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there is a shortage of good business ideas. But in fact, one of the central findings of my ongoing research is that there is an abundance of good ideas. As detailed in Chapter 3, “The Great Shift in What’s Possible,” the rapid changes occurring in the way business works are daily creating more and more opportunities for go-it-alone entrepreneurs.

Where do good business ideas originate?

The answer turns out to be far simpler than most people imagine. Over and over again, successful go-it-alone entrepreneurs find their inspiration in solutions they developed for their own real-life problems. They typically encounter a problem, solve it for themselves, and then conclude that “if I needed this, other people probably do as well.”

Mr. Trademark (, which provides online trademark searches and related services, is one example that illustrates this point. Joe Strahl, the founder of this business, was formerly the owner of Prison Life magazine. When copyright issues related to the magazine arose, Strahl found that rather than pay a lawyer, he could research existing trademarks for free through a database that was available at the New York Public Library. After completing this work, Strahl realized that the basic research to determine the existence of any trademark conflicts does not require a lawyer. He concluded that he could build a profitable business around this research service. The benefits Mr. Trademark offers include far lower costs than those of lawyer-guided trademark investigation services and guaranteed 24-hour turnaround.

Mr. Trademark’s beginning is far more the norm than the exception. In fact, the majority of the go-it-alone businesses described here started the same way: The founder solved a problem in his or her own life.

I often find myself in situations where people are discussing

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.