Startup Tip 49: New ideas can kill your startup

Entrepreneurs are often great at creating new ideas. It’s one of the things we do best. And it can become addictive.

New ideas give us creative energy and fill us with optimism. We feel like we are on a high – buzzing.

On the other hand, executing on our ideas seems kind of boring. The sheer amount of stuff that needs to be done can seem overwhelming and it feels like (and is) a lot of hard work. We can feel like all our energy is gone, or even feel down, uncertain or depressed. Procrastination sets in.

When we are in the idea creation phase of a new venture, we need our brains to be coming up with new ideas. However, once we have selected an idea and begun to execute we must beware of distractions that come dressed as opportunities. [Tweet This]

 

The new idea is a common reaction to the negative aspects of execution. We can unconsciously create new ideas to avoid the hard work in front of us. The new idea is a distraction which quickly takes us back to the highs, optimism and possibilities which make us feel so great. Then we spend out energy on pursuing it rather than pushing through the negative patch and taking our principal venture on to the next stage.

Unfortunately, unless we recognise this trap, we can spend years swinging from idea to idea and never actually bring anything to fruition or achieve anything.

Which is a shame. Because taking a venture through the execution phase to its fulfilment is ultimately more rewarding than any exciting new idea. [Tweet This]

Action:

Recognise which stage of your venture you are in:

If you don’t have an idea yet – go for it. Create as many shiny new ideas as you can and pick one to implement.

Once you have made a decision to execute, these ideas may help you push through the trough:

  • Commit to execution, realise you will hit a trough and be prepared to work your way through it.
  • As soon as you have committed to execute: take quick action (while minimising your risk). This will show you whether you are on the right path or not.
  • Write down your ultimate purpose in starting the venture. Keep it in a place where you can find it and review it regularly. This sense of purpose will pull you through the rough times.
  • Don’t quit a project in a trough unless you have incontrovertible evidence that the idea will not fly and have talked the decision over with mentors or other supportive people.

Further Reading:

The project plateau diagram is taken from Scott Belsky’s book, Making Ideas Happen. I’d highly recommend reading it.

Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You – This post by Cameron Herold, on Tim Ferris’ blog describes the cycle entrepreneurs go through and the feelings that accompany it. It also has some suggestions of actions you should and should not take at various stages of the cycle. (Take these with a grain of salt.)

How new ideas almost killed our startup  – This post by Vincent Vacanti describes how pursuing new ideas was a serious distraction to building his startup, Yipit.

Join the conversation:

Do you often find yourself distracted by new ideas? How do you keep yourself on track? Share with us in the comments.

Or use them to create a little bit of extra motivation and accountability to get your action task for today done.
And I would love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Image used courtesy of Stuck in Customs under Creative Commons license.

Comments

  1. Donna Gibbons says:

    A timely tip. We are close to having our website complete for an online travel business, after months of work, and I’m finding I have another idea that seems exciting and I’m wanting to spend time on – banish those thoughts, “Get ye out”!!

    • You go girl!
      What I find helpful for me is writing the idea down in detail and then putting it in my backburner file. That way, it gets it out of my head and I can revisit it later if I need to. The other thing is taking action that will move the current startup forward massively. That always creates a lot of energy and forward momentum.

    • YES! “The new idea is a common reaction to the negative aspects of execution. We can unconsciously create new ideas to avoid the hard work in front of us. The new idea is a distraction which quickly takes us back to the highs, optimism and possibilities which make us feel so great. Then we spend out energy on pursuing it rather than pushing through the negative patch and taking our principal venture on to the next stage.”

      As a creative mind, I do this ALL the time. This really hit home for me. I am working on execution being equally as awesome :)

      • We all do it all the time!! :-) Once we realise that focus on execution is needed, it becomes easier to focus. It’s a bit like deciding to get married. Once someone makes the decision to commit 100%, they stop looking around at who else is out there. (or they should!)

  2. Adekalu says:

    I actually put this on my to-do list for this evening… “other ideas to implement”… just when we are trying to refine our offerings for a new online travel portal. Timely read and easy way to cross out another item on my to-do list :).

  3. Thanks for that one, Susan. As I am a writer I have decided whenever I get a distracting ‘great new idea’, I’ll write 3 paragraphs about it (plus a photo if relevant) then stick it in my blog. This will confuse the hell out of the competition (sorry, being facetious), give me some good content, and make a concrete way of letting go of something. Of course, the blog post goes into the ‘later’ list.

  4. If you have more viable ideas than you could ever execute and you are weak at implementing them, these are key signs that you are meant to be leading a collaborative team. You must find ways to let each member of your team play to their strengths instead of trying to get them to improve on their “weaknesses”.

    There are people who love to do the same thing over and over and over for years. That would never describe you, so you need to identify those who love doing and find a way to make working with you benefit them. Others love the challenge of building something, but lose interest as soon as the pieces are all in place. That is when you need a community manager who loves running what is already built and keeping the people who use it happy.

    If you are a person of financial means, this is traditionally done through hiring employees. Just remember you want to hire people specifically for what they are exceptional at accomplishing. Contrary to common practice, people are NOT interchangeable cogs in your wheel.

    Those of us who have no financial means must be more creative at how we can accomplish great things – and when we do we must make it possible for the entrepreneurs who will take our creation and run with it to make a living at it – even if they have zero cash to invest. We have that system built and will be rolling it out in 2013.

    We have ignored our best and brightest for far too long because they were not born into the lives that those who have financial resources live and those of means can not understand how most of the world does NOT have the benefits they take for granted. That has developed in us skills and discernment corporate types and those conditioned by the educational system do not have.

    Eventually some wise person of means who does not worship money will figure that out and then we will accomplish even greater things.

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