Small Business Ideas – The Good and the Bad

It is not enough to come up with small business ideas. You have to come up with ones that are viable. In other words, you need to bring something to the small business community that is workable. In order to understand this, let’s look at two classic examples of business ideas. One was good and one was really off the tracks.

Does anyone remember the Edsel car? This car was hardly a winner. In fact, it was considered one of the biggest “lemons” in car manufacturing history. Even in the planning stages, advisors kept noting that this was not a car that was going to do big business. There were even serious concerns that it would do any business at all. Mainly, the design of the car was loaded with flaws. It was also a large, gas-guzzling car debuting during a weak economy. Even the name given to the car “Edsel” was a loser. Yet, they trudged on in the marketplace and sales of the Edsel were a disaster. It simply was not a viable product. Ultimately, it was a $400,000,000 failure.

Now, consider the example of Federal Express which was one of the greatest small business ideas in history. Without a doubt, not only was the concept of Federal Express viable, there was huge demand in the market for such a concept. The United States Post Office did not offer overnight delivery. The concept was considered to absurd and unfeasible. Then, along can Federal Express in 1972. The company not only delivered on its promises of delivering when it “Absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” it did so effectively and inexpensively. Again, this was one of the greatest ideas of all time. Granted, it did not stay a small business for long. FedEx quickly grew into a multi-billion dollar company!

What is most striking to note here when comparing these two tales is their stark financial differences. Edsel could not succeed in the marketplace despite being backed by the weight of the multi-billion dollar Ford Motor Company. As previously mentioned, Federal Express derived from the world of small business ideas. It was launched by a small businessman named Fred Smith. Smith did not run Federal Express or any of his business out of a huge corporate office in 1972. Some may find this surprising, but like other small business ideas Smith originally devised FedEx from his home.

So, how could Smith succeed with such limited resources while Ford failed so miserably? How could Smith’s ideas trump the government’s ability to deliver mail? Like other good small business ideas, Smith produced a business model that was viable and need based. In other words, his ideas made sense. Additionally, there was an actual demand in the market for the product he was offering. With these two components working in his favor, it should come as no surprise that Smith’s small business ideas were a massive success.

The lesson to learn here is that all small business ideas must be viable for them to work. If not, they will not survive in a competitive marketplace. If, however, the ideas are feasible then the odds of success will increase.

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