Inspiring Business Ideas – Etiquette Classes

This post is part of a series of business ideas that come to me in the course of everyday life. Some of them are in areas I have experience and expertise in, while others will be more off-the-wall. I will comment briefly on the skeleton structure, how to get started, overall viability, and projected payoff. If you like it, feel free to take it and run with it.

It’s been said that a good entrepreneur meets needs, but a great one anticipates them. Indeed, being the first to exploit (or perhaps start) a trend is a great way to get a jump on becoming the big fish in a new market. Such was the approach of a certain Sara Jane Ho.

She certainly has an impeccable resume, having graduated from Harvard Business School and working a few years as an investment banker (one of the featured “good jobs” in my book). But suppose that she realized along the way that working for someone else would never make her rich, and that the long hours would ruin her health and sanity before long. Thus, she looked inwards trying to think of what she could do with her skills.

Mainland Chinese, thanks the the conditioning after the Cultural Revolution, have two distinct traits. Having lost their distinct culture, they came to worship money, especially after the country opened up to foreign investment and started adopting capitalist ways. They also have an inferiority complex, having been under the thumb of foreign oppressors for the past 400 years in recent history (until after WWII). It’s no wonder that they are aspirational, trying to adopt the ways and mannerisms of their previous overlords.

Taking advantage of this yearning, Sara Jane Ho started a business teaching culture and class to the nouveau riche of China. This includes social graces, table manners, and being a consummate host.

Let’s count the number of reasons why this is a great business idea, using principles from my book.

  1. The business combines her unique skills. She’s fluent in Chinese, understands Chinese needs, but has also grown up and gone to school in America. She’s therefore the perfect credible intermediary to bring western mores to Chinese.
  2. Startup costs are low. It doesn’t cost much to run a series of seminars and workshops. Most of her costs are probably related to advertising, and even those will recede as her business becomes more popular through word of mouth.
  3. She can charge premium dollars to a captive audience. This is one of the big advantages of creating a business that caters to the rich.



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