Business Ideas That Work
Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures
Rather than trying to invent something new for your business, you might want to try looking at what others are doing and apply it to your own business. This lower risk model has often been the model followed by today's most successful entrepreneurs.
Business ideas are born every minute.
Some entrepreneurs pursue breakthrough and innovative new ideas yet most of these grand new ideas fail more often then they succeed. Trying to create something new is difficult and often much more risky then simply taking something exists today and finding a way to make it better. There is no guarantee for success no matter how you look at the puzzle, but by focusing on industries, products, and businesses that exist today and looking for opportunities to improve on them can give you and your business a higher probability of success.
Entrepreneurship is not about creating something completely new, it is about executing on a set of ideas that solve a problem, provides a solution, or fulfills a need. You do not need to be the next Bill Gates who invents the most powerful software company in the world to be a successful entrepreneur; in fact most successful entrepreneurs are quite contrary to the Bill Gates of the world.
Howard Schultz had a vision for Starbucks after visiting Europe and seeing how much time Europeans spent at their cafés. Realizing that cafes were more than just a place to buy coffee, Schultz realized it was a 3rd place where Americans could visit between home and the office. Schultz decided to apply the same principle and logic that he saw in European coffee shops to the United States consumer by providing Americans with more than just a coffee shop, but an environment that was warm and inviting and a place for people to get together. Schultz didn't invent the café, nor did he invent specialty coffee. What Schultz did was copy a model that was successful in Europe and successfully adapted and implemented that model in the United States better than anyone else.
Ryan Air in Europe is another example of a largely successful new company that copied Southwest's model and success in the U.S. and modified it to work successfully in Europe. Ryan Air, along with Southwest is one of the few profitable airlines due to their commitment and focus on providing low-cost, no frills flying. Ryan Air didn't invent the low-cost airline model, they simply copied a model that worked in another market segment and adapted it to work successfully in Europe.
Wal-Mart is another example of a firm that copied the discount retail model and executed it better than those that had first created it. Sam Walton did not originally set out to be a discount retailer, but when he came across other competitors that were providing discount retailing, he decided to join them and beat them at their own game. Wal-Mart of course has since become the most successful retailer in the world, but it wasn't because they invented something, it was because they executed better than their competitors who had invented the discount retailing model.
The simple idea behind these examples is to stop worrying about trying to invent something new. The risks are higher since your invention has not yet been proven, tested, or adapted in our society. If you are looking for that next grand entrepreneurial idea, just look around you and see what models work for other businesses, in other industries, or in other markets and see how you can adapt and apply their success to a new market or for a different customer.
James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.
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