When you are looking for something or trying to tackle what you think must be a common problem, do you ever think Why isn’t there?. So do I. And I write those ideas down, just in case one day I decide to try my hand as an entrepreneur.

Latest thoughts
Search engines A search engine where I can get to the restaurant or venues main site without having to plough through lots of review sites that don’t show it.
Time use App A smartphone App that shows me how much time I spend on the different Apps and makes sensible suggestions about other Apps that I might find of value.
Online real time tech support A subscription service for home business users who want access to fast, user friendly tech people to whom they can fire all manner of questions relating to technology whether it’s about things not working, how to do something in an Office application or general questions about technology use.
Online tutorials A subscription service where I can access a variety of short, high value videos on new trends in marketing, technology, strategy etc so that I can quickly and easily update my knowledge and find the most authoritative sources should I wish to learn more.
Previous Thoughts
Waiting room upgrade Whilst sitting in the hair salon the other day, flicking through the usual variety of glossy girl magazines and impossible hair style catalogues, I wondered why there wasn’t a number of laptops (or better still, ipads) available so that customers could look at the material they are most interested in. Other waiting rooms could also dispense with those TV screens showing the news or some inane soap opera to everyone and have people sitting quietly (with headphones) looking at stuff they were interested in.
Spam and scam email point Despite sophisticated software to deal with spam emails I still receive a fair few. Why isn’t there a central email address to which you can forward your spam and scam emails so that someone, somewhere notices an increase in traffic from particularly nasty sources and does something about it. The major online sellers (like Amazon and Ebay) and banks could then see at a glance how their brands were being abused to the detriment of their corporate reputations and act swiftly to protect their customers.
Collection points I love on-line shopping. So easy, so quick, so convenient. Until, that is, you have to manage the delivery. Like many other people I am out a lot – usually when the postman or courier arrives. And I am fed up going online to request a redelivery at a convenient time. So why isn’t there a collection point in each community where people can have stuff delivered and then pick it up when it suits them. And I’m not interested in driving to the Post Office or complying with its ridiculous opening times (why can’t they be open beyond mid day?). And I’m not prepared to pay £1 to have my parcel delivered to my local Post Office (have you seen the queues?). Come on, this must be a class A franchise opportunity for someone.
One card fits all My wallet is bursting. Sadly not with cash. But all those membership and loyalty cards – why isn’t there one card on which I can register my gym and club memberships, the assortment of coffee and other shop loyalty cards as well as my professional membership groups. And while we’re there, assuming that the security is good, can you put my debit and credit cards on there as well?
Dog share I used to love having dogs. Border collies were my favourite. But they are such a big commitment and it’s unfair to have them when sometimes work takes you away for periods of time. So why isn’t there a scheme where you can share a dog with one or two of your neighbours – a sort of shared custody like you have with kids after a divorce.
English culture Whilst I appreciate multi-culturalism, I do find that it becomes harder and harder to hold on to and convey to my kids the essence of being English. So why isn’t there more focus and resource on capturing and promoting the best elements of the English culture?
Community and co-operative groups As more families break down and reform and more households than ever before house lone adults (some with kids and many with older folk) why isn’t there an easy way for local communities to come together and share resources – whether this is in terms of shopping, cleaning, house repair work, child care cover etc. Surely we all have something to give that our neighbours would value?
A decent web site index Search engines are now corrupted by people who are good at SEO and want to sell you stuff so why isn’t there a proper site index that directs you easily to where you want to get to. For example, when seeking the web site of a restaurant have you noticed how you have to plough through pages of review and listings sites before you get to the actual site you searched for?
Child tracking My daughter’s school offered a “track your child’s mobile phone” system but sadly the constant “Are you happy that (your mum) is tracking your movements?” texts made us disconnect from the service. So why isn’t there an easier way for parents to see – on a map – the whereabouts of their child? With permission it could be extended to schools who are checking up on truancy too.
Party lights service Love garden parties. Love lots of twinkling lights on party night too. But rather than having to buy all my own lights and candles why isn’t there a service that arrives to really light up your garden – and then take it all away again the next day
Home makeover service We’ve seen it on the TV. Your entire house (or several rooms) made over in an hour. I want to give the brief, pay the money and return from a shopping trip to find that they’ve done an entire room – including moving all my books, clothes, other stuff out of the way and replacing it without involving me.
Sync my life service In our house we have several desktop and laptops, numerous iphone and ipods and mobile phones. Wouldn’t it be great if – with one touch of a button – everything could be synced without any effort.
