Ask an Expert: Help Me Think Of A Business Idea

Mohammed Gandhi is a monthly contributor of Thinking Outside The Sandbox. He is the co-founder of Lil Helper Cloth Diapers. Through the journey of building Lil Helper from scratch he has had experience in product development, manufacturing, copy-writing, branding, marketing, sales and customer service. He has transitioned from his day job in a cubicle farm to running Lil Helper full-time and is excited to share his three and a half cents with fellow dreamers.

Help Me Think Of A Business Idea

Where do we Find an Expert?

Anne from Zephyr Hill asked: Mohammed, I have a question for you since my husband dreams of one day starting up his own business. He isn’t an expert on any one thing, doesn’t have a skill set or specialty, but has great “people” skills and is very well-rounded. This is making it hard to decide what exactly he’s going to do or sell! His basic goal is to own a business that we can all share in as a family. Any ideas?

We found some Opportunities

Both Nader and I, as soon as we finished our masters degree wanted to start something, we could call our own. A few opportunities came our way and through friends and family. One was to sell granite from Syria. We went to stores knowing as much about granite as we did about cocaine- nothing. We learnt more from the people we were trying to sell the granite. That obviously didn’t work. Then we wanted to help a friend sell tablecloths imported from Vietnam that look like it came from an 80’s mail-in catalogue. We hated the product, but thought “It can’t be that difficult to sell?” Needless to say, even that didn’t work.

Just like your husband, we wanted to start something but didn’t know what or how or even why. We just aimlessly latched on to the first thing that came our way.

An inspirational art print made by my wife Sophia (www.NamedByArt.etsy.com) reminding us that it may take sometime to find your calling- be it in life or a business.

Before we walked into the cloth diapering business we came up with a few rules.

Rule #1:

If and when we do start a business, we need to love the concept enough to sacrifice the best years of our lives trying to nurture and build it.

Rule #2:

We need to be proud of what we are selling. We had to make sure we would be comfortable selling something that we know works as promised.

Rule #3:

Most important, we wanted to deal with people, our potential customers, who were like us- easy going and open-minded.

We were not experts in cloth diapering before we started researching it. Still, sometimes we learn from our customers. Your husband doesn’t have to be amazing at anything to start a business.

I believe that if you are a people person you are 70% ready to start a business and by how you describe him, he fits the bill. I have personally been in establishments where I have walked out because I saw a sourpuss sitting behind the counter. Businesses have a moral obligation to be nice to their customers- we at Lil Helper Cloth Diapers live by it.

Please don’t start a business if this is your everyday face.

Now through research and reading, find the one thing that you can slightly improve. You don’t have to revolutionize an industry to be successful. Just one slight improvement to a proven concept and you are in.

Find things that people complain about incessantly- if they complain about something then they will buy it if you present the solution. Go on Kickstarter and see what seemingly inane and useless things people make and the crazy part is that there is an audience for it.

Get inspired from the struggles and triumphs of other people. Read Inc. magazine. They have success stories of people who were no different than you just months ago.

Most importantly- stop talking and thinking and start doing.

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