Now, today I want to challenge the assumed positive link and connection between a good business idea and a successful enterprise and the accompanying successful entrepreneur. I think I will do this successfully as I have very strong points on my side. In the process I’m going to make some dangerous statements and ask challenging questions. So, I advise you to tighten your belt right now. Ok? This notion needs to be set right because it has led thousands of people to proceed blindly into entrepreneurship, and later burn their fingers and blame themselves including other innocent bystanders. Of course we know that some successful businesses have come out of good business ideas, but even some apparently bad ideas and experiments have ended into good businesses.
There is this general thinking that when you have a good business idea then most likely you are on the way to becoming a successful entrepreneur running a successful enterprise. However, can a good business idea be automatically positively linked to successful entrepreneurship? Can we assume that if you have a good business idea then you should proceed to implement it? Are the two positively correlated? My candid answer is that a good business idea does not automatically translate into a successful enterprise. Likewise, having a good business idea does not make one an entrepreneur. Do you know why I say this? Read on and let’s consider seven reasons why I think having a good business idea doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful business, or make you a successful entrepreneur.
- Ideas are a form of creativity and innovation and almost everyone can have it. I guess you might be aware that the right side of the brain is responsible for our creative and innovative thinking, while the left side deals with logical and reasoning issues. So, everybody can think creatively and have some ideas but few have the audacity to implement them. Of course others are more creative. If you have some good business ideas cropping up it means that you might have some inkling of business acumen and potential, but this is not a warrant or green light to proceed. Not every business idea is a good business idea. It might even look good but upon a second and third look it might not be good. Beyond the idea, do you have in you an entrepreneur? Is that business idea scalable and economically viable? Is it promising? Do you see concrete cornerstones such as meeting a need, solving a problem, or a new opportunity? What about the Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and the market. Do you understand the concept? Have you critiqued it? Useless dreams also come and pass by, so please don’t start acting on some business ideas without checking out a number of things. Never start giving yourself the title of ‘entrepreneur’ anyhow my friend! Don’t even start chasing people for capital to finance your dreams without concretizing it first.
- Successful entrepreneurship requires a whole range of knowledge, skills and personality traits. To be a successful entrepreneur operating a successful enterprise, you need a lot. You need to know something about business such as the market, costs, resource management, people management, law, tax etc. You also need to consider issues such as risks, your belief and passion, energy and drive, resilience etc. You also have to think about the business structure, financing options etc. Your discipline, money management skills, problem solving skills, lifestyle, purpose, focus and other related habits are also vital in transforming that good idea into a successful business. So, Mr. Budding Entrepreneur, have you considered all the above? Are you able to keep your ideas alive over the coming years? Do you then think that your good business idea can indeed propel you into successful entrepreneurship? Beware!
- Execution – getting things done is vital. My third reason as to why I think having a good business idea doesn’t automatically translate into successful entrepreneurship; is the fact that execution is vital in entrepreneurship. You can read my article on execution entitled ‘What an entrepreneur must know about the execution culture’ to learn more about execution. Are you ready to match your idea with the execution required? My dear entrepreneur, translating that idea into reality is not often straight forward. Don’t you agree with me? Just think about all the planning, organizing, coordinating, patience, sense of purpose, etc. that you need. Do you realize that starting and running a business can be likened to being on the move always? While some people like continuous mobility and change others don’t. Imagine that you are travelling on some reasonable journeys after every other couple of days. I’m not meaning your daily move from home to office. Ok? You need to plan and redraw your plans. You need to strategize and re-strategize. Sometimes you need to dismantle certain things and reconstruct them, or create something out of nothing. Can your ideas motivate and guide you all along the way? Can you execute and get things moving along all directions such as sourcing and procurement, production, marketing, financing, business development, technological development etc.? How about the processes and procedures? Are you comfortable with chaos and change? If not, then think twice.