Time and skill bank Lots of people would be happy to do more for their community. And Big Society is coming. Why isn’t there a local register where we can enter what we have to offer and for how long and a computer match us up with someone or a group who needs us?
Older Thoughts
Online image shopping I love online shopping. But sometimes I want to be able to input a photo or a drawing of what I want and to have the search based on that rather than words.
Single online profile Rather than rely on search engines, wouldn’t it be neat if there was one place where you could register your profile and provide links to all your business and personal profiles in sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and so on? Then you’d only need to post up one (or maybe two if you still need business and personal separate) status update.
Intelligent email filtering OK, so you can make sure that some junk mail doesn’t get through. But I want an intelligent email management system that puts emails from clients and work contacts in one inbox, stuff from my mates in another, shopping and order information for the stores that I actually use in another, e-newsletters and other information from sites that I subscribe to in another and everything else into junk mail. It surely can’t be that difficult?
A shoe library Like any other woman, I like my shoes. But how annoying is it that you need a particular colour and style of shoes for a one-off occasion? Apart from the cost of buying them, and the hassles trying to find the right pair, you then have them cluttering up your wardrobe til you want to use them again. Only to find that – maybe ten years later – you never wore them again and finally throw them out. Wouldn’t it be good if there was a shoe library – type in the size, colour and style of footwear and have it magically sent to you to use for that special occasion.
E-bay police I have to admit that I have ceased to use E-Bay as I got fed up with sellers reassuring me that their products were authentic when they turned out to be (really good) fakes. I don’t have the time or inclination to lock horns with these people. So why isn’t there a facility where you can report suspect sellers and let the investigators do the investigating?
Weekend car swap In these days of families and step-families and kids moving between different parental homes, why isn’t there a facility where you can swop your two seater sports car for weekends when the kids are away for the seven seater people carrier for when you have a full house?
Smoke easy I won’t start on how angry I am at the undemocratic way in which the Government feels it can poke it’s nose into everyone’s business and over-rule the informed decisions of 30% of the adult population who choose to smoke and ban smoking outright in bars and restaurants (have you wondered what they are likely to ban next – Fast food? Alcohol? Overweight people?). Nor that they seem to have overlooked the fact that most passive smoking problems are from where people smoke in home environments – which they will do more from next year when the public ban becomes effective. So why haven’t some enterprising souls found ways round the law to provide social centres where smokers can avoid freezing and not be made to feel like social outcasts?
E-bay drop in centres Why aren’t there local drop in centres where you can drop off stuff that you want to auction and have someone else take all the details, place an advert for you and manage the bidding process. Many people – I am sure – would be happy to pay a commission for someone else to manage all the hassle.
Mobile phone images you can send I understand copyright laws. But why can’t you buy mobile phone images that you can send? That way you could send really lovely picture messages instead of or in addition to greetings cards. What a great alternative to taking your own fuzzy images and trying to send those.
Make your own recipe book Select your fave recipes from all sorts of great cook books – and even a facility to add in your own. An electronic personal book of your fave recipes that could then be bound and given as gifts to people. You could even tailor it to show when you cooked the meals for different family and friends – and include your own signature dishes.
Interactive careers As most teenagers are really into music and technology why isn’t there a series of videos or DVDs (or web casts or pod casts) that help them gain an insight into the world of work and the different types of jobs/careers. It might just make them feel more involved in education and it would certainly supplement the official careers advice that they are given at school.
On-line home decorating Use web cam to send images of a room in your house that you would like to have decorated – and add some details about what you are thinking and have an on-online service whereby not only do they suggest how you might make-over the room but send a file of all the links to put you in touch with the various materials suppliers and craftspeople.
Drop in technology centres Whilst wandering around the Apple centre at the launch of the new Nano, I couldn’t help wonder why there weren’t more ‘drop in and experiment and learn about new technology’ centres? I am sure busy professional people – as well as mums trying to keep up with their kids – would love the opportunity to pop in for half an hours tuition on the latest technology. You could cover ebaying, messaging, the latest features on Microsoft office products, digital image manipulation, business reports….
Keep your skills up to date So many people have to complete CPE (Continuing Professional Education) points each year – keeping track of the courses you have attended can be a nuisance. And wouldn’t it be great if the same on-line service that tracked your own training and development also sent you details of courses near your home or work that might be of interest. It would certainly ensure that you were kept aware of the latest trends in management and the latest IT skills.
Goodnewspapers Yes, as a journalist I know that bad news sells papers. But why isn’t there an online newspaper that is simply filled with good news stories. Something that you could dip into that would always make you smile, something to inspire you as you slog through another day, or to give you a bit of a lift after reading yet another newspaper filled with violence, suffering, world tragedies and conflict.
