The difference between a great idea and a successful business boils down to someone’s decision to take a leap and build a company in earnest. If you’re ready to begin your business journey but feel confused, anxious, or stuck waiting for the perfect time, we’ve got some advice from business leaders and entrepreneurs who know what it’s like to build a business from scratch -- and will help you make your move, too.
Challenge Your Idea
Silicon Valley Start-Up Mentor and Close.io CEO Steli Efti believes that in order to create a sustainable business, you need to begin by being more interested in seeing and addressing a problem than in implementing a particular solution. He says that being too in love with your own innovation is “one of the most painful and common mistakes I see first-time entrepreneurs make.” Do not gaze at the splendor of your idea. Instead, find a challenge that you can work to meet, over and over again.
Dump the Perfect Excuse
For many, the pursuit of perfection can become an excuse for never getting anything substantial done. Instead of working toward perfecting your business idea, focus on building a company that values continual improvement. That way, you don’t run the risk of stymying progress by being afraid to take risk. Lewis Howes, the author of best-selling book and host of the podcast, The School of Greatness, says, "Don't let perfectionism cripple you. Launch as soon as possible and adapt."
Founder of WPBeginner, Syed Balkhi agrees, recommending that you pitch your idea “as soon as you have the bare bones...together.” Once your startup is up and running, you can continue to polish your product. In Balkhi’s concise words, “innovation is messy. Test. Learn. Improve.”
Don’t Fall for the Waiting Double Whammy
The “waiting double whammy” is an entrepreneurial phenomenon that occurs when someone waits so long for the perfect time to launch that they lose out to competitors. Stall too long and you’ll lose your ability to learn from user and market feedback -- giving a head start to competition that may be doing just that. Tara Gentile, Founder, Quiet Power Strategy, says, "waiting means [entrepreneurs are] not really learning.” Take the leap, don’t wait until you, like Gentile says, “have more information, more experience, more money, and a more perfect version." Instead, experiment: get the product to those it will serve and don’t hesitate to start improving based on the feedback you receive.
Drop the Winklevoss IP Panic
Fear of intellectual property theft keeps some great ideas so secret that they never reach potential clients or collaborators. Bobby Mukherjee, CEO of Loka, expresses a hard-but-important lesson when he says, "spoiler alert for first-time entrepreneurs: ideas are worthless...it's the execution beyond the idea that really brings home the gold.” He recommends focusing less on protecting your idea and more on “meeting as many folks as possible to join your team, give you feedback, and point you in the right direction.” Time spent working to assemble a group of people who can help you actualize your idea and run your business is far more savvy than holding on to an an idea so hard that you keep it from materializing.
Your Competition are your Colleagues
Even the timeliest and most inventive ideas will ultimately end up serving another, far more advanced idea in the future so viewing everyone else in your industry as simple competitors cuts you off from a community that can help you and your business grow. Michelle Schroeder, who runs the personal finance blog, Making Sense of Cents, says that an embattled attitude, “can significantly hold you back, as you may never learn industry secrets and tips, make genuine friends, and more." In an age when start-ups can quickly succeed and fall even faster, it is critical to make connections that will build your network for the long-term. Who knows, the business people who are your competition now may end up as your colleagues down the road!