Looks Like Rain

If you've thought and thought and still haven't come up with any great ideas, don't sweat. We've got the tips to turn your bone-dry brainstorming sessions into hurricane-force innovation.

It's a familiar story. A little wining and dining, and you find you have so much in common. The moment you laid eyes on each other, there was an instant chemistry, a feeling that this was the one, the one you could grow old with. But then you slept on it, and the next morning you woke up alone in your bed with those familiar pit-in-the-stomach words running through your mind: "What was I thinking?"

So we all agree? Finding the right business idea is difficult. Even if your parents believe you should have settled down with an idea already, or taken the easy route and let them fix you up with some cushy corporate career instead of pursuing this--this start-up--you know the right business idea is out there. But where? Where?

If you're in despair, you're not alone--and if we can help it, you won't be alone for long. We've consulted experts who may be able to help you finally find the right business idea you've been waiting for.

First, Some Inspiration
She was a wide-eyed teenager when she met the right business idea, although she didn't know it yet. It was the mid-1980s, and Amy Nye Wolf was capping off a six-week backpacking tour across Europe with a friend when she saw a store selling music at London's Heathrow Airport. "I was so sick of the music I had, and I was just happy to see it," Wolf recalls. She doesn't remember what she bought--"probably some '80s band"--but she flew home, excited and impressed. Back then, retailing in American airports was mostly limited to restaurants and newsstands.

Five or six years later, after college and some time spent as an investment banker, Wolf decided to do something she had been thinking about for a long time: start a business. "I had no major responsibilities in my life," she says. "It was the right time."

Wolf founded and is now the chair of AltiTunes Partners LP, a chain of music stores with 28 locations--one in a train station, the rest in airports; in fact, there are a few airports that have more than one store. By year-end, she projects AltiTunes will bring in $15 million.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the September 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Looks Like Rain.

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