On January 24, 1848, James W Marshall who was building a sawmill on the banks of the America River noticed something glinting in the water. He fished it out and thus started the great California Gold Rush.
Surprisingly it took a year or so before news of his discovery became widespread but all across the newly born United Stares people started to move to California in search of instant riches.
The population of San Francisco, a small mission station for example, grew from 1,000 in 1848 to more than 20,000 two years later on the back of immigration not only from America but also worldwide.
Some made great fortunes, others searched and searched without success. The whole mad rush petered out around 1858, a mere 10 years after Marshall's discovery.
California was irrevocably changed and from an unexploited land with a great climate, had grown sufficiently to be admitted in 1850 as the 31st of the United States.
The actual numbers of the "49ers" as the prospectors were known is uncertain but what is certain is that many people spotted the opportunity presented by the gold rush to set up businesses to supply the prospectors.
It was said that the best way to make money in a gold rush was to sell shovels.
What a great metaphor for imaginative marketing today.
We are in a genuine growth phase in the UK after five tough years when only the really dedicated kept their heads down and stayed in business no matter what.
New products and services are hitting the markets at a great rate; some will succeed and some will be less than successful.
The most successful will be the ones who research the markets, see what is growing and seems to have potentially long life and the works out, not how to complete but what possible products and services is the market looking for.
In other words it's not a bad idea to join in it or even build a supply chain for growing markets and that is exactly what the shovel sellers achieved during the California Gold Rush.
The question to ask is: what is likely to be the next "Gold Rush" and how can you ride the wave of prosperity with it? What is your shovel for the next generation of "49erd"?
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