The Best Business Ideas Are the Simplest

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When I first started my own business, I thought my ideas had to be complex. I thought the road to entrepreneurial success was an elaborate business plan. Maybe because I come from an engineering/scientific background is why I thought this way. I thought the harder the idea was to execute, the more difficult for others to enter that same business. This barrier to entry would make my business more profitable.

Little did I realize it makes it harder for me to execute that same idea within my business. Complex business ideas equal complex businesses. Complex businesses have more moving parts, which makes them more difficult to manage. When they are more difficult to control it makes a business more likely to fail. I've learned over the years; sometimes the simplest business ideas are the best.

What matters isn't the idea, or how unique it is, but how well you execute it.

Some of the companies I've worked for were very well funded VC startups and had some of the best and the brightest talent. Yet they failed anyways.

One startup I worked for sold a very expensive B2B solution, with a 8 – 12 month sales cycle. Yes, the payout could be huge, but if it didn't sell — a lot of human capital, money and time was wasted. Then, on top of that, the product required many months of customization and integration within the customer's business process. So from the beginning of the sales process to completion was about two years in the making. The company was doing very well, until 2001 when the market collapsed. Their sales cycle slowed down to nothing, and they eventually went out of business two years later.

“I've learned in business, the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle applies. It's not how great the business idea is, but how well it's executed.”

The Drudge Report is a Great Business?!?

Take the Drudge Report for example. The web page design is circa 1995. Is nothing special about this site? Love or hate the website, most people think it can't be generating much income, right? You would be very wrong. 24/7 Wall Street estimates the site to be worth $48 Million.

From a technical standpoint, saying the site is unremarkable is putting it nicely. The website is a simple static web page. Nothing on the site is dynamically generated and is poorly graphically designed. The site design doesn't try to optimize for search engines, or user optimization to get people to click on links. There's no above the fold site design or site navigation.

The great thing about the Drudge Report is that most of the content isn't written by Matt Drudge or his writers. It just summarizes the news from other web sites, with a slight slant. The Drudge Report is selling one thing. It's selling a viewpoint that is missed by most of the mainstream media. By focusing on this angle and niche that other news outlets have missed, Matt Drudge has made out like a bandit.

A recent study found that the Drudge Report drives more traffic to a website than Twitter or Facebook combined! I would believe that stat based upon my experience in dealing with referring Drudge Report traffic. This is utterly profound for a little website with no real social media strategy.

There are a total of three people that manage the website, if you include Matt Drudge. In 2003, Business 2.0 magazine estimated the website generated $3,500 daily. It is pretty safe to assume the website makes at least double that today if not more. So for a business that generates over $1 Million in annual profit, with very little overhead, I'll take that business any day of the week.

Larry Ludwig

Larry Ludwig was the founder and editor in chief of Investor Junkie. He graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science in computers and a minor in business. Back in the ’90s, I helped create some of the first financial websites for firms like Chase, T. Rowe Price, and ING Bank, and later went on to work for Nomura Securities. He’s had a passion for investing since he was 20 years old and has owned multiple businesses for over 20 years. He currently resides in Long Island, New York, with his wife and three children.

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  1. Sometimes it’s just about satisfying a hidden customer need… look at the success of Google+. In some ways the ideas seem almost obvious, but it did take good execution to pull it off.

  2. Many times the simplest ides make a lot of money! Apple, Google, etc do fairly well too. It comes down to satisfying a need. If your product or service satisfies a need, it should be successful.

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