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Are There Any Original Ideas Left? Creating New Startup Businesses from Old Ideas

Mihir Gandhi

Whether it's a media presentation, a marketing effort, or a product or service, most of these concepts consist of taking an original idea and extending it, adding new elements, and presenting it as something brand new. The finished product is not in fact "brand new", but a variation of previously conceived ideas.

This is why, if you're an entrepreneur, trying to come up with a new, original and unique idea may not be necessary. And even if you do actually stumble upon a brand new idea, it doesn't mean it's worth turning into a business. Sometimes, there's a good reason why new ideas haven't been translated into business propositions!

Doing something that's never been done before ends in success only in a very small percentage of cases. Most successful businesses are built by taking an old idea and making it new. There are many ways in which this can be achieved, but two of the most important are:

Narrow Your Focus

If you try to be everything to everybody, you end up losing focus and diluting your key talents. Focus on one key performance area, and get that absolutely right. As a general rule of thumb, the more you expect people to spend on a product or service, the more likely they are to demand specialized, focused expertise.

Create Combinations

Most "new" ideas are actually combinations of old ideas. This strategy works by taking the best parts of two or three different business ideas and combining them to create a new concept.

One of the earliest examples of this is wireless telegraphy. All the components used by Marconi in his "magic box" had already been thought of, or invented by, other people. Marconi's success came when he combined those ideas into something completely new.

The iPod is a great modern example of this strategy. MP3 players were already in existence when the iPod was first launched in 2001, so as a concept, the iPod was nothing new. It just took the best elements of existing products, added a few unique features, and suddenly a brand new device was born.

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