What should an entrepreneur do when he has fallen in love with his start-up idea but comments from friends and others are not complimentary?
When I receive a document written by an enthusiastic entrepreneur, often first-timers, I examine each with the attitude that this idea might turn into the next Facebook or Google.
Remaining positive, I mostly find myself reading an awkward three page sketch based on a basic idea. In that form it will never get investors interested. But it might contain something that could be insanely great.
So what should be done next with the sketch?
I have some suggestions that can help you modify your initial idea and turn it into a great start-up.
Here is my recent response to the writer of such a document:Dear Kim,
have read the summary document for your business idea, enjoyed reading it and
have thought a bit about how my comments could be of assistance to you.
The main idea is rich with possibilities. Written by a person clearly very intelligent and familiar with contemporary issues in this [new market], it is filled with many enticing things that could used by many people to resolve many [new market] problems. That abundance contributes to an expanse of opportunity that is quite awesome to mere mortals. The trick is to find something specific to work with, something that has a good chance of leading to a great new business.
Therein lies the opportunity with your idea. In the spirit of being constructive, allow me to put into context my recommendations to you, so I can be of some practical assistance.
Most start-ups begin with an idea consisting of excited complexity, the kind evidenced in this document. Some join the race consisting of a herd of new enterprises, each competitor hoping to be first-to-get-it-right. During the turmoil, they constantly alter their initial idea, "pivoting" (the currently popular term) or morphing week by week with a singular dream constantly in mind: “Be first-to-get-it-right.”
No start-up begins with an initial idea that is either sufficiently focused or simple. Like the proverbial lump of sculptor’s clay, the idea needs to be worked on in order to become extraordinarily attractive. Experienced serial entrepreneurs spend a lot of brain-power and time working to get their initial idea refined before seeking financing or trying to build the first product. They know the power of first figuring out a simple focus in the form of a crisp articulation of the initial idea, especially one that triggers an immediate emotional response among a narrow segment of initial users.
Start-ups win using simplicity and focus. Winners begin with a simple idea and refine it before starting the business. That gets them the money and people they need to build and launch the first product. Then they modify and expand the tiny start-up as its business grows.
most entrepreneurs start with a complex idea that begins a difficult struggle. The founder makes sequential attempts to reduce the initially expansive idea into the small kernel needed to
grow the business and win. Too few wait to figure out the simplicity and focus
needed to succeed – “I just had to it going” – and go out of business, most
As a start-up business sketch, the current document reflects the Swiss Army knife problem: full of many things that can be used, all contained in one tool. The danger is that, like Swiss Army knives, such a start-up will be used briefly and then set aside (the knife becomes a good paperweight). This observation is not intended to be demeaning, rather to suggest that the next step is obvious: examine the multitude of possibilities from among the many cited in the sketch, seeking one or two (only) that could be the core of a terrific new enterprise.
NEXT STEP: This is your new homework: focus and simplify your idea, in the extreme. I will send you a topical outline to move your thinking in that direction. Use it to write the next version of your idea. Here is the challenging part: use only one sentence per topic. This will be very difficult, but will force the missing simplicity and focus.
I'll be glad to comment on your further work on this idea and hope it becomes a great new enterprise.
BOTTOM LINE: Those suggestions have helped a lot of budding entrepreneurs get over disappointment and discouragement. Yes, the wise entrepreneur knows when to abandon the first idea, send it to the trash bin, and look for a new idea. That should happen most of the time, but rarely does. The process of challenging your initial idea will lead you to discover an exciting one that will be focused and simple. Then you’ll have the starting kernel to build a very strong competitive advantage, one your competition complains is very unfair.
NEXT WEEK I’LL GIVE YOU THE DIAGNOSTIC TOPICAL OUTLINE MENTIONED HERE.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!