I’ve always had one of those journalist minds that needs to know the story behind the person, place or thing.
In fact, one of my favorite things to do while I'm traveling is spying on the people next to me on the plane working on their laptops and trying to figure their stories.
A recent trip to San Francisco earlier this year got me thinking about businesses.
How do they get started? What do owners have to go through to make them work?
And how can I start my own and stop having to work for other people?
Domingo Ghirardelli heard about the California Gold Rush and moved from Italy to sell chocolate to the miners—perfect timing to satisfy the hungry workers looking for something different to spend their money on. Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.
Levi Strauss saw the need for a more durable clothing material for the same people—hence, the birth of jeans. Levi's.
And more recently my sister, Liz Sieger, a design grad, married into the Army and discovered the need for customized decorative military prints to help boost morale for service families. Sieger Design Co.
Later, Liz and David branched out to sell carefully hand-crated home décor products and other personalized sketches from their home in Central Texas, and their mascot just happens to be quintessentially patriotic, too.
(Follow @sammygoldenpup to see more of the famous #SlightyDisgruntledSam look.)
He likes it, really.
So what do these three companies have in common?
- They joined their skills + interests to create something for a niche audience.
- They looked at some aspect of their life that they wanted to share and/or improve for others.
- They answered the questions: For whom? For what? Where? And most importantly, Why?
But sometimes just answering these questions isn’t enough. I mean, I’ve had my own ideas, too, but they were all missing something.
Based on my experience moving to Brazil, my boyfriend and I thought about starting an immigration company here, specializing in helping out the poor foreigner souls who have to navigate all the bureaucracy alone.
There is no way I could’ve moved here myself, speaking no Portuguese when I arrived, without Bruno. It's like Brazil wants to make life difficult for you!
However, given we had such a terrible time managing my own immigration once, we decided there is absolutely no way we could deal with that on a daily basis.
Your business may have all the right attributes and fit perfectly into the market, but it cannot be successful long-term without one key element—interest.
You have to have an interest in what you do! Obvious!
The moment you don’t enjoy it anymore is the moment to look in another direction, and if you’re fortunate enough, you may even be able to sell it.
So keep your business mind antenna up. Look, listen and recognize gaps in the market in areas that strike your fancy--and then be patient.
But just remember, having a business mind also means being aware and prepared enough to adapt for a changing market.
For now, I’ll just stick with blogging.