So you have an idea? Awesome! I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that ideas are obviously an important ingredient of any great business. They’re definitely a key success factor. The bad news is that when it comes to really making a difference, ideas are overrated. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that you have an idea, even better that you’re in love with it. Of course you are! And you should. Just keep that love affair short.
If your idea is great, others likely had it too
If you’re anything like me, nothing gets your pulse more racing than an original thought, the glimmer of an opportunity that nobody has ever realised. But stop and think about those two words: opportunity and realised. Your idea is exactly that: an opportunity that has yet to be realised. In other words, it’s a starting point. Every journey begins with the first step. And your idea is a great and energizing first step. But the next step is to get over your idea. The reason your idea seems original to you is that you’re not aware it has been realized yet. That does not mean nobody has ever had it or might even currently be realizing it. In fact, unless you found your inspiration on a trip to Mars, chances are that others have had the same thought. But don’t be disheartened. This is actually good news rather than bad ones. Why?
First, it means you’re smart, but not crazy! If your idea is a good one and makes sense then other people are likely to have thought along the same lines. Second, You are not alone on the journey to turn your dream into reality. If there are other people out there with a similar purpose and motivation, you don’t have to be rivals. You could partner up! And by working together, you could realize your idea much faster.
Forget about protecting your idea
That’s why you should not only get over the initial excitement about your idea quickly, but also forget about ‘protecting’ it. Many aspiring entrepreneurs are afraid to even mention their idea to anyone without first insisting they sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Well, if you’ve developed a compound for the next blockbuster medical drug, maybe that’s a good idea. If not, NDAs can actually do more harm than good, by hindering the kind of open discussion and stimulating exchange that will help bring your idea to fruition. So get out there and focus on finding all these likeminded people. You should be less worried about someone else ‘stealing’ your idea than about losing out on the support and cooperation that could make all the difference between success and failure.
Your idea is not going to change the world. You are. The hard work begins now. Bill Gates was not the first person to see the potential of personal computers. Steve Jobs was not the first to imagine a phone that could do more than make calls. And Mark Zuckerberg did not dream up the idea of social networks. What made them successful was that they assembled the right people and saw those ideas through. They didn’t stop to congratulate themselves after step one! And neither should you.
P.S.: This post is the first in a series of six blogs covering the key ingredients for a successful business. Stay tuned for the others to follow over the coming weeks! You can find links to the published blogs below: