“It’s a kind of magic…
One golden glance of what should be…” – Queen.
Coming up with a great idea for a new business and brand is a moment of magic, but it is an extremely fragile one.
That first inkling of an idea for something new is incredibly exciting, and it’s where it all begins – the fun and the pain. The success and the failure.
As is my nature I dive into everything headfirst, with boundless enthusiasm and wearing my heart on my sleeve, I am no different now at 61 than I was at 11.
But new ideas need protection, not because someone might steal them but because well-intentioned feedback can be destructive at a time when your idea is most vulnerable.
At its birth, your new idea is raw, untested, un-researched and unchallenged.
Your new embryonic idea needs protection from the limitations of others – especially your friends and family.
I have one friend who when called for encouragement or feedback on any new idea of mine would invariably say:
“Oh, I had that idea a few years ago”
Or “ I read about another company who’ve already done that”
Or “ loads of people have had that idea”
She would then spend 20 minutes telling me how she would do it (interestingly) she never realised any of the ideas she came up with but “I could have if I’d wanted to” she would say.
She was an ‘armchair’ entrepreneur (probably still is) and from the comfort of the armchair, anything is possible.
From the armchair, you can pick the scenario and the outcome. You never have to test it and you never have to prove anything. There is no risk, no expense, no failure.
Real life is different
The real world is much more exciting because much can go wrong and some things will, you can bet on it.
Remember, most of your friends and family have never tried to start a business themselves. They also don’t want you to fail, they don’t want you to take unnecessary risks, they don’t want you to make a fool of yourself and in doing so they can’t see the light for the darkness.
Some people are also, by nature, filled with negativity; they can demolish your fragile beliefs and fill you with doubt. Recognise these people for what they are.
Sometimes you even have to ignore yourself.
You can be your own harshest critic, I am certainly mine.
There are countless examples of successful ventures; artists, musicians, authors and inventors who, if they had listened to others at the very beginning, would never have succeeded.
Take Google – “Who needs another search engine?”
Or AirBnB – “Who would want to sleep in a total strangers house?”
Or J.K Rowling whose family saw her imaginations as just “an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension”, but who went on to become one of the world’s most successful authors.
When should I tell people about my idea?
Some entrepreneurs recommend getting feedback from family and friends as soon as you can and that by keeping it a secret you’re only isolating yourself from their help and support.
I disagree. I think that, in the beginning, it’s best to resist the temptation to tell everyone you know about your idea while it’s still naked to the touch and blinking in the sunlight.
“Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay, etc., especially if you haven’t finished it yet. And the ones who aren’t too busy you don’t want in your life anyway.” – Hugh MacLeod
Yes, you’re going to need encouragement and emotional support as you progress, but do some groundwork first.
Bed your idea down in some solid thinking and research and answer your own questions first before you seek the opinions of others.
- What are its strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the potential risks and opportunities?
- What is the potential market size?
- Who is the customer?
- Does it fulfill a need of the customer?
- Who are your potential competitors and what is you ‘USP’: What makes your idea different / of more benefit and interest to the customer?
- Can it be profitable? Without a decent profit margin, your business will not survive and grow
- Is it scalable? (Does it have the potential to make money while you sleep?) And does it even have to be?
- Can you do it without outside investment?
- What is your MVP?
(Minimal viable product) meaning: what is the smallest/quickest/test version you can build to test and deliver customer value with the least amount of effort.
- Will you be able to launch it quickly?
When to seek feedback
Once you have answered these questions and you feel your great new idea for a business still has potential, then seek opinions carefully.
Be selective with who you ask.
Entrepreneurs don’t work in isolation. You definitely need feedback, opinions, guidance, mentors, and connections to help you make your idea a reality and a success. But, give your new idea a chance to take form before you talk.
Then ‘Listen to advice, but don’t be dictated by it’.
Finally, know when you do seek advice and how to seek it from.
Good mentors know how to strike a balance between sharing their experience, knowledge and creative input while at the same time encouraging the best of what their student has to offer.
That’s a formula I have personally found brings the most success.
Your next steps:
If you want to begin creating a brand that really does inspire and turns your followers into customers then this is what you should do:
- Sign up to my next ‘brand you’ masterclass.
The decision is as always – yours. Make it a good one