We can’t always tell when a business is going to be successful. Getting to the point of actually launching means that we must be confident of it, but nothing is ever guaranteed. Let’s be honest, if someone had told you the idea behind Facebook before it launched, would you have said it was a billion dollar idea? Similarly, there have been ideas which seemed certain to make their owners rich, but instead sunk without trace.
What separates the promising ideas from the million-dollar ones isn’t anything particularly revolutionary; you don’t need to invent a new color or find some new market of customers that’s never been tapped before.
That’s the good news. The less good news is that you need a certain amount of genius. The genius to see an opportunity, allied to the ability to exploit that opening, and the knowledge that lets you correct mistakes before they become crises. There’s a list you need to make, and then check. And then check it twice. If you can tick off all the items on this list, then you’ll be well on your way.
Creative Genius: Finding Your USP
Not every business that takes off will be 100% unique. That’s why we have Coke and also Pepsi. It’s why McDonalds and Burger King can coexist. So, sure, it’s not the case that you need to reinvent the wheel or invent a special kind of road that makes it obsolete. But you need to be able to find that niche that differentiates your business and makes it necessary.
A great business idea is one that makes you ask yourself why no-one ever thought of it before. What’s going to make people want to pay for this, and not something that already exists and has stood the test of time? Creating that one item is hard. It’s a knowledge you can’t get from books; it is innate and it is worth paying for. You might not have that skill, but if you find someone who does, they’re worth bringing on board.
Marketing Genius: Preaching To The Masses
When you’ve found your great idea, you’re still a long way from banking your first million. To go back to that idea of inventing a new color, imagine you actually did it and then went to tell people about it. Then you discover you’ve forgotten all the other colors. You can’t communicate exactly what you’ve created, and you can’t show the world what it is. You might as well not have created anything.
Your business needs a marketing genius. Someone who is able to find the most efficient way to communicate to customers why they need you. You can make your own website in 3 steps, but it takes a sharp mind to make customers want to stay on it. Marketing genius can come in the ability to find a four-word slogan, or an unforgettable jingle that bypasses the – increasingly cynical – critical faculties of your customers, and makes them enthusiastic about what you have created.
Technical Genius: Delivering Again And Again
Let’s say you’ve developed a product that works like a charm and makes your life easier. It’s sitting in your workshop right now and you love it. Can you make another? Can you make a thousand of them? Can you ensure that it will work in every home across the country, and do so at minimum cost with maximum efficiency? If not, it’s like hitting a hole in one while golfing alone: something to be proud of, but which won’t make you a legend.
The first prototype you create is the beginning of something special. It will also, hopefully, be the most expensive version of that item because it will have involved trial and error and an unknown quantity of materials, work and time. Once you know that you can replicate it and mass-produce it – or that you can offer it far and wide if it’s a service – that’s when it becomes a viable business.
The three above aspects are what gives a business the chance to be successful. All of those markers of genius can be in the one person, or three different individuals, but they need one more ingredient to make it all fly. They need to be managed. The creative genius may disagree with the marketing one on what your ads need to emphasize, while the technician may disagree with both on how to make it work in the market.
It takes management to get all of these kinds of genius facing in the same direction. Sometimes, that’s the toughest aspect of the whole process – and if you have that, then that’s the surest sign that you’re onto a good thing!
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