Looking for a small business start-up idea? You might want to look to the bedroom. Because, and I know this may shock you, sex sells.
Romance has been around since, well, Adam and Eve. Businesses related to romance continue to do well and are increasingly mainstream. This past Valentine’s Day, even Burger King got in the act. For a very limited time and only in Israel, the fast food chain included a sex toy in an “Adult Meal.” The story spread like wildfire on social media because who can resist anything to do with sex?
While most sex-based businesses have always been small businesses, they typically seem seedy and are, often, exploitative. But here are some sex and romance-related small business ideas you can still tell your grandma about and won’t land you in jail:
- Online dating site profile writer. Ask people how they met their partner, and the most frequent response you’ll hear is “online.” But few people know how to write appealing dating site profiles. My senior editor, however, met the man of her dreams on OKCupid. “Before we write anything at work, we research,” she said. “I thought I better do the same thing.” So she figured out how to write a witty, quirky profile, which attracted her perfect match. Friends then started asking her to write their profiles. “This could be a full-time business.” If your customers break up, they need to update their profiles, which means repeat business.
- Dating coach. If people struggle to write decent online dating profiles, chances are they’ll also need a little help getting that first date, and the second. Whether clients choose the wrong type, have first-date jitters, or need help picking out a flattering outfit, an unbiased dating coach can help steer them in the right direction.
- Adult gift baskets. Everyone likes getting gifts, and a gift with a little romance, when done right, can be especially welcome for that special someone. You could include a bottle of wine, chocolates, massage oil, lingerie, a sex toy. The holy grail of sales is recurring revenue through a subscription model, so why not a sex or romance gift monthly subscription service?
- Romance tourism. Ever see an ad for a beautiful beach vacation spot? It’s likely to show a couple in each other’s arms. That’s because tourism to relaxing or exotic places sparks romance. In the third quarter of 2016 alone, Americans spent $944.2 billion on tourism according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. As a small business, you can get a share of that. Offer travel packages with romantic themes, like Napa Valley wine tours, tango lessons in Argentina, couples’ biking trips in Provence. As an added bonus, you’ll get to see the world too.
- Boudoir photographer. Many women would like to give their partners suggestive pictures of themselves as gifts and just about all men like to receive them. But women aren’t comfortable just walking in to the mall photo shop to get those pictures taken. Conduct photo shoots in your photo studio or in your clients’ homes and figure out how to show your subjects in their most enticing light.
- Sex coach and sex workshops. From parents uncomfortable teaching their kids about sex, to non-existent sex education in schools, to Hollywood depictions of unhealthy relationships, not to mention ubiquitous Internet porn, many people need better information on healthy sexuality. That need represents a business opportunity. Don’t have a degree in sex therapy? Partner with someone who does.
- Private chef for romantic dinners. Do your friends and family rave about your risotto? Beg for your beef bourguignon? Clamor for your chocolate cake? Prepare romantic five-course meals for couples in their homes to mark special occasions – marriage proposals, anniversaries, Valentine’s day, and more. Because you don’t need your own kitchen to start this business, you can launch this one fairly inexpensively.
- Erotic cake decorator. Yes, this is a thing. You can bake and decorate erotic cakes yourself, teach erotic cake decorating to eager students, or design and make cookie cutters in naughty shapes. This type of business shows that the only thing better than sex is food and sex together.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017
This article originally ran in USA Today on March 8, 2017