The power of a simple business idea

You don't have to be a tech-savvy genius or a mining magnate to crack the big time

The media attention given to the likes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Apple's Steve Jobs sometimes creates the impression you have to be a genius to make it big in business. While brains don't hurt, all that's really required is a straightforward idea to meet a need that people have, as demonstrated by the following Aussies.

1. Aussie Home Loans

John Symond was smart enough to get through a law degree, but not clever enough to avoid nearly going bankrupt after his first business venture collapsed. While licking his wounds, Symond become obsessed with the idea that Australia's major banks had grown large and arrogant and that a loan provider offering low interest rates and attentive customer service would do well. With a $10,000 loan, Symond launched Aussie Home Loans. Two decades on, it has a loans portfolio of over $40 billion and over 250,000 customers, and Symond is one of the wealthiest and most respected business leaders in Australia.

2. sass & bide

Two Aussie schoolmates living in London were frustrated they couldn't find the kind of jeans they wanted to wear in the shops, so they came up with the idea of making their own. Then they decided to sell them at London's Portobello Market. That went well, so after returning to Australia they started their own label, even though they had no background or qualifications in fashion. Pretty soon, their clothes were being worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna and Beyonce. That fashion label is sass & bide and the two friends behind it are now said to be worth an estimated $25 million.

3. Sumo Salad

Another couple of Aussie mates living abroad also spotted what seems, at least in retrospect, an obvious gap in a market. After living in New York surrounded by fast food chains and supersized Americans, the pair came up with the idea that there was an unmet demand for tasty but healthy fast food. They returned home and opened up a store in the middle of Sydney selling delicious, filling and reasonably priced salads. Their business was called Sumo Salad and by the time they sold it a decade later, it had 86 Australian stores and had expanded into New Zealand, Dubai, Singapore and the UK.

These three business successes show you don't have to be a tech-savvy genius or a mining magnate to crack the big time. If you are interested in nurturing your business ideas, you can take advantage of a range of TAFE NSW courses in business.