Looking for a good small business idea that could turn into a big business idea?
If you are, I think we’re living in extremely exciting times, and I say this because it’s clear to me that businesses we used to think were established and virtually untouchable are now vulnerable to startup competition.
Some of these are obvious, and the popular press runs stories about them every day. I’m thinking about enterprises like Uber, Airbnb and other peer-to-peer or sharing business models that are using the advantages of today’s technology to launch an assault on an established business sector.
But some startups are getting traction even without leveraging the bleeding edge of technology. (Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “bleeding” here, because I want to talk about what’s going on in the razor-shaving industry.)
Let me set the stage with a very brief history lesson. Gillette and the company’s competitors sold reusable razors with the intent to make most of their profits from selling the blades used to fill the razors. It was a fairly advanced way of thinking at the time.
This business model chugged along merrily for generations. It’s so simple that it seemed almost unassailable. How could anyone make inroads against the likes of Gillette and Schick?
A funny thing happened on the road to success for Gillette and Schick – they got fat, sassy and complacent. With a corner on the market, they tolerated each other and let their attitudes towards their customers – especially when it comes to pricing and service – get the best of them.
This opened the door for some newcomers in the game, players like
- Dollar Shave Club,
- Harry’s Razor Company,
- Shave Mob, and
Some of these startups leverage the Internet in ways that caught Gillette and Schick off guard, but frankly their subscription model could have been launched without the Internet. These startups recognized that the established brands were vulnerable in pricing and in the hoops they make buyers jump through to get their blades (dealing with locked cabinets in stores).
If we look hard and with fresh eyes, we can probably find all kinds of supposedly established legacy companies that would be vulnerable to competition from an eager and creative startup. This could be your golden small business startup idea that has the potential for huge growth.
Think about the companies that you more or less dread doing business with. When your spouse asks you to run an errand to a certain store or to get a certain product and you immediately groan, where are you being sent? How can you make the experience better? Don’t worry if it’s a huge global corporation or included among the Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks.
In the end, it could be that, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”