Sun. Jul 14th, 2024
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    In my few years (2 actually) that I have been working on my startup, I have had the privilege of sharing my knowledge with other startup founders. One question I often get asked is “How do you come up with an idea and create a business?” To me it is the same as asking “How do you ride a horse?” In order to learn how to ride a horse, one thing happens subconsciously — identifying a horse. It’s obviously because we all know what a horse looks like but a business idea, now that can be somewhat abstract. So to answer that famous question, let’s first try to define what a business idea is.

    The widely accepted definition is that “A business idea is a concept which can be used for commercial purposes. It typically centers on a commodity or service that can be sold for money, according to a unique model.” (taken from a Wikipedia page). It is “a concept…” but how does it become a business? There are many processes that are involved in turning this idea into a business. I will just touch on one aspect – how to treat this concept. This is how I view a business idea or rather how I treat it to be. What I will be sharing in this post is exactly how I treat IQmates, the alien that keeps me up at night!

    Allow me to show you to a scene from the movie Avatar (great movie by James Cameron). If you don’t know the movie, it is arguably one of the best 3D animated films in history, broke and won all kinds of awards (circa 2009). You can read about it here on IMDB. The scene of interest is on this link if it doesn’t play below:

    In case you haven’t watched the movie, the blue people are called the Na’vi from an alien planet called Pandora and they use flying animals called Banshee as their horses you may say. To get a Banshee, they go up to the highest peaks where the Banshee live and they tame one by fighting it and connecting its tentacles with their extended braids. As explained on the video by one of the movie characters, you just do not connect to any random Banshee — there is one that is especially for you that you  resonate with and when you approach it, it will try to kill you.

    So why this talk about an old movie? It’s because that is exactly how I think of business ideas and how I treat IQmates to be. Let me explain:

    1. A business idea is like a free Banshee that is living somewhere up there in mountainous peaks. To get to it, you have to travel up treacherous terrain, beating certain challenges in your life. If you have watched the movie, you would know this was not a simple task. 
    2. Then after you get to the peak, you just don’t walk to any Banshee and unleash your taming skills! You have to identify the right Banshee and this is like a business idea. Not every idea will work for you. The right idea depends on a whole set of factors like your personality, skills, interests, education, experiences, irritations etc. 
    3. When you approach that right Banshee, you just don’t say, “Hey wanna be my flying pet?” Nope! It will try to kill you — yes, the business idea that is best suited to you will try to kill you! You don’t believe me? Watch this “Ideas are dangerous” talk by Joe Betts Lacroix he did for the Founder Institute’s “Startup & Go — First Steps to Building a Technology Company” course on Udemy. You have to “beat” the Banshee into submission. This takes a lot of effort and a lot of not giving up. Look at the clip above to get a sense of what I am saying. So what is this submission when it comes to a business idea? Well, in its initial stages, your business idea completely owns you. Founders loosely say “I own a business…” Yes that it may seem but in actuality, it is the business that owns you. Haven’t you heard of business moguls who say in their early days they worked for long hours every day to get their startups off the ground? It’s not because they were weak owners of businesses. No. It’s because they understood the concept that, in its early stages, the business owns you.
    4. You have to beat the business into submission and you can only do this by doing everything the business requires for it to succeed; not whatever you want. Look at the clip again. See how Jack approaches the Banshee? He had to be smart about it. He almost got knocked off the cliff but he immediately went back into the fight. When he got back, he had the Banshee in between his legs and held on tighter until he made the connection. In the early days, your business is a wild animal. It requires you beating it into submission by doing the things that are usually boring and difficult — admin, sales, marketing etc — the stuff most people miss by focusing too much on the product. 
    5. There are people who will support you and there are some who will celebrate your failures. That’s a part of life. Even when Jack was failing with the Banshee, some were having a blast. When he was almost knocked off the cliff, the girl screamed in horror but others laughed even more. When he finally made the connection, the one who was supporting him was the last to laugh and celebrate. This does not need explanation as to what that means in business because that is exactly how it is.

    Once the business has submitted to your will, you are able to maneuver and do what you want with it. Unfortunately I don’t have a clip of the war Jack fights whilst riding his very responsive Banshee (actually after that he then went on to tame the most dangerous of them all — the red and biggest Banshee that even the native Na’vi themselves feared). Take a look at Google or Facebook. Now the founders have more room to do whatever they want with their businesses because they have finally submitted to their will — venture from search into self-driving cars, from social to providing internet access to remote areas. That is the stage we all dream of.

    So to me that is what a business idea is — something that resonates with your inner character that you can make money off of. If you are confused about what a business idea is and which one is right for you, first start by analyzing who you are. Do a simple SWOT analysis of yourself — your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities you find fascinating and Threats or rather change that to Irritations you hate. Once you do that, you are in a much better position to identify which Banshee is rightly yours. When you have the business idea, take yourself from being the center of focus. Put your idea as the master in your startup and view things from “its” angle. What do you need to do for it to move to the next stage? If you do this, you surely will start doing the boring things but see progress!

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