THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs Don't Need a Grand Vision
You don't need a revolutionary idea to start your own business, and in this new economy, that's probably just as well. You may need to go into business for yourself if you want a job, and world-changing ideas aren't that common.
As a writer, I have had my own business for a long time, and I have worked with a lot of people who have started companies. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and what they all have in common is a passion for whatever it is that their company does. They care about it. That doesn't make them all Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. Most lack a sweeping vision of the future. More often, they take something small and tweak it.
You've probably seen the TV ad for the guy who makes a men's shirt that looks good untucked. Chris Riccobonno is the man behind UNTUCKit, and while I personally think a gentleman's shirt needs to be tucked in as often as not, he's built up a business that can afford no fewer than five retail locations and TV ad time.
He even has a new ad out that acknowledges his claim to fame is not a revolution. As he notes, “it's a very small innovation.” But it's one a lot of people will pay for.
And that's the key to starting your own business for most people.
Sometimes, you don't really even have to redesign your product. Baked by Melissa is the business Melissa Ben-Ishay started after, well, after she had to. Her website notes, “In 2008 I was working as an assistant media planner. I certainly wasn’t passionate about my job, and I guess it was clear to the people at the company because – I was fired. On that day, I called my brother, and he told me, 'Don’t worry, it’s the best thing that could ever happen to you.' He was right.” Her company makes cupcakes, has 13 locations, and they are tie-dyed, peanut butter cup, cookie dough, s'more and more traditional types. The lesson? People like cupcakes. Make cupcakes. You have a business.
In fact, you don't even need to have a product. If there is a service you can provide, it can be a better basis for a business because the over-head tends to be lower.
I ran across a new business the other day, Outer Calm, which is run by Eric Saber. I don't want to say Eric is a neat-freak, but people pay him to organize their stuff. He does the usual -- closets, kitchens, and papers. He's also spent a decade in business and will organize processes and business spaces, too. He is comfortable with CRM systems and sales tools that can boost your return on investment. Moreover, Eric knows the digital world about as well as anyone, and he can even organize your digital life; getting control of your e-mail, managing all those digital photos and securing countless passwords. Actually, I am in the market for that kind of thing.
The point is, your business doesn't have to change the world. You can start a business right now with what you have.
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