There was a time when pushy parents steered their children towards professions like medicine, banking, or law, while their offspring dreamed of being musicians, pilots, and firefighters.
Now, it seems that having the next big idea or making money through your personal brand on social media is the common career goal. The entrepreneur is the new rockstar, and everyone wants to be one.
While I admire anyone with entrepreneurial spirit, hard work is the easy bit – it is innovation that is truly difficult. And sometimes the next big thing is nothing more than a passing fad.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to be revolutionary to be rich. If you’re looking to make the big bucks, an unsexy business is your best bet.
The unicorn ride
As everyone clamours towards tech firms and software startups, now is a better time than ever to hitch your hypothetical career wagon onto an unsexy business.
These are the ordinary, everyday businesses that people can’t live without. Whether it’s buying a new mattress, getting your keys cut, or unblocking your toilet, these kinds of companies rarely go out of style – think of businesses like Starbucks, Webuyanycar, and Tesco.
The allure of companies with elusive, enviable unicorn status and extravagant perks like nap pods, free pizza, and an onsite massage therapist prove to be too hard to resist for many. But going back to basics is an incredibly viable option.
The key is to find something that consumers need, and fulfill that demand – either by doing something really well, or by doing it differently.
Take for example, Pimlico Plumbers. The firm was started by Charlie Mullins nearly 40 years ago with just £35 in his back pocket. It’s now worth tens of millions, because everyone at some point needs a trustworthy and efficient plumber – even Simon Cowell.
While tech companies or anyone offering the latest craze may be worth millions, the profits in hand are often much lower, and they are also much more likely to fail.
New businesses are always a risk, as these companies can go bust as easily as they boom. Just look at MySpace – the hugely popular social media site that essentially died overnight in the shadow of Facebook.
Unsexy businesses may not be glamorous, but they’ll never go out of style. We all need our laundry done, our plumbing fixed, or a sandwich at lunch.
Yes okay, it would undoubtedly feel sexier to be at a dinner party discussing a career as the founder of Facebook, as opposed to the brains behind a used car sales empire. But the reality is that there are only a handful of successful social media networks, yet millions of lucrative car buying and selling businesses.
And I’ll let you in on a secret: once you have succeeded, people no longer care what sector you’re in – they think you’re a modern-day rockstar anyway.
While some businesses may sound more glamorous than others, success has always been sexy.