As a counter-weight to depressing economic news (although how often have you heard the powers that be say something like "everything is going fantastically well. Business rates are down, orders are streaming in across all industry sectors, and there's absolutely no excuse for businesses not to thrive..." ), here are some recent examples of entrepreneurial innovation that may provide some encouragement.
  • A north Devon farmer is diversifying by trying to set up a swingers' club in a nearby village. Following the BSE crisis in the late 1990s he first set up a holiday park and then moved into weddings and functions in a nearby barn.  (Wonder what kind of market research was carried out...)
  • An American investor based in the UK has won an international design competition for his Reactiv cycle jacket, which changes colour as the cyclist brakes. Initially starting with LEDs stuck on with gaffer tape, Michael Chen moved on to incorporate a traffic-light signal system - red when braking, green when accelerating and amber when turning, to give motorists clearer visibility of cyclists' anticipated  actions.  More from the BBC website here.
  • Animal dung coffee at £50 per cup is being sold in a London department store (with all profits going to Macmillan Cancer Support). The reasoning is that Asian palm civets (they're a bit like a raccoon) are said to pick the best coffee berries. If you want more detailed information on the processes involved (!) visit the BBC website here.

If you're looking for more down-to-earth inspiration, try looking here for some business opportunities and ideas.