More people are thinking about entrepreneurship today than they probably ever did. The reasons are many, but the primary ones are – a desire to work for oneself, and also the belief that an idea if implemented successfully, can be made into a thriving business.
We all know the big success stories. So, today, we take a look at some unconventional business ideas that were thought to have failed, but which went on to become successful entrepreneur.
The idea of entrepreneurship has undergone a paradigm shift. While traditionally it meant starting your own business, today it could mean anything – ranging from a home business that sells pickled mangoes, becoming an Instagram influencer, to a startup that develops code for launching rockets.
But, here’s the thing. Having a groundbreaking idea does not always translate into an overnight success (rarely actually – as they say, overnight success takes ten years). To be successful, one must be ready to take on risks. The truth is that 90% of startups fail while only about 50% of businesses ever see themselves up and running for five years.
There are many challenges associated with entrepreneurship, with some of them being:
- Lack of inspiration
- Difficulties in finding the right investor and access to funds
- Complicated regulations put in place by the government
- The uncertainty of the economy of a country where a business has its roots in
- The lack of support from friends and family
- Fear of failure
- Afraid of asking for help when stuck
- Constantly make bad financial decisions
But there are exceptions for everything. Many entrepreneurs have faced issues head-on and have emerged victorious. Let’s take a look at some unconventional business ideas which weren’t expected to succeed but took off exceptionally well.
How to be a successful entrepreneur? Your ideas don’t necessarily have to be groundbreaking. They can also be downright quirky. Take a look at some such ideas that changed lives.
Does the thought of eating bugs gross you out? What if we ran out of food and only had bugs to rely on? What then? Well, three women decided to make chips from bugs and founded Chirp Chips. They had all eaten bugs in various countries (many cultures and countries already eat bugs) and decided to get together in order to bring bugs that were edible to the mainstream. And the results? Astonishingly overwhelming! Their chips have received tremendous appreciation and have even found an investor in Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur.
The company’s driving point seems to be that bugs are full of protein and offer more per pound when compared to other meats. They are also environmentally friendly due to the fact that they require very little to no resources in order to be farmed. Bugs are also a very cheap source of protein and can easily be procured by anyone. This could eventually lead to the elimination of illnesses that are caused by the lack of protein and vitamin deficiencies. Does it bug you anymore?
Ynsect is a French insect farming startup that has been producing edible food from insects for fishes, plants, pets and humans! Founded and run by scientists as well as environmentalists, their focus has been on developing sustainable solutions for consumption while reducing the burden on our planet by minimising carbon emissions. The organisation’s employees have even managed to raise more than USD 420 million from investors!
All this talk about bugs making you squeamish? How about fun card games? Cards against humanity – “a party game for horrible people” is a card game that was developed by a few friends. What started off as a game that was invented for a party has become a multi-million dollar business over the span of a few years. And the best part? They weren’t too worried about making money from it for more than two years after they had invented it. In fact, even now you can simply download their freely available PDF file and print it out yourselves. How do they monetize it then? For starters, they have copyrighted the idea and own 100% of the intellectual property, enabling them to sell their ideas directly to customers.
Who hasn’t played with a slinky? The annoyingly fun toy was, believe it or not, a product that was invented by accident! Richard T James was an American naval engineer and the very guy who accidentally invented the world’s most popular toy – the slinky. He was working on producing springs that would stabilise sensitive instruments that were aboard ships while at sea. However, he dropped a torsion spring (butterfingers!) and watched it with great interest as it kept bouncing around. A couple of years later and after loads of trial and error, Richard James started the James Spring & Wire Company that mass-produced these quirky coils which were later named as “slinkies” by his wife, Betty, who later headed the company. Now, the company’s profits have been estimated to have crossed more than USD 3.5 billion.
If you’re wondering, no he did not sell cupcakes. Johnny Cupcakes began selling t-shirts from the back of his car back in the early 2000s. Later, he opened his own boutique where he began to sell t-shirts under the brand name “Johnny Cupcakes”. You’d be tricked into thinking that the t-shirts were something special. They weren’t. But Johnny’s idea was golden! He designed his store to look like an old bakery – complete with baking equipment and scented room fresheners that smelled like vanilla! Today, the company is worth millions, and Johnny has been seen as a highly successful entrepreneur.
There are hundreds of such stories around the world. All it takes is a great idea and the conviction to stand by it through thick and thin.
To become a successful entrepreneur, it is just not enough to have a great idea. Many things have to fall in place. It’s important to look for the right opportunities and be aware of the trends, markets, and audience. During the course of the pandemic, for instance, many small companies had to shut shop as they preferred to stick to their legacies and continue on their old path. However, as more and more people began to prefer e-commerce, those that made a quick transition to using technology to sell their products survived. As priorities changed – from people wanting to get their hands on the latest electronic gadgets to wanting access to fresh produce for consumption, the survivability of companies varied as well.
A number of characteristics are associated with successful entrepreneurs. Some of them are discussed below.
- Have a clear-cut vision and stick to it at all times.
- Have a strong ethical and moral outlook
- Try to focus on developing products that can improve lifestyles rather than ones that alter lifestyles by a large scale. Remember, most people take some time to get used to new technologies and solutions.
- Design and develop a unique idea that is worth backing
- Understand the requirements of the customers based on their feedback and keep oneself easily accessible to both customers as well as employees.
- Understand governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) strategies in order to manage your business, mitigate risks, and meet requirements.
- Plan strategies for delivering products and services while also developing backups to keep yourself afloat when things go south.
- Constantly diversify funds and look for better investments
- Acquire good talent that multiplies your organization’s profits
- Try to get the right connections
- This one is important – get the right experience and education!
Of course, these are only a few of the attributes that an entrepreneur will need to establish a successful business. Becoming an entrepreneur is not an overnight task – it requires the right amount of experience, a great plan, a good team that will help you realise your goals, and a bit of luck to get your timing right.
That said, if you have an idea, this may be as good a time as any to make that into a successful entrepreneur.
Read more why is interest important when choosing a career.