What makes something original? Is it because you haven't seen or thought about it before? Is it because the idea or product is radically different from anything like it?
I suppose we had better start with what the dictionary has to say:
- Preceding all others in time; first.
- a. Not derived from something else; fresh and unusual: an original play, not an adaptation.
b. Showing a marked departure from previous practice; new: a truly original approach. See Synonyms at new.
- Productive of new things or new ideas; inventive: an original mind.
- Being the source from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made. I attended a workshop on creative entrepreneurship a few years ago conducted by Gunther Faltin, a professor of economics from Germany, and he had some very interesting tips for starting your own business. His motto was Rediscover something existing. He and several of his students have gone on to start highly successful businesses using those three words as guidance.
For example, the professor himself decided that the best way to show his students how it worked was to start a company together with his class. When he presented the idea, everyone was skeptical - so he decided to go it alone to prove his point.
He took a look at the market and tried to find something that he could improve. He noticed (even though he wasn't a tea drinker) that tea was sold in very small packets of a few grams, usually in gift packs with several varieties together, and at exorbitant prices. He then came up with his business model: to import only one brand of high quality organic tea and sell it at decent prices in large packs (1 kg) and only over the Internet. He had to invest a little for the first container but his business was successful almost overnight! Today he is the largest exporter of organic tea from India. You can read about his philosophy on his site here:
Not only is he more affordable than the competition, but he actually breaks down his margins and costs for you on his website!
Is selling tea new? No, it is thousands of years old. Is selling over the Internet new! Nope. What is original however is the way in which he combined various ideas to come up with a successful business.
I think there are many ways to show originality even if what you do isn't entirely your own idea, and a little thinking outside the box is sure to kick off a stream of creativity. Personally I found Gunther Faltin's approach to business is highly original and inspiring and I hope it helps you. I'd like to hear what you have to say on the subject.