Conceiving a business idea — or more accurately stated — recognizing an opportunity, is a fundamental stage to any new business. It’s the vision someone aspires to bring to reality. It’s what provides excitement and enough courage to take incredible risk. It’s the beginning of a journey that could lead to wealth, and will lead to inevitable hardships. Creating valuable ideas is a skill that needs to be sharpened with practice, and more importantly, action. Learn to love this skill, because it’s a daily task for any CEO or entrepreneur.
I’ve heard many uncooked ideas over the years, and as time has passed, I’ve realized how underrated this ability is. In this post, I’m going to explain how fundamental and long term the skill of creating valuable ideas really is, and some of the most common mistakes people make.
Now, let’s get a couple things straight:
- EVERYONE has a million dollar idea. Just ask around and people will say what they think could be “the next big thing.”
- Ideas are WORTHLESS.
Do research and love it
There’s a good chance a business will need to raise money to get started. Even though raising money is a topic I won’t get into now, I will say investors know within minutes of talking if the entrepreneur actually cares about their idea or not. It’s obvious when someone hasn’t done their due diligence. Research is the easy part, anyways — it only gets harder from there. That’s why you really have to love the business/industry you’re in, because if you aren’t completely passionate about it, you’ll quit.
When someone really wants to buy something expensive like a car or television, they tend to enjoy researching and comparing said object to see which one would be a perfect fit. Well, embarking on something as large as a business opportunity should be just as fun to research and proportionally larger in the time spent.
Research is great, but action is better
You can study MMA technique all day, but until you actually get in the octagon and take a hit, you’ll never know what it’s really like.
After so many terrible ideas, long weekends, and literally thousands of hours of studying successful ideas/people, I’ve learned a lot. But studying ideas will only get you so far. I took action and tried some of my ideas — I failed A LOT — and learned from it. Actually going out and trying them on my own opened the door to other business opportunities I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. You can study MMA technique all day, but until you actually get in the octagon and take a hit, you’ll never know what it’s really like.
Remember, your original idea will change. New opportunities come up as a business evolves and adapts. In a startup, the end goal is to thrive and grow, but in the beginning, it’s more about staying alive than it is about huge growth. It’s important to minimize chance of failure, and establish a strong foundation. So for example, even though I have developed some of these skills, I’ll amplify my chance of success by surrounding myself with others who are more experienced and can give me additional advice and feedback when needed.
People/friends/family approach me with their business ideas all the time, and I love helping them out, but it’s very frustrating when they ask me if I think it’s a good idea before going out and doing their own research. The first step is to use Google and spend time validating the idea. Check to see if there really is opportunity or need in the market. Once researched, then try and talk to others about it.
PLEASE NOTE: NOBODY IS GOING TO STEAL AN IDEA. — Thinking someone is going to steal your idea is one of easiest ways to spot a naive entrepreneur. There is so much that can and will go wrong in your business that the benefits of valuable feedback vastly outweigh the chances of someone taking an idea. Please don’t make that mistake.
Once the idea is validated a bit more, take action. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars. As long as you learn from it all, you won’t fail. Also, don’t be afraid of the crazy ideas. Some of the best businesses seemed like terrible ideas at first. Airbnb started as two guys renting out their airbeds to strangers. Who would have guessed that would have turned into a multi-billion dollar company? Crazy ideas are where the real innovation begins.
When you walk into the gym for the first time, you won’t be able to lift as much as someone who’s been working out for years. More importantly, you won’t make it to the gym everyday unless you’re passionate about getting in great shape. It’s nature’s way of weeding out the flakes. Being able to see a business opportunity is as much of a muscle — or at least behaves like — any skeletal muscle you have. It will develop with hard work, action, and patience. We all wish we could have an overnight six-pack, but unfortunately there’s no such shortcut so start hustling. You’ll get there soon enough.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it … Stay hungry. Stay Foolish. Steve Jobs