Thursday, February 28, 2013

Want a Good Business Idea? Go With What You Know

"How do I come up with a good business idea?" I hear this question all the time. It's a great question, and I'm going to try and give you an answer that makes sense.

If you look at most of the great businesses or products of our day, you'll find that the idea champion almost always had a very close tie to the industry he or she entered into and ended up dominating. For instance, the guys at Skullcandy were snowboarders and skiers who loved listening to music. The founder of Lovesac used couches and chairs, and grew up when hacky sacks were popular. He thought it would be cool to make a giant hacky sack and sit on it like a chair, and the rest is history. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? They new A LOT about computers before they came up with their greatest ideas. 

The reality is, your best ideas will concern things that you already have a lot of background and experience in. Are you passionate about clothing? You might come up with a new and innovative retail sales model. Love cars? Like to skateboard? Do you have small children? Are you the world's biggest hockey fan? There are opportunities around every corner.

I have a lot of experience and passion for energy exploration and production. Naturally, almost all of my ideas revolve around the oil industry. I also have gained a special affinity for the salon and spa industry. Why? Because my wife is a cosmetologist, and I now know more about styling, coloring, skin care and spa services than I ever thought possible (or ever really wanted to).  So, I could compete in energy, and I could probably play a helpful supporting role in a salon and spa venture, but would it be wise to jump into an industry that I know nothing about? Probably not.

Although there are the occasional flukes, and sometimes people stumble into an amazing idea by total coincidence, I'd rather not wait for serendipity to drop the next big thing on my doorstep. So, go with what you know and as time goes by, you'll develop an eye for opportunities.

— Reed Page
    Executive Vice President
    USU Entrepreneurship Club