One of the givens of the business start up is that there has to be a idea at the heart of any business proposition: a flicker of a brain wave which makes the entrepreneur sit up sharply, temporarily blinded by its brilliance and go ‘That’s it! That’s my business idea!’
All too often though the bright spark of an entrepreneur fails to recognise that bright sparks of ideas are just that: momentary flashes of brilliance which light up their night skies in an entertaining manner but which often fail to set light to the surrounding landscape in any long term or transformational manner. The idea is bright, startling and sometimes thrilling: but not necessarily sustaining or sustainable.
The challenge for the bright spark of the entrepreneur is to recognise that ideas are like transient meteor trails which fly through our consciousness, burning a trail of inspiration behind them. They come, they go, they lighten up our lives for a bit, but they die out as rapidly as they arose. They give us comfort at dinner parties during long dark winter nights and romance in the long, light summer ones.
They are not though businesses in their own right. The temptation for the young entrepreneur is to claim the idea as the business. Worse still is when the entrepreneur tries to claim sole ownership of the idea: “That was MY idea!” some will protest after the idea has sparked someone else’s interest and galvanised them to action, leaving our misfortunate entrepreneur back in the dark where they started. Ideas cannot be owned, corralled or guarded against theft any more than the light from a shooting star can be switched on or off.
The witnessing of an idea does not guarantee whatsoever that the entrepreneur who experienced it has anything like a viable business on their hands. Transforming an idea into a viable business takes a lot more than claiming sole ownership and pinning it down into a pitch, elevator or otherwise.
The entrepreneur needs to understand what the idea has illuminated during its short life as it crossed their night sky, assess the terrain it has lit up and bring in several other forces to bear (the allies and advocates, the makers and shapers, the crafters and the worriers) who take the energy of the idea and convert it into the matter of the business.
This is neither a romantic or comforting process – but it is likely to ensure that the temporary insight that the idea afforded the entrepreneur stands a chance of being transformed into a business which provides comfort, sustenance and a livelihood for many more people than the temporarily blinded entrepreneur.