In these times, it seems that entrepreneurs have got a Shanghai done. To “shanghai” is a term used by sailors, coined in the 19th century to describe the kidnapping of sailors by force, at the docks, in order to get them unconscious and then put them on board of ships so, when they woke up, already at sea, they had no option but to keep on board doing all kinds of jobs until the finally entered into port, usually at Shanghai. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghaiing
In order to cheer entrepreneurs up a little bit and also to mix new and old business ideas, I suggest you examine The Long Tail: a mixture of two fascinating strategies:
The Long Tail written by Chris Anderson, is a book by which, in a very simple way, he says that the Pareto law, but applied the other way round, is great business. This means that, if 80% of your sales in one market are focused on only 20% of your clients, there must be 20% of your sales in that market that is focused on 80% of your clients. Obviously, the latter is not the preference of those clients in such market and it clearly is not being paid enough attention, since everyone is trying to compete in the 80%-of-the sales market. This was like that until the day the Internet arrived and these sectors consolidated themselves, since their complexity and low profitability, coming from dealing with clients who bought very little was rather expensive, and then the Internet solved this problem. For example; Amazon, where more than half of the sales for books come from selling those ones which are not amongst the first 130,000 ranked. Money comes from selling to detail of out-of print items, so if you are able to be the only or the main provider, as it is the case, it is the niche business.
Blue Oceans, is a book by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mabourgne which names blue oceans to those new markets which have not been identified by competence so we can have a way to build our own entry barrier. This is why, being the only provider, we will obviously generate better results showing sustainable growth. This idea collides with that of the red oceans; markets which are already well-known. The best example is “El Cirque du Soleil”. The key here lies on adding value to your client by doing things which had never been done before in that market.
Which is the new Blue Ocean with the long tail? Those markets which have a demand that has not been met, which is scattered and which have very low buying repetition. We must apply a global market point on view; we must not think locally or in a unifying way. For example, we could be talking about the market for little repairs –all those jobs which have disappeared because they have not been able to get enough demand to survive. Yes; I am talking about those jewellers who mended or mounted some jewel. I am talking about the carpenter who used to do a little piece of furniture… But all of this will only be possible if you are able to get the best part of the individual demand in the market and you are also able to meet that demand adding value to your clients.
Another example would be the one which has got to do with legal and tax consulting: if you are able to get all the demand for legal services which individuals sporadically require, and you are able to meet that demand, then you would have created a Blue Ocean which is profitable from the very moment you can bring together the scattered and occasional demand, being the queue for demand very long indeed. Within this scope, we would have, as a paradigm, all the cases for split ups and divorces or all the inheritance cases.
In conclusion: at the end of the day, it all comes to turning those who are not entrepreneurs into real entrepreneurs and, in order to get that, there is nothing better than make them think over the fact that not everything has already been thought about or invented –there are always new ways to do business. All we need is just to look at it from different eyes, entrepreneur and sailor eyes, so you can spot what is around you, detecting whatever profitable demand which has not been met or is not being dealt with properly.