Taking Initiative from Simple Things

Where does a person find the initiative to start a new business?

initiativeImproving an existing business, creating a new product or service, satisfying an unfulfilled need.

Most of us would not think that a religious cause could provide the initiative for a business idea that would become a huge industry.

That is exactly how Thomas Cook started his holiday touring business 175 years ago on 5 July 1841.

On that day, he was a Baptist Minister organising travel arrangements for people to attend a temperance rally. He had the mission to get people to the rally to campaign against abuse of alcohol and he saw the opportunity for cheap and fast travel offered by the latest technology – the steam train and rail network.

He also saw the business opportunity of earning a small commission on sales of large numbers of tickets.

He put the two together, first selling tickets for short trips for one shilling (10 cents) then hiring whole trains to transport 600 people. Finally offering package tours and services for trips to Europe and beyond.

Thomas Cook started his working life at age 10 as a printer after his father died. By 20, he had become a missionary and bible reader. Not a typical start for someone who would start a huge business and a new industry.

Initiative from simple things.

He used his initiative to help people find travel and accommodation for religious purposes. Then, he saw the potential of the new steam trains and railways. He saw an opportunity and created a successful business by putting the two together.

We often think that great ideas come from huge flashes of brilliant inspiration. Or, by overcoming some form of adversity.

Thomas Cook’s success shows us that is not always the case. Inspiration can come from observing and thinking about the most simple things. Events, habits, rituals and customs we take for granted might be the triggers for successful business ideas if we take the time to ask:

  • Why do we do it this way?
  • How could it be done better, faster, cheaper?
  • What if we did………….?

What simple things do you do in your life that might give you the initiative to do something spectacular?

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  2 comments for “Taking Initiative from Simple Things

  1. Dann G.J. Denis
    July 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Good afternoon Peter,
    Another excellent article!
    One of the simple things I do in my life on this island is to be grateful for everything I have, and am. From it comes the inspiration to write poetry.
    One day someone told me how lucky I was to be able to write, and that is when I realized that if one person can’t, then there were more who couldn’t…. and the idea of The Poem Factory (TPF) was born.
    TPF is a low-cost website/business I am working on that will enable people to fill in the details of a specific anniversary, occasion, or event, and once done, I will take that information a write a unique poem for them to give to the person in question.
    I refer to this idea as a low-cost business because it is not only something I love to do, but the focus isn’t on making money – its on empowering a person to express what they feel, but cannot write.
    Who can put a price on that?

    Dann G.J. Denis

    • Peter
      July 8, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Dann, thank you for sharing your wonderful idea. That is a great example of using your initiative. I owe you a reply to your email from a while back. Now your comment has given me an idea. You will hear from me soon.

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