What kind of business should you start? Seems like a simple question, doesn’t it? How about one that makes you loads of money? Sounds nice. Or one that involves something you enjoy doing…it sounds pretty good to get paid for doing a hobby.
As fine as these all sound, chances are the business won’t survive on its own merit if it doesn’t do one thing: ease a pain/fill a niche. Think about it…all the successful businesses out there fulfill someone’s need in one way or another. Food is served, clothes are made and sold, broken plumbing is fixed, and so forth.
This seems like such a basic principle of business but it’s one worth repeating as we all tend to try to find the “latest, greatest thing”. We need to sit back for a minute and look at our own pains or desires and see if there’s anything that we can do to fill those needs or ease that pain.
I was reminded of this simple concept (one that was taught to me back in my Entrepreneur class back at Carnegie Mellon way back in the ’90s) just last week as I was dealing with a not-so-great issue with my current boarding situation. I ended up buying a particular domain name, setting up a website that I hope grows into a community where people share these similar stories of pain and advice on how to get past it, and even set up a storefront to sell related merchandise. After my initial knee-jerk reaction I thought “holy crap…duh…this could be huge. There are thousands of people in similar situations. This could be the de facto site for dealing with these issues.”
Once again…a simple idea that fills a need.
I often spend hour upon hour discussing possible business ideas with various people. I can’t tell you how many man-hours have been spent doing this…and we’re still discussing them. Yet a late night idea and purchase with barely any overhead could actually amount to something.
To all you aspiring entrepreneurs out there…don’t worry about coming up with the most complex product or service out there. For those already existing entrepreneurs let’s think about how to make your product, service, or even business simpler. The Apple iPod didn’t become the dominant player in the market because it was more complex. Conversely so…this more expensive, less-featured (at the time), late player to the game became a success because of its ease of use.
Find that pain…and ease it. Find that unserved niche…and serve it. It really is that easy.