You never know where the idea for a business or investment may come from. For me, it has almost always been from reading, which often gave me the initial idea. I attribute reading to providing me the ideas for my financial and professional success. Some ideas have made me millions of dollars. But then again other ideas cost me tons as well. But then of course after reading about something is only part of the battle…. you need to execute on it. That requires research, hard work, action and more after getting that idea.
While I am not the best sleeper, (especially now and since last year) I read every night before bed. And of course read throughout the day too, including at the beach! Almost every successful professional reads, and strongly recommends it. While extreme examples, there Bill Gates has read countless books; Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban, Zuckerberg, and countless others.. But more “regular” executives and successful people also strongly recommend reading for ideas, intelligence, and knowledge. It is critical to be knowledgeable.
Ideas can come from anywhere. I have read articles over the years that people have received an idea while on vacation, “unplugging” from the world and thinking, at an art museum, while sleeping and many other places. Entrepreneurs or investors can get an idea from all sorts of different places.
The best ideas for a business or investment are around solving a problem and filling an unmet need…if there is of course a demand for it! This will also carry over to any companies you may invest in…are they solving a problem? The idea can come from your own personal frustration in not finding a solution to a problem you have in your life, whether small or large.
For example, if you are annoyed about XXXX always happening, and then one day it occurs to you that YYYY can solve that problem or make it more manageable, that can be a great idea. Especially if no one else is currently doing it. Or even if there is, maybe you can carve out some niche in the market to focus on.
Examples of ideas
For my current business, I received the idea for spinning out needhelppayingbills from my other businesses from a random article I read. Similar ideas came for my investments. I have also stumbled upon ideas from a variety of “weird” sources to help me build out the site. Sometimes I sit back and need to laugh as it seems to be ridiculous where a business idea can come from.
The article had to do with the cost of natural gas escalating (for multiple years) or so in the late 2000s due a natural gas shortage and demand. That made me think what does that higher input prices due to utility bills, as tens of millions of families use natural gas…which then made me realize utility bills will go up. Then I had a thought about how will low income families pay for that sudden, recurring annual increase on their utilities, especially at a time when the economy was slowing.
So I did some research and read more. I found out there was a need for information and financial assistance, and started working on needhelppayingbills as a spin off from my other internet business. And the company just grew from there.
The business solved the requirements for a good/great business. Find an unfilled need, come up with a solution with ideally no competition, and go for it. It was also a filling a niche at first, but expanded from there.
Over the course of the years, I received ideas to expand and add to the site from many “weird” sources. I remember hearing Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” and thinking many low income families probably need free clothes and other items. Low cost furniture, etc. I did some research, and started adding more clothing and thrift store type services to the site. I talked about listening to music and financial songs…; they have actually given me ideas to make money!
I got many ideas from reading…the NY Times, books, newspapers, magazines, and other sources. While of course I knew immigrants faced challenges, I read an powerful article in the NY Times about the discrimination faced by immigrants, and I wanted to help them and saw there was a need for assistance programs. So I added it. Same thing with many single moms living in poverty. I read about extreme poverty faced by many, and determined that information on where they could turn to for financial help was not out there. This one is even more personal to me due to my background. Many other parts of my business came from similar stories.
I also got ideas from books and reading for investments, which is my main source of success. Investing has made me millions as well, but I lost tons too. Lots of up and downs as I wrote about…but many more “ups” over the years. I remember reading about some small search engine company in the late 1990s (google : – ) ) and said sounds cool. I did more research, read on the concept and industry, etc. I decided maybe I should invest. That was obviously a good one.
While I had many other goods ones (one idea from playing a cool video game!), I had some blow ups too…which some lead to lawsuits in which I was a lead plaintiff against sketchy companies which I talked about before. But all of this also came from reading…both the money made and lost. Luckily as the years went by I became much better at staying away from the losing investments!
Anyhow, I advocate reading…gain knowledge, find an unmet need to start a business or read about some investment. I read every day, and also usually fall asleep with a book (or kindle these days) right next to me….not cell phone with some social network on the screen.
After reading, then do the research and work, work, and work! Anyone have a successful idea for a business or investment? Where did it come from?