5 Surprisingly Small, Simple Ideas That Became Giants
Sometimes, unplanned situations and the simplest of ideas which seemed very unfortunate at the time can turn into the opportunity of a lifetime. A lot of new entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating a product that they love and hoping the market will love it as well, instead of building a product around what people are actually looking for.
The startup stories below also proves that you don’t need to have the perfect idea to start a business, but you can approach it in these 3 simple steps:
1. Find the problem. What big challenge or problem did you experience in the past or currently experiencing today?
2. Brainstorm some ideas to solve this problem or at least improve on it. Then start with one idea that you feel will have the most powerful impact in solving your problem.
3. Find out if there is a great need for your idea/solution in the marketplace. If there is, then dig deeper and get to know the desires and challenges of those people so you can tailor your product/service around them.
Here are some examples of some success stories that started off with a small, simple idea and later became giants in the business world:
The Problem: Following a 2002 surf trip to Australia, founder Nick Woodman was frustrated because he could not capture action photos of his surfing. He thought that an amateur photographer will not be able to get close enough and let alone use quality, affordable equipment.
A Simple Idea: Woodman thought it would be great to design a camera that anyone (professionals and amateurs) can use to capture quality action photos. Today, the company is worth over $1.7 billion.
Interesting Facts: GoPro began in Woodman’s VW bus. He initially funded the company by selling beads and shell belts out of the back of his bus. Unfortunately, the bus was stolen after Woodman made his first deal in 2004.
The Problem: While traveling overseas in 2013, co-founder Kayvon Beykpour was in Istanbul’s Taksim Square when a protest broke out. Wanting to find out what was happening exactly, he turned to Twitter. Although he read about the protest, he was frustrated because he couldn’t see what was happening.
It just occurred to me, there were so many smart phones out there, why wasn’t there a way for me to ask who else was out there what was happening there?
A Simple Idea: Together with co-founder Jessica Verrilli, they wanted to create create an app that allowed users to livestream whatever was happening around them and share it to anyone who wanted to watch the live action. It enabled people to experience the world through someone else’s eyes and instead of creating a passive video experience like YouTube, Periscope was active.
Interesting Facts: Twitter acquired Periscope for $100 million before it was even launched and limited Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s social path.
The Problem: After joining the company in 1982, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz travelled to Italy in 1983 where he became so impressed with the espresso bars and the vibrant coffee culture in Milan that it made him realize even more of what was something missing back home in Seattle.
Simple Idea: Schultz saw the potential of Starbucks to become much more than just a coffee shop but a place where people can truly connect. He wanted to develop a similar coffeehouse culture in Seattle that he experienced in Milan.
Today, the company is worth over $85 billion. Starbucks Mission Statement reads:
Our mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time.
Interesting Facts: Starbucks was founded in 1971 by English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegl, and writer Gordon Bowker.
4. Virgin Atlantic
The Problem: It was in 1984 when Richard Branson’s flight got cancelled at Puerto Rico. He was desperate to get to the British Virgin Islands to go on a holiday with his then girlfriend, now wife, Joan,
Branson was annoyed by the cancellation and started calling around about chartering a plane.
I had a beautiful lady waiting for me in British Virgin Islands and I hired a plane and borrowed a blackboard and as a joke I wrote Virgin Airlines on the top of the blackboard, $39 one way to British Virgin Islands. I rounded up all the passengers who had been bumped and I filled up my first plane.
Branson later felt that the major airlines, especially British Airways, fell short in looking after its customers’ needs so he wanted to do something about it.
I don’t go into ventures to make a fortune. I do it because I’m not satisfied with the way others are doing business.
A Simple Idea: Branson believed if he started an airline that focused on providing an affordable and enjoyable experience to its passengers then he would have a unique place in the market. The airline’s aim was simple:
To provide the highest quality innovative service at excellent value for money for all classes of air travellers.
Interesting Facts: In 1991, Virgin Atlantic were actually the first to offer interactive entertainment like individual TV screens and a choice of channels to passengers in all classes.
The Problem: In October 2007, roommates and designers, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were broke and they could no longer afford their apartment in San Francisco. To make ends meet, they decided to turn their loft into a lodging space and although they didn’t even have proper beds, they decided to use the 3 air beds that they had in their closet.
Simple Idea: Chesky and Gebbia came up with the simple idea to rent out part of their apartment to attendees of a sold-out design trade show. Later down the track, they later realized that many travellers wanted affordable accommodations and the experience that more closely resembles being a local as well as getting tips from an actual local.
Property owners themselves not only made business from their homes but were able to exchange stories and experiences with their visitors. Today, the company is worth over $26 billion.
People told us what they wanted, so we set off to create it for them. Ultimately while solving our own problem, we were solving someone else’s problem too.
Interesting Facts: Airbnb is a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging. It has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.You can find any kind of space imaginable to lodge. Check out these 7 Bizzare Airbnb Rentals That Are Almost Too Weird To Believe
Many aspiring entrepreneurs love the idea of learning and challenging themselves constantly. Some may have attended years of courses and seminars, read many books about self-development and immersed themselves in the business world by working in successful companies. They might know a lot of things when it comes to sales, marketing and the technical aspects of a business.
