I had a call this morning with someone who is launching a new idea and was seeking advice on how to get it off the ground. In her words, “I’m so passionate about this one issue, but I have no idea how to solve the whole thing when I’m starting so small.” Here was my advice to get an idea off the ground :
1- Publicly set a bold but attainable goal. By putting your stake in the ground, you can hold yourself accountable to a clear ambition. Once you’ve hit that goal, grow it through exponential jumps. I began with $25 and knew I could rally my friends to give small donations, so my first big goal was to create just one school. At the time, that felt massive! Once the first was built, I set my sights on getting to ten schools. Then one hundred. And now those ambitions have once again increased exponentially as we’ve expanded our school building goals and added teacher training and student scholarship programs as well.
2- Maintain momentum. Creating anything from scratch is tremendously difficult. It’s an uphill battle every single day. So it’s your job to find the wins, no matter how small or big they are, and draw energy from them. Celebrate them with those who made them possible, but always reinforce that there are greater mountains to climb ahead. This will also help you draw in volunteers, supporters and staff. Business teaches you the same lesson we all learned as kids through sports, that people like to be a part of a winning team. And the only thing better than a winning team, is a winning team that still has potential to get even better.
3- Acknowledge how much you have to learn. Unless an entrepreneur’s company is their second or third venture in the same exact industry, I’m a complete skeptic of pre-launch claims that someone has the answers to something others are seeking. You have an idea, that’s it. Until that idea has been executed time and time again, and you have a proven model that works, you should be spending your time asking questions rather than giving answers. Every day you should be going through a process of internal evaluation, advice seeking, and iteration. I directly request advice into a tough problem I’m facing in 95% of the external meetings I have. Learn from the experiences of those who came before you. And here’s the best part – the people who give you the best advice usually become those most invested in your execution of their wise words.