From First Thought to the Next Big Business

The way that business is made isn’t through the next big idea. That rarely every succeeds. There are plenty of examples of this and I will give you some of those in a minute. But before I do I wanted introduce the thought behind today’s post.

Many young people I meet on a daily basis want to create the next big startup. And they have the perfect idea. While I am a strong proponent of creativity, for pushing the boundaries and in-depended thought, the truth is that the successful startups have not done anything new.

Let’s take a look at the business cards I found. I wanted a meme or infographic for the post but this was more fitting. The reason for this is because it summarizes the point of today’s post and creates a bullet list of what a business needs to be. If that business is going to be successful.

creative personalized business card

Business card image taken from personalized business cards.

One question I ask when I am presented with one of this “brilliant ideas” is “why not take the same idea and create a local business?” The answer that I often get is “it would never work.”

But if it would never work as a real brick and mortar business, then why would it work online.

The reason I often get is that the Internet offers a much larger audience and their are more opportunities for it to succeed.

Hum, more opportunities?

When I finally hear the great idea I can immediately see why they need a larger audience. The reason is simple. They do not have an idea that is viable as a business. Business take a certain finesse to be successful, they take a lot of work and they take determination and motivation. They also have to offer something to an audience that is willing to hear your sales pitch.

The business card that I highlighted pointed these point down to a creative design that is memorable. It is brandable and it works for most business types.

A business card, the path to success

Who would have thought that this simple business card could show the road map to success but the important point are all there. Here are the ones that you should take note of:

  • Brainstorm
  • Innovate
  • Problemsove
  • Create
  • Quality
  • Produce

Lets look at all six of the points I have taken from the business card in more detail.


When you read this word in conjunction with your business, whether it is a startup or a brick and mortar business, you should realize that your true goal isn’t to come up with a product of business model that nobody is interested in. Nobody is interested in a product or service that solves a problem they don’t have.


Great innovative ideas are the ones that you come to while you’re sitting alone being “creative,” they are the ones that come to you while your working, frustrated with the current set of tools and looking for better ones.

They aren’t the skin care products that you love, they are the ones that give you a rash that inspire you to be innovative.

Innovation shouldn’t be your drive to reinvent the wheel, it should be the drive that encourages you to make the wheel better, more efficient, and safer.

When you understand that your business really have the potential to take off.

Solve Problems

What problems do you have right now? Do you need a lift to the airport? Uber. Do you need to find a date for the weekend? Tinder. Are you hungry? Pizza deliver is there for you day and night.

When you solve problems you have a set of customers ready to adopt your products almost instantly.

When you offer a product that is only focused on itself there is little chance you will have a business people will take notice of. Even if you spend a lot of money on marketing.


The creation process is the part that most people love. It is the blank slate where they infuse all of the great ideas that have into that “super idea” that gives them the drive to get up early, work late.

Unfortunately, during this time the average person doesn’t realize that, while they need to polish out the big details, they also need to work on the small ones that are often over looked.

If you want your business to succeed make sure that you look at your idea from ever perspective.

Polish the parts that work, remove the parts that don’t, and be your hardest and most challenging critic.

Because no matter how hard you are, your audience will be ten times more honest, more unforgiving and more right than you ever will be.


No matter if you are in the business of selling blue widgets or you repair blue widgets you will need to offer quality. A company that doesn’t will find it is always on the look out for new customers. Customers that will get thinner the longer you are in business, until you are no longer in business.

The reason for this is simple.

Word of mouth can make you great or it can destroy you.

When you have offer quality your reputation will proceed you. The same is true if you skimp on the quality.

When people speak well of you and your business you will soon find that they are your greatest resource in winning new loyal customers.


When you have manged to get all of the other points worked off it is then time to sit down and produce your final product.

Think back to your writing assignments. You were often required to turn in the different steps of the assignment. Not just the final essay, but the work that lead up to the final product. The same holds true for most activities in life.

Business if not an expectation, it becomes the new rule. Every stage of your path should be worked out in a business plan. One that you might have to slave over but in the end will pay off.

