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Do you have to be a genius to have a genius idea? Hardly. Remember, necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes all it takes is a healthy dose of “I can’t take this anymore” to have that moment that changes your life for the better.
Yesterday, you were a corporate drone, tomorrow you are running your own corporation — with your rules and your ideas and ideals. But how? Starting a global empire sounds really hard, right? I imagine it would be. But most businesses start small and grow organically.
By the time you are ready to take on the world you have people. Tech people, marketing people, finance people. All you need right now is that idea. The game changer. But what’s your idea going to be? It just might be hiding in plain sight…
How did it happen for me? Just like that. Something I had done over and over again, finally tapped me on the shoulder and said “ Hey, dummy. Right here. Right in front of you!”
I’ve been bartending in Los Angeles for years and still moonlight at Jones Hollywood, the bar where it all started for Dirty Sue. In my time at Jones, I’ve made countless dirty martinis. One persistent problem was that we were always running out of olive juice while our olives rotted away in the dry jar. Plus, the juice in the jar is pretty low grade. It’s just there to keep the olives from spoiling.
Finally, I got that little tap on my shoulder, and I thought, ‘How come no one bottles this stuff?’ A brand was born. Just like that. Don’t get me wrong, it took some work to go from idea to market, but it was far from impossible. And it was mine. Mine to succeed with and mine to fail with.
And it was worth the risk. It is very difficult to describe the feeling you get the first time you see your product on the shelf or overhear someone that you don’t know say something positive about your brand. The only thing I look back on now and ask myself is “How come it took so long for me to see something that was literally right in front of my face?” The answer is easy. I wasn’t looking.
How can you find your thing? Your own entrepreneurial niche? Focus. Think. Ask yourself some questions.
1. What annoys you the most about your job?
The junk food in the “share kitchen” is awful? Start an all-natural food company geared toward supplying large offices. You feel your belly getting flabbier and flabbier every day? Partner with a trainer and start making workout videos with exercises you can do at your desk. Go viral and retire to the tropics.
If you don’t like something, chances are workers around the world are just as put off. Be the guy or gal that everyone shakes their head at and says, “How come I didn’t think of that?” Or, “I had that idea. I should’ve followed through.”
2. ‘If I had all the money I needed, what would I want to do for work?’
This is an oldie but a goodie, but that answer should give you the direction you should be headed. Sure, you may say “race-car driver,” and not possess the skill set or be anywhere near the optimal age to compete anymore, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pursuing a business related to race-car driving.
Figure out your dream job and combine it with what you are already good at to create your ideal opportunity. Maybe you work in marketing. Maybe you actually love working in marketing. But you realize you will never get rich working for someone else. So, take your skill set to Nascar or individual teams and carve out a piece of the race world for yourself.
3. Do you do one thing (or more) better than everyone you know?
Are you the friend everyone invites to Super Bowl, because you make the best Buffalo Wings? Start small with a Gourmet Wing Sauce and grow into a Chicken Empire. Do you have a Dr. Doolittle ability with even the most misbehaved dogs? Become a dog trainer with a best-selling line of training DVDs.
Are you the world’s most organized person? Maybe you can start an event planning company or closet maid business. Take that special thing you do and turn it into your own business.
4. What if every time you come up with an idea, you realize someone has already done it?
That can be frustrating. But it doesn’t always mean you should give up the idea. Do you think Subway was afraid to get into the fast food business because of McDonald’s? No way. They just looked around and realized that people liked and needed to fill their bellies fast. So they found a new take on an existing model. The concept became a hit.
When the world wanted to get healthier, Subway realized they were sitting on gold and started to market themselves as the healthier alternative. Now they have more stores globally than Ronald McDonald. You might say I’m arguing apples to oranges — burgers verses subs. Fine, but how about In ‘N Out, 5 Guys, The Counter, etc. If you believe in your idea, all you need to do is be better and / or more original than the other guy.
Easy, right? If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But that’s your edge: Everyone won’t do it. But you will. You’ll start by paying attention to your immediate world. What void needs to be filled? What can be done better? What skill do you possess that few people can match?
Keep asking yourself the questions, and one day the answer will appear. It’s not magic. It’s just your brain answering the question you keep asking it. That’s what it’s programmed to do. Once you get the answer, you’ll have your idea — and then let the fun begin.