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August 3, 2009


One of the most heartening things about teaching or writing is finding someone who wants to listen and act on what you said or wrote. A few I bumped into expressed their desire to jump into entrepreneurship as well.
I have never felt any better!One common refrain I hear though is ‘what business should I start’. My simple answer has been, ‘Whatever that interests you’. You see, you don’t decide to be an entrepreneur and then search for an idea. You get this fantastic idea that makes you want to get into entrepreneurship. In other words, you nurture a dream and go in search of realizing it.
Abdul Kalam in an interview to a Tamil TV channel explained what he meant when he said ‘the young should dream’. He said ‘a dream is not what happens when you sleep. A dream is one that doesn’t allow you to sleep’.A quote, worth its weight in gold, which should be pasted on every room and etched in everyone’s heart - especially in every aspiring businessman.
To help those looking for the next big idea to venture into business, here are a few. These are virgin ideas – untested and unexplored. Well, that’s why they are virgins, aren’t they!
A book store only for kids: Agreed, there are more than a few book chains and standalone book stores. But my point is, are there many specialist kids’ book stores? A book shop only for kids? A place filled with cartoon characters; kids’ music; smaller racks for kids to browse easily and friendlier staff. Wouldn’t you feel better taking your kids to a pediatrician rather than to the doctor you go to?
That’s what a kids’ book store would be for them!A book store only for English novels: Staying on the subject of book stores, a bulk of books bought is of the fictional kind. So why bury it within philosophy and photography? Why hide fiction among management and material sciences? Why cover it with computers and cooking? Open a store that is filled with fiction – by genres, by authors, by time period, by classics. You can create a place of pure fantasy, unfettered with other nonsense.
A chain of Laundromats: More and more women are going to work; more and more men are choosing to live single; more and more bachelors move to newer towns to study and work. All this means one thing – lots of dirty clothes and no time to clean them. How about a chain of Laundromats a la Yankee style. On a Sunday morning or weekday evening, picky your clothes, walk to your nearest Laundromat, drop a few rupees, dump your dirty clothes, hang around a nearby restaurant or coffee shop, come back, pick up your clean clothes, go home…… hygienically every after!
Funeral services: This is an idea whose power can be seen, unfortunately at the scene of bereavement. It’s sad when someone passes away. But it’s terrible to run the funeral amidst the loss of a dear one. Minds are numb, feelings are overwhelmed and rationality is clouded with heightened emotions.
How could one still plan for everything, administer the arrangements and finalize every little thing. What about a ‘Funeral Services’ company that would enter the scene and execute every little thing smoothly – arranging for purohit, getting the funeral van, booking the cemetery, getting the doctor’s certificate to letting the body be cremated there, cleaning up the house post the departure etc., All for a fee, of course. So the loved ones can share their grief in peace.
Two-wheeler service centre: Aren’t there mechanics and 2-wheeler service centres dime a dozen in every neighbourhood? There is, agreed. But when 2-wheeler owners need to give their vehicles for a service, it’s a day they have to depend on public transport or the unreliable autos since most service centres are closed on Sundays.
Now, if only there were a chain of 2-wheeler service centres (now that itself is a relatively new idea) that were open 24x7. You drive back from work or college, drop your vehicle in the 24x7 centre and go home; next day morning, on the way to college or work, you stop by your branded service centre, pick up your beauty and bingo you are on your way.
A new idea, wouldn’t you agree!These are just some starters. I am sure you have an incredible new business idea yourself. Maybe you would want to jump into it later. But if you don’t intend to, don’t let the idea die with you. Post your idea here. It’s as good as organ donation.Someone might pick it up, pursue it, progress on it and prosper from it.
And when the business becomes big, you can probably tell your grandkids that it was your idea.Who knows, the guy who borrowed your idea might one day come back and buy you a beer!