Knowledge and experience often brings with it a lot of confidence and some may decide to finally start their own business, similar to what our aspiring entrepreneur wants to do (let’s name him Ben). So one day, feeling all excited, Ben turns on the computer and makes a list of all the ideas that’s been lingering in his head…
“I definitely want to do this.”
“Ooh, this looks like a great idea!”
“Oh, I’m definitely going to do that.”
After spending about an hour brainstorming and filling out about 5 full pages of ideas, Ben stops for a moment to gaze at the document. A minute later, his head starts hurting.
“Wow, there’s so much to do! Where do I start?!”
3 months later, Ben is still determined to launch his business. Yet he’s so overwhelmed by what he needs to do that he’s on the brink of giving up. He can’t seem to keep himself motivated enough and he’s no longer sure where he’s going. He knows he has the skills, the confidence, the experience and the knowledge. So why can’t Ben just get moving???
Here are a few reasons why Ben might be having a lot of challenges around starting his business that many others can relate to:
1. Too Many Ideas, Too Many Areas Of Focus
There is only so many things we can focus on at one time. Some people try to handle 4-5 things at once, some work more effectively doing no more than 2-3 things at a time, while others work best by focusing on one thing at a time. When we are trying to focus on too many things at once, we become overwhelmed. Sometimes we end up focusing on areas that are not really important.
Tip: Spend a few minutes brainstorming and making a list of your creative ideas. Pick your top 2-3 most important ideas and commit to focusing on them for the rest of the day, perhaps even for the rest of the week until you start to notice results.
You also don’t have to be great at everything when starting out. Focus on being great at one thing so the market can easily see your area of expertise. Trying to be great at everything can confuse your audience.
2. Ineffective Use Of Time
Many early-stage business owners avoid their reality, often unintentionally. What they often don’t realize is that they’re actually spending most of their time on tasks that produce very little to no results. If you already decided to quit your day job and you have little financial backing, then fast cash flow is a crucial ingredient in your business. This involves focusing at least 80% of your time on sales-driven activities (80/20 Rule).
Tip: Take a look at your weekly schedule and notice where you’re spending most of your time each day. Ensure you’re allocating a minimum of 80% of your time on sales-focused tasks. Remember that time is your most valuable asset. A lot of new entrepreneurs value money more than their time – you can always have more money but you can never have more time. Be wary where you spend your time and use it effectively.
3. Lack Of Dedicated Support
Having effective goals set in place and putting ideas on a well thought-out plan is usually not enough. Where most people still fail is in the execution of their ideas. Even though courses, books and training videos provide a lot of value, it still requires you to work out a lot of things and piece things together on your own.
What’s needed is the accountability and on-going dedicated support for entrepreneurs. There’s very little things more valuable in your own growth and success than by having your own personal, 1:1 mentor. The journey of an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be a lonely one. By having close support, you can 10x your results. You don’t have to rush towards your goals, just remember that the longer it takes you, the more chance you have of giving up.
All you need is someone who is willing to understand where you are at and where you are going, someone who can dedicate to providing you with 1:1 on-going support. They should be able to help you set effective goals, break down your vision into short-term targets, assist you with the creative parts if required (websites, landing pages, branding, etc) but most importantly, they’re there to keep you on track, coach you out of giving up and keep you accountable to ensure you’re putting in the activity.
4. Unsupportive environment
Your success in life is determined not by how much you want to be successful, but how much the people around you want you to be successful.
Not everyone is going to connect with your aspirations. A lot of early-stage entrepreneurs become very discouraged when they feel unsupported especially by those closest around them. Truth is, most of them actually want to see you succeed, they probably just don’t understand the unique journey you’re on.
But there are many others out there who are definitely on a similar journey as you who are looking for the same things you’re after. Seek them out and connect with them more. Surround yourself with a tribe of entrepreneurs who circulate the kind of value you need to keep you motivated. Share you ideas with them, continue to give and receive a lot of value.
This type of environment helps you find strategic partners, accountability partners or simply a community of people that encourages each other to achieve their goals and objectives.
5. Relying On Motivation
Motivation is very-short lived simply because we can’t always feel good 24/7. Those who rely on motivation to get them moving are the ones that often procrastinate and go back to their old patterns. Ever been to a seminar and then a week later you’re back to your old habits?
What’s more important than motivation is momentum. Momentum requires you to take consistent action because it’s those actions which bring the results, big or small, that you need to maintain perseverance. Allow your actions to influence your emotions in a positive way.
By having an inspiring, compelling and clear vision to begin with, it will give you the “pull” to move forward, whilst breaking down that vision into smaller targets ensures you are following through each day. It gives you less excuses to procrastinate because you have a shorter window of time to bring in results and numbers into your business. By challenging yourself this way not only helps you to stay motivated but you might even exceed your targets as well.
