Filling a Hole — One Path to Entrepreneurship

It’s been said a million times before: find a hole in an industry that hasn’t been serviced, then fill said hole. If no one else is already doing it then there is an opportunity to be had!

Okay, but what if no one else is doing it because it’s a horrible idea and you’re going to fail miserably and painfully and publicly and, oh yeah, lose a few (hundred? thousand?) dollars along the way?

Hmm. That’s a good point, too.

(photo credit link: ecorner.stanford.edu)

Then again, it could also be a matter of timing. Coming up with the right idea at the right time. It doesn’t have to be earth-shatteringly difficult, it just has to be new and useful and innovative and something that a sampling of other humans will want to pay you money for. Unless, that is, you’re giving your product away for free, in which case I’m not sure you’re actually looking to get into business at all.

In just glancing around my desk I see one of those mini, juice flavored squirt bottles. You know the ones. They fit in your pocket or lunch bag and transform your boring old water into delicious new juice. Where were they ten years ago? Didn’t exist. Or at least, not in a big way. But ten years ago you could walk into any grocery store and buy a 10-pack of powdered Crystal Light on any given day. When that little squirt bottle came out, how many of you looked at it and said, “That’s so simple! I could have come up with that.”

But you didn’t. Someone else did, and quite recently, too. How many other ideas like that are out there right now?

Before I founded my caffeinated hot chocolate company - plutoHC - earlier this year, it seemed like such a simple idea, so surely there had to be a million different companies out there competing for the same customers. To my surprise there were only a handful. One, that I’ll presume to be the leader in the category but I’d never heard of, and another that was just starting out, like myself, albeit a bit earlier to the game than I had made it.

So I differentiated my product (by actually sticking to my original idea, which was already pre-differentiated, we’ll say) and now it’s the only one of its kind. And that’s what you should do, too, if your plan is to fill a hole in a particular industry. Be the only {blank} that {blank} and you’ll create your own niche.

Finding entrepreneurial success could be that simple.