The best business idea in the world…

What would be the best business idea in the world? To get paid for so little as possble, of course. And if those payments could continue on a regular basis, even better. But, of course, this isn’t possible for the average bloke. Us normal people are doomed to spend our lives trapped in dea-end job working for The Man. Or is it?

I don’t think many people would disagree that the world has changed a huge amount in recent years. And, just in case you thought this was going to be a purely business-based article, the internet has been one of the catalysts for change, especially for business. There are a lot of reasons for that, which I’m far from the best person to explain.

However I do want to talk about one business trend I’ve noticed, which I believe the web has made easier. And it’s this: getting other people to do the work for you.

Let me explain it this way. For people to give you money, you have to give them something. Otherwise it’s not business, it’s charity (even when giving to charity you could say you’re getting something back, even if it’s just and emotional response). Whether what you give them is a product or a service, it has to be real – something tangible, something that has value. Or else, of course, people won’t be prepared to pay for it.

So, we need a product. And for this perfect busness idea to work it has to be a product that you don’t have to do much, if any work yourself to get. And this is where the web steps in. Here are a few examples of websites that do this:

Ebay
Yep, the daddy of auction sites. Founded in September 1995, Ebay (at it’s heart) does little more than provide a platform for people to make money for it. Ebay keeps the servers running, the public keep providing the products. Of course Ebay just takes a percentage of each sale, but when you have a user base as big as they do, even a small cut of every sale builds into something huge.

Google
Despite being one of the last of the “old guard” of supersies, Google has quickly become top dog. And they are worth a few bob, too. How? They just provide a search engine. But with millions of people paying (only a small amount each, but that’s all you need) to advertise on their hugely popular site, they are raking in the cash. As long as people want to search for things on the web, Google will have a business case for charging for adverts.

Mint
Yes, even Shaun Inman figured this out. He wanted to upgrade his popular Shortstat program, but realised that spreading out the work between a community of developers would make the product better, and save him a load of work. And it worked. He basically wrote an API that firstly he wrote some functions for, then others started to write them as well. Fantastic idea, and a fantastic product.

So, there you have it. The best idea in the world – get someone else to do the work while you get the money.

By the way, I’m not being negative about any of the sites or people mentioned in this article. Kudos to all of them.

If you’re not living on the edge, you’re talking up too much room…

So said someone, I forget who. I was tempted to put “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re talking up too mushroom”, but it’s not quite as thought-provoking!

Anyway, the ever-excellent Creating Passionate Users team have turned their attention from the user to the developer. More specifically, the person in a technology company who has great ideas but management stifles them. Kathy Sierra calls it death by risk-aversion, and I know exactly what she means.

Do you have an idea? Or several? I do – all save in my Ideas Book (now important enough to me to warrant being spelled in capitals). Working for a large company the chances of any of my ideas actually becoming reality are pretty remote. Remote but not impossible; it’s happened before.

But, at least for the time being, all my wild ideas have to either fester in thought form in my Ideas Book, or be made real in the few spare moments I have. Who knows, maybe one of those ideas could one day make me a million.