Often I come across people and situations where budding entrepreneurs are looking out for that grand big idea that will propel them into instant millions and fame. I like to back ideas that are already proven, and strongly recommend that if you're really looking at starting your own venture you don't really need to create something radically new or unique.
For instance, in his book Good to Great, James Collins talks about identifying your sweet spot. The work which is a confluence of the following:
1. Something you love doing
2. Something you're genetically programmed to do
3. Something for which a market exists
I completely agree with #1 and #3, but disagree with #2. I don't think we're genetically programmed for anything specific atleast as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. And I would rather believe that if you do set your mind to it, you can generally accomplish it. For instance, my current profile requires me to interact extensively with people. Five years back, I would've been labelled an introvert and at most parties I'd be the wallflower. I still don't network aggressively, but it is an almost 180 degree turn for me in terms of my interactions with people.
Coming back to the point of waiting for a unique idea. I have seen a lot of people come up with lots of original ideas. But more than likely, the original idea isn't really unique. For instance, we recently thought it would be damn cool to productise one of our consulting offerings. As excited as we were, a search on Google revealed half a dozen other firms already doing the same. Which is not to say we're not going to go ahead with the idea. But it just goes to show that original ideas are rarely unique. The other thing about unique ideas is that if there really are no other players in the market for that idea, then possibly the market itself does not exist. Which means, you now have the humungous task of actually creating a market.
So the point now is what kind of an idea do you begin your business with. Here are some pointers to help you along:
1. Is it something you absolutely love doing? The task you plan to venture on, is it something you would do every day, weekends, even if you didn't get paid for it. Do you thoroughly enjoy doing this core task. Your entire business will be built around the fact that you, and the people you hire must love what they do. Otherwise, you simply won't be able to bring the energy and the passion to the field.
2. Is it something others are already successful at? Look around you. There are hundreds of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs working hard at their ideas. There are lots of businesses that are already very successful. Can you adopt a 'follow-the-leader' attitude and do it successfully enough to get to at least #2 or #3. For instance, I was inspired by a US-based consulting firm, which was highly successful in the same field. And I thought, if those guys can do it, so can we.
3. Is it something you know you can improve? Observe carefully at the establishments you frequent. What is it that they could be doing better? Are their customer service reps unfriendly? Are they not located in your specific part of the city, and people have to end up traveling a long distance to avail of their services (think restaurants)? Are they not catering to a specific market segment? They could be focused on large enterprises for customers, leaving you with the SME's to target. Are there specific technologies that they are not covering? If you can determine a specific differentiator, which your competitors would find difficult to replicate easily, then go after an already-successful idea, and you'll up your chances of success.
4. Is it something that you loved during one of your trips, and sorely lament it not being there where you live? For instance, a nice Italian restaurant! Or a service provider who provided an excellent service during your travels, but no one of that type exists back home.
5. Oh I wish, we had this! Have you faced situations, where you've thought: I wish there was someone who would do X for me. Or I wish there were a software that did X,Y and Z.
And, don't jump at your first idea. Dwell on it, let it play back and forth before you make the plunge. I know I toyed with half a dozen ideas before starting my current venture.
- Kanwal K Mookhey
- Mumbai, India
- I run an IT Security consulting firm based out of India. We started off from scratch in 2001 when I was 21, and have offices in Mumbai, Bahrain, and UAE. The idea behind the blog is to share the stories of how we run the business, the deals we make, the deals that break, the heartburn, and the sheer joy.
The Ultimate Startup Guide
|The Ultimate Startup Guide is an e-book that provides answers to all your questions related to starting and growing a business in India. Everything you wanted to know about entrepreneurship in India from ideation to registration to marketing to hiring. The book contains a large number of practical examples, anecdotes, interviews, and motivational material to help you get started, and to grow rapidly in a booming Indian economy. If you've got the idea, this book will help you through with the execution and realize your dreams.
Here are some of the key questions you will find answered in this book:
Details of the book are:
Title: The Ultimate Startup Guide
Author: Kanwal Mookhey
Additional: Companion CD contains numerous templates for building your business plan, calculating cashflow, preparing profit and loss, and balance sheets, preparing invoices, your resume and profile, marketing material, websites, contracts, and many other useful and motivational material.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Posted by Kanwal K Mookhey at 2:27 AM