The world doesn’t need another f*(king —insert your idea here— .
This statement is something that you need to hear. You need to pin that on your wall and look at it every day. Because that’s how people feel. Let that drive you to prove everyone wrong.
Someone I’ve known for a very long time, who I highly respect, wrote these provocative words in an email recently in response to a business plan written by someone else both he and I know quite well. I’m not going to mention any names or particulars here in the interest of discretion.
The entrepreneur who wrote the business plan in question asked a small group of close friends and colleagues, myself included, to read through his proposal and offer up any critical insights and feedback.
By my estimate this entrepreneur has spent nearly a decade thinking seriously about the subject area covered. The document itself, from what I gather, is the culmination of a lifelong aspiration influenced by many past business and personal experiences.
Certainly these could all be considered necessary prerequisites to launching a successful business endeavour.
So when someone says to you, quite bluntly, “this idea has been done before and the world really doesn’t need it“, entrepreneurs, you should stop and take note.
This is the default response you’ll invariably hear when embarking on a new project. “Convince me otherwise”, potential stakeholders will challenge. Not because they want to see you fail or they want to just shoot down your idea for the hell of it. No. Chances are quite good someone has already thought of your super-amazing-incredibly ground-breaking-revolutionary-über-innovative idea. So you’ll need to prove the naysayers dead wrong. Potential investors will want to know what you’ll do to differentiate from brand leader X. How your product or service will out-innovate the countless reams of other competitor offerings you’ll be facing.
The same person who wrote the words included at the beginning of this post also made the insightful point of saying, “focus more on the ‘why‘ over the what”, as a way to find your market niche.
I think this is outstanding advice for anyone eyeing a piece of the cut-throat start-up/product development/marketing game. I’d also add, when re-writing your business plan for the 100th time, pretend you’ll be pitching your idea on the Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank if you’re in the U.S.). What would Kevin O’Leary think about your proposal?
By some estimates the number of business start-ups that fail can be anywhere from 30 to 95% depending on how failure is defined. Fail faster and more often has become a popular mantra in the tech and creative industry of late —but also the word “no”. When people say “no” a smart entrepreneur will learn from the experience and adapt accordingly. Tenaciousness in this regard is likely the one outstanding character trait that separates the average entrepreneurs from the great ones. So entrepreneurs, get used to hearing the word “no”.
Steve Jobs was famous for his use of the word “no” which, over the years, effectively killed off hundreds, perhaps even thousands of product concepts and ideas he deemed too inferior to line the coveted Apple Store shelves. Now, interestingly, it seems Google’s CEO Larry Page is following in Steve Jobs footsteps, marching to the drum of streamlined development in an effort to usher in a radically transformed Google.
But don’t let all this talk of killing ideas prevent you from pushing yours forward. What matters is perseverance. Put another way, ideas are relatively worthless without a need, passion, opportunity, execution, team work, and follow-through.