Using “original” ideas to start a business is a sure route to a flop

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English: Fish & Chips Restaurant in Broadstair...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Would you consider using an “original” idea to start a product or service or small venture of your own?

If you look around in your local business community, how many businesses do you see started from an “original” idea?

Probably none.

There is a reason for this:

It’s far better to tweak an existing idea than come up with something original that no one knows about and that you are going to struggle to sell.

The first company to come up with an MP3 player didn’t do well at all. It wasn’t until Apple tweaked the MP3 player idea until they came up with the iPod that the concept took on. If you look in your local business community, you will see fish and chip shops, cellphone shops, retail clothing shops, bakeries, dry cleaning businesses, computer shops and coffee shops that are very similar.

Yes, they may claim to be different but are they really? What differentiates them then? It’s possibly service and offering an experience that a sub-set of customers want.

Richard Branson gave some excellent advice on how to go about finding ideas. He said the “quest to break established trends” should begin with by looking at outside sources to identify an existing product or service that can benefit from being “refined, revitalised, repackage or delivered in a novel manner”.

His advice is to get into the thick of things by listening, watching and touching everything around you (not people, of course). A breakthrough, he says, may happen with when you come across something that “doesn’t look right, doesn’t work right, doesn’t smell right or just doesn’t taste quite right”.

If you look at all the Virgin businesses including Virgin records, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin trains, banks, telecoms, hotels, health clubs and other businesses there’s a consistent formula of “people-driven” service delivery. The group has grown into a large conglomerate by using the differentiator of doing service better than the big, slow, unwieldy and unfriendly giant companies.

It’s really crazy to think you can get a new or “original” idea off the ground as a small start-up with limited funds. Do you realise how much it cost to market something new before it takes on among consumers?

You’ve got to have deep marketing pockets and lots of time and patience to get something new going. And even the giant fast moving consumer goods companies still often get it wrong.

Failure even in the dynamic consumer goods markets is high. Haven’t you noticed how some products get onto supermarket shelves but a year down the track, you can’t find them any more. This is because “poor performers” or “dog” lines are quietly removed from the supermarket shelves, never to be heard about again.

Take a look around you and see if you can come up with a product or service better than that presently existing in the marketplace. And if you want to commercialise it, your next step is to look here for a professional, hands-on guide that will show you how.

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