I started thinking up potential large businesses to start a few years ago. It was, for lack a better term, a teaching tool.

I was looking for a way to communicate that the place to begin, if you are thinking of trying to start a company, is with a market need-and not a new idea.

Ideas are too easy. My guess is you could come up with 10 new business concepts before lunch, if you had to.

The problem is once you come up with that idea--say you are going to construct real housing out of Lego blocks, something that has always struck me as a cool idea==you then have to go and figure out if it is feasible, and if anyone-other than an 8-year-old-would live in if it were.

If you have identified a market need, then you are assured that you have a market--the people who have the need.

But is starting with the market need the only way to start a business?

Obviously not. You could start with the idea. And therein lies a potential benefit for you.

Each of the following ideas are yours for the taking. (All I ask is you make a large contribution to the charity of your choice should they make you rich.)

1. Personal shopping for the masses

This one struck me over the holidays. It has been a long time since I had to go shopping for 8-year-olds. Wouldn't it be lovely if there was a personal concierge you could call who could walk you through what is popular and/or appropriate? High end department and clothing stores already have this service. This would make it available for the rest of us. (And if mass market stores like Target and Toy "R" Us wanted to offer this service to me, I would be happy to pay them for it.)

2. No more, "For customer service, please hold."

I am usually willing to trade (a little bit of) money for (a little bit) more time. And while you can do mundane things while waiting on hold when you call the cable, phone or electric company, it really is a) annoying and b) the classic waste of time. Your charge? Figure a way that I can pay a couple of dollars a month in exchange for the various companies letting me jump the line when I need help. I don't think it would be that hard. It really is just a different form of caller ID.

3. A place where you can sell your killer recipes

There are literally millions of great cooks out there. (My wife among them.) And invariably a great cook comes up with a great recipe--or 10. There should be some sort of marketplace to sell them. This idea already exists in other places. For example, people who crochet can sell the patterns they create on Etsy.com

As I said, I am not going to be doing anything with these ideas. I hope they make you a fortune. (As I said, just play it forward once you do.)

 

Published on: Jan 6, 2015