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Sometimes the Simplest Business Ideas Make the Most Money

I have operated multiple businesses in my 40-year working career. Some of them have made money; others have lost it. One thing I have discovered over decades of managing businesses is that unnecessarily complicating things is a bad idea. Sometimes it’s the simplest business ideas that make the most money.

Keeping it simple is one of the keys to successful business. When you introduce complications unnecessarily, you only make it harder on yourself. Why do that? There is nothing less honorable about sticking with the basics. You are not cheating by developing a simple business model and making it work.

Sometimes the Simplest Business Ideas Make the Most Money 1
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A Simple Way to Recycle Plastics

The point of business simplicity is illustrated easily enough in recycling industrial plastics. Seraphim Plastics, out of Tennessee, makes good money collecting industrial plastic scrap and converting it into regrind through a simple mechanical recycling process. The way they recycle plastic waste is about as simple as it gets.

At the core of the company’s success is the fact that customers who sell them plastic scrap handle all the cleaning and sorting. All Tennesse’s Seraphim Plastics needs to do is collect the material and transport it back to its facilities. It can go directly from truck to grinders upon arrival.

Seraphim Plastics’ mechanical recycling process is so simple that a grade school student could understand it. On the other hand, the recycling processes most municipal recycling programs rely on are exponentially more complicated. Guess what? While Seraphim Plastics makes very good money recycling industrial plastic waste, municipal recycling programs lose money hand over fist.

Simplicity in the Pizza Business

The first business I ever ran on my own was a pizza parlor in upstate New York. It was where I learned to keep things simple. I did not own the pizza parlor by the way, but I was a general manager with the authority to do whatever I wanted with the place.

I started out with a simple menu that included pizza, chicken wings, and a very limited assortment of sandwiches. That was it. Other pizza parlors in the area did more. I remember one that served pasta dinners along with fish fries and tripe. I knew of another that sold homemade desserts and soft-serve ice cream.

My inclination was to expand our menu beyond the basics. However, the owner cautioned me against doing so. He told me to just wait six months and then take a look at what the competition was doing. It was smart advice. Those other pizza parlors with the more extensive menus all went one of two ways: they either cut their menus back to the basics or went out of business altogether.

Choose Something and Do It Right

Running the pizza parlor taught me the wisdom of choosing something to do and doing it right. Pizza, wings, and sandwiches were our specialty. So that is what we focused on. I am proud to say that the business is still operating successfully, nearly 40 years later.

In Seraphim Plastics’ case, they figured out how to cost-effectively recycle industrial scrap plastic. They found their niche. They found their one thing and they do it better than anyone else. That is why they continue to be an industry leader in the seven states in which they operate.

As I near retirement, I spend more time paying attention to how companies do business. Some businesses still complicate things unnecessarily. Others keep things as simple as they can. I’ll leave you to figure out which ones make money and which ones struggle. For my money, a simple business plan is the way to go.


Jeremy D. Mena
Alcohol geek. Future teen idol. Web practitioner. Problem solver. Certified bacon guru. Spent 2002-2009 researching plush toys in Miami, FL. Won several awards for exporting tar in Libya. Uniquely-equipped for managing human growth hormone in Libya. Spent a weekend implementing fried chicken on the black market. Spoke at an international conference about working on carnival rides in Miami, FL. Developed several new methods for donating jack-in-the-boxes in Edison, NJ.