Why Do So Many Young Entrepreneurs Think Their Ideas Are Worth Billions?

I like to refer to my son as a “hit and run” cook, because he makes a big meal and leaves a huge mess. He means well- and the food’s good- but the process isn’t well organized.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs who use this same approach, because some of them seem to be driving 70 miles an hour in a 30 MPH zone. These people have an idea, they’re in a hurry (because it’s a billion dollar idea) and they don’t think about the business carefully.

Thinking is hard.

I liked Josh Fechter’s comment on his answer:

“Ideas are worthless. Your vision is priceless. People get the two confused all the time.”

Now, I put myself in this same boat, and I’ve started businesses without doing the hard work of thinking it through. Years ago, I had an online tutoring business in accounting and finance, but the experience drove me nuts. I didn’t think carefully about how to manage my time, how to screen for the right clients- and I couldn’t scale up. I got frustrated and eventually pivoted to something else.

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Nothing is wasted

I love that phrase, and I believe it to be true in business. I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi and his GrowthLab site, and I found this recent post about pivoting really interesting. The business partners tried to sell training, but ultimately found out that customers wanted a service. “We don’t want you to train us- let us hire you to solve the problem”.

They pivoted to a service business- and are killing it.

It’s funny how things happen. I started a You Tube channel in 2008 on accounting and finance education- thinking I would use the channel to build an online tutoring business. It didn’t work out that way- but the channel allowed a literary agent to find me, which led to four books and video work. That was my pivot.

If you experience a financial setback when you pivot, this article may help you.

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More about pivots

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill

I’m a fan of Churchill, because at one point during World War II, he was one of handful of people who thought Britain would survive the war. This quote was at the top of a great article, 14 Famous Business Pivots, in Forbes. Here are a few famous pivots:

  • Twitter: “Odeo (founded by the same partners) began as a network where people could find and subscribe to podcasts, but the founders feared the company’s demise when iTunes began taking over the podcast niche.”

 

  • Paypal: “It was developed by a company called Confinity in 1999 to allow people to “beam” payments from their PDAs (handheld digital computers, such as the Palm Pilot, an early incarnation of the smartphone).”

 

  • Starbucks: “They started off in 1971 selling espresso makers and coffee beans, which Howard Schultz (as chairman, president and CEO) fell in love with on first taste. After his visit to Italy in 1983, Schultz was determined to actually brew and sell Starbucks coffee in a European-style coffeehouse, and transformed Starbucks into the nationwide java sensation it has become today.”

 

So, entrepreneurs must admit to themselves that the first (or even 5th) idea might not be any good. What are the odds that you’re gonna hit a home run in your first at-bat? Not very likely.

Daniel Ndukwu also made a great point in his answer to this question:

“Have you started to see a trend? They believe their ideas are worth billions because they’ve seen ideas make billions. Not once, not twice, but at least a dozen times over the past few years.”

Think, pivot, be tenacious- it can work out for you.

This was originally posted to my Quora page.

Ken Boyd

Author: Cost Accounting for Dummies, Accounting All-In-One for Dummies, The CPA Exam for Dummies and 1,001 Accounting Questions for Dummies

Co-Founder: accountinged.com

(email) ken@stltest.net

(website and blog) http://www.accountingaccidentally.com/

(you tube channel) kenboydstl

 

 

Image: Bullseye, Jeff Turner CC by 2.0

 

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