How many times have you thought about coming up with a business concept that could roll in the millions for eternity? We all strive for that one moment of inspiration that could revolutionise an industry or create a new industry altogether. Entrepreneurs across generations have often come up with concepts that have become wildly successful and might have made you marvel at the basic concept of the business. Sometimes they are ridiculously simple while some are inspired from life lessons, but over the years entrepreneurs have come up with hundreds of business concepts that are now studied in business schools. Here’s a look at 10 of the greatest.
There is no doubt that this is one of the largest industries in the world. However, how about the idea for starters? It is absolutely brilliant and rightly ranks among the greatest business concepts of all time due to the simplicity of the whole thing. Insurance may have existed even during the ancient times, but modern insurance business began in 17th century England. Although the range of insurance products has increased manifold, the primary premise of covering the potential damages for a fraction of the original cost of the item in question is quite brilliant, simply because the eventuality of damages are rare.
You might walk into Waitrose or Tesco and think how convenient it is to buy everything you need for the week at one single go. Isn’t it convenient, simple, and at the same time an idea that revolutionised the task of shopping for groceries every week? It did beyond doubt, and nowadays there are hundreds of shops all over the world. However, the man who came up with the novel idea was American entrepreneur Clarence Saunders. Saunders opened the first Piggly Wiggly store in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee, and the industry has never looked back since. Needless to say, the all-under-one-roof phenomenon has evolved and you now have departmental stores that sell pretty much anything you can think of.
Man’s ultimate demand from technology was to somehow get complex things done at the push of a button, and Uber has been able to do exactly that by allowing you to order a cab by tapping on the Uber app on your phone. The seed of the idea was sown when Uber’s founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp failed to find a cab in Paris in the year 2008. By the following year, they had launched Uber which allowed customers to tap on a button and get connected to independently owned cabs that were contracted to Uber. They literally created a company out of thin air by simply connecting customers to cab drivers, and the service is now available in over 300 cities all across the world. Uber is valued at $51 billion and is quite clearly one of the best business ideas ever. Its success has spawned a whole industry as many other companies have come into existence with similar business models.
4. High frequency trading
Wall Street is the money-minting capital of the world which attracts both boffins and novices. However, the emergence of high frequency trading models in 1998 changed the landscape altogether, as investments banks were able to use computers to make high volume trades at shorter margins in order to maximise profits for their clients. It is without a doubt the single greatest idea to have hit Wall Street in its storied history, and although there have been criticisms about this trading procedure, the overall turnover of investment banks over the past two decades is an indication of what an incredibly successful idea it is.
5. Venture capital
If you have a business idea that could be turned into a viable business, then you can pitch it to a private equity investor and get much needed startup capital. However, things were not as easy in the past. Private equity firms changed all that, but the idea of investing one’s wealth in multiple promising businesses took root back in the year 1946 when Georges Frederick Doriot started American Research and Development that was engaged in providing seed money to businesses fronted by US soldiers who had returned from World War II. That was how the industry started and, over the years, private equity funds have provided funds to thousands of startups all across the world, creating wealth not only for themselves but also for the companies they helped in finding their feet.
6. Social networking
If you like this article, then you might be tempted to share it on one of the many social networking websites that you use, and that shows the sort of power social media holds in the age of electronic communication. It is an industry that is valued at hundreds of billions of dollars since it is the primary platform for content sharing, marketing, communication, and entertainment for billions of people all over the world. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn might be the biggest social media networks as of 2015, but the idea of a social network first came into existence in 1997 when SixDegrees.com was established by Andrew Weinreich. The website might not exist today but it was the website that set in motion the creation of perhaps one of the biggest online industries ever created.
7. Bottled water
A business that can make people spend in excess of $100 billion a year for a product that they can be consumed without paying anything has to be an absolutely brilliant business concept and hence it is no surprise that the concept of the bottled water business finds itself at 7th position in this illustrious list. Johann Jacob Schweppe was the first entrepreneur to market carbonated water way back in 1783, but the easy availability of tap water in the 20th century killed the industry. Enter Perrier from France and their incredibly successful marketing campaign that made bottled water cool again in 1977. The industry has never looked back since as the range of products has been expanded exponentially with such niche products as glacial water that can be bought off the shelves in supermarkets nowadays.
When you call your bank or telephone company up, it is highly likely that the person on the other end of the line is in a whole different country. However, that is only a small percentage of the global outsourcing industry that generated revenues of $104.6 billion in 2014, according to Statista. Big players in industries like banking, finance, energy, publishing, telecommunications, and other industries sign deals every year with outsourcing providers in order to increase their efficiency. Although you might think that it is a recent phenomenon, it is necessary to point out that business was outsourced for the very first time back in 1978 when General Motors opened its first plant in Mexico, primarily because of cheaper costs. At the last count, the number of such plants in Mexico owned by General Motors stands at 50.
9. Online retail
The idea of providing people with the platform of buying things at the single mouse click must have been akin to a fantasy back in the year 1994 when Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, a website that was originally meant to sell books. However, the company has grown into a behemoth, valued at $247.6 billion, and now retails almost anything you can think of and is a leader in the ever growing industry. As far as the novelty of the idea was concerned, it was smart, bold, and way ahead of its time. The number of online retailers increased at a breakneck pace following the success of Amazon, and an eMarketer report in 2014 pegged the total online retail sales at an astonishing $1.3 trillion (yes, Trillion with a capital ‘T’).
Banking is quite literally the backbone of economies all across the world and we know very well what happens when big banks collapse for one reason or another. Banks first came into existence in Ancient Mesopotamia and the seeds of modern banking were sown with the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694 when a group of financiers decided to bankroll the government’s expenses. The business has evolved manifold over the centuries, but as far as a business idea is concerned, it is without a doubt right up there with the biggest ideas ever.
Needless to say, many of the businesses listed here have had their moments of doom and have been criticised from time to time, but what we are looking at is the idea behind the establishment of those businesses. In that regard, it cannot be denied that all these businesses were established on the back of someone somewhere coming up with a big idea that changed the face of an industry. As far as business concepts and ideas are concerned, it would be tough to trump the ones listed here.
What other great business concepts would you like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!