A winning business idea!
If you ask me to tell you what is the one thing that is most difficult to do as a businessman, as an entrepreneur, then certainly, 100%, the most difficult is to come up with a winning business idea.
Because the idea needs to be more than just an idea. Should be realistic, applicable, actionable, and achieve the goals you set and fulfil your expectations. All the rest are not ideas, they are just dreams; everyone has a lot of them, but a winning business idea? That is the challenge.
I did much business in my life: many unsuccessful ones and some successful. If you ask me what was the one thing that the successful ideas had in common, there is a specific answer I can give you.
Let me, however first tell you what does not bring successful business ideas with certainty.
1. Ideas out of the blue.
Thoughts that you have about potential businesses you could come with no proof, no similar success stories, no connection to anything. I had many of those in my life. They were all, one disaster after the other. I even started some of them and was wise enough to let go fast since I saw no future. There is a saying in Greece, free translated, that says: “Fine day is recognized in the morning.” Most of the time, when you start something and start miserably, you probably do something wrong and will continue like that. (Here, I want to comment all those friends of mine with the “Never give up” attitude. I stand for “never give up,” but I stand more for “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” So…, I would put it like that: “Never give up on things you know you are on the right path.” Ideas out of the blue most probably drive to failures, so avoid the temptation and oversee them as they drive nowhere.
2. Ideas where everyone is successful.
Now, here we have a good one. I remember back in the day, at the end of the ’90s, the Greek stock exchange was booming. Suddenly thousands of people from all walks of life started talking about the stock market, stock exchange, shares, bonds, mutual funds, and so on. Until one day in 1999, the whole bubble crashed and all those “victims” lost within a night fortunes.
3. Multilevel marketing and get rich quick schemes.
That is a variation of point 2. So, someone comes and tells you, how you are going to become rich, they show pictures of super successful people that from selling lemons in Israel, became millionaires (that is a true story, showed to me on a Herbalife meeting), nice, young, good looking, people, driving expensive cars and wearing fashion clothes. All this is crab. You must be very naïve to believe someone you do not know is so concerned about how you are going to make money. Does it make sense to you? The answer is no it makes 0 sense. Those guys play with people’s needs, people’s desperation and offer a way to become easily rich, a way that 99% of the time drives them to fail. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. Making money is a challenging process; whoever claims the contrary is lying.
Now that said, I showed you some examples where no good idea is going to come. It is like you go to Mc Donalds expecting to eat a healthy meal, or you go and buy that wine for 3€ and wish to get high quality. What you desire does not reflect reality, unfortunately.
So, how do you come up with a winning business idea?
The answer is: Work on a successful project, on a successful work and copy that or parts.
Let me here give you two examples of
Highly successful winning business ideas.
International calling cards for tourists.
Niko, a good friend of mine, collaborates with an American company, selling operator-assisted phone call services. Those of you who don’t know what this is, are services that you place a call to an operator, the operator calls the destination you want, and the receiver of the call pays the bill. In other words, a collect call. Those services are very popular in the US, not that much in Europe. The cost of such a call could be as high as 100$ for a 10-15 min conversation to the US, while at the same time, if you bought a calling card from a Kiosk in Greece, you could call 15 min the US for something like ~ 0.20$. Yes, so high was the difference. Twenty cents of a dollar to 100 dollars, a huge profit margin. Huge. Now, you would think that the volume of those calls was not as high, and I agree; however, enough calls were placed to generate a multimillion business globally.
My friend Niko realized that and what he did is he followed the same principle for calling cards.
Calling cards (back then in the pre smartphone age) were used primarily by immigrants to call cheap to their countries. They aimed to all those poor workers that worked in a European country and could call home, their relatives, and friends for not expensive. That means that primarily Albanians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, and other foreigners used them. Those cards were on a red ocean market, competing extremely hard to offer as many minutes as possible.
On the other hand, there were at that time no calling cards for tourists.
For a tourist, the calling options were either to use the telephone in his hotel (charge 1€/min), if he was a cruise ship tourist to call from the ship (20$ connection fee +5$ / min). If he were smart enough, he would buy a calling card from a kiosk, a calling card targeted to immigrants, but he could use it and place real cheap telephone calls.
Niko created a calling card for tourists. What he did is that he started his phone cards, made them expensive, which means he gave 30 min US instead of 300 min that the immigrant cards were giving, gave a descent profit margin to the reseller, and kept the rest for him.
Niko had a profit margin of 70% from his calling cards instead of the usual 2% immigrant cards had. Not bad, eh? Of course, he wasn’t selling the volume that the other cards were selling, but he was making six figures of revenue with a booming tourist industry in the country.
What was the reason for Nikos’s success?
Through the operator-assisted phone call services business he was doing with his American friends, he realized that there is much money to make in this industry with telecom products.
He applied this principle to calling cards and was super successful.
Niko saw a successful idea, changed it in some points, and became successful.
Online sales outsourcing.
Once my business in Greece was closed, I came to Spain, where I started from scratch.
I first came and stayed with my wife’s family in Pamplona, a famous city because for 2 reasons.
First has the famous “Pamplonada”, the famous Spanish fiesta of Saint Fermin, where bulls run free in the city chasing a crowd of adventure-seeking and crazy Spaniards and tourists. You can see a video about this here.
Secondly, Ernest Hemingway wrote his notorious: “The Sun Also Rises” during the Spanish civil war in Pamplona.
Other than that, Pamplona for a foreigner like me, with only conversational, Spanish is not the greatest place to find work.
But when I started to search for a job in Spain, it was straightforward for me to find work here since I speak German.
My first job was as a customer support and sales agent for HP in Barcelona.
Once I entered this vast office, my first thought was to apply customer support and sales services for smaller companies. It could not get out of my mind.
After some months in this office, I changed work, and now I became an inside salesperson for CA technologies. At this stage, it was clear to me what I wanted to do. A year and a half later, I began working as a freelancer on similar companies remotely. I rented my place in one of the many coworking places in Barcelona and worked daily as a freelancer from there for various companies. Until I created Vparagon, my sales outsourcing consultancy online, it did not take much time to get my first client.
Vparagon and alexvalassidis.com did not make me rich yet but certainly made me earn a good chunk of money every month with my own business and the work I love.
Vparagon and the sales coaching business I have now won’t be a reality if I have not seen how remote services can work through HP and CA technologies. Those experiences opened my eyes and showed me the way for a winning business idea. It was not theory, no ideas out of the blue, which I had hundreds of so far, neither was a commonly perceived success story, nor the multilevel marketing guy that approached me to become an Amway agent. They were ideas; I discovered myself by seeing someone else that did something similar before.
I did like the Japanese. I copied and optimized!