Before you begin a new venture, or pursue a business opportunity or lead, what questions to you ask yourself? Typically the questions people ask involve the product/service proposed, ROI, team, the business case and plan, market, etc. I suppose these types questions may be important to certain people, but they are ultimately less interesting and fundamental at the early stages two questions.
The Two Questions
1) Are you passionate about your idea? (If “Yes”, proceed to question 2)
2) If you were to spend the next 3-5 years working on your idea, and it ultimately was not successful, would you feel you had wasted your time? (If “No”, proceed to introduce the world to your idea)
Why Passion Matters
Passion matters, and in some sense is the only thing that matters, for the sole reason that it sustains you and the team. If you have passion for your idea (sign – it keeps you up at night) you will be determined to continually find ways to bring your idea to life.
Conversely, having passion for your idea protects it from the risk associated from theft. If someone “steals” your idea, you will be able to counter them with the fact that because of your passion and enthusiasm for your idea and solving the problem of your customers, you will win on empathy alone. The people who steal ideas cannot sustain the actual drive it requires to bring it to life and actually solve customer problems – theirs will be an alternative to your solution at best. At worst (for them) customers will see through their product for what it really is – an evilly motivated knock-off.
The main reason why saying “yes” to this question is essential is that nobody is really looking to take your idea and run with it – you have to own it. The world is not set up as a suggestion box.
Why Wasting Your Time Isn’t A Waste Of Time
The second question is important because your idea will need to evolve and adapt as you properly explore its boundaries (for how I would recommend exploring an idea, see here).
As you explore, you will continually learn new things and meet hundreds of people. If you are not interested in meeting these people, understanding their world and their problems, and truly designing a solution based on your idea that matters to them, do not bother starting – you will only frustrate and anger everybody, including yourself.
Your idea may not work as initially conceived. In fact, in may not even eventually work out after all your iterations and pivots. However, if you value learning and relationship building this will not be an utter failure. Quite the opposite in fact. You will be better positioned to have new and better ideas that are based on actual needs.
So that’s it – figure out if you are passionate and alright with failing. It’s what we did before starting Butterfly (more here) and these are the key questions we ask before any new venture. The rest of the questions are figured out as you go along, but they aren’t worth answering until you figure out these first two.