Creating something from nothing is a special process. Inspiration becomes an idea. An idea gets refined, work is put in, and eventually out comes something that creates value for yourself or others. Whether you are creating something for others or something just for yourself, I strongly urge you to talk to as many people as possible about what you are creating. Unfortunately many people are hesitant about talking about their ideas even though the benefits are numerous.
Nobody is going to steal your idea
One of the most common reasons that entrepreneurs do not tell people about their ideas is because they think somebody will steal it. That is not going to happen. Likely you are not the first person to even have the idea.
Most people are too focused on their own ideas to steal yours. Besides ideas are pretty close to worthless without execution. The idea is the easy part. Now you have to work harder than you ever have before and smarter than any of your competitors.
People will want to help you
When you tell people about your idea they are going to try to help you if they can. They are going to be your users and your first evangelists. When they hear your idea they will say, “You really should talk to my friend. Let me connect you.” Early on those will be some of the most valuable conversations you have.
Your idea will get better
Early on you might think you have a clear vision of what you are creating. But more than likely it will morph over time due to the work you put in, the challenges you face, and, in particular, the feedback you receive.
Your idea becomes more refined as you talk through possible issues the you will face. People in your target industry or tangent industries will have a wealth of experience on which you can draw.
And of particular importance is to talk to potential customers early and often. Call them up or email them and introduce yourself as an entrepreneur. Ask them how they handle the problem you are trying to solve and shut up and listen. Follow up their response by asking why and then why again to really get past the problems or obstacles and to the root of what they are trying to accomplish.
You will get better at talking about it
The more you talk about your idea the better you get at telling your story. When looking for partners and investors, when hiring, and when making sales calls to prospective customers you are going to be saying who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it (your pitch). You’ll be a lot better the twentieth time you do it than you are the first time. And even better the hundredth.
You will remain excited about it
Some people warn against talking about an idea because it can feel like a substitute for progress. I think if that is the case then you are actually daydreaming rather than serious about building a product or business.
After having a good conversation about my product I usually want nothing more than to get back on the keyboard improving my product. That excitement needs to be leveraged and not let go to waste.
You will start building a list of potential customers
Those potential customers you have been talking to will be the first people you reach out to when you are ready to launch your product. Continue to engage them throughout your development process so they don’t forget about you and so that they will get excited to hand over money when the product is ready.
Make notes of your conversations
I really like carrying a small notebook and pen around in my pocket. While typing a quick note on my phone is good for one-off notes when I am by myself, I don’t think it is good to do when having a discussion with somebody. At best it is distracting from what is an engaging conversation. At worst it is rude.
Even better is to not take notes during a conversation and to find a way to be alone for five or ten minutes after in order to write your notes down. The person you’re talking with will respond more to your full attention and ideas will happen more rapid fire if they aren’t slowed down from you taking notes.
Wait a couple of days before implementing feedback
Wait a couple of days after getting feedback to implement it to make sure that you still view it as worthwhile. A lot of times you hear something, particularly after a few beers, and it sounds great at the moment but might not with the light of a new day.
Feel free to disregard feedback
Sometimes the advice you get isn’t good advice. The trick is knowing which advice to act on and which to disregard. Being able to tell which is which only comes from experience so get out there and start talking to people!