When You Have An Idea

4 minute read

I was reading a tweet from Andrew Wilkinson:

and I had a few reactions to it, so I thought I would document them here.

Whenever someone makes an advice claim, especially one you feel motivated to react to, it’s worth evaluating a few things:

What am I being critical of?

For me, this usually defaults to who doesn’t this apply to, and why. In this case, I identify as an ideator. I’ve run weekly ideas meetings for 3 hours a week, for over a decade, so I’ve likely heard more ideas than most. I also hear a lot of ideas from ASC which is a mini Dragon’s Den style event that anyone can submit an idea to win a pile of cash with no strings attached, which has also been running for a decade. This means the creative ideator in me that results from this focus on ideation has a lot of ideas myself, many per day, sometimes dozens.

As a result, if I was to follow this advice, I would have a lot more websites, and I feel I already have too many that have cost me a lot of time and or money that never went anywhere.

What am I missing?

In this case, Andrew clearly has an enormous talent in not only turning ideas into a successful business, but he has access to an existing customer base that would likely buy anything he creates. So the two things I am missing is his level of business success, but also access to the network he has. By having access to so many paying customers, his market penetration allows him access to problem finding that very few others do. Problem finding, especially from a first principles perspective is one of the hardest parts of business creation, and that starts with market access which has unique depth of.

The takeaway here is a reminder that we should always be improving our market access, and as that deepens, we should hone our problem finding skills.

The critical lens

Applying the critical lens to this tweet, for anyone who is deep into startups, is that we should all be focusing on product market fit (PMF). It is often suggested that PMF should come before any other actions from the ideation stage. Do you have customers you’ve verified are willing to pay for this right now? If you’re not familiar with PMF, the gist is that you need to find people who are ready to pay for your product or service right now because the pain you’re solving is so great, or the gain for them is so great. Until then, under the PMF philosophy best practice, is not to build anything.

What are the universal takeaways?

The obvious takeaway to me from this tweet is the decision making process we should quickly apply to any new idea – is it worth my time going through his recommended process? If not, perhaps it’s worth a re-think.

The other takeaway, is the power of action over internal visualization. The more actions you take towards anything, the more real it becomes.

We’re all ideators, but the doers separate the successful from the should-haves.

How can you take these steps to heart?

  • Make a logo. You can use Canva (needs an account but free) or Namecheap’s Logo Generator (free and no account needed). You can use inkscape(vector) or gimp(raster) if you’re feeling more creative which are free and open source image manipulation tools. If you have a budget, hire a graphic designer.
  • Build a simple website. Jekyll & Vercel if you’re a techy, otherwise put something together on Wordpress for free until you’re ready to find a better host. One Day Website can get something up for you in one business day if you have a budget, otherwise follow their steps for building your business website to do it yourself. The odw blog is full of articles to step you through the process of creating an optimizing a website.

Where do I go from here?

Well, I had an idea that’s been perculating for a few days, so last night I registered the domain and got the basic website up. This is the first of a few content marketing websites that are providing a notable gain to me, in that I enjoy learning, and I enjoy sharing what I learn, so this gives me an excuse to dive deeper under the hood on topic areas I’m interested in. I’m starting with Android, but plan on doing something similar in the areas of command line (terminal), decentralization, as well as privacy & security software and hardware. I’m not too worried about monetization in the case of these websites, as I enjoy it, and I’ve seen from this website and others I’ve created that long-tail content marketing gets really good traffic, so perhaps it’s time I create such websites with the intention of monetization.

In summary, my initial critical lens wasn’t as applicable as I first thought, I took his advice, and I’ve taken action – my idea has already come to fruition and now I just need to priortize where I take it next!

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