Coming up with a solid idea was the hardest part of starting my business. The National Science Foundation estimated that our mind produces as many as 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts in a single day. It’s hard to even know where to begin. You may be one of those people that have tons of ideas or perhaps none so here are few tips that may help to expedite your journey as an entrepreneur.
1) Know what you want
As Thomas Edison once said, “I never worked a day in my life.” I highly recommend to quit your day job if its not something you really, truly and utterly feel passionate about. If you are scared to make a change because you do not know what you want, try to focus on what makes you happy. This may seem very general but it does the trick every time. When I had ideas about quitting my banking job I started off with a list of goals. I would keep a journal next to my bed and write in it every evening. Eventually my business ideas began to take shape as I wrote more about the things in life I cared about. When writing down your ideas, make sure that you are thinking 100% about you! I used to think being a banker made my family proud but actually it had nothing to do with my personal goals. This practice totally defeats the purpose of making your passion your profession.
“Your vision becomes clear when you look inside your heart. Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”
Now you may have a lot of ideas. This is also a problem as rarely do we excel in a particular area when we try to do too many things at the same time. Try talking to your spouse during a football game or texting while walking. I like to use this analogy. Imagine going into the forest to cut down a tree, instead you greedily take a whack at every tree in the forest a few times but none fall down. Exhausted and frustrated you leave the forest without any lumber. Had you focused on one tree you would have wood. Ideas involve attention and lack of focus leads to lack of progress. Choose one idea and stick with it.
“The more choices we have, the greater the need for focus.”
If you have a single idea that you feel is viable you must conduct thorough market research. As Warren Buffet says, never invest in anything you do not understand. For example, my product is exclusive to the China market thus I have spend years researching, traveling and immersing myself in local culture. You can never research too much. I had conduced countless focus groups, surveys and tastings. I have read tons of books, trade magazines and articles before feeling confident to pursue my idea. However, the most important part for me was simply talking to people. Often times you will find more of a benefit to sharing your idea than to keep it to yourself. Talking about your idea will only help to shape your future business and perhaps you will even find some business partners along the way.
“Google is not a synonym for ‘research’.”
The famous designer Tom Ford once said in an interview, “Life inspires me”. Pay attention to what people are talking about. Social media is a great place to start. Find out what’s the latest buzz, who is tweeting about what, who is unhappy with a particular product or service? Business is about making progress, being innovative, inspiring, unprecedented and creative. None of this can come is we are not listening. Travel and learn about other cultures. This is a great way to uncover business ideas as we live in a global world. Listen and find out what’s missing in one market and could be resourceful in another.
“First seek to understand, then to be understood.”
Stand by your ideas and don’t be afraid of what others think. After all, look at Copernicus, Jack London, George Lucas, Ayn Rand and Oprah Winfrey, none would be around if they did not have faith in their ideas. My business idea too was rejected many times but today I have a solid team, investors and a beautiful product.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”
Randy Pausch was right about walls but I would like to add that they exist because we put them there. Often times people may tell themselves: I have no time, my kids keep me busy, my job is secure so why bother, I don’t have a degree in this industry, if only I had enough savings. The truth is you CAN. Before starting my business I literally read every self-help book in print. I am living proof that positive thinking does work. I highly suggest picking up a few and trying some of the techniques, it can’t hurt. Here are a few of my favorites: The Aladdin Factor by Jack Canfield, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
Remember setting up a business is a process and there will be setbacks. When I had raised the first round of funding for my business it took almost three months before the check came. My staff had been working for free for months and stress was mounting. Every CEO has the pressure of producing immediate results but its how we deal with this pressure that is reflected to our employees. If they see that we are calm and cool it will show that we are confident in our decisions and the business overall.
“All human power is a compound of time and patience.”
~Honore de Balzac
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