Someone once said to me, when I was having second thoughts about leaving full time employment – “Two things are certain, you will either leave your job or your job will leave you one day”. By leaving, he explained that this could be by a layoff, retirement or downsizing exercise. While, retirement is not really a bad option, it comes with its challenges too, what business can you start from scratch at 60 plus, unless you have made huge investments enough to just buy up an existing business, but then you have to run it, hopefully not to the ground.
I read yesterday on a blog that senior staff members of a certain company that were laid off recently are being offered 350million naira as redundancy payment. Sounds like a lot of money right? Until, you lose everything to bad investment decisions and pressing needs, after all money doesn’t just sit around and wait.
I know a few people in my father’s generation who got huge payouts from their jobs upon retirement and lost most of it in no time. They had all sorts of people sending in proposals, from pension fund managers, to business ideas seeking investors, to family and friends asking for help. It can be confusing really, deciding where to put this bulk money once you get it. It’s almost the same case with Lottery winners, I haven’t really read about any who remained rich forever from that one windfall. Almost all the time, this money grows wings and flies away.
Of course you can decide to put some in fixed deposits in a bank? But first, which bank? Or MMM… #justkidding or maybe shares? We know the drill with those options. It’s not all bad, plus its good to diversify your investment, but no investment, generates more income than a good turnover business. How then do you generate that winning business idea? A winning idea first of all is one that is a solution to a problem that people are WILLING and ABLE to pay for.
What do you really enjoy doing? Chances are, there are several others like you who enjoy it just like you. List the top three and explore what it takes to carry out these activities? For example, if you like playing tennis, what are the activities required to make this happen? Some of which include, Purchasing Tennis gear, Locating Tennis court of your taste and so on.
Now explore the pain points of these activities. Is it difficult to get tennis courts within your environment? How about the tennis gear? I know a lady, who started a swimsuit line because she couldn’t find swimsuits that looked good enough for her African body type. Sarah Blakely, created spandex because she couldn’t find comfortable shape wears for herself. The list is endless.
When you create something that touches a pain point of many other people, the result is usually a hit!
This sounds so basic, that it is often overlooked. You want an idea; why not start by checking out what is already out there. If you are thinking about something, you bet somebody somewhere is thinking about the exact same thing too. It’s a matter of who starts and gets traction first. Besides, the sky is big enough!
Sometimes something that seems quite obvious to you might not be that obvious. I mean look at Uber, ideas like that make you think, why on earth didn’t I think of this before now? You might just need to experience that aha moment while you explore the Internet and social media – the pictures on pinterest make me dreamy, lol! Try spending some time there and see.
You have some time now, let’s go fishing. Go around exploring existing products or services, review past experiences you have had in your community. Ask yourself what is missing; what is not there that you wish was there. You can come up with this by also talking with people in your community to see what they complain about.
Localize your research; look in your environment or community first, before you branch out. Many times we overlook the obvious opportunities around us, chasing shadows. What age group is in the majority of your community? What do they like to do?
It is in these pain points that you find ideas and possible solutions.
What have you spent the better part of your work life doing? What industry of field did you garner experience? What were the things you felt could be better in that industry? Maybe you even tried to suggest it, but got shouted down. That might just be the idea to push. 10 years of experience in an industry qualifies you to become an expert (I hope, lol). It’s time to consult and help new entrants set, leveraging your wealth of experience.
I once had a discussion with a family friend who works as a customer service agent for a cable company, she complained bitterly about the process on the job. She had a lot of ideas on how it could be better, especially the area of keeping agents up to date on issues real-time. It frustrated her a lot to have to grope in the dark when attending to irate clients over the phone, without a clue whatsoever on what the current status of the issue was. In that pain right there, lies an opportunity.
Travel! If you can’t travel, read, watch TV, anything that can connect you with what is happening outside of your community. Who said there was anything wrong with copying? If it works, why re-invent it.
Imagine spending many years and money trying to invent version 1.0 of something that already exists in version 5.0 somewhere else in the world? What a waste, methinks.
The concept of Reverse engineering brought the Japanese up to par with her counterparts after the war and is a concept worth considering. It has its origins in the analysis of hardware for commercial or military advantage.
Look outside your community, find something that your community needs that doesn’t exist yet, bring it in and adapt it to your community.
What other strategies have worked for you? It is always a pleasure to read from you and exchange thoughts and ideas. Drop your comments and make my day.