Tobias Blog

How to (not) build a business (Part 1)


If you are part of the group of entrepreneurs who have huge amounts of money at their disposal, you can skip this article. This article is aimed at the vast majority of people who have skill and ambition, but who cannot hope to receive millions of dollars in cash injections. Those who are too lazy to read can take the following key information with them: You have no chance, so better use it!

The Idea

In the beginning there is the business idea, it serves as brand core and corporate code. The idea is not only an ethos from which all business conduct is derived, but also the mental rock to which the entrepreneur clings. The idea is the source of motivation, and a lot of it is needed – much more than capital. When brainstorming “their idea”, most people think of something “big” or “unique”, above all it should be “new” and “incomparable”. Most up-and-coming entrepreneurs want to create something lasting, which not only brings in money but also makes the world a little better. And it should be green, and social, and hip and on Facebook. And that is wrong.

Let us better face the hard facts: To find the right idea, what you want as an aspiring entrepreneur is not of any interest. Provided you want to be successful (whatever kind of success you want, it doesn’t necessarily have to be exclusively financial), you will have to look at the market and the world around you. After some time you will find out that your idea is not as good as it seems at first or that all niches are already occupied by competitors. So the main focus of the idea creation process is not “this new and unique idea”, but rather the question: “Is my idea even in demand and where in the world is there still room for my idea?

If you now feel less (or no) desire to realize your idea, it would probably be better not to start a business. Because it could be that your long-term motivation is not sufficient to survive the first years.

The Product

No matter what kind of business you plan, the bottom line is you are selling some kind of product to your customers. These can be classic products, as they can be found in traditional retail. It does not matter whether you produce the goods yourself or resell pre-produced goods. Goods are also called services, nowadays mostly in the form of an app. In this context we always speak of a product which you want to offer to your customers.

The same approach is valid for the product as for the idea of your company: Surely you have already thought wildly about what you would like to produce and sell. There we are again with the topics uniqueness, sustainability, originality and so on. But you better put this idea out of your mind right away, because a completely different question comes first:

Is there even a market for my product? Who already knows my product and is there a demand for it? And: Can I reach my target group and convince them that they need my product to be happy?

Whoever has read this article carefully so far will slowly realize that it doesn’t matter what we as entrepreneurs want. Only our customers decide what will be accepted, bought and therefore successful.

If you are now planning to produce and distribute handmade goat cheese with chocolate coating as your only product. You should urgently think about your business concept, because as original as this idea may be (and maybe you are even a gifted cheesemaker and affineur), you might not survive the first years economically. Simply because there is no market for this great idea, that is big enough to build a commercially viable business on it.

Read more in the next part of the article…

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