It’s more daunting today to start a new business than it was a couple of hundred years ago. Before the age of mass media, most people were blissfully unaware of the lives of other entrepreneurs and would do things their own way. Today, however, every inventor hears nonstop about the brilliance of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the like. They get cold feet, thinking that they have to quit college and try to build an industry from their garage like many of these geniuses. Or they might read about huge companies like Google and Amazon with thousands of scientists and engineers under their command, all of them churning out one fancy product after another. These stories are enough to drive a newbie mad.
You don’t need to burn the boats or have a million dollar grant in order to come up with a legitimate business idea. There is another avenue available to every aspiring magnate out there, and the process is as simple as one, two, and three.
Step one: Be alert to your surroundings
The next big thing is already in your environment. Like an archeologist, all you need to do is brush away the dirt to reveal the precious artifact hidden underneath. Opportunities arrive every single day. The first step, therefore, is to stay mindful of the present. Too many people go about their lives worrying and daydreaming about the future or regretting and reminiscing about the past. This is not the attitude of success.
How many times have you driven to work only to realize that you have suddenly arrived at your destination, almost as if the car drove itself there? During the journey, your attention was most likely floating off somewhere in space, leaving your instinct and habit to maneuver the vehicle for you. Stay away from this approach if you want to become a great entrepreneur. Every moment spent in mindlessness means that you miss big breaks in the real world and prospects that might give you the creative edge that you need. Without awareness, it is impossible to proceed to step two, or anywhere else in life for that matter.
Step two: Identify a problem
Once you are awake and alert, you will invariably come across problems. Either people surrounding you will give voice their frustrations, or you will run into predicaments yourself. Rather than gripe about difficulties, however, be grateful, because problems are the number one source of ideas for new products.
Whenever you come across a situation where you or others are complaining, take note of it. Write it down if necessary. Then, ask yourself: “How can I develop a product or service that would fix this problem?” Train your mind to notice these inconveniences in life. Most of the time, you won’t be able to come up with good solutions. Or maybe the solution is beyond your knowledge or budget to implement.
There will come a moment, however, when one of these ideas falls within your grasp. There will be many false starts, but inspiration always strikes the longer you persist. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs spearheaded the personal computer revolution because they found a problem with the information technology industry. At the time, only rich people and government institutions could afford a computer. “How can I come up with a similar device that is both budget-friendly and small enough to be placed on top of a desk?” That was the problem they asked themselves and set about to solve.
Step three: Recognize your market
Finally, you need to identify your market. There have been many inventions set loose upon the world that fall short of success, simply because there was no market for them. A good example is the Segway, a self-balancing transportation device that promised to revolutionize the roads and sidewalks. The revolution was short-lived. No one wanted to buy it because it was too eccentric.
Market viability is important, because ultimately you’ll be spending money to design and advertise your product. This may require research, specifically about the cost of the product and whether or not your target demographic is ready to incorporate your idea into their lives. If you came up with a flying car, for example, you need to think carefully whether people would be comfortable test-driving such a thing. This may be the most difficult step since you will have to rely on intuition more than analysis, but you will save yourself a lot of pain from committing to a business venture that is doomed to failure.
The way of the future
The road to the future will always been paved not by merchants and politicians but by entrepreneurs. If you can come up with a great solution to a human problem, whatever its magnitude, then you are essentially helping the human race by improving lives and alleviating suffering. The process starts with being aware, then seeking solutions to problems, and finally ends with finding a market. The result is profit, in terms of not only finances but also the moral satisfaction that you get when you realize that you have contributed to future generations.
Being an entrepreneur is definitely a job to be taken seriously.
Have you thought about a business idea? Add a comment below and let us know if we can help you in realizing it.