Business plans are also an important part of a pitch if you still want to go the online startup route.

Startup Businesses that Succeeded

Most businesses are destined to fail. The statistics are against you in every way you can imagine.

I could have filled this post full of only the statistics and you would have been left with a depressing message that left you discouraged. And believe it or not, that was not the point of this article.

When we can look at something critically we have the potential to understand how it works and in the end we have a better chance to succeed.

So lets look at some businesses critically and understand why they succeeded where other stronger, older or more “creative” competition failed.


Facebook was not the first social network, but today it is just about the only social network that counts for anybody.

You have an account and so does your mother, friend and possibly your neighbor’s cat.


Facebook wasn’t offering anything new. They did offer something that others did not. An easy to use, user friendly experience that gives you the option to connect with your family and friends on a single platform.

This is the draw that continues to bring new users to the network where others have failed.


Apple Computers was there before you were born, they were there when your parents were young. It is a good chance that your parents’ first computer experience happened to be on a Mac. But that isn’t what made them great.

It was iTunes.

Prior to their success with the iPod Apple was mainly adopted by designers and people that wanted to set themselves apart from the mundane Window’s user.

The price tag was often a factor that kept the adoption rate low for early Apple computers.

When music sharing was reaching its peak Steve Jobs offered the music studios and users that made them both happy. An affordable means to access and purchase the music they wanted. This spawned the iPod and propelled the company into the position it is in today.

The iPhone was not the first touch screen device. We have had them since the 80s, nor was it the first touch screen cellular phone. Prada beat Apple to it but was unable to harness the true potential.

The foundation for the iPhone’s success if built on innovation that offered the use something they had already been doing for decades, but in an easy to use package that combined many of the activities they loved doing into one sleek package.


Google wasn’t the first search engine. But they were the first one to offer easy access to the web at large. Many of the earlier search engines acted as a portal that served the content from their partners.

So Google’s success isn’t based on being first it is based on being better. And being able to isolate a problem and do a better job at solving it than their competition.

That isn’t always the case for the mega cooperation, however, many of the products that they have rolled out over the years have failed.

Are you on the Google+ social network? No? There is a good chance that your family and friends aren’t either.

While Google offers a number of excellent services, many of the most popular ones have been acquired from third parties. YouTube was a very popular video sharing platform long before Google rolled it into their brand. The same can be said for Blogspot, Picasa, Feedburner and let’s not forget their advertisement platform DoubleClick. But that is just a few of the popular products Google has acquired through the years.


Still there is room for innovation that you may easily overlook.

Uber is one of those services that takes the taxi service and puts it on its head.

While you can think of what you want of the service’s business model it was an innovative idea to a problem at hand. Now you can book a ride from your hotel to the airport all with the ease and efficiency our phones offer.

The business model was a success and now you can use their service worldwide.

Craig’s List

The idea of having a personal ad wasn’t new when craigslist was born. But the ability to post your used mower or chrome plated rims for sale online was.

The company has been in business for three decades, it survived the first Dotcom bubble and it will surely survive the next.

The reason for their success hasn’t been that they did something new, they did the same thing but differently. Making the process easy, free and quick.

In Closing

The whole point of this article is to encourage you to focus your search for the next best idea in more grounded aspirations.

When you want to shoot for the moon you need to make sure that their is a chance you will actually hit it.

This can be done through several methods. One of them is identifying the opportunities that make themselves apparent before the competition has a chance to act.

Shapeways, a business that produces custom 3d printed items saw their chance while everyone else was scratching their heads over what the whole 3d printing market meant. Today they are one of the lead producers of print on demand 3d products.

If your not on the bleeding edge, don’t worry, the cutting edge has a lot of opportunities to produce stable businesses that don’t invent the wheel but refine it.

AirBNB, is another candidate that could have made the list of businesses that took a brick and mortar idea and made an impact online.

Business Failure Rate

The website statisticbrain, a data research group, released a fascinating infographic with comprehensive statistics for different industries and their failure rate.

startup business failure rates