There is no such thing as a business no-brainer...There are several examples of products and services which either missed the mark, marketed poorly, or were simply just before their time:
- Atari Jaguar – this was a 64-bit game console released in 1993. This might seem unremarkable at first glance; however at this time the market had only just moved to 16-bit consoles such as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the Megadrive. It was a commercial failure, however by 1996 the Nintendo 64 was released, and soon after this was seen to be the minimum requirement for a “modern” game console.
- Amstrad E-mailer – this was a device which allowed users to email from their landline telephone, via a pay as you go service – effectively a fax machine but for emails. It was a commercial failure, perhaps because its target market hadn’t yet adopted emails, and would only do so when there was sufficient need and also when their intended recipients required it – by which time smart phones and tablets were commonplace.
- Finally one from my own industry (accountancy) – IRIS iCash – launched in 2002, this was an innovative product which allowed businesses to use an online accounting system to record their data. It was ahead of it’s time; however IRIS decided to pull the plug on this product circa 2008, and announced this with no replacement product in place. This lag period between announcement of stopping the service and introduction of new service coincided with the launch several start-up services, using what is now known as the ‘cloud’, such as Xero, Quickbooks and Kashflow.
Given that such successful companies can have commercial failures, it’s evident that there is no such thing as a guaranteed business idea! You can however minimise your risk of a failure by ensuring that you do as much research and planning before launch – remember: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.