Mulling a small business idea -- would you use it?

I’m still not sure I would want/need to do this, but I thought it might be interesting to get feedback on a small business idea that just came to me.

Longish backstory:

DD is considering some out of state options for university that, even with significant merit scholarships and financial aid, would be cost-prohibitive over four years. But I’m retired and we plan to sell this house in the next 6-12 months, so there is no reason why I couldn’t move and try to establish residency if she chooses one of the out of state options. All of them are in places I would be interested in living for four or more years (Bay Area – normally wouldn’t consider but DS is there already so it might be fun to all live there for awhile; Oregon (Corvallis or Eugene, though I could always give Portland a try), and Colorado (Boulder or Fort Collins – I would probably live in Longmont to be close to my friend there and also the MMM HQ). One sticking point on the residence issue is that it appears that it is easier to prove if you have a job or business located in the state. If you are “retired” then they want to see you drawing from your retirement.

Anyway, one way I was thinking I might set the residency application up for better success is to start some kind of business. But what? i don’t really want a set schedule. I also don’t want/need to earn too much money. I’d like something where I could do things that interest me and that provide a needed service. I thought about real estate, and that is still an option, but with the market tanking this might not be the best time to explore that only.

So, what about some kind of virtual concierge service? I could define a range of tasks I am able to help with and set a package price or charge by the hour. Or offer my services pro-bono to people I want to help as a way of getting things going/getting reviews. There are all kinds of things I could do that I would find interesting/helpful, just based on needs I have seen expressed here.

I could say more, but need to start getting ready to take DD to school. What do you all think? What kinds of things would you be willing to pay a competent person $15-20/hour to take off your plate virtually, or in person if they were in your location? Or if someone were to gift you their time as a service, what would you most want them to do for you? I have my own ideas but before I say too much I thought I get your input.

Paging the busy moms of young kids who are exactly the kind of folks I’d like to be helping with something like this @Economista @Meowkins @rocklobster @BiblioFeroz


I think that sounds very interesting. Food is honestly a huge one that we spend so much energy trying to make happen. I don’t necessarily need someone to cook for me (maybe some basic prep?), but if someone would plan meals, identify recipes, purchase the ingredients (ideally with an eye to what’s lowish cost), and do the shop, I would be thrilled. Other things I can think of off the top are: decluttering (books, toys, and clothes particularly), and helping identify organization and storage solutions for those types of items.

I would love to hear more about the direction you go as your ideas develop!


Yes, food is a big one. Meal planning AND making sure my kids have stuff for lunches/snacks. It’s been getting harder and harder in my family as both my kids have become harder to feed due to various health problems.

I also get overwhelmed with trying to manage everyone’s appointments- making them, following up, and making the next one because one always seems to lead to another. Just doing all the million little things you have to do to keep things running with kids’ health, kids’ school, owning a home and cars and pets, just… functioning in this life. It’s too much with full-time jobs and needy kids.


My problem is that, by the time I explained most of my needs and considerations, it would be easiest just to do it on my own. :grimacing: that’s always been my issue with things like this- unless it was something ongoing that I was laying the groundwork for, and I can’t think of any examples like that. :woman_shrugging:


i can come post later!

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Someone recently mentioned having an organizer service, I think that would fit what you’re looking for.

Otherwise I would say a driving service to take my kid to activities would be the most helpful, but that’s definitely going to require a fixed schedule for you.

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Something we talk a lot about in my house is how nice it would be to have help with one-off household maintenance projects. Some of these are especially challenging because it’s the first time we’ve encountered them, so it takes more thinking/planning than finding a handyperson. For example:

  • We were due to replace our HVAC filters and had to figure out what kind to buy, where to buy them, and how to pop them in
  • Our gas fireplace is broken, and the first person we had to come out couldn’t fix it, so we have to find someone else who works on a kind of unusual model

Household manager!

  • Find, schedule, and coordinate someone for home repairs like gutters, electricians, etc. (and be present & pay them when done)
  • Light home repairs (buy & change lightbulbs, filters, etc.)
  • Regularly scheduled errands - eg if I knew someone was coming once a week for 2 hours, I’d stack up a bunch of errands for them (donation dropoffs, pharmacy pickups, etc.)

You could start on Taskrabbit to build a clientele/reputation, and then create your own business from there.


We used a personal shopper through the dumpling app when I was post-partum and still in the early pandemic. That might be an easy way to pick up some gig-economy work with flexibility.

The nice thing about the app on is you pick and work with a specific person, so a very nice lady got to know my preferences at Trader Joe’s etc. and I used her everytime I needed groceries from there. She set her stores/availability/radius/etc. so it seems like a very different set up than driving for Uber or Instacart.


That’s what I was thinking too!


Oh my gosh, yes. I want both of what @Bernadette and @Ferngully suggested. I wouldn’t mind being my household’s household manager but since I’m also the primary breadwinner and the primary parent, it’s all too much!!!


Basically y’all need me to be your SAH partner who gets shit done when you are too busy/stressed to do it yourselves! Maybe being household manager to a couple of busy families who need 10-20 hours a week of extra work on a flexible schedule would work, especially if DD is living in the dorms and I only really have my own stuff to deal with. The meal planning/shopping/prep stuff would also work if I had a few families I did it for. And that could potentially be expanded to people beyond just me if there was demand. If I am going to go to all the trouble of setting up my own business another angle I am considering is whether or not I would want to try to help other people get their foot in the door, too – maybe newly divorced or immigrated women who need someplace to get started.

Happy to keep hearing your ideas! But first I need to deal with some of my own administrative BS…


I think a on demand butler would be kind of amazing


Also if you are thinking about Eugene or Corvallis please check in with some of us who have lived in those places. You may not find small town Oregon to be what you expect and might want a heads up.


If you think you’d enjoy it, go for it! But if I were picking a job for you, it would be edible garden design and maintenance.


I’d hire you to help me design my garden remotely.


Will do! Thank you for the suggestion. Oregon seems to want to see a housing purchase, not just a lease, so maybe a condo in Portland would make more sense. If DD is seriously considering either U of O or OSU I want her to spend at least a weekend looking at the campuses again and I’d also be looking more closely myself. Need to have a convo with the SO about general expectations re: her choices before it appears to him I am trying to drive the process though. I just want her to find a good fit and be happy about where she ends up, and do what I can to make that affordable if it is out of state. He might not view what I’m thinking about doing in that light, though….


I’m afraid if I was doing it as a job I would start to hate it. I got REALLY overwhelmed mid-summer this year. I’d also want to get more training before trying to do it as a business. But I’ll think about what I might be able to do that involves growing stuff


Isn’t the point that you have to LOOK like a business and show a bit of income, not that it would have to be a full time job? The cooperative extension of any state should have certificate programs you can enroll in.


Everyone I knew who needed residency for U of O or OSU (including myself) took a gap year, got a job in Oregon and attended pre req classes less than half time at The excellent community college there, which is cheaper and often better than the Universities especially for the standard gen Ed. Can still go to Lectures and use the library at UO. That’s what we did. Easier than buying a house

Also…maybe you can utilize your english and chinese skills for market-specificity? I feel like there are some middle class immigrants who would like to hire a household manager but would also like someone who can help them sort of some of the harder tasks for someone who isn’t native English speaker - navigating health care language, setting up accounts with utilities. obviously won’t have any market in Eugene except maybe some foreign students though? In the Bay or Portland though a big market!