Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Big Idea? Or The Next Best Thing?

Image courtesy of [hinnamsaisuy]/
During an industry event I attended in June, I had the pleasure of meeting a successful entrepreneur who had some advice for those looking to start their own companies: pick a business that already makes money.

On the one hand, that makes sense. After all, startups aren't just about having fun and being the boss; they are businesses and need to make money to survive. But on the other hand, the most innovative companies are developing groundbreaking products or services through new and untested business models. No matter how strong the business plan or how reputable the investors, these entrepreneurs can only hope that enough people will be interested in what their companies offer.

The best approach to entrepreneurship is somewhere in the middle between trailblazing and the tried and true. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs today seem to be adopting only the latter approach -- taking successful companies and copying or building off them. Have you seen how many companies today offer cloud-computing solutions, e-commerce portals, and social communities for everyone from artists to physicians? I'm not sure how long a great idea lasts these days, or whether anyone remembers a name, but in the end a startup will only defeat its competition if it has the right marketing and communication plan. The questions that these entrepreneurs, copycats and pivot artists have to ask are all the same: Who are our potential customers? How should I reach them? And what makes our company better than the rest? The answers to these questions are not easy, but they are the key to making money, being a boss, and calling yourself a successful entrepreneur.

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