The huge boom in the tech industry has inspired a new wave of entrepreneurs to develop and design new products and apps, hoping to make their mark and become the next Uber or Shazam.
While these innovations have potential to change the way we live our lives, it’s actually ‘Unsexy’ businesses that have a huge part to play in society.
Bakeries, plumbers and florists are still the backbone of the British economy and let’s face it, Siri is not going to unblock your drain!
Unsexy businesses tend to consist of the traditionally boring industries, but they are also very unlikely to go stale. As long as we have houses and make home improvements, we will always need builders meaning there will always be a constant flow of money and business in this industry.
Gaining mass appeal and attention for a new tech product is a very difficult prospect, especially as new businesses are popping up almost daily offering solutions to problems that we never really knew we had! On the other hand, more traditional unsexy businesses generally cater to a wider audience. This mass appeal means that there will always be a demand for these businesses in these industries.
Evolution over Revolution
Innovation and improvement are important in any industry and ensures that what you are offering to your customers suits both their needs and expectations. Look at your local bakery, for example, chances are they have a sticker outside their window offering the option for Just Eat delivery (they may even offer Deliveroo!).
My company works on that ethos too. As founder of We Buy Cars Today (the UK’s biggest online car buying website), we offer a service that many people need, and which will always be in demand; second-hand car sales. While this is an industry that has been around almost as long as cars themselves, we have evolved our business model to make our services available online. This means that consumers are now able to get an instant car valuation from the comfort of their homes and at a time convenient to them.
Innovating the services offered by ‘unsexy’ businesses can improve existing industries while retaining and meeting the demands of existing customers. This fresh take on existing industries can be as refreshing as introducing an entirely new product altogether without the risk of the new product not being successful.
One of the biggest issues with ‘sexy’ businesses is stability in the industry, while there is an abundance of new and exciting tech companies out there – one that actually makes a significant impact in the industry is a rarity, and even those are not guaranteed to make a permanent stain on society.
Take the social media app Vine, for example, there was one point where you could not scroll through your timeline without being presented with an abundance of 6-second clips, and now the entire app is but a distant memory. The fall of this social media giant not only lost staff employed by the company but also meant that many of the influencers that found fame on the platform lost their relevancy.
On the other hand traditional, ‘unsexy’ business have a much higher chance of success as generally they are in industries where there will always be a demand.
Tried and Tested
Humans are creatures of habit and, while we may be tempted by exciting new trends, we often stick to what we know. This does not necessarily mean that we do not embrace new products, look at the mobile phone industry for example. It is hard to believe that there was ever a time when no one ever had a smartphone, but now you can hardly turn a corner without seeing someone scrolling and swiping on an iPhone!
That said, it is unlikely that every new product launch will shake the industry as much as the iPhone! Therefore, investors and consumers alike are looking for tried and tested formulas that are low risk and have a high chance of success.
While we do not want innovation, and exciting new products and services to be inhibited, we must not forget the importance of tried, tested and typically “Unsexy” businesses – whether that be a bakery, local car dealership or cab company!