You’ve no doubt heard people in business attempt to anticipate what the next breakthrough idea will be. But what they probably should be wondering is: who will be responsible for developing the next such idea? That’s because new ideas are being generated every day, and some of them may hold great possibilities. But a promising idea in itself means little until a determined entrepreneur — be it the idea’s creator or simply someone who recognizes its potential (as supposedly happens on ABC’s “Shark Tank”) — picks it up and runs with it.
In other words, while many ideas are conceived, few are actually born and fewer still grow to maturity. In fact, it is really just a very small group of individuals who have the vision, perseverance and resources to actually convert an idea into a genuinely viable commercial venture. It is this core of intrepid entrepreneurs — the ones with the initiative, determination and drive to see an idea through to fruition– that are society’s real “job creators,” and it only takes a few of them to potentially put tens of thousands of people back to work.
So where am I going with this? Well after the Gamification Summit, the question occurred to me: Are all these people with their own businesses or services genuine entrepreneurs, or just people that don’t want to go to work for established companies? Several years ago, I came up with a list of attributes I believe are necessary to turn a start-up into a successful enterprise – that is, to determine if you have “the right’ stuff” to become a successful entrepreneur. Since they are a little dated, given the pace of technological change, I have updated them a bit.
- Do you have the right entrepreneurial spirit? That is to say, are you inherently willing to risk a lot, if not everything, including your social status and reputation?
- Is your family ready and willing to change its lifestyle to support your venture? Are you?
- Is your “mousetrap” totally better than whatever else is currently out there? Do you have game mechanics built in? Is it more engaging from a “social standpoint” than anything else on the market, or are you engaging in wishful thinking based on a need to get out of the corporate structure?
- If no income comes in from your venture at all for six months to a year, would you be OK with that?
- Is your energy and passion for your venture strong enough to work 24/7 for at least 12 months?
- Can your business proposition be easily summarized in 30 seconds?
- Can you prove that the business will produce revenue?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, my advice would be: Don’t quit your day job just yet.
Now I will offer three examples of individuals who not only had breakthrough ideas, but were able to follow through with breakthrough implementation. One is Jason Foster at www.myreplenish.com, whose company developed a reusable bottle for its multi-surface cleaner that uses 90 percent less plastic, oil and CO2 than conventional cleaning products. Another is Ron Blitzer, who makes packaging out of waste cellulose at www.begreenpackaging.com . And then there’s Zhena Muzyka at www.gypsytea.com, who has made a point of purchasing her “Gypsy Tea” only from women suppliers and paying them a premium, thus helping to empower women in Third World countries while restructuring the entire value chain of tea beyond fair trade.
Jason, Ron and Zhena, I believe, exemplify not only the inventiveness, but the type of tenacity it will take to get America’s economic engine back into full throttle — while making the world a more livable place for all its inhabitants.