Boring Is Often Where The Most Important Innovation Occurs
A lot is said about Steve Jobs.
Certainly a lot of good. Also some not-so-good.
One of the things that impresses me the most about him was something that happened during the creation of the iPhone.
Looking back, it seems like a slam dunk. Why wouldn’t a company want to push to create the iPhone?
Well, there were more than a few voices in the room that didn’t want to release the iPhone because it was sure to cannibalize iPod sales. Steve knew that if Apple didn’t cannibalize the iPod with their own iPhone that another company surely would.
That takes courage. It also takes non-complacency.
Apple probably could have went a few years holding back with the phone while riding high on the iPod. Just sitting back and watching the sales come in.
It would have been boring. It would have been profitable. But it would have left a huge opportunity. One that many wouldn’t have seen, but that someone surely would have…
Boring has some advantages in the business world.
When people are thinking of business ideas they’re often thinking of industries that are glamorous. They’re thinking high tech and fashion and those kinds of things. Everything you read about in the magazines, the blogs and on social media.
But that’s often not where the biggest innovations happen. In fact, some of the businesses that seem glamorous today were probably seen as boring when they were first getting their start.
I was listening to John Mackey talk about Whole Foods on a podcast. He said in the early days and even beyond the early days that the business was seen as very fringe. Definitely not something that was popular with most people. Just those kind of on the edge. But now it’s seen as something fashionable along with many other positive attributes.
The main advantage with boring industries is that there isn’t a lot of attention so competition from new entrepreneurs is low. And the industries are usually fairly mature, which often means they have a large market.
But a disadvantage is that these boring industries also have markets that aren’t always open to change.
The Opportunity With Boring
If you’re looking for a business opportunity it pays to look at the boring areas of life. Things that people think have already reached their peaks. Or just the areas that we don’t think about too much and don’t realize could be better.
One way to approach it would be to look at areas that you’re not familiar with. This way you’re bringing fresh eyes to the industry and looking at it with different perspectives.
There was an issue I was having with my business a week or so ago. Nothing too crazy, but I was just kind of stumped. I was chatting with my friend that is in a totally different industry and he just kind of flippantly made a comment. Off the wall. Nothing I would have thought of, but it made total sense. It took his being out of the industry to see the situation for what it was: simple and easy to solve.
But there is a catch when it comes to innovating in boring industries. It gets back to markets being resistant to change.
You have to really jump ahead of what’s available now.
But the opportunities are there.
Just looking at a few business lists like Forbes and Inc., shows that boring is where many great innovations are made.
Walmart is the largest company in the world. When that business started you couldn’t really get more boring than discount retail. Even today it’s not glamorous in anyway.
The top company on Inc. right now is a logistics company. Next is a smartphone accessory grip company. Another on the list is a recruiting company.
When thinking of business opportunities, let your mind wander to the boring things in life. The things people do everyday, but that are overlooked by innovators.
You won’t find an opportunity in every corner, but you only need to find one to really change things.