Business 2.0: The 31 best business ideas in the world - Jul. 27, 2006

The 31 best business ideas in the world

Business 2.0 scoured the globe for the smartest thinkers and startups - and came up with dozens of strategies that you can apply to your business today.

August 11 2006: 10:10 AM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) -- A good idea is a good idea, wherever you find it. And these days, some of the best ideas are found abroad.

That's why Business 2.0 Magazine devotes a special issue every August to covering global businesses - not the biggest of them, but the smartest.

There is some pretty amazing stuff going on beyond U.S. borders. But this isn't an exercise in complaining that innovation is moving offshore. Hardly so. All of our stories have an idea you can take and apply to your own business. And in some cases, we've highlighted businesses you can start today.

Over the next four weeks, we'll be publishing a story every day from the issue, highlighting the smart business ideas that they illustrate. Below is the complete list of the 31 best business ideas in the world - check back daily to read the stories behind the ideas.

The best business ideas in the world

1. Send your best talent into the field in search of promising new ideas.

2. There's little U.S. consumers won't leave home for if the price is right.

3. Meet very basic customer needs with a radical new design.

4. Look for novel ways to breathe new life into mature categories.

5. Turn your shortcomings into a killer product idea.

6. Services that once required face time can be profitably handled online.

7. Find a desirable Third World niche product and industrialize it.

8. Test tech in markets where adoption is advanced, then bring it back to the States.

9. You don't have to run a global company from a major city; sometimes, in fact, it's better not to.

10. Even the oldest, most entrenched companies must continually evolve.

11. Success really can be a matter of inspiration and perspiration.

12. To catalyze radical change in a large organization, start small.

13. Take aim at new customers by making utilitarian products stylish.

14. Don't underestimate the profit potential of fun.

15. Use cheap guerrilla tactics to launch a company.

16. Create ways to allow more of your workers' personal lives inside company boundaries.

17. Solve a "last mile" problem with cheap hardware.

18. Attack local markets that big companies can't reach.

19. Sell services that piggyback on a booming retail trend.

20. Find yet-to-be-exploited niches in the global commodities boom.

21. Utilize the incentives that reform-minded governments offer to foreign investors.

22. Give customers their own virtual space, and then charge them to decorate and customize it.

23. When importing a product from overseas, be ruthless about cutting features that won't translate well to your domestic market.

24. If you want younger customers, forget advertising: Offer enough cool features that they'll do your marketing for you.

25. When starting a business, listen to your heart, not your bankers.

26. If your domestic market is small, go global in pursuit of investors as well as customers.

27. When economic factors spur demand, look to the past for ideas that were ahead of their time.

28. Striking design can offset objections to large-scale industrial projects.

29. Online businesses can easily - and cheaply - target international markets from anywhere.

30. Build employee loyalty with best-in-class perks and funky frills.

31. Tap into new markets created by today's sky-high oil prices.


  • For more of the best business ideas, check out the 2005 edition of Business 2.0's special global issue.

Category: Business ideas

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