How Entrepreneurs Succeed: An Idea Is Not a Business

I tend to have a lot of ideas, which is a kind way of saying that I’m easily distracted. The way I control this impulse is by recognizing that most ideas aren’t worth much without the solid execution to bring them into reality. So when I talk to someone about an idea, I will assess our ability to work together with a set of rules like this:

  • Do we have the skills?
  • Do we have the time?
  • Do we have the resources?
  • Do we have the chemistry?
  • Do we really have the motivation?

It’s amazing how many ideas don’t make the cut if you’re being truly honest. In a lot of cases, I’ll do something because I’m actually not sure…in the process of doing, I’ll find out. Of course, I have to disclose this fully to any involved parties, because otherwise the second battery of tests will fail:

  • Are we maintaining momentum?
  • Are we setting our expectations correctly?
  • Was our initial assessment accurate?
  • Do we keep going?

Not many personal projects make it past the second battery either, at least in my limited experience. That’s why if you ever find someone to team up with that can repeatedly pass this test, you should make every effort to work together. You have found something magical.

The idea may still fail, but with a partner and additional support you can make several runs at it until you find a formula for the product or service that can launch and take a team of people with it. It’s an awesome rocket when you can get on it. In my case, there have been a lot of distractions that might not have made it out of stage one had I really assessed my commitment or financial ability to go without income until an angel investor was found. And even then, the startup money is primarily going to companies that are already shipping and showing growth and if not profit then a trajectory towards the black. It’s the red that will kill ya, and quick.

As Steve Jobs said to Rupert Murdock about Fox News, “You are either a creator or a destroyer.” Let’s put ourselves in the first category, shall we?

Ideas are easy. We’ve all had breakthrough idea and then done nothing with them. It’s the entrepreneur who has figured out how to evaluated and execute on the good ideas.

Go. Do. Create!

John McElhenney — let’s connect online
@jmacofearth & Facebook & LinkedIn & The Whole Parent

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