I got an interesting text yesterday. I will not reveal who but they sounded depressed about their work/life situation. More specifically part of the text read: ‘I need to do an Andy Crump and come up with a really good idea and somehow start my own business.’
Having a ‘really good idea’ is certainly not something that troubles me… I have a list as long as my arm. However, creating a business, turning that idea into a success, funding the venture and managing it efficiently can be harder to do. I will cover those areas at a later date but let’s look at ‘really good ideas’.
Really Good Ideas
Finding a ‘really good idea’ is not hard. I think the brain barrier (particularly for those not especially entrepreneurial) comes when people try to re-invent the wheel. That is not the answer. How about, instead of re-inventing the wheel, you just sell wheels? But you do it better, or in a different way to competitors? Case in point, BlackCircles.com.
Blackcircles.com do just that… They sell wheels (well tyres). The site was founded by Michael Welch (Someone I have been trying to tie down for a coffee for a completely non tyre related reasons). Michael is a well respected, and awarded, entrepreneur who set up blackcircles.com in 2002 after being told that he ‘would have to wait 30-40 years to make chief executive (at Kwik-Fit)’
According to their site blackcircles.com is a ‘straightforward way for you to buy tyres at competitive prices either over the internet or on the telephone.’ Sounds simple enough to me? But It’s is not the first tyre shop and it is not the first online store, so why is it so successful? Well blackcicles.com is succeeding because it found its unique selling point and does it well. With high customer service standards, cheap prices and reliable service all available over the phone or online blackcircles.com is succeeding because it’s better than its competitors.
Unique Selling Point
So finding a Unique Selling Point is of upmost importance, but is can be something as simple as just doing things better, or different. You must have USP to distinguish yourself from the opposition but you do not have turn the world on its head to do so.
At Rachel Andews and HairByRA we have a two main USP’s. For the mobile hair extension business (HairByRa) our USP is the highest service standards at all stages and the highest quality hair. Again that is simple right? But there is not one competitor at our price point that offers the level of service that we do. Actually there are many who are 3x the price and don’t offer the quality of service.
At Rachel Andrews, we use the same set-up as HairByRA but we offer the service to salons, almost like a private label hair extension service. Salons love this because it allows them to offer hair extensions in their salon with a commission that equals what they would have otherwise have made, but with no overhead. This is just in its infancy but it has allowed us to work with some huge names and top salons, like Tim Avory (Toni and Guy) and Victor Pajak (headquarters).
All of these things are very straightforward. The USP does not have to be groundbreaking and you do not have to be first to market to make an impact. You just have to do things well. Well, you just have to do things….
Actually Doing It
The most important thing in all of this is not the ‘idea’ but the implementation. It is actually putting it into motion. How often have you found yourself saying ‘I should have thought of that’ or ‘that idea is brilliantly simple’. This is because some of the best ideas are good ideas because they have been put into practice.
Back when I was at high school and a full 7 years before the release of the iPhone, I designed the iPhone. Of course I didn’t call it an iPhone, the title on the page is ‘pocket computer’, but it had all the features: ’one large touch screen’, ‘one button’, ‘plays music’, ‘makes calls’, ‘use for everything’. In fact it looks very much like the forthcoming 4g. I might scan it in and post about it; however the point is that even the iPhone is not that groundbreaking. It is just something obvious done very well. Of course the difference between a 14 year old me and a recently returned Steve Jobs is that Mr Jobs was in a position to do something about it.
So what do you need to do? You need to put yourself in a position to do something about it and then do something about it. There is a clear link between all successful entrepreneurs and it is a link that even ties in social entrepreneurs and those individuals who are not money motivated but make money by accident. The link is that they are doers. They make it happen.
Scratching An Itch
They make it happen… but what do they make happen? They scratch an itch. They create products or services that they themselves want to use. Here is a quote from Rework, a book written by the founders of 37 signals (a book I would highly recommend you read)
‘The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use. That lets you design what you know—and you’ll figure out immediately whether or not what you’re making is any good.
At 37signals, we build products we need to run our own business. For example, we wanted a way to keep track of whom we talked to, what we said, and when we need to follow up next. So we created Highrise, our contact-management software. There was no need for focus groups, market studies, or middlemen. We had the itch, so we scratched it.’
By creating a product or service that you want, you at least stand a chance and it is a great place to start when you are looking for inspiration. However when you get that inspiration, you must get to it…
Get to it
So back to the point. Any idea, no matter how big or small, simple or complex, brilliant or underwhelming is just an idea until the wheels are in motion. So the best thing we can to is to get started today. Do that first piece of research, test your audience with google adwords, put a proposal together, write the website spec.
It’s not so much about the ‘really good idea’. It’s about just making something happen.