Ingvar Kamprad got his start in business as a boy.

He began selling things from his home: pens and pencils, even fish.

As it grew, his business became mainly mail order.

He found there was empty space on milk delivery lorries no one else wanted.

So he used that to deliver the goods that people ordered.

Later, he noticed there was a lot of wastage at furniture factories.

A lot of offcuts no one wanted.

Kamprad thought he could use this wood to actually make furniture.

This reduced costs all round.

He noticed piles of feathers, at the local markets, from the butchers plucking the birds.

They had to pay someone to take all the feathers away.

Kamprad said he’d take them away for free.

And the unwanted feathers became pillows and duvets.

The Volvo factory was throwing away lots of rubber offcuts.

Kamprad made a range of picture frames from this unwanted material.

Then one day, one of his workers wanted to take a table home.

But he couldn’t fit it into his car.

The worker said “If I could get the legs off, I bet it would fit.”

And Kamprad wondered why no one wanted to sell furniture like that.

Furniture you took home and assembled yourself.

Which is exactly the sort of furniture you can now buy, from his shops all round the world.

The company he built is called IKEA.

They supply around 310 million customers every year.

All from being interested in what no one else wants.

Another example is Bob Edmiston.

He was the finance director of Jensen Motors.

The company went bust in 1974.

They went bust because they were building the wrong car.

The Jensen was a lovely car and it had many enthusiastic owners.

But it also had a 7 litre Chrysler V8 engine.

And no one wanted to buy big, fuel hungry cars anymore.

So Bob Edmiston was given a £6,000 redundancy cheque.

The factory was liquidated, and everything sold off at rock bottom, knock-down prices.

Because no one wanted any of it.

So Bob Edmiston used his redundancy money to buy all the spare parts.

No one could figure why he would buy parts for a car that nobody wanted to buy.

But Bob Edmiston wasn’t thinking about selling cars.

He was thinking about all the people who already owned Jensens.

To keep their cars running, they’d need spare parts.

And the garages that service Jensens would need spare parts, too.

But no one was making spare parts anymore.

So there would be only one place they could go to.

And Bob Edmiston was such a success at selling and distributing spare parts that he was able to set up a chain of dealerships across the country selling and distributing other cars, like Subaru and Isuzu.

And eventually he became so successful that he was able to give away £27 million to charity.

Just by concentrating on what nobody else wanted.

Instead of fighting for the same things as everyone else, both those people saw the opportunity in the things no one else wanted.

The things you can have all to yourself.

We could do that.

Our companies are full of briefs no one else wants.

The work no one else wants to do.

Because it’s too small, or too fussy, or too difficult, or too whatever.

At BMP, no one wanted to do trade ads.

They were the small, scruffy, unglamorous end of the business.

Until two art directors, Dave Christensen and Gordon Smith, realised they were the only ads that weren’t researched.

So they could actually do pretty much what they wanted.

And, between them, Gordon and Dave won 4 D&AD silver awards for trade ads.

BMP had never won any awards for press before.

And suddenly everyone in the creative department wanted to do trade ads.


There’s often a huge opportunity in fishing where no one else is fishing.

There may be less fish there, but you’ve got them all to yourself.