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How to think of business ideas

Some people always seem to be talking about a new idea they’ve had but never seem to do anything about it. Then there’s those that just seem to build businesses out of nowhere without uttering a word to anyone. Finally, there’s all those in-between, who have the ambition to build a businesses but haven’t had their ‘light bulb moment’.

Now, contrary to the popular ‘if you believe it you can achieve it’ culture that we seem to live in, you’re probably not going to create the next Facebook or Instagram off the bat. The truth is, so many people have an idea and get so emotionally attached to it that they tend to put their blinkers on and ignore the gaping holes in their business proposition (myself included). Building a businesses isn’t as big a deal as it used to be as technology makes it easier for anybody to give it a go. Processes have become commoditised and technology and the internet has given everybody an equal playing field. With that being said, instead of trying to build the next Facebook, why not try dipping your toes in the water first? The chances are, it’ll teach you a lot of important lessons about business and pave the way for your future pursuits. Now we’ve set expectations, here’s a few ways to think of business ideas that you can get started on a limited budget:

1. Don’t try to boil the ocean

People often try and start businesses that will appeal to the ‘mass market’. As you may well be aware with any mass market product, there is going to be strong competition. No matter what idea you have, there is always going to be somebody who’s already thought of it.

There is hope, however! It’s your job to do something in a unique or better way than anybody else is doing it. By taking a mass market product and putting your own unique spin on it, you can find your own little niche and own it. Admittedly, this decreases the market size, but I’d rather have 100% of something small than 0% of something huge.

There are a number of ways you can find your own niche but selling something that you’re actually interested in will make it easier for you to remain passionate. I’ll give you an example to add some context:

One of my escapism’s is playing golf with friends at weekends, and I’ve noticed that people that play golf often tend to take good care of their clubs. They often do this by covering their clubs with cushion-like covers in adverse conditions. Now, I know that these head covers are often bland (usually black) and most uninteresting. I believe there would be and is a market for custom golf head-covers that allow people to show a bit of personally and express themselves whilst doing something they love. Take exhibit A for example:

2. Insider experience

It is not uncommon for employees to see holes or in their employers strategy and go away and execute on their own. If you work for a business who are missing a huge opportunity or you think you could do it differently, you have a couple of options; tell your boss that they’re missing a trick, or go away and fill the gap on your own. These moments often come ceremoniously and you have that gut feeling there is something they’re missing.  

3. Scratch your own itch

You will be paid the equivalent of the size of the problem that you solve. Sit down and list the things that annoy you on a daily basis, if you can find a way to solve them then there is money to be made. Often this doesn’t have to be a universal problem, it can be a small problem in your area or even your country. A great example of this I’ve seen was a company called ‘Stateside Candy’. The owner, Alisdair, was disheartened when he returned from a family holiday in America and couldn’t get his hands on the sweets and treats that he became accustomed to in the states. He did his research and found suppliers of the American candy and began selling it in the UK. It would be safe to say the company was a great success (before major supermarkets started stocking the American candy).

4. Do it cheaper

There are some industries where brand and perceived value are often important in a consumer’s purchasing decision (such as Fashion). There are others however, where the product is just a means to an end, and the consumer doesn’t care as much about the quality but does care about cost. There are plenty of ways you can undercut competition on price, but the best way I have found is to import product from China. You can use sites such as Alibaba.com to source product in bulk for pennies on the pound of what you’d pay here in the UK. You can then set up your own online shop and undercut the market.

If this is your first venture, you’re probably going to make a lot of mistakes and learn a lot in the process. You’re about to enter a battleground where the odds are inevitably stacked against you (according to Bloomberg, 8 out 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail in their first 18 months). I’m not trying to put you off starting, but remember you don’t have to quit your job and go all in to start a business, there are plenty of people who have found success in side projects and businesses on the side.

 

Good luck, and let us know how you get on!:

 

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