One of the questions Rich is continually asked by aspiring entrepreneurs is, “How do you come up with all of your ideas?” Many of those who ask seem to have the impression that they’re not smart enough to come up with a great business concept. They tend to think that great business ideas materialize miraculously from nowhere rather than being easily accessible to “us common folk.” This chapter discusses seven different strategies that will help you generate the kind of ideas that can result in a successful startup business.
I know of an astute and successful businessman whom I have observed over the years. He owns a basketball franchise, numerous car dealerships, restaurants, entertainment complexes, and many other businesses. He wasn’t always wealthy, though; in fact, in the 1970s he was managing the auto parts department for a Toyota dealership when the first big fuel shortage caused gas prices to soar. Consumers were so desperate that siphoning and stealing gas became a common problem. Surveying the situation, this man saw a need. He discovered a small company that made locking gas caps, negotiated exclusive distribution rights with them, and became the only direct seller in the United States, locking down the entire market. He eventually bought his own Toyota dealership and established the cornerstone of the foundation for his financial empire.
Typically, you don’t think of a great idea. You find it. This requires you to open your mind and recognize what is already going on around you. While it’s true that part of success comes from being in the right place at the right time, entrepreneurship also takes a certain level of imagination and innovation, where you begin to see dollar bills everywhere you look. Be open to the possibilities that already exist. Any problem in the world can become a business opportunity if you get in the habit of asking yourself:
- How can I fix this problem?
- Do other people have this same problem?
- Would there be people willing to buy my solution if I fix this problem?
Was that gas-cap businessman a genius? No. He was simply in the right place (the auto parts department) at the right time (the 1970s gas shortage), and he looked for a way to solve a problem that was right in front of him. He did not create his business in isolation, and it was not the result of some light bulb magically going off in his head. He simply kept his eyes open and then took action. So, the question is, how can you learn to take action on the opportunities around you? How can you get juice to the “light bulbs” in your head?