When the right idea comes along, are you going to just dip a toe into the pool or do a cannonball into the deep end?
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Entrepreneurs are people who dare to dream and concoct ideas that can be translated into a successful business. It’s estimated that 27 million Americans will leave the traditional workforce in favor of full-time self-employment by 2020, a Freshbooks report estimates. Some just dip a toe; others do a cannonball. There are those that sink, some that swim and the lucky few who qualify for the Olympics their first time out.
Related: The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet
No matter how big or small, however, each business starts with a plan — a vision or concept that someone has decided is worth trying. Take the following three entrepreneurs, for instance: Inspiration can come from many places, and these three entrepreneurs found theirs in unique ways.
Many people start their own businesses around a product or service that they needed themselves, but couldn’t find in the marketplace. This is true of Carlton and Hazel Solle, who built a thriving business on an unexpected accessory, the Bioscarf. This “accessory” is made from sustainable materials and protects its wearer from pollution, germs, pollen, even cigarette smoke.
The inspiration for the Bioscarf came when Carlton traveled to China and became seriously ill from breathing the polluted air there. Doctors told him that, to stay healthy, he needed to wear one of the ugly white filtration masks local citizens wear as long as he was in the country.
When he returned home, he shared his story with Hazel, who recalled her childhood living on a small farm in Costa Rica where there was no water and few comforts. Her favorite toys had been two hand-me-down raggedy dolls. With only scraps of fabric to work with, she’d made scarves to cover up the dolls’ worn outfits.
“When I came back and we started talking about my getting sick and the mask, she thought of those dolls and the scarfs that she used to make; that is when she came up with the idea to put the two together,” Carlton said.
The result was the Bioscarf, which ioutperformed most of the popular filtration masks on the market today ,with a 99.75 percent average filtration efficiency. These scarves are now sold worldwide and donated to people in need.
Related: Need a Business Idea? The Best Way to Find One Is to Stop Looking.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to use their knowledge or experience as stepping stones to success. For Matt Ampolsky, growing up in his family’s concert business gave him the insider view of the process, which resulted in the wildly successful start-up Confirmed 360, an entertainment and concierge service.
As Ampolsky explained, “I was fortunate enough to attend ‘meet and greets’ and hang out backstage at major concerts and live events. I realized early on how impactful these life experiences were and made it my mission to deliver these unforgettable experiences to others.”
He opened his first office, he said, while he was still a senior in college, and launched his website in 2015. The company specializes in delivering once-in-a-lifetime experiences: Since its launch, Confirmed 360 has arranged curated experiences with some of today’s top celebrities, including music A-listers Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, U2 and Bruce Springsteen, and sporting great Rafael Nadal. It’s also delivered custom VIP packages for the Super Bowl and major Hollywood award shows.
While Ampolsky said he has achieved what he set out to do, he realizes the importance of delivering what he promises. “As I continue to grow the business internationally, I remain committed to our mission — to deliver the undeliverable,” he said.
An old idea, revived.
Sometimes you don’t need a new idea. You can simply revive an old idea someone else has had but never pursued to fruition. Walter Klemp, founder/CEO of Moleculin, was introduced a decade ago to a promising cancer treatment that had been abandoned when the original developer ran out of money.
The pharmaceutical company was in the process of developing Annamycin, a drug that selectively kills highly resistant tumors, especially patients suffering from AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). The company had to abandon the research due to funding shortfalls before the drug could be fully tested. The drug was then cast aside and left for dead, though early tests had shown promising results.
Klemp was approached about this potentially life-saving treatment by the original team involved in the drug’s development. He spent his own money to uncover tests that had been done a decade before and concluded that those early results were worth trying to repeat. He offered to reactivate the team and fund its research. Klemp believed in the science so much that he convinced investors to come on board for further research, including a repeat of all previous testing.
Moleculin was approved by the FDA in September 2017. It got the go-ahead to begin testing and has begun those trials to bring Annamycin to market, delivering a potentially history-making cancer remedy that so far has shown early promise that could help AML sufferers around the world.
Related: How to Avoid Wasting Time on Dead-End Business Ideas
There isn’t one way to find the perfect idea or have the ah-ha moment that will start you on the path to entrepreneurship. You can discover opportunities by examining your own needs amd bringing your personal experience to the table, or you can revive an old idea. However, when your own ah-ha moment arrives, take a chance, dare to dream and do that cannonball into the deep end.