There’s Innovation and Ridiculation
Innovation and ridiculation both have a part to play in idea creation. I love a good idea as much as the next person and when I see or hear of a genuinely great business idea, I love it and find they tend to stand out, mainly due to simplicity and innovation. However, there is a footnote to new and innovative business ideas and it is this. Is your idea really a profit creating business that fulfills a sustainable market need?
Of course if you ask the originator, the answer is always yes (you’ve gotta love the conviction of entrepreneurs!!). But when you look objectively and in a bit more detail at the practicalities involved, it sometimes starts to beg awkward, but obvious questions about the potential for success.
Every entrepreneur wants their business to succeed and one of the key ingredients for success is creating a business that generates a profitable income stream. Without this vital ingredient, your business won’t survive!
The world is littered with examples of innovative business ideas. These include cardboard bicycles, pedal powered washing machines, wedges to stop dining tables wobbling and so on. There’s even an ISP in Mexico who will give you free WiFi credits in exchange for collecting dog excrement!!
Now, I would agree that I am being possibly unfair with my narrow-minded opinion on those great masterminds that came up with these ideas and my intention is not to crush the creative spirit, but puuuleeeasse help me understand why there are not more back to basic ideas for businesses. It may not be as innovative, but they sure do make money and perhaps just need an operator to outsmart the competition.
I’m talking about businesses like Mary Portas and her kinky knicker business. Bank on Dave, set up by Dave Fishwick, the Burnley entrepreneur who’s building a better bank, as well as the many traditional businesses like window cleaners, property maintenance companies, dry cleaning, car repairs and so on. Even real innovation businesses like Liquiglide, that helps empty sauces and liquids from bottles and the monthly razor subscriptions from King of Shaves (nice one Will..!) all solve real needs of customers and they have the potential to make money.
Whilst all of these businesses can and do have innovative elements within, it is sometimes the simplicity that is more inherent than the innovation, so my advice is to create a set of criteria to benchmark your idea against, before you launch it. There are lots of criteria you can apply, but here’s a few of my tips and thoughts on appraising an idea:
How many people will realistically ever pay to use your product or service?
How much will they pay?
What will be your gross profit on each sale?
Is it a growing market?
Is it patent free?
How is it different to existing products on the market?
Does it solve a really big problem for your customers?
Does it have recurring revenues?
Can you easily scale the business model?
Can your idea be easily copied or outmarketed?
Would your friends pay you for your product or service?
Why would you fail with it?
I challenge anyone on their idea to see if it is either full of innovation or full of ridiculation. If you can positively answer the above then go for it, the chances are you will be successful and if you’re not, then I’ll give you a one way ticket to Mexico and lifetime supply of poo bags!