With the understanding that profitable and useful businesses are born out of profitable and useful ideas, the fundamental problem of entrepreneurship would seem to be the difficult passage from one to the other. Yet this paradigm does not subtract from the value of the idea itself. The practical and sometimes bruising realities of building a business cannot be made distinct from the abstract but inherently meaningful fact of a well-developed concept. A successful entrepreneur can undervalue neither theory nor practice, and must understand the vital link between the two in order to thrive.
Abstract as they are, ideas are often maligned as too common and too trivial to merit much attention on their own. It is often assumed that whatever idea an entrepreneur may have, it has been dreamed up countless times before, and should not be treated as groundbreaking or unique. ‘There is nothing new under the sun,’ as the Bible passage goes, and investors have a habit of agreeing.
This widespread opinion ignores two basic truths about the nature of innovation: first, that ideas are life-giving forces that can never be taken for granted; and second, that ideas aren’t simple artifacts. They vary endlessly in the scope of examination, the subtlety of the thinking, and the ingenuity of the approach. No two entrepreneurs can ever have the same idea, even if there are commonalities between them.
Ideas are as distinct from each other as one life form is from the next, and the range of subtleties accounts for the ultimate success or failure of the enterprise. Formulating an idea is like writing the genetic code for the business: even though different entrepreneurs may be vying to create the same species, the resulting being will be as distinct as its maker. Theory is just as definitive as practice: should all parties bring the same industriousness to bear on nurturing their seed to life, the architecture of the seed will ultimately have a decisive role to play in the lifespan of the business.
Bridging the gap between theory and practice can seem daunting, but there are tools that make the process smoother than ever before. The Ideator platform is designed to help entrepreneurs with budding ideas to nurture them into something viable. It’s still a laborious process – nothing good ever came easily – but the barriers that once denied entry to some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs have been knocked down by this service. The access Ideator provides to a wide range of experts, potential collaborators, and potential investors allows a new generation of innovators to deliver on their own terms.
Honing the business plan
The business plan is the blueprint for the business, which means it’s the ultimate culmination of the brainstorming stage. This is where the rough nugget of an idea is shaped and cut into the clearest and most perfect diamond. It’s also the first opportunity to make full use of the Ideator platform, as the entrepreneur pitches a basic form of the idea to the network of users and pumps them for detailed feedback.
Here the entrepreneur can learn from experts across a wide range of fields about the consequences of going forward with the idea: potential pitfalls, potential complications, and potential roadblocks that will have to be overcome or circumvented in order for the idea to bear fruit. In a positive yet challenging atmosphere of innovation, the entrepreneur will be tasked with answering a range of questions and developing work-arounds to ensure that this business could actually succeed.
The potential for the idea will also be explored and extended beyond what the entrepreneur could have envisioned at the outset. The range of applications for a game-changing idea can almost never be fully grasped from the beginning, and can ultimately yield dramatic changes in the business’ development. There may be implications so far-removed from what the entrepreneur originally envisioned that they prompt a pivot in the business model toward something even more dramatic. Innovators can often be startled by how innovative their idea actually is, and how much power it has to disrupt the traditional way of doing things.
From all of these new thoughts and perspectives, the entrepreneur can hone the business plan into its best possible form, ultimately building an idea that’s as strong and as deep as the business it will become. Theory leads to practice as a tributary to a sea: it should be even more profound than the body it flows into.
Building a team
Theory starts bleeding into practice when people begin to engage with the idea. That’s why choosing the members of the team that will be dedicated to bringing the idea to life is such a crucial element of the innovation process. They need to fully understand the potential they’re charged with realizing, and they need to be cohesive in their efforts. Once the project is undertaken, the idea has to reign supreme. Pivoting the business plan is one thing, but the team must be prevented from heading off in different directions. A good business has to fly under one banner.
With the aid of the Ideator platform, this step should flow naturally from the first one. As the idea develops within the community of users, it should start to grow into something substantial – something with the kind of weight that convinces people it’s worth orbiting around. A great idea draws people in, especially when it continues to get bigger and bigger as more and more people contribute. Those who show the most dedication and are able to add the most value to the concept should be granted pride of place in the team that will develop it.
As ideas evolve, so do the relationships that underlie them, and those kinds of valuable connections are what the Ideator platform emphasizes. The entrepreneur will discover over the course of development that there are flesh-and-blood people out there who could make this work if given the chance. With the business growing, these are the relationships that the entrepreneur honors and allows to seep into the makeup of the business. A good team shouldn’t be there to back change: it should be there to change back. The free flow of ideas encouraged by Ideator will allow these creative partnerships to develop organically, not only contributing to the practical development of an initial idea, but tweaking the theoretical framework as well.
This crucial step in the development of the seed of a great idea to a viable business can be likened to rain. It does nothing on its own, but it does allow budding life to flourish. Many innovators get hung up on this stage, viewing it as too difficult a hurdle to overcome – but for a well-prepared entrepreneur using the Ideator platform, this no longer needs to be the case.
This is the age of ideas, and today’s investors understand the power of a great idea to change the fabric of daily life. It’s impossible to ignore the fact that our lives are continuously being revolutionized by new products and services that change how we live, and people looking to make money are very much on the innovation bandwagon. They want to fund the next big idea – badly – and Ideator is where many of them go to do it. If an entrepreneur has a well-developed seedling that just needs the chance to grow, chances are they have the opportunity to make it rain.
Ideator offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with a network of savvy and forward-thinking investors who don’t want a great idea to die any more than they do. By developing the idea in concert with Ideator’s community of users, they show a public face that can attract the attention of any number of interested financiers. They also have the opportunity to contact them directly to demonstrate just how powerful their idea is, and if it holds water, they’re likely to find an enthusiastic and receptive audience. Entrepreneurs need only tend to their idea like the valuable new seed of life that it is, and chances are they’ll find the opportunity they need to make it grow.
Developing the idea
Once the team is in place and the funding has been secured, the wheels are in motion to make the long journey from carefully articulated theory to fully realized practice. It’s an exciting process that will test the mettle of the business plan as much as the resourcefulness of the entrepreneur, with challenges both expected and unexpected appearing one after the other. It’s never easy to shepherd a new idea into the world, but thanks to the Ideator platform, it’s never been more plausible.
As the entrepreneur spends the new business’ time and money on developing the idea to its fullest potential, they have the support of the Ideator platform in attaining their goal. Workshopping new takes, testing new hypotheses, and soliciting the opinions of our network of users will make the path to innovation clearer than it’s ever been before. The business will have an entire community of like-minded people watching their back, and will grow all the more quickly and cleanly for it.
In the end, of course, there is no end. Even once the product or service has been successfully launched and the business is standing on its feet, the process of innovation has really just begun. A great idea never dies: it continues to grow and change to suit the realities of the marketplace and the ambitions of its creators. In fact, many of the most dramatic innovations are actually iterations of a central premise that was developed long before. The iPhone’s game-changing touchscreen design, for example, was an ingenious iteration of a stylus-based touchscreen concept that didn’t meet Apple founder Steve Jobs’ standards. As long as innovators stay as creative as they were in the beginning, the ideas – and their power to change the world – never diminish.
Although the theoretical stage of innovation can seem dauntingly out-of-step with the practical realities of the business sphere, they are in fact intimately linked throughout the lifespan of a product or service. With the assistance of the Ideator platform, entrepreneurs are better positioned than ever before to take the seed of a great idea – one that has enormous and unrealized potential – and nurture it to vibrant life. Ideas have never been more valuable than they are now because it’s never been more practical to realize them.
This article was originally published in The Ideator.