From MRIs to Potties: Small Businesses that made it!

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Every large business we know has something important in common: They all started as a small business. They found a need or solved a problem with an innovative product. Let’s look at two small businesses who did what so many small businesses are doing every day: Filling a need or improving people’s lives.

Raymond Damadian

You’ve most likely have never heard of this man but his machine has changed medicine and saved an uncountable amount of lives. As a young doctor in 1969 he was working for a doctor who was studying how certain chemicals in the body generated electricity. Using bacteria, he placed it in a nuclear resonance machine and measured the rate of decay. From that knowledge he adapted this in to a machine that could use the same methods to scan for cancer cells in the human body. The MRI machine was born.

Like so many small businesses, it wasn’t a happy story soon after that. Large companies like GE developed a machine of their own based on his technology. He took his patent infringement case to the courts where he first lost. After numerous additional legal battles, Damadian finally won his case and had the exclusive rights to a machine that could scan the spine while the patient was standing up.

Christine Sweeney

You probably don’t know Christine either and although her business may not be serving humanity in the same profound way as Damadian, she is another example of how finding a need and filling it in an innovative and attractive way leads to big success.

If you’ve ever used a porta potty you know that “gross” is a huge understatement when describing the experience of a trip to one of these. For those who are hosting outdoor events that are more upscale than the common swamp romp, there have been very few options when it comes to more upscale portable bathroom facilities. Christine Sweeney recognized this and started her company, Atlanta Watercloset.

Their business model is sumple yet effective and desirable: Think of a restroom in a nice restaurant and you know the kind of restoom that Atlanta Watercloset delivers to upscale outdoor events. They come in multiple sizes and cost as little as $205 per unit.

One thing that Sweeney figured out is that delivery isn’t where her skill lies. On her first delivery, she got a call from her delivery people that they had fallen off the truck and were lying all over the road. From then on, she has outsourced the delivery services.

If you’re planning to start a business of your own, these two stories teach us a valuable lesson: Start with a great idea and your business will take off!