Entrepreneurs are not always aware of what drove them to start their own businesses, a recent study by Google has shown. Were interviewed 3,000 Russians aged 18 to 55 years. 17% are confident that they have sufficient ability to start their own business. The authors of the study analyzed the motives for starting a business, the barriers that keep people from entrepreneurship, the resources required, as well as the circumstances that prompted the respondents to take the first step (triggers). It turned out that the factors that the respondents name, and the factors that are important to them and which they are actually guided by, differ markedly. The authors used a special technique to identify the differences between the declared and true factors.
The respondents said that the main motive for them to start a business is the opportunity to increase their income (37%) and do what they love (20%). But in reality, the most important motive for them is the desire for self-realization (40%).
The same happened with the events that forced the respondents to take the first step towards entrepreneurship. They reported that financial problems (16%), unemployment (11%), a suitable business idea (10%) and motivating success stories (7%) prompted them to take action. But in fact, they were forced to give up everything and go into business when they came up with a suitable idea (59%). The majority of those surveyed admitted that a worthwhile idea is more important than having a start-up capital. The question is, where to look for such an idea? To determine the sources of ideas, Vedomosti studied the stories of about 30 heroes of the “One’s Own Business” column, as well as several other entrepreneurs.
We found six main sources of ideas. First, people started a business in a field where they used to work for hire. Or they turned their hobbies into business. The third source is personal observation, which made it possible to identify an unresolved client problem. Entrepreneurs also copied other people’s successful ideas from the Russian or world market. Some, primarily people with experience of working as leaders or investment managers, systematically selected large, rapidly growing markets or unoccupied niches. The sixth source is various accidents. What is the best way to find a viable and financially successful business concept?
Where he worked, there is business
The history of the Sahar & Vosk depilation salon chain began in 2016 – with the opening of a studio in Ufa. Now the network of salons includes 92 points in Russia, Europe and the CIS countries. The founder of the chain, Albina Nazarova, previously worked as a sales manager for a company that supplied equipment to beauty salons. She noticed that there were not enough specialized hair removal salons on the market, saved up money and opened the first studio.
Finding a business idea in an area that has already been well researched over the years of employment is the most versatile and reliable way. There is no need to invent anything, it is enough to analyze your industry in order to identify problems and find your place in the market, says Sergey Negodyaev, director of work with portfolio clients of the IIDF.
Most of the heroes of the “Own Business” column found an idea for business in their profession. The guitarist has opened a network of music schools, the commercial director of a website dedicated to Apple technology, has launched an Internet platform for the sale of used iPhones. The former chef of the Russian embassy in Senegal has opened culinary courses. And the manager, who worked for 10 years in the personnel departments of different companies, opened her own recruiting agency, and then, together with partners, released a mobile application for the selection of mass personnel. Designers began producing leather wallets, antique business cards, and a radio engineer began assembling Internet radios. The best development projects are those that bring together professionals from different fields, says marketing consultant Denis Zagrebel.
Copy someone else’s
According to the study “Startup Barometer” for 2019, 67% of Russian IT entrepreneurs do not invent anything new, but only copy or improve existing Russian and foreign projects. Only 19% of respondents believe that they have created a unique product that has no analogues in the world.
Copying foreign analogues is the best way to attract funding for a project. According to Mikhail Fedotov, director of RVC subsidiaries, investors are willing to invest in startups that have successful counterparts, because the market demand has already been identified, and business development tools have been tested.
In 2016, a Muscovite Maria Feyzrakhmanova resigned as head of the sales department, bought cement, sand and opened the Concrete Color studio to produce concrete flower pots for cacti. The idea for the business was suggested to the girl by her husband – he accidentally saw an American company on the Internet that makes these unusual interior items. And in 2018, the studio’s revenue amounted to 3.1 million rubles.
True, it took Feyzrakhmanova a year to dive into the topic. It turned out that the pots should be made not of ordinary building concrete, but of special architectural concrete. There were no ready-made mixtures in Russian hardware stores, for the first year the entrepreneur had to develop a suitable concrete recipe.
Among the heroes of Vedomosti, there were few entrepreneurs who borrowed other people’s ideas. For example, two young mothers stumbled upon an article about a startup that produces children’s coloring posters. And two friends, a policeman and a railway worker, who did not get enough sleep due to overwork, learned that sleep capsules were spreading in the West, and then started importing and producing such capsules.
The seamstress Nadezhda Ilyina once rode with her six-month-old son on a train and had to constantly watch that the child did not fall off the shelf. And in 2008 she started sewing fabric playpens for young mothers traveling with their children on the train. Now the entrepreneur sells about 8,000 playpens annually. And the creator of a service that helps passengers receive compensation from airlines for flight delays came up with an idea after he himself was late for an important meeting due to a flight delay.
Personal observations and experience often reveal an important but unresolved client problem. According to Fedotov, an urgent problem that many people face and for the solution of which they are willing to pay money is a good basis for business.
The best thing for startup founders is not to chase trends, but to focus on real-life businesses, Zagrebel says. Nowadays, many are carried away by IT startups, and few people think about services that would improve the daily life of people. “Walk around the area, see what people need, it’s a powerful source of ideas,” advises Zagrebel.
However, there are few such examples among the heroes of “One’s Cause”. A bank programmer who spent many years at a computer had a backache. He quit his job, went to Thailand, where he studied Thai massage. When he returned, he opened a Thai massage parlor for fellow sufferers of office workers. And then he got carried away with healthy eating and came up with ice cream without milk.