The fastest way to get some cash flowing in is to open a department store. The investment is minimal, and if you pick the right products, you can establish enough revenue to fund more ambitious projects. When you launch your career, let a day or two pass before you start spending money. Don't jump on the first products to show up in the seaports. By waiting a day or two, you'll have a better selection of goods. Go for the consumer goods, especially necessity items like furniture and diapers. Build a department store and set up the units to buy and sell the goods you've chosen.
Now check the stock market information for your company. The share price will be very low. That will change quickly, so move now; issue some additional shares, then buy them up with your funds from your personal account. Fast-forward the game (Y key). The stock price for your company's shares will jump rapidly. Issue more shares -- causing the price to drop -- then make another purchase from your personal funds. Now, as revenues increase, you'll be in a position to reap the rewards.
Farming for Fun and Profit
If you start with enough capital -- more than $10 million -- you can take control of the production end of your budding business. Find a city near a seaport that's importing consumer goods. Build a farm near the city to raise cattle and produce meat products.
Along with department stores, farms are the best means of generating capital early in the game. And if you have a competitor in your city who's selling a product that you can produce on a farm, you can contract to sell to your rival. As a supplier to your competitors, you'll be able to determine the retail price of their products.
The placement of farms and manufacturing facilities is critical. The closer the suppliers are to your factories, the higher your profits will be. Ideally, use your farms to produce materials that can be used in more than one product. For example, build a farm to produce meat products from cattle and sheep. Take advantage of every opportunity available in terms of geography and production potential. Back to that farm where you're producing mutton, leather, and wool. If the area will support cotton, grow it on the same farm. Now, a nearby factory will have everything it needs to produce sweaters, shoes, and leather jackets.
Research Is Essential
A little money spent on research goes a long way. When you can research raw materials, such as textiles, go for it. Research on a consumer good enhances the quality of that product alone, but money spent on raw material research will boost the quality of every product that uses that material in production.
It Pays to Advertise
After you get a few production links and retail outlets, fork over some advertising dollars. Don't rush in blindly, though. Remember, if a competitor is selling the same product in the same market, your advertising will build awareness of your rival's product, too. In that situation, the best way to distinguish your own product is through private labeling. Once you build brand awareness, open a second department store in the city. You'll gain market share and be better able to control prices.
Crushing the Competition
Try your hand at the stock market as another means of building your bank account. Make your moves early in your career, when your competitors are starting out. Check out the corporate summary and find out which of your rivals is making money. Early on, their stock will be cheap. Buy a big chunk of a profitable company, then watch the cash roll in. Your rival CEOs have different areas of expertise, and you should take advantage of their skills. For example, if a rival is an ace retailer (with an expertise rating in the 90s), try to supply him with product for his department stores. You know he'll sell the product, and you'll both profit. If a competitor is a fantastic farmer, then strike a deal to buy her product; it's bound to be quality stuff.