I have a confession to make. Writing an blog, whether it be advice for money or business, is often hard to do with a straight face. Occasionally a question comes over the digital net that just makes me go, “Hmph?” It’s kind of like trying to stifle a giggle when Grandma breaks wind at Sunday dinner. Some things are just better left ignored. Of course it’s hard to blame a dumb business question on the dog.
Though this blog is fairly new, I’ve been writing blogs for a little while now. Most of the requests for advice I receive are sincere and intelligent, and as a sincere and (somewhat) intelligent blogger, I feel obligated to dispense the best advice I can for the betterment of the person who asked the question. However, once in a while a real stinker hits the old inbox and it takes everything I’ve got to resist shooting back an answer that is worthy of the question asked.
In other words, when I get a dumb question, my gut reaction is to respond with an answer of equal intelligence, or the lack thereof. Something subtle, like, “Forget business, my friend. The best thing you can do for mankind is to go find a pair of sharp scissors and run… really fast…”
Stupid is as stupid does, Forrest. Greater words of wisdom have rarely been offered before or since.
Then I remember, I have a duty to my reader, and above all, to my family, who enjoys eating on a regular basis. There aren’t too many openings for smart aleck writers anymore (darn that Dave Berry), so I bite my tongue and respond to the question as intelligently as I can. That usually involves requesting more information from the reader so I can offer an informed answer. It’s not as satisfying as firing off a sarcastic retort, but it is much better on the old bank account.
Since you asked the question, Tom, I feel obligated to give you an answer. What is the dumbest business question I’ve ever been asked? I’ll let you decide.
The following are real questions from real people that are running around loose among us. If you recognize your question please don’t be offended. This is all in good fun and remember, ridicule is the sincerest form of flattery. Or something like that.
Here’s a question I get at least once a week: “I have never been in business before, but I think I’d be really good at it. Can you tell me what would be the best business for me to start?”
how about one that involves the GOD, since that’s who I will have to consult to answer your question. I don’t know anything about you, your background, your abilities, your talents, your experience, or anything else. How can I possibly tell you what would be the best business for you? Who do I look like, Miss Cleo?
Here’s one of my favorites: “I need to make a lot of money really fast. What business should I start?”
You need to make a lot of money fast, huh. No problem. I have one word for you, my friend: counterfeiting… Somebody hand me an umbrella. It’s raining stupid in here. Or click here and this might help!
Here’s an oldie but a goodie: “I have a killer business idea, but I don’t have any money. Do you ever invest in businesses or just give advice?” Unfortunately, I only invest in non-lethal business ideas, so I’ll have to pass on your killer idea. Thanks for thinking of me, though. This window is now closed…
And my all-time favorite: “I have a great product that nobody wants to buy. How can I make customers buy my product.”
How can you make a customer buy your product? Piece of cake, Tommy boy. Try using the same method you use to make your kids mind you. Threaten to put your customer in time out if he doesn’t buy something from you right this second! Don’t make me get up and sell you something, young man…
I could go on, but I think the point is made.
Keep those cards and letters coming, boys and girls.
It’s readers like you that make this job so darn interesting.Click Here!
In my business there have been times when we came up with what we thought was an amazing idea for an amazing piece of software – a piece of software so amazing, in fact, that we knew that all mankind would sit up and take notice, then line up to write us checks.
After hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars spent developing the product we were amazed to find that the only people who thought the software was truly amazing was us.
We made mankind yawn out loud! Quite an amazing accomplishment, if I do say so myself.
It worries me Tom that you say there is nothing like your idea on the market. While you may think that is a good thing, it might actually mean that there is no market for your product. The same holds true for a lack of competition. A total lack of competition might mean that there is no demand for such a product.
Rarely does a product come along that revolutionizes an industry. Rarer still does a product create a new industry on its own.
So, how can you tell if your great new product really is worth gambling on? The truth is, you can never be 100% sure that your idea will prosper. No matter how enamored you are of it or how much your friends talk about it, the success of a new idea depends on a number of factors, many of which are beyond your control.
Such factors include:
The viability of the idea: is this really a product that you could build a company around? Does the idea have the potential to generate revenue or customer loyalty?
The people implementing the idea: the right team can make even a mediocre product a huge success (ever heard of Windows). Inversely, a bad team couldn’t sell ice water in Hades. Pick your team very carefully. The right team of people really do make all the difference.
The demand for such a product in the marketplace: will this product fill a need or satisfy an itch? But either way good luck on the hunt. Keep God first!