clients I have so far are nice, decent people but I can’t help but wonder sometimes why people will still seek the bad when the good is standing right in front of them.

    • avatar Linda Myers says:

      I do understand where you are coming from when trying to put a value on a service which to yourself does not seem like work. For years, I refused to accept money and even now, I use my own tools more in exchange for the value the person gives rather than a charge. My uncle finally changed my thinking a bit when he asked me how I could determine a value another person sees as being the worth of what you do. You can’t. When the service comes easy to you – that is living and working in your own passion – being reciprocated for your service as we see as less than work, another might see as gold in their life. Accept your value and I hope you flourish in the process.

      • avatar Ana says:

        Thank you Linda, that is very good advice. I’ve gotten better about taking payment but I was once told by an instructor that a therapist will usually draw a certain kind of clientele and it seems my draw is people with medical conditions who don’t have a lot of money. My heart just goes out to them and I’ll often try to work with them on what they can afford but I need to occasionally remind myself that this is my sole source of income and I have bills to pay too, that makes it a bit easier to put my hand out for payment. Really appreciate your response and will be spending time on your website too, very interesting! 🙂

        • avatar Linda Myers says:

          When you truly believe in yourself and your abilities – when you hear the call of another the last thing I do is ask for pay first. I have found the pay comes later and more than expected. People do not forget responding when they are able too. 10 fold is not a myth. 🙂

          • avatar Ana says:

            Indeed! I tell my mom that I usually have about 90% faith but it’s the lack of the 10% that’s killing me lol. Just kidding of course, I think it’s a matter of you either have it or you don’t, walking in it is the hard part but I sure wouldn’t have it any other way 😀

            The question in this column has got me thinking quite a bit about that part of all of us that wants so desperately to reach out to other people and try to help lift them up in some way. Seems like most people’s dreams of a business is one that attempts to satisfy that desire. We can recognize the good reaching out brings to our own lives but overcoming the obstacles requires faith to begin and seeing those obstacles crumble and disintegrate before your eyes when that faith is put into action becomes it’s own reward. There is no feeling in the world so pure and noble as gratitude, I think.

            I’ve been reading some of your responses in other questions and am so looking forward to spending time on your site. You seem to me a person with a depth of wisdom and understanding seldom found. And I’ve lived long enough to recognize how much more valuable that is than any amount of gold and silver. 🙂

  9. avatar Linda says:

    My part-time life, would be my full-time life.

  10. avatar PoetSad says:

    It would be to open a little store that sells ‘what-nots’, a place where there would be about 3-4 computers, and a copier/printer, a place for coffee/drinks, where people can read/relax at little comfortable chairs. To have my published books of poetry available to be sold (not published yet).

  11. avatar Apres Ski says:

    A internet cafe open 24-hours, all year round, with Macs & PCs. It would have good food & drink but I would hire responsible people to work the night shift. If they didn’t have a laptop, renting a computer would cheap. But I’d like to have computer classes so people would know what to do and how to do it.

    It’s not the days, but the nights that make people crazy.