Guest post from Simon Anquetil, CTO of AppHappening.
If you, like me, were lucky (or unlucky) enough to have been born with that overly hyperactive part of your brain which causes symptoms such as “shiny object syndrome”, it is possible you are suffering from a condition known as Entrepreneurship.
And my prognosis for you is “overall happiness, albeit with bouts of hysteria, manic mood swings, occasional poverty, abundant success, and an extreme lack of focus.”
Generally speaking, an Entrepreneur is never satiated with his or her first business idea. And, recent studies (http://www.mindvalleyinsights.com/the-myth-of-focus-for-entrepreneurs) have shown, that those who display the most ‘text-book entrepreneurial traits’ (although I find this to be an oxymoron of sorts) often have more than one idea on-the-go at any one time. Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs have proven this can be achieved even at the heights of success: Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, the list goes on.
But is there a right time to launch your first, or next, entrepreneurial venture?
Is there a perfect time to leave the shackles of your daily grind to work on an idea without the safety net that comes with permanent employment?
Is there a good time to share your focus across more than one project?
Have a look at the following questions. Do these ring any bells?
1. Does the idea keep you up at night?
A Founder’s passion for a good idea will trump almost any challenge that the rational world can throw in the way of a business. Consider some of history’s most ground-breaking technologies, and how often their inventors would have been told “it can’t be done” – until it happened.
So, if your idea has been keeping you up at night, and you have been filling up that notebook that you keep next to your bed, and your notepad by your computer has revenue models scrawled through it, and thirty of your Google chrome tabs are related to your idea, then this is a good time to allocate some more time and resources in pursuit of this goal.
2. Have you established that there is a market for your product?
One of the most common mistakes made by startups is that they launch without having properly tested their market. However, if your idea is at its infancy, this is a perfect opportunity to start to ask potential users what they like about your idea.
If your idea is something that could be used by an average consumer, or a particular business segment, start asking these people for feedback on your idea and gauge their appetite to not only use such a product, but whether they would pay for it. Once you know that people would use your product, you can feel more comfortable investing your own time and energy into seeing how viable it is.
3. Do you have the right people to execute the idea?
At the traditional ‘startup’ phase of a business, there are very few ideas that could be executed completely by one person. There are marketing, design, technology, and often domain-specific elements to any good business and launch strategy. Surrounding yourself with the right people is the best way to ensure success with these ideas. That doesn’t mean inviting a bunch of co-founders to join you, but it often means just knowing you have the right support when you need it from other industry experts. Once you are comfortable that you have found like-minded individuals whose expertise will be available to you when required, then you can seriously consider moving forward with the execution of your idea.
4. Can you allocate enough energy to make this project a success?
We all know that a great idea is very important to launching a business. We also know, however, that without a well-planned execution any great idea is doomed to failure. Sometimes the best decision you can make for your startup is to put it on the shelf until you have the right amount of energy to focus.
Referring back to the first point, the founder’s passion is paramount to the success of an idea. And we all wish we had the resources of Elon Musk or Richard Branson at our disposal. But, until you do, time is your most valuable asset. Splitting your energy across two areas may mean you are giving one of those areas way too little focus and, in turn, both suffer because of it.
When you are truly able to allocate the right amount of time and energy to your idea, that’s when you should do it. This is not a question of money, because even spending money on your idea is a terrible proposition if you don’t have the time to manage its execution.
Whilst you may take this question for granted if you are a seasoned entrepreneur, it is something I like to remind all of my clients or friends looking at embarking on an entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial venture: are you prepared for this to go pear-shaped?
Sometimes, amidst the wash of adrenalin and serotonin, we forget that our wonderfully planned, brilliantly crafted, adeptly researched idea may just not work. Failure (http://blog.apphappening.com/the-upside-of-failure/) has fallen upon some of the best entrepreneurs – although failure should be seen as a part of the learning process rather than an end to it.
Only embark on your venture when you are completely comfortable with the idea that it may fail. Because only then will you be able to take the most away from your success. When it comes down to it, there is no perfect time to take such a leap of faith. But following the above pointers should ease your mind or help to prepare you mentally for the road ahead.
I would love to continue sharing these insights, but my 465th business plan is calling my name!
Wishing you every success in your exciting ventures,