The 6 Most Important Character Traits Of A Newbie Entrepreneur
Transitioning into the world of entrepreneurship is both a strategic and emotion-driven journey. It requires you to conjure up your greatest potential and it demands the best in you, for it’s a path not for the faint-hearted. The early stages are often filled with surges of excitement and thrill, where our enthusiasm is at its peak but inevitably, we realize that starting (and eventually growing) a business also brings with it a great deal of uncertainty and challenges.
Below are some of the most important character traits that a newbie entrepreneur must have in order to stay on path towards their desired business outcomes and overcome the big challenges along the way.
For a newbie entrepreneur, there is a lot of work to be done. Often at the early stages, they have to do most of the work and “earn their stripes” to move up to the next levels. Some end up avoiding the very important activities because it doesn’t seem always fun or comfortable for them. Personally, being a natural innovator, this posed a great challenge for me and I ended up spending a lot of time on creating instead of hustling.
Statistics show that most newbie entrepreneurs spend between 80%-90% of their energy and time on non-revenue generating tasks. Generating fast cashflow is an important ingredient to ensure your business stays afloat and builds a strong foundation to assist in driving your vision forward. This means that sales-focused tasks must be a priority and often requires a great deal of self-discipline.
Those who do succeed have developed the self-discipline and determination to do what’s necessary despite the difficulties and they learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don’t want to do.
John Paul DeJoria
In the early stages, an entrepreneur really needs to muster all their focus and energy to build the momentum and find their flow. Thankfully, at the start we are also quite motivated so the hard work is bearable…for a while. Soon, we begin to realize that not everything will always go our way and we will encounter what seem like endless resistance. Unless the vision is inspiring and compelling enough, this resistance can pose a great challenge to one’s perseverance.
We must see the real worth of our pursuit by understanding why this journey is so important to us and the more we persist, the more results will show up. Activity creates results. These results, whether it brings success or failure, are the feedback entrepreneurs need to help them review their strategies and realign themselves back on track. Without consistent activity and determination, useful results are very few.
Thomas Edison created the first light bulb after literally thousands of failed experiments and years of failed attempts. Yet he persisted because he believed that his failures will eventually bring about success.
Colonel Sanders at the age of 65, was rejected by 1008 restaurant owners yet he persisted because he believed that as long as he kept trying, someone will eventually take on his unique chicken recipe. Prospect 1009 finally gave him a “yes”.
Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
World-renowned motivational speaker, Les Brown said that the hardest thing for him to do was not to make a million dollars but to believe in himself. In his early days, Les Brown kept approaching radio stations but they kept turning him down, although he believed in himself enough that he just kept trying until eventually he was given the opportunity. People were also telling him that he will never be successful because he didn’t have a college degree, but he had faith in himself to prove them wrong.
Confidence and self-belief go hand-in-hand. We tend to take more action with greater confidence and self-belief. But the cycle doesn’t always have to start at self-belief. We can begin simply by just taking action, moving along and allowing our physiology to influence our emotions, rather than the other way around. As mentioned earlier, action produces results. Seeing results increases our confidence and self-belief.
Unfortunately, this cycle also works the other way – with less confidence and self-belief, we take less action, hence we get little to zero results.
Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution.
David J. Schwartz
Focus is everything to an entrepreneur. As human beings, we can only focus on a few things at once. Some can focus on 4-5 things at once, some only 2-4, while some do their best work when they are focused on one thing at a time. Yet many entrepreneurs overwhelm themselves by multi-tasking and doing more things than they can handle. They try to be good at everything. Or they want to help everyone.
There’s nothing wrong with helping as much people as possible, but at the early stages of starting a business you need to niche and find a specific audience. Find one thing to be good at and allow that to evolve. Later, you will have the privilege to help more people. Tony Robbins didn’t start by feeding 2 million people a year, he focused on a specific target audience and furthered his reach later on.
Focusing on one thing and doing it really, really well can get you very far.
Entrepreneurs who find long-term success are those who are customer-focused. They constantly educate themselves to understand the changing needs of the market, then tailor and deliver their products/services to meet those needs. Entrepreneurship is all about pursuing a purpose-driven lifestyle and I believe that part of that purpose is to use our “genius” to be of service to others.
By delivering real value to others, not only will we be more fulfilled, but the value returns to us in its tangible form – more customers, more business, greater abundance and increased revenue.
Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.
Without patience we feel more anxious, stressed and frustrated. These negative emotions break the necessary “flow” that brings inspired action and balance. At the same time, taking things too slow can open a bigger window for failure. Entrepreneurs who end up procrastinating and building a hobby instead of a business have often convinced themselves that they have to take things slowly.
As long as you’re putting in the necessary work, focusing on what’s important and taking consistent action, then with the right support, all you need afterwards is some good patience. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s also wise to give our goals and objectives a deadline, so we are able to work towards realistic, yet challenging targets that’s designed to keep us on track and perhaps even see us exceed our expectations.
Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.
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