When brainstorming business ideas, it can be very tempting to dismiss anything you come up with as unworkable or just plain ridiculous. At those times, it might be worth reminding yourself of some small ideas that grew into big businesses.
1. Aussie Home Loans
In the late 1980s, a conveyancing solicitor turned entrepreneur called John Symond, who had only recently and narrowly escaped bankruptcy following the collapse of a previous business venture, had a business idea. He believed Australia's major banks had grown complacent and there was a space for a loan provider offering low interest rates and attentive customer service to the general public.
With a $10,000 loan, Symond launched Aussie Home Loans in February 1992. Two decades on, it has a loans portfolio of over $40 billion and over 250,000 customers, and Symond, who's since had several other cracker business ideas, is one of the wealthiest and most respected business leaders in Australia.
2. Dick Smith Electronics
In 1968, a nerdy young electronics hobbyist called Richard Smith set up a business installing and servicing car radios. Richard, commonly known as Dick, was aware that there was no one really catering to Australian electronics hobbyists and had the business idea that he could turn a dollar doing so. He opened Dick Smith Wholesale, introducing a number of innovative ideas such as self-serve shopping and an annual mail-order catalogue placed in hobbyist magazines. When the CB radio craze and then personal computers took off, so did Dick Smith Electronics, as it was then known. Between 1980-1982, Smith sold his company, which had grown to a network of 20 stores, to Woolworths, earning enough to spend the rest of his life pursuing his various passions.
3. Simply Rose Petals
So, you're a science graduate who's spent three years travelling the world before returning to the family farm in rural Victoria to find employment opportunities thin on the ground. What do you do? Well, if you're Sarah Sammon, you come up with a business idea to tap into the lucrative wedding market - biodegradable dried rose petals (grown on the family farm) available in 35 different colours. Founded in 2005, Sammon's business now exports dried and silk rose petals, and various other wedding products, to brides-to-be around the world.
A decade ago, law graduate Danial Ahchow was attempting to find contractors to work for his father's cleaning company. He wondered why he was doing all the work. A business idea popped into his head – why not have service providers pitch him for his business, which is how things operated in many industries. What if there was a website where people like him could post about a job they needed done and interested service providers could respond with quotes? In the wake of the dotcom crash, there wasn't a lot of support for an internet-based business, but Ahchow eventually got Service Central up and running. Since 2005, around 320,000 jobs have been listed, representing just under a billion dollars of work.
5. sass & bide
Unable to buy the kind of jeans they wanted from shops, two Australian schoolmates living in London had the business idea to start making their own. Sarah-Jane Clarke, an accountant, and Heidi Middleton, an art director, formed their own fashion label, sass & bide, and started selling the customised jeans they created at London's Portobello Road Market. Returning to Australia in 1999, their clothes become an underground sensation then a mainstream phenomenon, embraced by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna and Beyonce. Clarke and Middleton have been regular fixtures on BRW's Young Rich List since 2006, with their combined wealth currently estimated at $25 million.
Okay, so not everyone makes $25 million out of a market stall idea, but the point is that opportunity is out there. It's up to you to make savvy decisions and seize it.
Find this helpful? You might also like:
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Nigel is a freelance journalist and web content provider. Over the past 15 years he has worked for many of Australia's major print media companies and written for a wide range of newspapers, magazines, trade publications and websites. Nigel most enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, popular culture, politics, social trends and small business.