I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the Victorian Telstra Business Awards dinner, and meeting the inspirational faces behind some of the state’s most innovative businesses.
They all had passion, energy, drive and determination; all key factors that had contributed to their many successes. But what really stood out to me was another key trait their businesses had in common – many of them begun from personal experience. They had stumbled upon a gap in the market, realized its potential, and acted upon it. And hey presto, a business was born.
During the evening, I was chatting to Katrina and Matt Butterworth. They founded their business Easy Weddings, not because they had a lifelong dream to pioneer an online directory, but because they had noticed while planning their own wedding, that there was no ‘one-stop-shop’ to help Australian brides organize their big day. A bit of planning, and plenty of hard work later, they’re now the number one website in their sector, and the recipients of the Victorian MYOB Small Business Award and the Telstra Victorian Business of the Year. They’ve helped brides and grooms plan over 400,000 weddings along the way.
A similar situation helped to create BikeExchange.com.au. Founders Jason Wyatt and Sam Salter realized that while bikes were outselling cars in Australia, there wasn’t a dedicated online site for buyers and sellers to come together. Jason says that the idea for BikeExchange.com.au came from a chat over a few beers at the races, and now it’s the third most visited sports site in Australia.
Most of the Victorian finalists had similar stories. I heard about overseas holidays discovering a great product or service and bringing it back to Australia, through to new concepts created from merging an existing business model with a social or environmental conscience. Many business owners weren’t even looking to start their own business at the time; they simply stumbled upon a great idea, and had the guts to ‘give it a go’.
Moral of the story? Sometimes, the best business ideas are the ones that come from your own experiences. If you’re struggling to find someone who offers the product or service you’re searching for, it’s very likely that everyone else is as well. Don’t be put off by a lack of experience or technical know-how; partner with someone who is skilled in what you lack, or do some research and training before you start. (Matt from Easy Weddings taught himself HTML)
It doesn’t matter if it’s a niche market, or a gap in a current one, the most important part is that you can fulfill a need. (and if you’ve got a need for it, chances are everyone else does as well!)
Has anyone else founded their business the same way? Or have you stumbled upon a great business idea through your travels?