Dear Startup Doctor, I am an ideas person and a content creator. I see business opportunities where others see none. However, my greatest challenge is execution. I have many business ideas that have never seen the light of day. This situation makes me feel inadequate. I want to start my business, but l don’t know if I have what it takes. I need your advice. Thank you. Adanma. O. Ogun State.
Thank you for your letter. I too have the same gift. My close friends call me “The Fixer.” To answer your question, I would start by saying that being blessed with the gift to spot opportunities is a great advantage you have over most people. It is individuals such as yourself with your unique gift that move companies forward or start disruptive businesses. As the saying goes, ideas rule the world, and from what you have said, you have a unique opportunity to be part of the solution through your gift.
If your focus is on building your career, I would suggest you look towards working in experiential events, advertising or retail organisations. These companies need quick thinkers and creative genies to join their pool of talented content and product creators.
On the other hand, if you choose to own a business, you would do well to guard your enthusiasm as creating too many services or products at the same time will not be suitable for business. This gift is usually the challenge of having too many ideas. Most people with the ability to spot opportunities, often find themselves burdened with the inability to bring one of such plans to fruition. This challenge crops up because there is more to success beyond having a great idea.
Now that you are thinking of starting your business, my most candid advice would be to stay where you are now and test out one, two or even three of your ideas. You did not say which company or industry is your nine to five. So, I will advise from the little information you have given.
First, would be to look around your organisation. Find the burning issues that need resolving. If you are in a position or department where your input can help the organisation become profitable, I would suggest that you take the initiative and come up with a solution that speaks to the problem.
Second, strive to be part of the implementation team that will bring the product or service from concept to market. Being part of this team will help you gain hands-on experience on how new products or services transition from ideation to market. Let your organiation bear this risk while you test out your theory. Build up a consistent portfolio of success before you begin to think of starting your own business. Once you have done this several times, and the company has made an enormous profit based on your curated intervention, then you might well be ready to branch off on your own.
While I do not discourage you from stepping out to launch your business, please bear in mind that you can also bring that idea to life within your organisation. If that’s a possibility, the plan could thrive better because of the structures and resources available in a bigger system.
So, my third contribution would be that before you jump out with your ideas to start your own business, check if the solution can fit into your current employer’s business goals. Do you think it’s the board chairmen of the multinationals and banks that come up with all the ideas they have? No! It is the business, product, service or content development team like you in such organisations that spearhead the innovative contributions in the system!
If your idea aligns with the vision and goals of your current employer, find the courage to go and discuss it with your boss. It will earn you a place at the table with the big shots. This level of exposure in the organisation has its perks beyond monetary benefits. In many organisations, you could become a team lead with experts and support staff, funds and structure to help you bring the idea to life. This opportunity to work within an established structure and system will allow you to focus on bringing the concept to life rather than worrying about providing everything you need by yourself. This is called intrapreneurship.
To be clear, I am not saying that it is wrong for you to own your own business. You can! I am only emphasising the need for you to consider the option of giving your idea life in an existing organisation because many ideas will thrive better in such setting than in the hand of an underfunded entrepreneur.
However, for my fourth input, there might be times when the idea cannot fit into the goals, culture and operation of an organisation. At such times, starting your business may be the best option. Where your employers do not buy your idea, and you have a strong belief that it could be the next big thing, then you need to take the risk by boldly starting your business.
Now, I understand that you can’t just quit your job on a whim because ideas alone don’t make a business thrive. You will need to have the resources, business plan and strive to find the right people who will help bring your ideas to life. If you dive nose-first into entrepreneurship without a plan, you will fail abysmally.
So, my fifth advise would be that one way to manage and cushion the transition into entrepreneurship is to look towards partnership. You need to partner with those who have the skills you lack. For instance, the success of Piggyvest came through partnership. Each partner brought their unique expertise into the business, and this helped in growing this startup. The Founders were able to reduce overheads by utilising each Partners skill in-house. This internal pooling of skills enabled them to turn over 21 billion naira in their first year of operation and N5billion as at first quarter 2020.
One more thing you should do is to take courses on business management and finance and leadership. With such courses, you will be an asset to your organisation while in turn, prepare yourself for entrepreneurship.
To recap, please note the points I have made.
First, there is nothing wrong with you stepping out to execute your ideas.
Second, if your organisation’s goals align with yours, and they buy-into your idea, remain there and use the opportunity to test the viability of your ideas and also build up your skills and portfolio.
Third, create a consistent track record of successful implementations of your ideas.
Fourth, it is ok to resign to pursue your dream. You can do this solo or through partnership.
Fifth, believe in yourself. If you can think it, you can do it! Acquire the knowledge and skill you need to give value wherever you find yourself.
Whichever one you choose, please stay consistent and committed to your goals. Give value in your current organisation. Then watch and learn how successful businesses operate before you branch off on your own.
To your continued success.
The Startup Doctor.
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