How many of you guys want to start a business, but you’re waiting for that one great idea?
I used to think that way. I thought me starting a business would require:
1. A genius business idea that no one’s ever thought about before. (And when I see someone else with a great business I think, “Why didn’t I think about that?”)
2. Me having to raise money or borrow a huge loan from the bank
The main issue I hear from people who want to start in business is:
“I don’t have a good business idea”.
I have good news: coming up with a business idea is easier than you think. And it’s also cheaper and faster than ever to start a business due to the internet / globalization.
I LOVE studying and reading about businesses. Even though I’m focused on the affiliate marketing industry, I’m coming up with great ideas all the time.
The theory that you need “one big idea” is a major cop out. There’s a quote I like: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. This quote means that the best ideas are ones that you straight up jack from one place, and then use them in a slightly different way as your own.
Most of the millionaires I know didn’t make their fortunes from some crazy new idea, they used one of the 5 models I describe in this post to create a business.
There are other business models out there, but these are a good start.
Model 1. Bring an Existing Business into a New Location
It seems like every street in major cities has a frozen yogurt shop. Either Pinkberry or Red Mango innovated the concept. The first movers must’ve made a lot of money.
But you know who else made a lot of money? The guys who saw the idea working well, and brought it to new markets and new countries / cities.
That’s why people who travel a lot tend to be great entrepreneurs – they are exposed to new business ideas constantly. When I’m overseas I crave things like Amazon Prime and Whole Foods. I always see massive opportunity for expansion of US businesses and their models overseas.
Here’s another concept: Some of the TOP iPhone games have actually been RIP OFFS of popular games from 20+ years ago. The developers just ported them to a NEW market (and a different time).
How many of you have parents or grandparents that play Scrabble on their mobile?. We’re seeing this in movies too, pretty much every 6 months a “new” Marvel movie comes out.
Scaling a campaign that’s profitable to a new GEO that’s just been released would be an affiliate example of this business model.
The Blue Ocean Strategy
This first business model is linked with the idea of a Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS). If you’ve heard of Porter’s Five Forces, BOS is kinda the opposite. BOS focuses on low cost, and high product differentiation so it’s almost impossible for anyone to compete with you.
One example of a business that has executed BOS is Southwest Airlines. They discovered that a lot of people will drive long distances instead of fly just due to the cost. These people would fly if it were more convenient, but it was too expensive.
Southwest Airlines decided to target these people by making flights dirt cheap, having more frequent flights on the routes people would traditionally drive, and shorter check-in times to make it faster than driving all up.
Questions to ask yourself: What have you seen in another city/country that might work in your city? Can you test it cheaply and easily? Have you seen something that should be a lot cheaper, and there isn’t really much competition?
Model 2. Take an Existing Business MODEL and Apply it to a New Market
Subscription boxes are all the rage.
I can’t believe some of the crazy shit people are making into subscription-based products. (You’ve gotta check out that link lol). I saw them first in beauty. You spend $20 a month, and they send you makeup samples in the mail each month. Then other people took the MODEL and expanded it into beef jerky, shaving, perfume, etc.
Something I subscribe to is TrunkClub. I feel like I’m their perfect target customer because I love having new clothes, but I hate waiting in lines and trying things on in-store. They’ve kinda revolutionized shopping, here’s how it works:
You fill out a form with your measurements, then a stylist hand picks items for you. You can then approve them, and the ones you approve are sent to you. You can send back ones you don’t like for free.
The basic idea is that you don’t have to invent a business model from scratch.
Look at the DollarShaveClub business model. These guys killed it with their razor delivery service, but what’s to stop you doing the same thing with another industry? There are tens of thousands of items you could specialize in to replicate a service like this. Sites like Alibaba or AliExpress give you access to millions of products around the world you can import.
In affiliate marketing an example of this strategy could be being the first to try PIN submits in a vertical.
Model 3. Sell Valuable Information
Are you an expert at anything? Package it up into an ebook, online course, workshop, etc.
Don’t think you have to be THE BEST in the field. You just have to be BETTER THAN the audience.
Example: Lately I’m trying to improve my posture more. I don’t need to learn from the world’s best posture instructor. I could give money to a broke college student who had the same issues as me, but solved it.
Remember that there are levels to this, and you don’t have to start at the top. A posture coach could charge anywhere from $20 per hour up to $500+ if you’re one of the best in the industry. Same goes with information you sell. I always try to overdeliver on content, and undercharge, and then increase price when there there’s too much demand for me to satisfy.
For the first four years of my blog, I didn’t sell anything.
Don’t under rate your skills either. You don’t need to have a degree or industry certification for whatever you are an expert at. Your customers don’t about your qualifications, they just want THEIR problem solved. People only care about what you can do for them.
Do you think anybody ever asks me about my degree in marketing before they join AFFcelerator? All they wanna know is that I’ve made a lot of money in affiliate marketing and I can teach them to do the same. Nobody cares about my degree, or any other training I’ve done.
If you’re interested in this business model, here’s an interesting article: A guy wrote about starting a hotdog cart and made a million dollars in book sales.
Model 4. Solve Your Own Itch
This is probably my favorite business model. A lot of businesspeople will tell you the same thing – if something is bugging you, there might be a business opportunity there.