- Knowledge of the product and the market are vital. Some vital things required to translate a good business idea into a successful enterprise are the products and the market. One of the very interesting experiences and sites in entrepreneurship is an entrepreneur or salesman who is trying to promote a product he does not know very well; or talk about a market he has very grey knowledge about. Do you think your good business idea involves a solid knowledge and understanding of your products and services? Can you stand up and pitch your sales or business proposal for an hour to an audience? Will they be convinced? Does that business idea synch with the market you intend to operate in? Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get out promoting your products and services? Do you realize that even the marketing team you will use needs a foundation from you? Have you considered the product market fit, not just now but also for the future even with the dynamism involved in the market? Come on Mr. Entrepreneur, you can do better in the preliminaries to assess whether your idea can translate into a successful enterprise. Are you beginning to see why having a good business idea is not everything?
- Other components to translate that good idea into a viable business might not be right. Synchronizing the various components such as product, place, price, promotion, technology etc. and connecting the dots are important for success. As an example, the timing of your idea might not be right. Imagine starting an enterprise in a sector and time when legislators have a couple of bills in parliament to restrict activities in that sector. The idea might not be as unique as you think; to make people such as investors, clients, suppliers etc. come running to your doorsteps. Imagine dreaming that you will be the sole distributor of something only to realize that the same product is in the market through other channels. The viability and practicability including resources etc. might be questionable. Candidly, I don’t think you should start running around the city with your business idea and getting people excited anyhow before you have had a holistic consideration of these issues. Do you understand what I mean? Again, on the other side, my caution is not meant to make you start a fact finding journey that will make you grow grey hair before you can implement. Ok? A good business idea is not an automatic license into successful entrepreneurship. Period!
- The ability to attract and work with people is paramount to successful entrepreneurship. People have got to buy into your vision and mission including products or services. This is another factor beyond the idea you have. Mr. Budding entrepreneur, you need people to help translate your idea into a successful enterprise. Without the people you might be in a deep dream. So, the hard question I have for you is this: Can people be attracted and stick around you and your business ideas long enough for reasonable success? Do people occupy an important element of your business ideas? If that grand business idea rotates around you only, or possibly one or two of your close relatives, then you might not translate that into a successful enterprise. Don’t quarrel with me if you think I’m not stating the correct thing. Ok? Reason with me on this blog platform and state your points in contrast to mine. But I repeat my point here: the inability of a business idea to incorporate the people aspect is one reason why the business idea cannot translate into a successful enterprise.
- You are not mentally prepared to walk a lonely road with endless questions and discoveries, contradictions, paradoxes and complexities. This is my last reason why I think a good business idea is not an automatic business. Your idea without your ability to mentally prepare for and manage the challenges, continuous discoveries and learning, surprises, contradictions, paradoxes and complexities of the business world, is simply an idea and nothing much beyond that. Are you surprised? Can that idea carry you along the lonely and winding road of start-ups? Can you proceed, if half or more of your assumptions are negated or are proven wrong when you commence operations? Are you ready to proceed even when people are telling you that you are crazy and need to take a holiday to resume thinking right? Or rather advising you to donate the money to a charity instead of that investment? Can you get out of the way if you must in the interest of the business? Are you ready to lose money with courage and patience? Can you take on some pressure without parking into an intensive care unit in the hospital? Without some of these things, a good business idea cannot and does not translate into a successful enterprise.
Now, I don’t want some of you to begin thinking that I’m being negative. Let me clarify it here. This article is not meant to discourage you from trying to translate your business ideas into an enterprise. It is simply meant to provide for your some caution so that you proceed with a solid foundation instead of overrating yourself and your ideas at your cost. Do you understand? Check and recheck! Those are my reasons why a good business idea is not an automatic successful enterprise. Interestingly, working around these reasons also provides the guidelines to assess your ideas and if required, start translating them into a successful business. I desire that you make good use of your ideas and succeed in business with the solid ideas.
I would advise you to read some related articles I did earlier, such as 9 Tips to make startups successful; critical thinking for an entrepreneur – Part 1, and possibly The fundamentals about the word entrepreneur that you must know.
The Wise Entrepreneur