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Beware the new idea

March 27, 2014

There is something sexy and sizzling about entrepreneurship. Smart young things collaborating in trendy cafes. Moving at the speed of light. Serendipitous meetings of minds, values, skills and funds to launch ‘the next big thing’.


Innovation by nature is new. Fresh. Sparkly. There is an energy, optimism, positivity. Fist-in-the-air-woo-hoos.

But – is that just a business fairytale?

Is hiking off in unchartered territory, finding the road never travelled actually the way to go?

Aren't the road less travelled littered with the tombstones of businesses that just didn't make it:  "But....it was such a great idea...".

There are a few billion people on the planet. Pulling a figure out of the air, let’s say 10% are business owners; from backyard/kitchen table ‘hobbyists’ to Richard Branson and everything in between.

What % of these business owners actually started up a brand new, never before seen, product or service? Branson certainly didn't.

The majority of course took an existing product/service and tweaked it for their market – through better marketing/branding; through innovating distribution channels; through adding value; and sometimes through just being better at it.

They didn’t actually come up with a brand new thing. Apple didn’t ‘invent’ the iPod. They branded and packaged technology.

And for those businesses who really have come up with a totally new product that does a new function that none of us realised that we actually needed the first few years – and millions - would be spent in educating the market; building awareness of the new product, before they actually get around to building the brand; by which time of course competitors are following on your coat tails thanking you for the ride.

Rather than trying to be ‘the first’ – and let’s face it, with some many billion people in the world what are the chances that you really have come up with a new idea? – how about embracing being the 2nd or 3rd or 10th?

Find a successful offering within an established and big enough to be shared target market – and then find your niche. Put your spin on it. Do one thing within it that thrills your potential customers. Tweak the offering to build your own version that exactly matches the hearts and minds of your own sustainable customer base.

And then you will be Number 1. Number 1 in the mind of just your customers – where it counts.

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