Time and time again, a person dreams of starting a new business venture but dashes one concept after another because of a seeming lack of total originality. The theory seems to be that in order for a new venture to be worth its proverbial salt, it must be founded upon a new idea or concept. The reality is that complete originality simply is not required when it comes to launching a startup enterprise.  

Entrepreneurs are Innovators

Entrepreneurs by definition are innovators. They have a natural mindset of going beyond what exists and creating something new and different. However, some entrepreneurs err by equating new and innovative with completely original, when these concepts are not the same.  

Innovation Includes Filling Gaps

Innovation plays a role in filling gaps in existing products and services. Filling gaps represents an arena in which entrepreneurs and startup concepts play significant roles. This is not a new concept. Andrew Carnegie, the 19 th century industrialist, is a case in point. Carnegie innovated the steel industry during the era of railroad construction. He did not create the steel industry but developed methodologies to greatly expand steel production to meet the tremendous demands associated with railroad construction. Carnegie filled a gap, and by doing so, amassed a personal fortune of about $15 billion in today’s dollars.  

Uniqueness of the Brand is Key

A startup enjoys success by developing a unique brand. Stated a different way, a successful startup develops a brand that represents a whole new customer or client experience. Examples abound in regard to the process of filling a gap and taking the additional, vital step of crafting a unique brand. Perhaps no venture in the 20th and 21 st centuries best illustrates this point than does Apple. In the mid-1980s, Steve Jobs created the Macintosh, which did contain features that filled a technology gap. However, had he not taken a further step of developing a unique brand, his handiwork very well may have been “just another computer.” Facebook provides another example. Mark Zuckerberg filled a gap in social media with the creation of Facebook, rendering it more interactive, more “social.” Had Zuckerberg not been keen in his branding efforts, Facebook  may have ended up as one of many concepts deemed knockoffs of MySpace. In the final analysis, a startup need not be based on a completely original concept to thrive. Filling a gap and featuring unique branding represent two primary elements that can launch a startup on a pathway to success in the 21st century.