Keep a notebook and write down any problems you experience in a day. I’ve started carrying an actual moleskin notebook and pen lately for these kinda ideas and thoughts. So many things go wrong every day, so try to see if there’s a way you could profit from these shortcomings of other businesses/software etc.
Challenge: Try this just for today: every time you catch yourself complaining, ask yourself “Can I make some money if I solve this problem?”.
- Does a certain app always crash?
- Are you struggling to find a certain type of person?
- Is it impossible to find simple, easy-to-follow info on a certain topic?
- Have you cracked the code to anything (getting A+ grades in college, nailing every job interview, becoming fluent in German in under 6 months)?
- Is your city lacking a certain food, skill, or event?
- Are people in your area always complaining about the same thing?
Most of us use the same things every day (chairs, desks, phones, laptops, food, beds, software, cutlery etc), and there are still new products being marketed every day that go on to make millions.
I see so many problems in software/apps that I use every day.
5. Out-Execute The Competition
Ever thought of a great idea, but then you discover someone else did it first? You think, “Ah well, guess I’m too late”.
There were plenty of cellphones around before iPhone came onto the scene.
Yahoo / Alta Vista existed for years before Google entered.
There are plenty of great songs on iTunes, but every single year, thousands of new musicians make millions of dollars writing new songs.
There’s always a market for someone who can DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY. I’m a fan of 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly (it’s free). He goes deeper into the idea that people are always trying to find new things to love.
What about something as simple as board games?
Cards Against Humanity came in and crushed it in a market that was flatlining, and they’ve made $12 million + in sales. Why wasn’t this a thing before? Who knows, but it’s a crazy idea that was executed well by a bunch of guys who’d just graduated college.
There are a lot of guys out there trying to make millions from apps, but I’m guessing there weren’t too many guys trying to make money from board games or playing cards.
Out-executing DOESN’T mean you have to make a better product.
Sometimes the competition has a better product than you could hope to create, but their marketing is terrible. When a company has bad marketing, they aren’t selling much. After reading this blog, you probably know a LOT more about marketing and driving sales than most business owners… You could use your knowledge of marketing to get more sales than your competition, even though they technically have a superior product.
I’ve also seen guys with marketing skills consult to companies that are on the brink of financial collapse, in exchange for a small piece of their business if they can turn them around. Consulting is one way to make a lot of money in a short time.
How To Find These Business Opportunities
The main reason most people don’t find these opportunities is because they’re too busy. To think up, or recognize a business idea is one thing, but to go back home and research, plan and execute it is another thing.
If you’ve read The Rise of Ngo, you’ll know my first business venture online started with me buying a camera. I wanted to treat myself, so I found some coupons online and found a method where I could get it cheap. I bought it for about half price ($150) and spent the morning testing out the features.
That night I went onto Ebay to see how much it was retailing for.
I was shocked to see people actually paying close to $300 for it, so I listed mine, and it sold quickly for a profit of $150 for about one hour of work. I went on to do this multiple times and made some good money… But how did I find this opportunity?
- I spent time to do the research
- I was already in the market and I knew the prices
- I had ZERO downside (if the camera didn’t sell, I kept it)
If I had never been searching for this camera and comparing prices, I would never have stumbled onto making about $25k profit from this simple business model.
The hardest thing about a business is taking that first leap of faith AFTER you get an idea. Whether it’s purchasing your first item for resale, launching your first affiliate campaign, sending your first email to your list, landing your first client or whatever.
Once you take that first step, your mind starts solving problems automatically, and it knows what steps to take next.
Common Mistakes After Having A Business Idea
Coming up with an idea is kinda fun, everything after that people label as “work”.
The biggest mistake I’ve seen people do is that they wait. They wait for the perfect business idea, or they want to wait until everything’s “in place”.
Let me tell you from my experience: the time is NEVER perfect.
When I started my business 8 years ago, I had every excuse in the world. I didn’t have money for a business, I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have connections or a network, and I didn’t have any experience.
There’s a quote I love:
“Entrepreneurs jump off a cliff, and build a parachute on the way down.”
The longer you wait, the more the odds stack against you.
You get the promotion that takes more time. You get married / have kids so now it’s HARDER for you to take risks. You have a nice car, a mortgage, so it’s harder to risk it all.
There’s a great article by Derek Sivers that talks about execution vs ideas. His theory is that ideas are a multiplier of execution, so even a weak idea executed well can make you a lot of money.
Here’s a video I shot earlier this year that might help you get past any sticking points. If you enjoy it, subscribe to my channel!
Coming Up With a Business is Easier Than You Think
Most people are good at recognizing problems, but they make the mistake of stopping there. Don’t forget that people pay money for their problems to be solved.
Challenge yourself to look at all of the problems in your life and ask yourself if other people have the same problem. If they do, you might be sitting on a great business idea.
Also, going traveling is great for getting business ideas!
If you’re enjoying the content on my blog, add me on Snapchat (username: charles_ngo)
I’m starting to use it a lot as it’s a more intimate way of communicating, and I feel like I can give away a lot more information, tips and strategies because it’s not recorded anywhere.
Featured Image by panama555