The Greatest Business Idea

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Do you think I should create an “Uber Trip Bingo” game?

Because every time I get into an Uber, I get asked the same questions:

  • How are you?
  • It’s a nice day, isn’t it?
  • Are you heading to [destination] for work, or for something else?
  • So, what do you do for a living?…

Last week I was in an Uber – and the small-talk “What do you do for a living?” opened the floodgates – and my excited Uber driver began blurting out:

“I need to work out what business I’m going into after I finish my Masters Degree. What sort of business would you recommend I get into?”

I like the “Hollywood” approach to business. It’s massively profitable, and low-risk.

Let me explain…

Recently, there’s been a trend in Hollywood.

The big Hollywood studios are (increasingly – and now almost exclusively!) either making sequels/prequels/remakes/reboots of existing successful movie franchises – or they’re making films of best-selling books.

Here are some of the remakes/reboots/sequels/prequels for 2017: 

Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Justice League, Kong, Thor Ragnarok, Lego Batman, Alien: Covenant, Beauty and the Beast, John Wick 2, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars: Rogue One, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Power Rangers, Wonder Woman, War for the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: The Last Knight, Ghost in the Shell, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, Baywatch, The Mummy, Trainspotting 2, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Jumanji, Pitch Perfect 3…

And here are some recent and upcoming movies based on books:

The Martian, How to Be Single, The Jungle Book, Dan Brown’s Inferno, J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, Through the Looking Glass, Roald Dahl’s The BFG, The Girl on the Train, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, 13 Hours in Benghazi, Me Before You, The Big Short, War Dogs, Hidden Figures, A Monster Calls, A Dog’s Purpose, Fifty Shades Darker, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell…

It’s hard to think of a single original movie released recently that doesn’t fit into the “book” or “sequel/remake” categories.

And the reason for the reliance on books and sequels/remakes is the same: It’s because the risks are low, and the returns are high.

It’s not about the stories… Well, not exclusively.

It’s about the existing audience too.

(This is why they’re picking “best-selling” books, instead of “prize-winning” books.)

These two factors massively reduce the risk of a cinematic “flop”.

A best-selling book has:

  • an engaging storyline (obviously),
  • a proven concept, 
  • a known audience, 
  • an existing community of people who will buy tickets to see the movie,
  • and the ability to tap into the benefit of experience that was gained during the promotion of the book.

With this proven model, and existing audience, it’s set up for fast (and practically guaranteed) success.

The same principles work for business ideation – coming up with new ideas for new businesses, or new product lines in an existing business.

If you build on what you know, and who you know, the chances of success significantly increase.

Personally – so much of my early career was spent in personal finance, accounting and real estate investment – so those have always been natural markets for me, because I understand how they work and have a reasonably good network in this industry.

(I know what it takes to make money in those industries, I know the risks, I know how to market effectively, and I have good connections to people who might buy or offer me advice on how to tweak my strategy.)

My travel-related business a few years ago, on the other hand, sucked. I understood the concepts, and people, in the market – but I didn’t have a proven model, or understand the risks as well as I had assumed before enthusiastically diving in head-first. So, although I saw some promising success there, I never hit the higher levels of achievement that I had experienced in other ventures that were closer-to-my-knitting.

(Likewise – although I daydream about owning a cafe that makes incredible coffee – I’m smart enough to realise I don’t understand THAT business model anywhere near as well as I need to, if I’m going to achieve high levels of success there either.)

The business you pick today doesn’t need to be where you stay forever. 

My web design enterprise during high-school led to web-and-admin work at an accounting firm, which led to the real estate investment industry and personal finance industry, which led to the consulting industry, which led to the marketing software industry, which led to bigger and better projects, which has led me to where I am now.

So what you choose today is likely to be a foothold to reaching something even bigger and better tomorrow – if you’re successful at it. (Business failures don’t seem to lead to much growth of new opportunity.)

So it makes sense to spend time reflecting back over your career and experience, and looking for opportunities that you’re uniquely suited to.

The things you know already are the things you’re more likely to be successful in.

This is a more certain, and faster path to achieving greater success.

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