Take Your Idea And Just Start: Lessons In Entrepreneurship
by John Pestana, co-founder of ObservePoint.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 edition of Silicon Slopes Magazine.
There are few more invigorating feelings than the excitement of discovering a solution to a problem we face — the feeling of “eureka,” a sensation entrepreneurs know and love.
The word “eureka” comes from ancient Greek meaning “I have found it.” The word’s claim to fame is rooted in the story of Greek mathematician Archimedes discovering water displacement as he stepped into the bath — a measurement technique he then used to confirm the King of Syracuse’s suspicions that a crown-making artisan had mixed gold with silver instead of using pure gold.
Archimedes was so excited by his observation in the bathhouse that he jumped from the bath and ran through the streets of Syracuse naked shouting “Eureka!”
What made this discovery worth streaking through the city streets for Archimedes? It was the solution to a real problem he was facing, with a new process that revolutionized the mathematics discipline.
You Need an Idea
Entrepreneurship starts with an observation around an opportunity. It starts with thinking about challenges that you have in your life and creative ways to overcome them. It starts with an idea. It starts with a eureka moment.
Your idea doesn’t have to be revolutionary. Too many people think that you have to solve a huge problem to get big.
When Josh James and I founded Omniture, we were simply trying to scratch an itch we had with our web development company, JP Interactive.
In creating websites we wanted to be able to measure their impact with users so we could better serve our clients. We needed to solve the problem of website performance measurement. Omniture grew from this need, and went on to become the top enterprise analytics platform, one of the top returning venture investments out of 1,008 venture capital investments in 2004, and one of the best performing technology IPOs of 2006.
Have A Plan
Turning an idea into a successful business venture requires planning.
Writing a basic business plan helps you think through your ideas, providing you with clarity, focus and confidence as you articulate your goals, strategies and tactics.
Business plans should be kept simple and should reflect your entrepreneurial thinking as much as the tactical execution of how to translate your idea to action.
Thinking entrepreneurially is driven by a simple approach: identifying problems that people have that they would pay to have solved, solving those problems, and then creating sustainable models to implement your solutions.
The rest of your business plan — your product/service description, your customer and market information, your marketing and sales strategy and your funding opportunities — will emerge from that foundational understanding of the real-life problems people face.
If an idea or plan just stays in your head, you may as well have never had it. You don’t get points simply for your “eureka” moment — you must deliver on your creativity to actually achieve success.
You have to just start.
Ideas are easy, implementation is hard — and it will always be hard. You cannot wait for the perfect time to start your new venture, and you need to be willing to risk some temporary security to achieve success.
Embrace the excitement of your idea and don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from beginning. You need to run naked through the streets (at least figuratively anyway) because you believe that much in the application of turning your observation into a successful solution.
It’s in your DNA
One of the things I love about the story of Archimedes is that it provides a simple illustration of something I believe is coded into the human condition: the drive to solve problems, the will to create a better experience.
Even after stepping away from Omniture, I wanted to solve a problem I’d observed during my years at Omniture, the need digital analysts have to continually validate that their analytics and marketing tags are working properly. ObservePoint, one of my current ventures co-founded with Rob Seolas, emerged out of the drive to solve this problem. We’ve done some amazing things so far, and every day we look for new problems to solve, new ways to impact the world.
Thinking creatively about challenges in life and how to overcome them is the foundation of taking an entrepreneurial stance, and whether you take that stance within a company (something all employees should do) or seek to start your own business, you must grab your eureka moments and see them through. It is what you, and all of us, are meant to do.