I’ve had dreams of entrepreneurship since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to own my own business — to be my own boss, and make my own ideas a reality. Now that I’m doing it, I never stop thinking about new business ideas. Some of these ideas come from reading — there’s no shortage of books and blogs on making money — but the best ideas I’ve had come from identifying opportunities around me.
I was working with a friend today on a website for his new business. We got to talking about business ideas, and he told me a story about one business case that arose from recognizing and seizing an opportunity:
A worker in a sawmill noticed the huge amount of wood shavings that were being shipped off as waste. Any bit of log that didn’t divide nicely into lumber was deemed useless, and discarded. What’s more, the mill was actually paying to have the discarded bits of tree taken off the premises.
But those shavings were far from worthless, and this employee recognized that. He offered to start picking up the wood shavings for free, saving his employers some cash. He then took the wood shavings and sold them to local pet stores as litter. Consumers would then buy the litter for their hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs.
There’s nothing revolutionary about what he did, but he saw an available resource and recognized the opportunity to do something with it. He satisfied a need for both his employers, who didn’t want the wood chips, and a market that did. He also made a respectable amount of money in the process.
So while reading about the latest business idea can help you learn what’s working for others, sometimes nothing beats finding a new opportunity a little closer to home. All you need to do is keep your eyes wide open.