Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

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Potato mash, as served in the Swiss mountain r...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We dined at a restaurant in a country town and saw that they had smoked mash potato on the menu with one of the dishes. We tried to figure out how they got this smoky flavour into the mashed potatoes, searching the Internet and finding various home-made approaches, including one where you put wood chips into the bottom of a pot, place a grill inside, put the potatoes under the grill and smoke it on the oven. It sounded so complicated and messy, we forgot about the idea.

The other day I heard on a radio talk the entrepreneur who had started Liquid Smoke in South Africa. The guy who started it has come up with several variants which you can put on poultry, meat and even vegetables. This is a good example of someone who has taken the idea for a new product or service and turned it into a viable business.

Some people might say this is an unusual or exceptional case. How many people come up with new business ideas and end up implementing them? How many people take a look around their domain expertise or business area or industry where they are working, look for and find opportunities where they can solve problems or come up with new solutions?

When jobs are scarce like they are in this economy one really has to take one’s hat off to someone like the founder of Liquid Smoke for going the extra mile and identifying an opportunity and through much hard work turning it into a viable business. Yet, this entrepreneur is not alone. Many others are daily looking for opportunities that they can turn into a source of income. There are still many opportunities available to the entrepreneurially-minded person.

But what does it really take to come up with a new idea for a product or service? Do you need special qualities, specialised experience or access to resources such as other people’s expertise and investment capital? We are not necessarily talking about completely new or unique ideas here. Some people commercialise a special recipe that may have been dormant in the family for decades. Yet others may come up with a line of cosmetics that are more natural and environmentally friendly. Then there are those that potter round in their gardens and come up with a low-cost, easy way to plant seeds, such as one young woman entrepreneur has done in South Africa. You only need to go to a Saturday morning craft market to appreciate the many ways in which people are coming up with new ideas all the time and implementing new products.

Just take a look at the services area where people are desperate nowadays for alternative to the regular postal services. That’s why, for example, franchises such as POSTNET are doing well. There is still much room in this area to innovate. For example, drop boxes, where you buy online and your products are shipped to a central location and you just use a password to open your locker and remove your goods, are being experimented with in other countries but no doubt will be looked at for local application. Specialised handyman services, renewable energy suppliers, energy-efficiency consultants even safe cab operations are all starting up to address new needs in the marketplace.

If you are wondering how you could come up with a new business idea or even commercialise an idea you may have been thinking about for some time, you may be interested to know that a new resource offers you a step-by-step way to go about taking your idea from a mere concept, testing it for commercial viability, devising a business model and the most efficient, low-cost way of distributing it with the eventual introduction into the market. If you feel this is something that could assist you, then find out more about “Breakthrough Ideas”.

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