Monday, April 13, 2009

Will work for food - entreprenuership in a bad economy

Did anybody see Rob Walker's piece in the NY Times Magazine yesterday? He writes a column called Consumed, every Sunday in the NY Times Magainze. Here's a post from last summer about bottled water and the environment:

He also published a book a few months back, still relatively new, called Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. It is a great read, and will give you lots to think about and talk in your communities at work and play about.

Anyway, yesterday's column was great because it was about being an entrepreneur during tough economic times. He focused on a company called, started by a couple of college guys a few years back, and now built into a $950k/year gross revenue business. Like the name suggests, these guys will pick up your laundry and bring it back clean. Their core differentiator is service. They realized the market for such a service in downtown buildings without doorman and therefore hard to get in to. To overcome this, and not just do what so many others had done, which was walk away from a captive, busy audience ripe for their service, they developed a "virtual concierge" and locker system in some of these buildings where customers could drop and pick up on-site at their building, but in a location that didn't need a doorman.

So what right? Well, read the article if you can and you may be struck as I was by this simple truth, "The story of the young company is a reminder that entrepreneurship often depends more on successful execution than radical reinvention. Now is the time to show people that you can kick service up and give them what they deserve. The economy is what you make it."

So true, and so totally rewarding, to take the chance, do your own thing, and realize you are in charge of every response your actions create. It doesn't take a complicated "save the planet" kind of idea that you may be paralyzed looking for, convinced that every other good business idea is taken. It just takes a focus on the customer's needs, and attention to detail to ask yourself how you might meet them. We all want clean clothes right? Then it takes discipline to deliver.

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