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A Roadmap for an Entrepreneur, Stage 1: Nurturing the Idea

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What separates a successful entrepreneur from any other Joe or Jane with a great idea? Nurturing that idea past pessimism to fruition.
This article by Dr. Sridhar Jagannathan and Ravi Venkatesam originally appeared in Business Line (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/).
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The boom in Silicon Valley and the almost unending recitals of newly minted billionaires have caused many to ask if they too should jump in and make their millions while the going is good. Unfortunately, this gives the impression that entrepreneurial success is a matter of jumping in and emerging with fame and fortune. Nothing could be further from the truth. It can truly be said that for most entrepreneurs, not only is success not guaranteed, but also failure is the most likely eventuality. Successful entrepreneurs have therefore earned their success through a combination of brilliance, dedication, perseverance, teamwork, and good luck.

In this series of articles on entrepreneurship, we'll look at the four stages to possible entrepreneurial success. For each stage, we'll highlight desirable characteristics and actions. The intent is to provide a roadmap and point out the potholes along the journey. These are the four stages:

  • Stage 1: Nurturing the Idea

  • Stage 2: Creating a Company

  • Stage 3: Staying Afloat

  • Stage 4: Being Successful

This article covers Stage 1: Nurturing the Idea.

Step 1. Convince Yourself First

  • "I just had this great idea, but it's too difficult for me to do it."

  • "Oh God, I thought of that idea before he did. If only I had done something about it."

  • "If I had a little bit of money, I would definitely quit my job and start a company."

  • "This idea is eating me alive. I've got to do something about it. But how????"

  • "I love my job. Should I quit for my idea? Too risky."

Every successful entrepreneur has had these thoughts at some point. The difference between successful entrepreneurs and other people is the fact that they acted on their ideas. How do you break out of the secure shell of your job and get into the entrepreneurial track?

  • Lock yourself in your inner cave. Ideas are generally vague and can take the entrepreneur in multiple directions. They're infected with distractions, which make the job of implementing them a daunting task. Thinking though the idea in detail is a good start. These clichés mentioned by most successful people actually work. "Explore all angles of your idea within your mind. Remove the ones you think are irrelevant. Expand the idea into ways you otherwise might not have."

  • Identify your options. This is the time to identify all options available to you. Every person has a unique set of situations (work-related, family-related, finance-related, and so on). Examining these situations will give rise to opportunities that can help in planning. For example, you may find that your current savings allow you to experiment with your life for two years, without affecting your standard of living. Or you may find that one of your friends is an expert in a field relevant to your idea and may be able to help you out.

  • Examine your fears and eliminate them. Just like your options, your fears can also be identified and eliminated. A good strategy to use is the "worst-case scenario" analysis. Think up the worst possible scenarios that can arise and then look at your options. If you can live with the worst case (loss of a specific amount of your investment, lifestyle consequences, and so on), anything less than the worst case is palatable.

  • Emerge with determination to succeed. When you're done with introspection, you should emerge with self-confidence and assurance. As the founder of the idea, you can no longer be seen to have doubts about the initiative.

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