It’s not always new ideas that are winners, old ideas can be powerful too

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Copyright 2015 Chesney Bradshaw
Copyright 2015 Chesney Bradshaw

While on holiday in the southern peninsula of Cape Town I was told that the metro or municipality is no longer collecting kelp or seaweed from the beaches. For many years the practice on Cape Town beaches was to use tractors with trailers, collect the kelp that had washed up in the storms and take them off the beach. It seems like the seaweed was used in kelp processing and fertiliser operations. Now apparently the City no longer collects the seaweed because environmentalists have found that the seaweed or kelp helps to propagate a host of marine organisms and life on the edges of the coastline.

Not removing the seaweed from the beaches has brought about abundance in marine microorganisms so much so that it takes one back a decade or two when seaweed wasn’t collected. I saw it with my own eyes at Long Beach, a popular surfing beach in the Southern Peninsula. Seagulls were sitting on top of the rotting kelp and eating the sea lice that were springing up like hot popcorn from the kelp. The birds sat there for at least a half an hour munching at the marine life. There must be many other positive consequences of not taking the seaweed off the beach, something that has happened for centuries, and now restores the marine ecosystem.

We sometimes forget about the power of old ideas. The new idea in the case of the marine environment didn’t work. It was found to be detrimental to marine life. Isn’t it fascinating how the old, trusted idea of leaving the kelp on the beach has begun to restore the marine and coastal ecosystem?

Those who are perceptive about the changes in markets for small business may notice how old ideas still hold much promise. Take things like artisinal bread. Small artisinal bakeries have started up and are making bread in the old, traditional style which provides a much healthier alternative to the mass-produced breads that you find in your local supermarket. Even the large supermarket chains have tried to climb aboard the bandwagon and make their own artisinal breads but unfortunately they are a pale alternative to the real thing.

One business I know of that was highly successful reintroduced old garden tools that were much stronger than the cheaply and poorly made substitutes coming from various so-called low-cost countries. This business was based on sourcing high-quality garden tools that didn’t break after their first use and gave the owners pleasure to use.

Finding the idea that worked many years ago is not always easy. You have to be sharp. You have to be on the lookout for subtle changes in the market. Not every retro idea works.

I remember seeing a business that started home deliveries again for milk. But the business only lasted about two years and closed down.

If you want to learn how to pick winning ideas whether they are old ideas, trusted and practical, or try something new, you might find “Breakthrough Ideas” will provide you with a practical, hands-on guide to do just that.

You don’t need to invent something new to start a business or small enterprise. Why not take something that is already being done and improve on it.

One retailer who successfully runs a chain of stores says it is much easier and safer to take an existing idea and add value.

You can find a resource for new ideas here:

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