Too many would-be entrepreneurs get caught up in the idea that you need an original concept to create your own business. Nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to start a business. You can improve on an existing wheel to make it better than any of the other options out there. And it might be easier than you think.
Here are some key questions to ask when looking at improving an existing idea.
Ask: What If I Did The Opposite?
In 1977, George Atkinson created the first video rental system inside his store in Los Angeles. From that moment on, consumers were trained to go to a store to rent a movie to take home, view it and then return it to the store. Twenty years later in 1997, a then unknown company called Netflix decided to take the existing video rental model and do the opposite.
Their key question was “What if we delivered entertainment directly to the consumer, instead of making the consumer come to us?” This one small change to an existing industry has revolutionized how consumers access DVDs and video the world over. Rather than waiting in line at a video store, your movie was delivered directly to your mailbox. Instead of having to drive that same movie back to return it, you could simply drop it in your mailbox.
These days, you no longer have to leave your home to see a movie. They’re delivered directly to your TV.
Originally downplayed by giants such as Blockbuster Video, Netflix took a gamble and is now the large provider of online video streaming in the world. As for Blockbuster, they refused to evolve to serve the demands of their customers. They ceased operations in January of 2014. (Well, actually, there’s still one left.)
Ask: How Can I Make Something More Convenient?
Dinner preparation is often a struggle for busy families. Finding a recipe, shopping for ingredients and then preparing a home-cooked meal every evening is overwhelming.
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The founders of HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery service available in eight countries around the world, sought to change the way families eat dinner. They believe everyone should have access to healthy food that’s easy to prepare.
But instead of coming up with a unique idea, they took an existing concept–dinner–and asked an important question. Given what they knew about the modern family, “How can we help working families balance their desire for a healthy meal with limited amounts of time to prepare dinner every night?”
In other words, “How can we make healthy food more convenient?”
Convenience came in the form of pre-prepared, pre-measured ingredients shipped directly to your doorstep in a refrigerated carton. Dinner is now a matter of opening the packages and following simple directions.
Just how much is this simple concept of convenience worth to HelloFresh’s customers? In the first nine months of 2016, HelloFresh generated over $455.25 million and is on track to earn more in 2017.
Ask: What Problem Is This Solving?
Hiring a car or taxi to take you from Point A to Point B is nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for hundreds of years.
But consumers have long complained about the quality of their taxi experience. Dirty cars and high fares often created more problems for consumers than the transportation issue they were hired to solve in the first place.
Enter companies such as Lyft. They’ve taken the concept of rides for hire and turned their focus to improving the customer experience. In doing so, they’ve changed how users look at transportation forever.
Lyft has been successful, not by necessarily creating something totally new and unique, but by asking “How can we solve the problems facing current users of the taxi industry?”
How are they doing it? By providing rides that are clean, accepting various forms of payment and focusing on providing a positive experience for their customers. That attention to improving a simple taxi ride is paying off. In 2016 alone, Lyft generated more than $700 million in revenues.
You’re Already An Expert
When you take an existing industry, and improve one aspect of it, the hard part is over. You don’t need to do market research to find out if there is a market for this product or service. It already exists!
You know the wants and needs of the ideal customer in this market, probably better than anyone else, because you’re already a customer. You have the unique ability to focus on areas too often neglected by the larger companies within that field.
My challenge to you then is this. Take a good look at what’s going on around you. What are the services or items that you use every day that you couldn’t live without? What services do your friends and family use? Are you 100% completely satisfied with the product or service? If not, how would you change what’s being done to make it better for you and your loved ones?
Starting a company does require a lot of work, but creating a business idea doesn’t have to be. Leverage the work of those who have come before you to build a profitable business that will fuel your Financial Freedom.
Also, whoever invents a machine that will fold laundry as it comes out of the dryer will win the respect and adoration of all mankind. Someone please get on that.
Community Question: What’s one item or service that you would love to see improved? Tell us in the Business Owners Only Community!
Makaylah Rogers is the co-founder of MindShift.money. She is a Thought Leader for her generation, teaching people how to rewrite their “money rules.” With an extensive background in wealth building and personal development, Makaylah’s path has taken her into executive roles in various fields including launching startups, real estate sales and motivational keynote speaking.