Whether you work in an enterprise, small business or a startup, today many of us consider ourselves entrepreneurs. In the back of our minds we have a wealth of ideas that would improve our current business or form the basis of a whole new business. In our bottom drawers, we have half finished business plans or presentations that we will unveil when “the time is right.” It’s sexy and seductive to keep these ideas to ourselves until they are perfected, but in doing so, we may also be doing ourselves a disservice.
I have discussed the life of the intrapreneur in the past – those folks with entrepreneurial spirit operating within a larger organization. They are the “dreamers who do.” The intrapreneur takes ideas and commercializes it. They rally the troops, overcome the barriers and do what it takes to bring an idea to market.
It’s clear that new innovation, products and solutions don’t just need a good idea. In fact, I think it is fair to say that good ideas in and of themselves are not worth very much. They need champions to pave the way. They need to be well executed. So, in this sense, ideas need entrepreneurs (or intrapreneurs) as much as entrepreneurs need ideas. And yet, many of us either resist the pull of a new idea, or work on it in the background as a “skunkworks” project.
But – and it is a BIG but – for your idea to have any chance to materialize into something of value, it has to live outside your desk drawer. It needs to live not at the back of your mind but at the top of your leadership agenda.
Adrian Crook confronts this type of reticence head-on. In Why Stealth Mode Will Kill Your Startup he provides five clear points that entrepreneurs should consider:
- Nobody wants to steal your idea
- Most people will never even hear of your startup
- You leave stones unturned
- Opportunity often takes a long time to knock
- Get honest feedback when you can use it
But entrepreneurial leaders should go beyond these five points. They should go to the core of their leadership ambitions and back themselves. After all, as a leader, you didn’t arrive in your current situation by complete accident. It’s likely that you have years of experience behind you. You mentor and support others and sit on boards lending your experience and know-how to those that can benefit from it.
If you’ve been sitting on an idea, it’s time to dust it off and get your entrepreneurial mojo back. Take Adrian’s advice and start talking up your idea. Share it with anyone who will listen. Talk to your team. Talk to investors. It’s a new year and the time is ripe to back yourself and “unstealth” your ideas. Remember, the real value is not necessarily in the idea itself, but in your ability to execute upon the idea. So, take comfort that putting your idea out there will only bring you valuable insights with which you can improve upon it as you move toward the execution phase.
Nina Nets It Out: Great ideas never launch themselves. In today’s market, leaders must embrace their entrepreneurial spirit, roll up their sleeves and test their ideas. What are you waiting for?