A day out planner It’s rare to have a spare day. So how about a site where you could enter a location, or a type of activity (outdoors, children, not too expensive etc) and the site provided you with choices for your day out. It could also show you places you could stop on the way there and back as well.
Trends update The pace of life moves ever quicker. Whilst our working and social lives require us to absorb an ever broadening range of information, the trend is to become more and more specialised. So what about a site that provides the top ten key trends in a variety of different areas – technologies, industry sectors etc – so we can do a fast review before meeting people from those arenas?
E-learning interpersonal and technology skills I never have enough time to do the learning of the various technologies that I need. Like most users, I probably only use about 10% of the available facilities in most of the systems I use each day. So wouldn’t it be great if there were on-line modules for the odd half hour of technology skills training – especially if it focused on particular applications (building your home budget, setting up your project, designing a fantastic Powerpoint presentation, developing a contact manager for your own use etc). Plus it would be really neat to be able to do an occasional half an hour of interactive learning on some interpersonal skill – like effective time management, project management, junior staff supervision, assertiveness, team leadership, goal setting etc. I guess a lot of people would pay a fair fee if they had access to high quality professional e-learning tools to use from the comfort of their own homes or offices.
What are kids into? Kids of all ages operate in a different world. The music, web sites, games, TV shows, magazines, card games, phones, SMS/text lingo, jokes, instant messaging, “right” clothes brands etc they are interested in are all out of the sphere of most adults. So why isn’t there a site where I can type in the age of a child and get an update on the sorts of things that they are likely to be interested in? I can imagine that plenty of older mums and other relatives would love to have a few hints on how to start and maintain conversations with their youngsters that don’t involve one of those withering “That’s-SO-uncool (read old fashioned)!” looks!
Residential Facilities Management There are facilities management services for commercial buildings so why not for private residential homes? Can you imagine that instead of trying to get quotes from and project manage an assortment of plumbers, carpenters, carpet cleaners, washing machine fixers and so on you just make one call and someone else sorts it out? Might end the hassles we all face with cowboy plumbers and builders when they are reliant on the good will of just a few FM operators rather than millions of individual consumers.
Ebay intermediary Much as I like browsing and bidding for things on e-bay, wouldn’t it be neat if you could give your requirements to an intermediary and have them search e-bay (and the entire Internet!) to find what you want and give you a personalised summary of what is available and what strategy to adopt.
Automatic career coach Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time you hit a job or career dead-end or cross-roads you could pay a set fee to go through a series of on-line self-assessments and questionnaires and then have a personal coach – with knowledge and experience of your work environment – give you some coaching on the options ahead.
Ringtones We have them for our mobiles so why not for our land line phones – it would certainly make it a happier home to be able to choose your fave tracks for the home phone!
Rocket Congratulations to Rocket who provide ingredient packs at mainline train stations so you can take home (in a cooler bag) all you need to prepare really good meals in just ten minutes without having to struggle with recipes and the supermarket. However, they could go a step further and provide packs for those with special dietary requirements – such as gluten free, vegetarian, Weight Watchers and so on. Why don’t more stores do these really neat packs? Why can’t you order them over the Internet for delivery to your home?
Community space for hire The pressure on accommodation increases. So why aren’t there more facilities for people to hire space near their homes for either exercise and sports activities or other community and family related activities? Or even for those who need to work at home but don’t have a study?
Coffee shops plus The huge success and expansion of the coffee shop phenomenon shows that people want temporary space. Trouble is, with all that music and stuff, it isn’t easy trying to make calls or have short meetings. Why don’t the coffee shops join forces with the temporary office accommodation providers to enable busy, office-free and mobile workers a chance for a decent cup of coffee and some quiet space to work in-between meetings?
Research help The Internet has so much great info – trouble is, you need an expert researcher to help you find the really good quality stuff. So why isn’t there an on-line service where you can pay to field a research enquiry and some researcher can send you a list of web links that will speed up your search (Ooops – just discovered that one of the main web search engines has introduced this service – well done!)
A hair raising experience A site where I can scan in a photo of my current hairstyle and input some basic criteria (e.g. not too radical, OK for business life, cut it all off and start again) and the web site comes up with some suggestions for new hairstyles that suit my face shape and criteria. This could also link to local salons that could do the job for real.
Shared social diaries We are all used to sharing our work diaries with colleagues electronically which takes the pain out of arranging meetings. So why can’t we have a similar web based system for our friends and families to arrange social gatherings?
