It doesn’t have to be a sexy or ground-breaking or technologically advanced idea, but all of the great businesses you can think of solve a problem.
Ask the Right Questions
Don’t Ask, “Will it Work?” Ask, “Why Do I Want it To?” I’m approached regularly by people wanting to share new business ideas with me. The first question they ask is “Will it work?” My response to that is always the same – “Why do you want it to?” Working out why you want to start a business – let alone keep on running it for a good proportion of your adult life – is essential to sustaining you, and ultimately sustaining the success of the enterprise. RedBalloon was not the first business idea I had – but as I look back now I realise that of all the ideas I had, it was the one that inspired me, and I could see myself making a difference.As I learned later when I did a Harvard Business course, the idea was a ‘disruptive’ innovation. It brought a new product to an existing market through delivering experiences cheaply and quickly – and the incumbent dominant gift retailers would not have seen us coming.
It's Never Just a Good Idea
If I’ve learnt anything from starting RedBalloon, it’s that businesses are one per cent idea and 99 per cent execution. You do still need that bright, shining idea though – without it you only have hard work. It doesn’t have to be a sexy or ground-breaking or technologically advanced idea, but all of the great businesses you can think of solve a problem. Facebook was about keeping college students connected; Google was about making the world’s information accessible; and think of the number of problems Apple has solved. So the first step on creating a viable business is to work out what problem you are solving – stated simply, ‘what is your purpose’?
It’s Not About the Money
I know what you’re thinking… now’s the time to run your own show; you have read about all of these entrepreneurial heroes who have created amazing ‘overnight’ success stories and you think, “I could do that”. All you need now is an idea and, once you think of that, the business will simply slip into place and you’ll be on your way to being rich in no time at all. But let me tell you this, if you are driven solely by financial success in business, think again. Great businesses solve a problem; they make life ‘easier’ – they do things that have not been done before. They make a difference to other human beings. You could argue that great businesses make the world a better place.