Be a Shoe Salesman in a Centipede Farm

Obviously that’s a foolish idea since centipedes don’t wear shoes. Similar to selling freezers to Eskimos, you better be one hell of a salesman to attempt it. What I am suggesting is really contrary to the title in actual analysis.

Don’t try to sell something that there isn’t a market for. Yes, if you try hard enough you can create a market. But you can’t do it on a shoestring budget that most entrepreneurs are working with and it’s much easier to sell something that people already need.

Reinforcing Example: Google
No one from Google pitched you the idea that you should use their site instead of Yahoo. The need to search precisely and accurately for information on the internet already existed and directories were no longer cutting it. Websites were being created too quickly for true directory based engines to maintain their hold over the internet.

If you’re like the rest of us, someone mentioned Google to you and how much better they thought it was than the ‘search engines’ you had been using. The next time you went online, you gave it a try and were hooked because of its usefulness.

Possibly Contrary Example: Cocaine
You’ll have to excuse me on this one. I don’t know a thing about cocaine, but I just finished watching the movie Blow. At least according to the movie, there was an existing market for marijuana, but not for cocaine at the time. People knew about marijuana and already wanted to buy it. It sounded like people really didn’t know about cocaine until dealers started selling it. Perhaps there was a need for an easily obtainable, more extreme drug–I don’t know. However, the movie makes it sound like they created the cocaine market by targeting celebrities and allowing the country to follow suit.

Find a market, then a business idea
This is something that is fairly redundant when reading books, articles, and interviews from successful entrepreneurs. If you start with a product, however functional or trendy it may be, your business may not be successful because your market may not exist. You could make the most amazing gadget that cooks toast on my car engine and spits out toast when I’m driving my car in the morning. It’s a sweet idea, but I can already cook my toast in my house and it really isn’t that much of a hassle.

However, if you first asked me what I want my car to hand me on my way to work, then you can design a product based on what I recommend. You will have a built in customer base.

I would personally much rather my morning car ride would audibly go though my task list for the day with some wake up music playing in the background. I can cook my own food and bring it with me, but it’s hard to read during a dark, blurry eyed commute and survive to get where you’re going.

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