In some ways, the 21st century is a golden age for entrepreneurship and new venture creation. The digital revolution has opened up new channels, particularly in web-based and e-commerce businesses, and today's start-up costs can be next to nothing. The World Wide Web has also made the world a smaller place and has opened up global markets that would have been impossible to consider 30 years ago.
Of course, that does not mean it is easy – if it was, we would all be doing it and driving around in Ferraris. Growing markets and low barriers to entry mean increased competition, and according to an article in Forbes magazine, 90 percent of new business start-ups are doomed to failure.
Here we look at the who, what, when and where of some of those businesses that have defied the odds and placed themselves in that 10 per cent minority.
Naureen Anwar's enterprise is a perfect example of one of those business ideas that is so startling in its simplicity that you are amazed nobody did it sooner. Nameshouts is a free tool that helps pronounce names.
The idea had small beginnings, with Anwar and her co-founder working on the app in their spare time. Despite only minimal promotion via social media channels, the project soon gathered a momentum of its own, after being picked up by the LA Times.
The business was officially launched in 2014, and since then has gone from strength to strength, including some great humanitarian applications, where schools in Sweden are using it to engage better with refugee students from war-torn countries.
If ever there was a business start-up of our times, then DocuSign is probably it. The company's chairman, Keith Krach, is a well-known entrepreneur in the tech market, and knows a gap in the business market when he sees one.
DocuSign provides a range of electronic signature and transaction management, along with services that allow the speedy and secure transmission of documents between businesses. While electronic signatures and data transmission is nothing new, the difference with this business is that it has provided a solution that is as secure and robust as traditional pen and paper.
The company has raised well over $400 million in financing since its 2003 launch, proving the benefits of having the right idea at the right time and executing it better than the rest.
Not every new business success story is in the tech industry. Husband and wife team Eyal and Noa Levy came up with their business idea almost by accident, when Noa was pregnant with their first child. She was unable to sleep comfortably on her front, and was surprised that there was no product on the market to help her to do so.
Thus, alongside their child, the Yogibo Max was also brought into the world. What started as a quite specific product soon proved to be a comfortable recliner for everyone, not just pregnant women, and Yogibo now sells a range of its self-styled “new age family furniture” from a chain of 18 stores across the Northeast region, plus numerous online sales through Amazon and the company's own e-commerce site.
Quite a story for an idea that came from solving such a specific personal need less than ten years ago!
Finally, CabinetParts proves that you do not need to have the most innovative brainwave to build a successful business. This traditional furniture and hardware supply business from Florida demonstrates the success that can come from just doing a simple thing right.
Founder Patton Abbe launched the business in 1997, catering to local DIY enthusiasts and small contractors. Every year since its launch, the company has achieved double-digit growth, and has at the same time broadened its range and customer base.
Today, it has grown from a bespoke local business into an organization that supplies a range of 20,000 products to customers in 28 countries around the world.
Keys to success
The marketplace might be crowded and competitive, but the above stories show that it is possible to succeed if you've got what it takes. So what exactly does it take?
Naureen Anwar and Keith Koch saw a frustration or pain point in their industries and came up with an effective idea to address it. The Levys and Patton Abby found a new way to fulfill a long-standing customer demand. And all four had the organizational skills, timing and dedication to execute their ideas better than the rest.