always, at least subconsciously, seeking the next “big idea.” Now the trouble is that we don’t ever really know if our next idea will be the truly big one. But we wouldn’t be worth our salt as an entrepreneur if we didn’t truly believe that – now would we.
So what makes an idea or innovation “big,” anyway? As a coach to entrepreneurs and business leaders for going on 20 years now, it is clear to me that many great ideas are born every day – but just as prolific as the ideas are, so are the obstacles to success that cause frustration and failure. Unfortunately, just because an innovation is a good one doesn’t mean it will revolutionize a business, much less turn into any business at all.
As it turns out, what makes a good idea brilliant isn’t really how good it is…it is how well executed it is. For a good idea to be noticed, it has to be thebigideas delivered – put out into the marketplace. And there’s the rub that most entrepreneurial thinkers struggle with. It’s connecting the innovation to implementation.
This struggle for innovation-thinkers happens because we tend to reflexively think that if we thought it up, of course marketplace adoption is automatic. After all, “if I think it’s a good idea, certainly everyone else will too and we’ll be making money on my great idea tomorrow! Right? And besides, that’s what I hire people for…to figure out how to get my great ideas to market.” You see as entrepreneurs, we think of ourselves as idea machines, visionaries – those that know how to make the world a better place. The details are, well, just details.
So if a great idea isn’t great until it has a plan, and planning isn’t exactly what you do best – what do you do?
Well, I can make this very simple for you – but I also must confess that you will still have to do some work on it. As a coach, as you would predict, I believe every solution comes with a requisite application of effort first. But I can also promise that if you apply this simple formula, you will be amazed at how many of your ideas and innovations become not only reality, but also successful.
So here goes:
Step one is to recognize when you have an innovation in the first place. Don’t confuse simple solutions for day to day issues in running your business as profound, revolutionary ideas. And at the same time, if you come up with a blinding flash of insight that seems to leave those around you dazed or confused…stop and recognize that you may be on to a great, new innovation.
Step two, once you recognize that you have a legitimate new innovation – do an informal test of your idea with potential consumers of your new product or service before declaring it “ready for prime time”. Introduce it to a focus group or a survey sample of existing customers or even a “try it for free” group. Now a word of caution on this one: As an idea-originator, you are probably gifted at being very convincing about anything you think up. Passion can overwhelm common sense and you can be very compelling to those around you. It can be easy to buy into your belief – rather than the validity of the idea – therefore you find yourself gathering agreement from many people that eventually convince you that you’re brilliant. You go away thinking you have a good idea but what everyone really agreed with was your passion about it. Hold back your typical sales pitch, bridle the enthusiasm and test your idea by describing it to a broad audience. Ask, “what do you think of this idea” rather than saying “you’re gonna love this idea.” If you see excitement and passion emerging from those whom you have run your idea by, you are likely on an exciting track for a really brilliant idea