We are moving towards a society where the ability to build a big business from the comfort of your home or small office will only be limited by how willing you are to take a leap and give it a go. Granted, life circumstances or risk tolerance might make starting a business a tough decision for you but one day you'll have to let one of those ideas (that you share with your friends when you watch the game or at lunch or as you daydream at your job) out and just do it. Or maybe the issue is that you think your idea is too small to matter? I challenge you to think bigger. With a laptop, internet connectivity, whatever your mode of transport and some willingness to learn and grow here are five ideas you can start right now.
1. Small data (my personal favorite): I've got a coffee shop close to my home. Less than a block away is a Starbucks that is crushing the coffee shop. Why do I and all the other folk make a beeline for Starbucks on the way to the train? Imagine if you could provide that local coffee shop some 'small data' on the people who go to Starbucks, what we buy, when we buy, how much we spend etc. All data you can get by sitting in the Starbucks and observing customers for a few days/week? If you can help the coffee shop reduce their costs so they stop making products we won't buy/Improve their marketing and help the shop make money you will make some money. How about updating this customer data for your local area and selling 'small' data to other local shops to help improve their business.
Idea: Find a local need and solve it. Big data does not matter in local economies, small data does. Help people make money and they'll make you money.
2. Hospitals: Have you been to the hospital lately? How does the hospital get it's delivery of products? Do you see the amount of stuff (medicine, scrubs, disposables) that gets used/provided in those places? Guess what? Most of the providers of those products are monopolies or oligopolies. Change this by developing a marketplace for the next generation of doctors/medical practitioners who use the Internet to buy everything they need in their lives but still resort to paper requisitions for their jobs.
Idea: the healthcare industry is changing due to regulations, demography etc, this also means there is opportunity to create and capture value
3. Marketing: You probably heard about the Publicis/Omnicon merger? What has it done? It's created/will create a huge full stack marketing company that will no longer really care about those deals that aren't millions of dollars in possible revenue. What does that mean? It means you just got the opportunity to find a niche market segment (craft beer breweries, organic energy drinks, manufacturers of tablets for kids etc) that your 3 person full stack digital marketing company can serve with personalized service and 'own'. You'll become experts in a space and probably make some good money; chicken change for 'OmniPubliciscon', great lifestyle business for you.
Idea: find the 'neglected' customers in your industry and treat them well, they'll thank you with their business.
4. Recruiting: The job market is slowly getting back, companies are hiring, people are changing careers or finding jobs that move them out of underemployment that's been the case since the depression. Where is the job board/recruitment agency that sieves through resumes and figures out that just because you didn't do the job before doesn't mean you haven't got the skills to do the job you are applying for? Job titles say very little about what you actually did in your previous role. A new kind of job board that reflects this approach of thinking would serve millions of people right now. (hat tip to my brother who's data driven thinking on recruitment is influencing mine).
Idea: people will always seek jobs, improve their chances of success and you'll improve yours.
5. Real Estate: A few million people move and/or buy homes in the US every year. You probably moved in the last few years. It's a frustrating experience because of the archaic methods that are still utilized for appraisals, document/contract version management, opaqueness of the bank/agent process, 'agency' problem etc. A friend and his wife were supposed to sign and fax (yes fax) a copy of an appraisal document to their agent. Time was of the essence. The couple and agent were all in separate locations during work hours. Between docusign and myfax this would have been a cinch. But not all agents use these. Imagine a web-based and truly paperless real estate agency where all the processing is done quickly and conveniently from your phone/computer. The only trip you make is to visit the home and meet the owner, the agent is TRULY just a facilitator and you don't have to see him/her (or use him/her). Same friend, like most of his generation who do everything (and I mean everything) online would pay money for such a service. He currently pays with his time.
Idea: Where there is an agency problem there is a chance for transparency and a business opportunity
Resilience, focus and determination to see a change and desire for fulfillment is all that is required to take any of these ideas and make it work. I'd do it myself but I've got my own focus right now.