In 1933, in the heart of the great depression, my father opened up a tiny auto parts store on Adams Street in Peoria, Illinois. These were very difficult times as the country struggled through the depression years. The problem was acerbated by the fact that dad had to support his widowed mother and three other siblings.

From that rather inauspicious beginning, my father, along with assistance from his three boys and a daughter, grew that small auto parts business into a large chain of sporting goods stores with both retail and wholesale divisions and inclusive of an advertising agency, a swimming pool park, a chain of fireworks stands, a specialization in boats of all types and sizes and a chain of snow ski outlets for equipment and apparel. And, oh by the way, we also opened a chain of Honda motorcycle outlets inclusive of the Honda automobiles.

In addition to our amazing product lines, we created imaginative ways of merchandising these product lines and exciting methods of displaying and advertising the products. The “what” and “how” came together to skyrocket our sales.

Wow, what a ride. He accomplished all of this because . . . if he could envision it, he would grab the opportunity and make it happen. He had the unique ability to visualize the great opportunities for selling specific product lines and then to translate the vision into reality.  Fortunately for me and my siblings, he passed these skills along to us.

Today we live in a tough competitive world, fraught with challenges and obstacles. On the other hand, the opportunities for starting new successful retailing outlets are vast, provided that you can envision it and then do it. Such opportunities may be solely internet based, physical stores or a combination of both. You can sell products or merely services. The starting point is to look about you and then visualize the opportunities. Remember, if you can think it, you can do it.

Oh, I can hear you thinking. When is that great bolt of creative thinking going to meet up with me? When will I envision this wonderful new retailing opportunity? It doesn’t work that way. You have got to go into the world and “walk about” to see what’s out there. If you take the time to visit many stores, trade shows and cruise the net, you will ultimately discover a plethora of new options for your consideration.

Go visit all types of retailers and competitors. Examine all types of products, services, internet offerings and spend time brainstorming. Remember, you are not necessarily looking for a definitive answer, you’re merely looking for an idea catalyst to jump start your creative juices. And don’t discard any idea out of hand. Let it stew in your brain for a few days. Alternatively, you can improve upon an existing product or service or simply follow one of your passions.

If you spend the time and thought to envision a new product or service, the most crucial next step is to start down the path of actual implementation. You must be both focused and determined to make it happen. When you can “see” the end result . . . the brass ring, then grab it!