Many of the best innovations come from the frontline, from those experts who have been battling head-to-head with a challenge until one day, that figurative lightbulb illuminates, bringing with it a spark of a solution that’s going to make everything better. It’s an exciting ‘Eureka’ moment. You think you’ve tapped into something yet-to-be-discovered and believe that your very own lightbulb has the power to bring about positive change.
But let’s be honest here: that lightbulb moment doesn’t define your idea as a success, it’s the hard graft and persistence that comes after. Many never get past the first hurdle of figuring out what those first steps should look like. And consequently, as quickly as it lit up, your idea will fall back into darkness.
To transform your idea into a thriving reality, there’s some fundamental pitfalls you need to avoid. Drawing on his own experience of founding Alacrity Law, Christopher Thurn, shares his top #7 tips on how to successfully navigate through some of the most common mistakes made in the early stages of development
#1 Articulate your idea
A classic novice mistake is running before you can walk – or ‘talk’, in this case… in your mind, you know you have an idea that can positively impact businesses, industries, even lives. But if you can’t clearly identify your idea and communicate it to others, you won’t get beyond first base. It’s critical in your embryonic stage to have a concrete definition of what your idea is, what it does, how it operates, who it’s for, why it exists.
Top tip: If you can’t articulate that on your own, then work with a mentor or a trusted colleague to cut through the fog. Together, you can cement your idea and get a killer definition down.
#2 Build a trusted network
For some, the thought of sharing an idea at such an early stage can be intimidating. Enter, mistake number two – keeping it to ourselves. Perhaps we do this because we are subconsciously insecure, or maybe we’ve taken a conscious decision to ‘let it mature’. Either way, the results are the same – nothing’s going to happen. Ultimately, innovation can’t happen in isolation. It takes a collective to make it work. You need the right talent and knowledge, a strong network of resources and an honest support framework around you.
You need to build yourself a relevant and trusted network to test the idea out before you take it out into the marketplace. Picking the right people is key. Do whatever you can to try and find colleagues that are capable and you can sit in an office with all day. Be very clear about what you expect from people and be honest when things are ambiguous. If things aren’t working then you need to be up front and address it quickly – for everyone’s benefit.
#3 Protect yourself
While sharing your idea with a network can help to test its viability in the real world, it can also leave you wide open to poachers. So avoid mistake number 3, and protect your idea! There’s plenty of avenues to go down, depending on your innovation, from intellectual property rights to trademarks, NDAs, patents and copyrights. If you believe your idea is going to go the distance, then invest some energy into giving yourself this peace of mind.
#4 Trust your gut
Have a little faith in your gut, too. Mistake number 4 is all about ignoring those basic instincts. And that can really slow you down – something you can’t afford in today’s innovation landscape, where competition is fierce and fast and brutal. There are some situations where I wish I had made decisions more quickly. Sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right it usually isn’t.
#5 Test and test again
Nothing sharpens your thinking like feedback. So along your journey from lightbulb to roll-out, spend as much time as you can with your potential customers, and listen to them. There’s no point giving them a solution YOU think they want or your idea will simply end up on the ever-growing landfill of useless solutions that no one ever asked for.
#6 Money matters
One of the hardest challenges for any start-up is finding the investment and capital to accelerate the transformation of your idea into a reality. You might have a never-ending supply of entrepreneurial ideas, but without a sound business plan, they’re not going anywhere. Do your research, get a plan down, and demonstrate realistic profits and goals. Give your target investors, banks or loan companies absolute clarity around your vision and the potential of your business, and you’ll find them more willing to consider investment.
#7 Stay confident
And finally, don’t lose confidence and dismiss an idea altogether because it doesn’t feel like you’re doing something that’s brand new. Many of the best business ideas are about reimagining and reshaping current products and experiences. Remember, innovation is more about improving what we have than it is about delivering something new. Just imagine the fallout if Steve Jobs had said, you know what, the phone’s already been invented, let’s not go there…
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.