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It Takes Kinetic Energy To Turn An Idea Into A Business

Scott Belsky, author of Making It Happen, claims that having an idea is only 1% of the process. Wow! That’s 99% everything else. No wonder it’s so difficult turning an idea into a business reality. I suspect many of us are part of the 1% (at least this 1% and not the other 1% that the Occupy Movement talks about). Each of us has countless ideas that never go anywhere. Why do we get so stuck and what can we do about it?

Over my many years of advising entrepreneurs of all kinds, I’ve concluded that there are four major obstacles in moving a concept foward from idea to business reality.

  1. Fear. Some say fear is a powerful motivator, but in early stage entrepreneurship it can be an unpleasant deterrent. Fear takes many forms: fear of sharing the idea becasue we can’t handle any type of criticism; fear of leaving the perceived safety and security of our current job in order to start a new business; and fear of failure and losing too much.
  2. Preference for creating rather than executing. Entrepreneurship requires creation (identifying the opportunity) and execution (creating value from the idea). And without execution there is no business. The most popular reason for lack of execution ability is that “some people are just creative types.” Is this really true? I hypothesize that most people just don’t know what to do next with their idea or think they must have all the pieces in place before they can actually start a business.  This leads to my third obstacle.
  3. Data addiction. At some point in our education we were convinced that is was possible to have perfect information before a problem can be solved or an action taken. For the aspiring entrepreneur with an idea there is a tendency to collect piles of secondary data to proves the idea is viable. It’s not a fruitless exercise, but how much data does none need before they act? There will never be perfect information when trying to decide to move an idea forward.  If we do have perfect information, then it’s probably not a good idea.
  4. Planning paralysis. Data addiction can lead to planning paralysis–the perception that we must have a complete and perfect business plan before moving forward. Planning paralyis is the death of many great ideas. Some may argue that writing a business plan is a rite of passage for the entrepreneur. This is just not true. Writing a business plan simply means you are able to write a business plan. It does not force execution on ideas and it certainly does not make us an entrepreneur. (See my other blog post on the business plan.)

The fundamental difference I have observed between those that create ideas and entrepreneurs that execute on ideas is kinectic energy. Kinectic energy is defined as “energy that a body posesses by virtue of being in motion.” Now before all of the physicists start to comment that this definition is only part of the story, please bear with me–the non-physicist and business school professor.  This simple definition of kinectic energy can be a powerful proverb for aspiring entrepreneurs with an unexploited idea.  In business school speak kinectic energy means TAKE ACTION, A SMALL ACTION, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. Once you are in motion, the idea comes alive, may change form, but is on its way to better understanding its full potential and business feasibility.

Once in motion and fueled by our kinectic energy, the Corridor Principle takes over. The Corridor Principle is a concept that was coined in the late 1980s by entrepreneurship research, Robert Ronstadt. He used the Corridor Principle to explain serial entrepreneurship. He argued that the act of starting a business set the entrepreneur in motion down a vetnure corridor that led him/her to other corridors (other new ventures) that would not have been identified unless the original business was started. The same principle can be applied to ideas.  Once you put the idea in motion, by simply taking a some real and small steps, so many other doors open along the journey that we could not have predicted. But we must put our ideas in motion, step into the corridor, and see what happens. Kinetic energy will abound.

My advice to those trying to moved business ideas to business reality….

  • Don’t be scared. One small step is not going to kill you.
  • One small step places you on the execution path. You’ll take another step then another then another.
  • Don’t depend on historical data to proved the feasibility of your idea. Real data from real action is the only reliable data for cutting-edge ideas.
  • You don’t need a plan before you act. The plan does not make you an entrepreneur. Just do something.
  • Enjoy the kinectic energy as you travel the corridors!

Professor Heidi Neck
Jeffry A. Timmons Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies

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