Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2015 Contents Starting a business begins
with an idea, but not just
an idea, a solid business
idea. We all know that
good ideas are hard to
come by. Some are really
a hunch with a dead end.
Have you heard of the guy who came up
with the three-legged pantyhose? Apparently
women were not keen about a spare!
So, just how do you come up with that mil-
lion-dollar idea to start your business?
Is there a way to generate ideas and sift
through them and end up with an idea that
can start a successful venture?
Starting a business is not as linear as many
would think. It is full of twists and turns.
Entrepreneurs at the start-up stage first have
to go through many ideas and, hit some dead
ends, go on a wild goose chase, and sometimes
find out that the world wanted something
else. It is quite a learning and stressful expe-
So, it is important that when you begin the
process of starting a business, you must start
wide then narrow your ideas until you are
ready to test it out.
Starting a new venture is akin to working
in a lab. You are experimenting with an idea
or concept and the world is your laboratory.
So a business start up is a business experiment,
you are a scientist tinkering with cause and
effect in a world full of variables, some known
and some unknown.
But first, where do ideas come from?
Ideas come from an imaginative mind. We
all have some level of creativity when we nav-
igate through the world around us. Sometimes
it is trial and error, sometimes it is observing
others, at times it is watching people in other
cultures. In the end we get cues from our
environment. Sometimes we are not satisfied
with the level of insight we have.
The next question you might be asking is:
how do I get a more creative mind?
A short answer is to feed it, mould it and
challenge it. Feed it means not only to eat a
healthy meal, but constantly finding new ways
to mentally give the brain some input. Never
underestimate the power of food. I try to eat
beyond five servings of fruit and vegetables
and the recommended amount of whole grains
and nuts. I also keep my diet as wide as possible
so I do not miss any critical ingredients.
Exercise can also be beneficial to both the
body and mind. More blood to the brain is
more processing power. I prefer not to exercise
in the stale air gym, the western way to improve
Research has shown that humans feel better
when exercising in a tree-filled environment.
Open spaces with flowers and plants can set
the stage for inspiration and getting the creative
There are several ways to challenge the
upstairs. We constantly make assumptions
about the world around us and many times
it comes true. Before I start working I assume
that the building is there. If I were a robot I
would check to see if this is true. But in the
real world assumptions are always changing
and we take things for granted and that may
not always be so.
During the 60s and 70s, Americans wanted
food fast and tasty. Companies at the time
assumed, like McDonald s and KFC, that this
would be the norm for a long time. Why would
Americans want anything else? But there was
a change. People were getting obese and health
issues were a major problem. American were
unhappy with fried chicken, burgers and milk-
shakes; it was killing them. Fred Deluca saw
the change and opened Subway and capitalised
on the trend of healthy eating, but still riding
on the need to have it fast.
Another way to challenge your brain is to
do puzzles, using your other hand to comb
your hair, trying to navigate blind folded at
night in your home, reading challenging books
and learning a new language. All these help
develop new brain connections.
What is happening is that your mind now
has new pathways and these can be used to
find better ways to solve problems or have
new perspectives on things. It s like you want
to go down to Pt Fortin and the only route is
the old road, but with a new highway (new
pathway), you can get there faster and see a
different scene. More connections might lead
you to faster information processing and cre-
When work and fun is the same
Sometimes ideas are under our noses. Debbi,
a young mother, liked to bake cookies and her
friends enjoyed her home style, chewy snacks.
She got bored and decided she would try to
sell her expensive stuff. After some failures,
Debbi had a small customer base. After some
years, her business and brand grew and became
Mrs Field s Cookies.
We tend to be passionate about our hobbies,
spending time and using resources to make
it better. Sometimes we forget there might be
a gold mine in there somewhere. You might
already know how to breed and grow gold
fishes and all you need is to scale up and work
out the marketing and financial aspects. Some-
times we need to lose our jobs or get tired of
the cubicle life to push us towards seeing the
When you start a business around your
hobby, work and fun becomes the same.
Staying at home
Most people view their homes as a place
to sleep, eat and watch TV. They work and
pay the mortgage. However, our homes rep-
resent a gold mine. If you do not have a good
location, try starting a service business. If you
have accumulated years of accounting and tax
knowledge, then build a home office. It is the
perfect (almost) way to launch a venture on
the cheap side. Just watch out for the children
and neighbours who might disrupt your work
Healthy and fit
Under our noses are people who desperately
want to lose weight, but want to do it in a
more modern way. This is a big business and
customers are willing to pay big bucks. As an
example, I have seen lettuce (Butter Head vari-
ety) selling for $20 compared $8 for the com-
mon Trinity variety in the supermarkets. This
expensive variety is home grown (the package
says so) and the Agri-preneur who started this
has recognised that customers will pay top
dollars for fibre!
Become more green
We are killing the planet at a rapid pace and
from an entrepreneurial standpoint, oppor-
Recently I read that T&T is in the top 10
consuming nations who use a disproportionate
amount of the planet s resources.
We are also burning fossil fuels at an alarm-
ing rate and now we are at 400 ppm (parts
per million) of carbon in the atmosphere. This
means that high level of carbon is causing
global warming and so climate change. Like
the fast food (unhealthy) wave that is slowing,
the recognition that renewable forms of energy
are needed and further the need to reduce our
carbon footprint. This will lead to whole new
industries and new opportunities. People will
have to become more green; more gardens,
recycling, green buildings, energy efficiency
management solutions and other ways to
reduce our impact on the overburdened planet.
So, if you need to come up with a new idea
to start a business, don t look too far out; the
answer is closer than you think... it s all in
Sajjad Hamid is an SME consultant.
He can be contacted at: entrepreneurt-
firstname.lastname@example.org, via entrepreneurtnt.com
JULY 5 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
ENTREPRENOMICS | SBG13
with Sajjad Hamid
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