Why Simple Ideas Can Lead to Thriving Businesses
Forming your company around one core concept or product, then applying a tireless atmosphere of improvement, are the keys to thriving.
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When starting a business, taking a look at well-known players in your industry can be uniquely motivating, not least because it clarifies where you want to go and how to need to innovate. But it's also vital, in that examination, to ground yourself for a minute. Those companies weren't always juggernauts; most of them started with comparatively simple concepts, and it's worth asking if you might be better off relying upon one, too. I started my business, Hydrojug, with a very basic idea (reusable half-gallon water bottles), and was able to turn it into a successful enterprise with a real following.
A head above water
Before the business got off the ground, I enjoyed going to the gym, and often saw people filling up either plastic gallon jugs or shaker bottles. Neither was convenient or sustainable. At the same time, I saw influencers on social media talking about how bottle options on the market were awful and didn't meet their needs: they leaked, weren't insulated or weren't the right size.
It wasn't as if I was in the habit at the time of standing on a rooftop shouting about my passion for water, but I did see that a good bottle was something I could use. That recognition, as well as noticing other people with a similar need — that there was a true gap in the market — combined to produce an "Aha!" moment. I contemplated the reasons why someone wasn't making a quality jug, how I could address them, and began to see a simple idea with massive potential.
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Little by little, perfection
On top of nailing a real need in the market, one of the things that made HydroJug a success was that we were willing to learn and keep improving to make it the best it could be. Instead of hiring people right away to handle each department, my brother and I oversaw most aspects of the business, including filling initial orders, handling accounting and devising a marketing plan. We also invested all profits back into the business for the first few years, which proved to be incredibly valuable because it meant that we didn't put an unnecessary financial strain on the company. We also got firsthand experience about the interconnectedness of all its aspects, which helped us pin down our core values.
Little by little, we got feedback, too… would show off the product and people would ask questions. Would it break if they dropped it? Did it have a straw, or an insulating sleeve?
This feedback helped us to create a product that fit the wants and needs of our customer base.
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Our concept wasn't entirely new, of course, but it is a better version of what people already wanted and used. Appreciating that fully made it easier to keep adjusting so we could go even beyond "better".
This kind of simple idea, and its evolution, is what most successful companies do. As the saying goes, "There is nothing new under the sun": most businesses don't come up with 100% original ideas, they take something that already exists and find ways to make it better with a big-picture understanding of an industry, the recognition of a market gap, and what improvements need to be made. And that process keeps going long after they have a following. The best companies iterate and iterate again in response to what customers tell them. They never stagnate.
As products improve, grow your people, too
When you look at your own company and team, don't worry too much about pushing for huge and fast growth — just focus on improving, and not just what you make or do, but your people, too. Our motto at HydroJug is to help others become the best version of themselves, and also want to inspire personal development in our employees and brand ambassadors, especially since we're in the middle of the wellness space.
So, steal our attitude for yourself — create a culture where people are brave enough to keep reaching. That will produce an environment ready to build products that last for the long haul.