Successful entrepreneurs are highly creative people. On a very consistent basis, they’re able to come up with new and creative solutions to the emerging issues and opportunities of ever-present change in the world. But, if they become too attached and act too quickly on their new idea, disaster can strike.
I think most entrepreneurs might be hard-wired for creativity. Certainly, I think they’ve always had lots of great ideas for doing things in different ways, probably as early as their childhood school years. These were the students who had ideas even their teachers wouldn’t have thought about. If you’re an entrepreneur, this might sound very familiar to you. My guess is that you might not have fit in well with the rigors of the school system.
In your teens and early twenties, you’d likely already made the decision to base your whole life on coming up with ideas, putting them into practical shape, getting them into the marketplace, and selling them. This was going to be your way of life, and to accomplish it, you had to create an entrepreneurial company.
Don’t fall in love with your new idea ... yet.
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Danger: Don’t fall in love first.
Ideas are very likely what got you where you are today. My advice is to have as many ideas as you want, but never to fall in love with an idea unless check-writing customers in the marketplace fall in love with it first.
Entrepreneurs can easily become infatuated with their ideas. They have a strong emotional attachment to a vision they have of what this idea could be in the future. They come up with a new product, service, process, or experience, and they can imagine in vivid color how enormously successful it’s going to be. They fall in love before they’re even out in the marketplace with it. This is a huge danger.
Then these love-struck entrepreneurs bypass a step that’s absolutely crucial when introducing any new idea into the marketplace: Test your idea on check-writers, those who will actually like your product enough to pay you for it.
This testing can be as simple as telling a check-writer about your idea, how it works, and possibly sketching it out roughly to show why it’s great. From your conversation, you’ll be able to see whether this is an idea worth pursuing or where it needs tweaking to make it valuable in the marketplace.
Not wanting to hear “no.”
Why do so many great idea generators skip this important step? It’s simple: The entrepreneur doesn’t want to hear that the idea they’re in love with doesn’t land with a prospective client or customer. It’s a painful experience, just like romantic heartbreak, so they avoid any kind of negative response as long as they can.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs spend thousands, sometimes millions, before they’ve even tested their new idea. This is where disaster can occur, where failures and bankruptcies happen, where people lose everything they’ve built up to that point. They lose their teams, some lose their homes, and families break up — all because they fell in love with their new idea and were too in love to risk testing it with a check-writer who might say, “No, it’s not going to work for me.”
Example: My test marketplace.
I always test any new idea on the entrepreneurs I coach. I just watch very carefully how they respond when I present the idea. If there’s a good response, I add more structure to it and test it out again.
Only once I’ve tested my latest idea on 300 to 400 entrepreneurs, all of them my clients, and the response has been overwhelmingly good, do I go ahead with developing it further.
Protect your creative confidence.
I feel so strongly about not falling in love with your new ideas because I’ve seen so much pain surrounding those who do. Eventually, they give up on developing their ideas because they’ve experienced failure after painful failure. Then their confidence hits rock bottom, which spells disaster for any entrepreneur.
I want you to protect your creative confidence by always testing your new ideas on people who will pay you for them. That’s where you’re going to get valid feedback that you can use to move forward, either one way or the other. Don’t attach your emotions to your ideas until the people who will be paying clientele have fallen in love first. Only then are you safe to do the same.
About the Author
Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.Follow on Twitter More Content by Dan Sullivan