Wheat intolerant information A web site that provides information on the foods and restaurants that make special provision for wheat intolerant people would be really helpful. So many manufacturers fail to realise that if their product has no wheat they have an additional keen market. A few years ago, the poor vegetarians sought this info – and got it. They are mainstream now – what about those of us with less common food preferences or intolerances?
Car seats A button on your car seat that memorises your preferred seat and mirror positions? It is irritating to have to keep modifying them when others have used or travelled in your car (This was contributed by Elaine Crittenden – Subsequently I was informed that this feature is available on Mercedes, BMWs and Audis!).
Call centres worst offenders league A web site where frustrated callers can report a) failure to answer/long waits b) stupid or wrong instructions (e.g. referring to a web page when you can’t get on-line or when the page is not active) c) failing or looping systems and d) impossible to remember security procedures on telephone call centres. In the main, most call centre operators are very friendly, helpful and professional. However, the systems that support (or fail) them often leave callers angry and beyond help. I would be happy to name and shame the worst offenders but a league table of the worst offenders might encourage some large organisations to take action rather than just count the increased profits (and significantly reduced customer loyalty) that their systems create.
City centre clubs I used to be a member of a not-very-expensive small club in central London where I could sit and have a drink alone without hassle, spend a short while working in between meetings, grab a bite to eat alone after a late night working or pop in at the end of an evening for a coffee while someone calls a taxi. And “No” – it wasn’t one of those elitist establishments. As more people go virtual these sorts of facilities will be increasingly in demand. We have a model for small and short term offices – is this request so far from that?
Personal Career coaching As more people work for themselves or take more frequent career changes where do they go for continuity in their career development advice? After an initial in-depth assessment and consultation, the web would be an ideal vehicle for getting further advice and refreshers.
A device from which I can download the most important stuff from my PC and carry around in my handbag (and, Yes, I have a Palm pilot but I want more!)?
A facility in hotels to hire a (portable) music system and CD Roms so that you can listen to your fave music while away – plus experience some new stuff – without having to cart it all around with you?
Creches at cinemas so the toddlers can happily play while parents and older children enjoy a film?
A site by an independent financial adviser where I can add details of all my policies and a secure database is kept on-line. I could then scan in update documents, tax forms etc and have a whole load of administration removed from my workload. The IFA would benefit too by being able to recommend suitable new products when appropriate.
A holiday company offering tour guides for visits to Japan for Brits?
Three letter abbreviations are so in. Why can’t you get jewellery showing some of your favourite ones – like “WAF” (Wild And Free)?
A web site where you can do custom designed jewellery at a reasonable price – basic designs and shape/style options could be provided, plus an on-line quoting system, plus the ability to copyright your design so that it could be sold onto others if they are interested. It might also incorporate a simple CAD facility for the truly creative amongst us.
A personal environment controller – whereby I can adjust the temperature, humidity and noise levels around my immediate body space? This would be great for taking the heat out of the passive smoking debate.
After a recent visit to a horse racing event, I wondered why there was not a site that explained all the stuff about how to bet but also provided a system that instantly analysed past form, current conditions and others in the race to provide a probability index to winning?
Busy people who care about how they look at different types of event (e.g. dinner party, business lunch, nightclub, beach holiday etc) might benefit from a fashion site that offers a range of outfit selections which are tailored to your particular style, size and pocket. It then allows you to order on-line. It could be extended so that you could have access to a whole range of products – clothes, accessories, leisure activities, food, home furnishings – that fit with a particular lifestyle. That would be real one-stop shopping.
Cooking is a dying art yet there are hundreds of cookery sites. Why isn’t there one where you can enter the ingredients that you currently have in the fridge and cupboard and the site advises you of a number of recipes that you could use?
A common problem for employers seeking employees amongst young school and college leavers is the lack of basic skills (e.g. grammar, basic arithmetic), business nous (e.g. what to do if there is a problem, using a computer), customer care (e.g. nice telephone manner) and common sense (e.g. importance of arriving on time, reading a map etc). How about a short and intensive ‘finishing school’ – funded perhaps by major employers – where those new to the employment market can learn these types of skills and achieve a ‘Ready to work’ certificate?
Most of us can use basic presentation and graphic packages. But we lack the time, skill and mulitmedia resources to make our presentations really fantastic. Why isn’t there a service where I can email my presentation to someone who will add animations, graphic images and all manner of bells and whistles for a fee?
Small talk – Just before going to a business or social gathering wouldn’t it be helpful to access a site that summarises the key topics of small talk, provides a quick overview of the main themes being discussed and offers some sensible ideas on how to converse on the matter?