Thursday, August 30, 2007

IT For Sale

It's amazing where people can find a niche and market themselves and be successful. The question is, did the niche exist before they came along or did they create it simply by announcing their arrival and intention? Is that what being an entrepreneur is all about, creating your own niche market and then exploiting it?

There are so few truly new and original ideas out there. Most are variations on ideas or schemes that have been around for centuries or millennia even. Take this example, companies that act as brokers or consultants on behalf of various IT companies by buying used IT hardware and selling it at the best possible price as quickly as possible to another company. Essentially this is a variation on the old tinkers who used to travel from village to village, trading, buying and selling their wares, years before a star shone above a little town called Bethlehem. Only this is a little more high tech.

These companies buy IT hardware from companies who may be trying to reduce their IT costs, who are going insolvent or who might have surplus stock after a large IT project. The essence of the whole business is speed as hardware becomes outdated so terribly quickly, so they try to sell the items as quickly as possible and for the best possible price. They act in the best interests of both parties, buyers and sellers, but do their best to help the sellers meet their business goals.

There are certain requirements that have to be met in the business in order for all concerned to be happy. If the client requests a certified disk wipe, the partner must comply. All stock is to be fully tested before it is sold. And if stock is found to be faulty it should be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. That is the hope in an ideal world at any rate.

Many of these companies also trade in computer parts e.g. memory, servers and switches etc. These are submitted to the same stringent tests as the computers and are to be disposed of in the same way if they are found to be faulty.

So, a successful niche market, this buying and selling of second hand goods. A business as old as time itself. Just about. I ask the question again, is that what being an entrepreneur is all about, creating your own niche market and then exploiting it? It must be. It must also be about seeing opportunities sooner than anyone else, having the courage to grab the available opportunities and having skin thicker than rhino hide so that you can roll with the inevitable much cliched punches.

It must also be about being able to see the obvious. This buying and selling of second hand computer hardware is a fairly obvious idea when you think about it. At least as obvious as buying someone's used jacket and selling it to someone who needs a jacket but can't afford a new one. Aren't all brilliant ideas like that though? You mention them and everyone says, "Oh man! I could have thought of that." People tend to overlook the obvious. We're all so busy trying to be genius and complicated and have that one big marvelous idea. There is brilliance in simplicity and mostly we forget that. I give you the Post-It and leave it at that.

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