Every new idea faces obstacles. People resist change; they fear the unknown and they are comfortable in their safe little boxes. It takes a special commitment and dedication to an idea to push doggedly through all the opposition that you will face as you work to bring it to life.
Howard Schultz told the story about the time when he was struggling to turn his small coffee shop business into a unique and successful enterprise. Faced with a seemingly desperate financial situation, his father in law sat him down on a park bench and asked him to give up his "dream and hobby" and to get a "real job" to support his family. Mr. Schultz could not let go of his dream. He knew, deep down, that his idea would work. More determined than ever, he went on to build Starbucks to become the most successful coffee shop business the world has known.
"New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can't be done; 2) It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing; 3) I knew it was a good idea all along." Arthur C. Clarke.
If you have ever floated a new idea to people you know, then this process sounds familiar. You have a great idea that you know, in your heart of hearts, has the potential to be the breakthrough you've been searching for.
First, you are so excited you just have to start telling somebody. The best place to start to share it with friends and family. Naturally, they'll share your enthusiasm, and may even help you get it started. WRONG! Family members are great for adding one more phase to the beginning of Mr. Clarke's process, and that is, "You can't do it".
Sometimes family members feel a need to protect you from yourself. Your great idea can be hard for them to grasp at first. Your idea may be very ambitious compared to anything they know about you, or themselves. They would prefer that you stay in the safety of the little box you are in right now. That way, nobody gets hurt or embarrassed, starting with themselves, by association with your crazy idea.
"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." Famous classical composer.
Assume, after your first wave of frustration with your family, that you remain committed to the idea. You then reach out to business associates, advisers, and other "experts" in the field. Surely they will see the light and be more independently objective than your family was.
"Every really new idea looks crazy at first." Alfred North Whitehead
That's right, get ready to hear, "It can't be done". Or, how about, "It's been done before", or, "It's been tried before and failed, and therefore it will fail again" This response is driven largely by fear. Some people simply cannot connect the dots with their current imagination. That does not make it a bad idea.
Sometimes the naysayer acts as if they are trying to help you by challenging your ability to bring the idea to life. They will say things like, "If 'big bad companies' steal your idea, then what will you do?"
"Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats." Howard Aiken
They will undoubtedly throw up many smoke screens to veil their own uncertainty and fears at not wanting to stick their necks out for something so risky.
Somewhere along the way in the journey of your idea, you may find people who validate the idea with scientific reasoning, or letters of intent to buy your new product or recommendations from experts in the field. Now your idea has credibility! Don't think for a minute that the cynics will be persuaded by this new found wisdom, insight and independent authority.
That brings you to the next step in the idea process, "It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing." Fear of failure and a natural tendency toward risk avoidance is so strong they many people will not allow themselves to see the potential. They raise the bar by asking you to justify the value of the idea, assuming it were to be accomplished. Cynics and skeptics will keep throwing new hurdles at you no matter how many times you satisfy their objections.
"The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea." Martin Luther King.
You must believe, however, that potential investors, partners, buyers and supporters will all, over time, come around to your idea.
When you finally break through, don't be surprised at a dramatic shift in the attitudes of all those friends, family members and other cynics who were so sure that you and your idea were headed for certain disaster. Suddenly, they will become the geniuses who were responsible for all this success. The last phase of the idea process, "I knew it was a good idea all along". Or, how about, "I knew he could do it all along", or, "Heck, I was the one who told him to keep going when he wanted to give it all up", or, "You know, I remember the day we came up with idea on my front porch". Give them all as much credit as they want. Thank them for their encouragement. They will be more enthusiastic and your idea will gain more support. Better yet, they will respect you even more for it.
A sound business idea supported by a team of champions can push through the noise of opposition it faces from its very first utterance. No matter how strong the team, the plan or the strategies, the ultimate driver of your idea has to be you.
"Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it's done right." Walt Disney.
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