Why sharing your business idea is a good idea

In my article ‘Is it safe to give away what you know’, I invited you to explore the concept of coming from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. In this article, I want to extend this point and discuss why sharing your business idea is a good idea.

Train your idea muscle

Some people might argue that ideas are ‘cheap’ – that it’s easy to come up with creative business ideas. For others, it’s the opposite – they find it difficult to come up with just one idea.

If ideas don’t come easily to you, then you’ll most probably find it hard to share your business idea with others. To address this, read more about training your idea muscle in James Altucher’s article: ‘The ultimate guide for becoming an idea machine’. He explains some practical tips for developing your idea muscle, which will not only help you generate lots of business ideas but also allow you to solve problems faster.

Which group do you fall into?

Fundamentally, while coaching entrepreneurs, I find that most tend to follow one direction: they’re either an idea generator or stuck in analysis paralysis.

The idea generator frequently experiences a leap of faith in a new idea but often falls short. They tend to jump from one idea to another and forget to keep themselves grounded. Most of the time they never finish what they’ve started. Or there are those immobilised by analysis paralysis. They find themselves stuck, needing to feel safe and therefore, unwilling to take a step forward before all their ducks are lined up in a row. They often live in their head and tend to be constantly hunting for problems and solutions and this perpetually delays taking action.

We’re all capable of following either direction. The key point here is to be aware of which direction you more often tend to follow and train yourself to do the opposite until you are able to call in both abilities when needed. It reminds me of when I was six years old and studying piano, as I’m right-handed, my teacher always used to give me way more exercises for my left hand, which used to frustrate me. Over time, I started noticing how my left hand got better and better until I was comfortable playing with both hands. Now, having said that, my right hand was always stronger, but the strength gap between both got smaller over time.

The reason why you want to call out both – the idea generator and the analysis paralysis – aspects in you is because both are needed in the execution of your idea, which is the key to its success.

Real power resides in your ability to execute

Thomas Edison once said, ‘Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’. Great ideas are forged through the hard work of executing the idea.

Generating your business idea is only the beginning of the process. I always like to refer my clients to what Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby, wrote in his blog post: Ideas are just a multiplier of execution, he says:

‘The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.’ Interestingly, as I was recently reading The 4 disciplines of execution, I found the authors challenging once more the value of ‘good’ ideas and stating the importance of execution: “There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute”’.

Where does good execution start?

Good execution starts by sharing your idea. It’ll allow you to stress test every aspect of it. You’ll be surprised how valuable and critical feedback is. The truth of the matter is that initial business ideas are rarely untouched until they reach successful execution and often undergo many iterations of changes. It’s the constant tweaking and adjusting, in response to your market’s feedback that can make your ideas brilliant. Sometimes, your idea can die even before it takes off. In the world of entrepreneurs, it’s called ‘failing fast’ and although it might sound crazy, it’s crucial in the execution. Let me explain what I mean by sharing with you how ‘I failed fast’.

How I used Kickstarter to test my idea

Back in 2012, I had an idea – why not create an app so that every aspiring music producer could purchase video training packages, and also get access to live Q&A sessions with industry professionals. Back then, the idea sounded brilliant! I got so excited about it and gathered a team of four people – we were all on board and ready to go. The first thing we did (the first step of good execution) was to get our idea out there using the most popular crowd funding online platform Kickstarter and collect feedback. It took us two months in total to pull together the concept, produce the pitch video, organise the rewards, etc. and put the page in front of thousands of musicians and aspiring music producers. As soon as the airtime was over, we had loads of likes but only 49 backers and raised just $5,864 of the $24,000 we were targeting for start-up.

Who were our 49 backers?

Now, let’s consider the next important point. Most of our backers were friends and family. Now, friends and family are good for support but most of the time terrible for feedback. Your friends or family won’t want to hurt your feelings and will want to encourage you. They’ll say they like your idea, back it, and fund it sometimes even if they have no idea what it is about.

The real feedback that you need should come from people who fall into your market and with whom you have no personal ties. Genuine feedback indicates whether those people are willing to pay for your product. If they just say ‘yeah, it’s a great idea’, which was equivalent to the number of ‘Likes’ we got, then they will most likely never buy it from you. In other words, they don’t see the real value in your product. However, if they get excited about your idea, pull out their wallet and almost beg you to take their money and build the product yesterday, then this is when you know you can move forward.

The advantages of ‘failing fast’

Back to our Kickstarter campaign. Thankfully, we didn’t keep the idea to ourselves or invest money and months of effort in execution, only to find out that our idea wasn’t appealing to our market. We only invested two months and $1000. And due to some feedback we got during our Kickstarter campaign, we realised what it was really going to take for us to execute this idea for our market to actually buy our product.

The feedback we got helped us staying grounded. We realised that it was going to take way more time and effort than we could afford, so we agreed to close the project. Of course, we were disappointed and it was very tempting to try to convince our market why it was such a great idea to buy our product. But, our market’s answer was there whether we liked it or not. That’s how we ‘failed fast’.

Note for the ‘analysis paralysis’ part in you:)

For those who are still not convinced why sharing your business idea is a good idea, remember that the first step of good execution is crucial: validating or stress testing your business idea, and this requires sharing it. You might also be tempted to explore NDAs or IP rights. These might be important at a later stage, but not as a first step. If, as you get started, you worry that your idea will be stolen or that the competition will swallow you up, then this might indicate more about how much you trust yourself to execute your idea in the first place.

Your resilience, your dedication and your focus in providing the best solution to your clients and believing that you can handle it no matter what, is what you have to train yourself to focus on. Developing confidence in openly sharing your ideas in the first step of execution will take a little time and experience for you to feel OK with it.

Even if you get to a point where you can no longer sustain your business and fail, think about the experience you would have gained, the people you would have met, the lessons you would have learnt and how much you would have grown. Although not comfortable as a process, looking back, it will be worthwhile.

If you’ve ever wrestled with insecurity about sharing your idea with others, I’d love to here about your thoughts on this. Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

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