Giving birth to a new idea – useful clues

by | Nov 27, 2017 | Latest Post | 0 comments

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I don’t want to talk about my idea in particular but to discuss the principles of the conception and birth of any new idea whether it is small or large-scale. The idea of Google was conceived by two people working out of a garage to construct a back reference for scientific articles. They had no idea what their baby would become and I would take the same attitude. (skip one paragraph)

Pepys Diary Saturday 26 November 1664

Up and to the office, where busy all the morning. Home a while to dinner and then to the office, where very late busy till quite weary, but contented well with my dispatch of business, and so home to supper and to bed.

If you look at successful people you will find a common factor, persistence. Some of their ideas fail, some will succeed, some will succeed beyond their wildest hopes, visions or expectations. It seems to me that we have a prima facie duty to follow anything up on the grounds that it may lead to something. If it does not appear to succeed it may be that in the grand scheme of things it was to teach you something which would lead to success in some other way, some other time, some other field.

Over the years I have had my successes and my failures. I hesitate to use the word failure. Rather, I would say that I did not get the result that I expected or indeed the response. It may be that I got my timing wrong although there was nothing wrong with the idea. I think timing is far more important than time. They say that there’s nothing so important is an idea that has reached its time. This saying arose from Victor Hugo who once remarked “you can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time had come“.

The attitude I now take is that I will have a go. It either gets taken up or it doesn’t. However, it is a very good idea to have a reality check with those who are in the field. This will enable them or help them to refine and thoroughly bring to earth the fledgeling idea. On our BBC program “Dragons Den” we see people who have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on an idea which under examination shows no chance of succeeding. I think that being in an individualistic bubble is very dangerous i.e. me versus the world and if I build an idea they will come.

At the very least, we should see what requirement if any there is for our services or products and then do a quick Google search to see what is around already.  Sometimes an idea is very good as a hobby but will not work on a large scale because it would take more resources than can be supplied without considerable stress. Modern markets are unforgiving and difficult to penetrate due to the large number of different demands on people.

There is no harm doing a copy of what is already being done. For example if there is one Indian restaurant in the street there is no harm in having a second one and it is not immoral providing you make it clear in your advertising that you are not passing yourself off as the other restaurant. you might care to think what is your unique selling point for example in the case to the restaurant, you do takeaways and promise to deliver within 15 minutes. If you are a loan company you could promise that when people telephone you will give an answer within 3 minutes. That’s what is called a USP not to be confused with a USB port

I would also say in spite of some evidence to the contrary when people mortgage every last thing and get away with it, do not invest more than you can afford to lose. New ventures are when all said and done a gamble. Disaster can strike at any time. Your wife may decide that she had enough of you droning on about the same old thing. You may be halfway through your project and low and behold some idiot comes and runs you down and puts you in hospital for six months.

I would strongly advise against relying on what your friends think because they will be polite to you not wishing to offend and will always tell you what a great idea it is. The odds are they will have no relevant experience in the field, have little awareness of the competition, be unaware of what a hard place the world can be, and basically be of very little use to you. Far better to have someone who is a professional and can look at the overall situation for what it is, not what you want it to be. the real test friends is asking them if they would like to invest in the product. You will then get them entering as a different level altogether and then the excuses will start.

I would also strongly advise writing the idea down in as much detail as you can and giving it to your partner or someone who cares for you. If they have objections, try not to go on the defensive, but listen to what they have to say because two heads are better than one.

If you have an idea for a website name for goodness sake don’t tell anyone. I have known cases of people who announce their intentions at a meeting to find to their horror that someone registered the same name and want compensation for its use. That may sound pretty cynical but in the world of business and money, you will probably have as many enemies as friends.

When you write copy or advertisements please show it to someone who hasn’t a clue about the subject matter but is of reasonable intelligence and asked them to give the impression. The problem is that you know the background and somehow you expect the reader to also know the background. This is fallacious. To speak simply and clearly as if to a 12-year-old is not a mistake because you do not have the full power of someone’s intellect when they see your advertisement, they are probably thinking about half a dozen other things at the same time.

Clear is good. Mixed messages are bad. Too much information on one page is bad. All you are trying to do is to get them to make contact, to telephone you. You are not trying to justify the whole thing. If they want to know more, they can call you. If you are selling an item, then that is scope for a description of sufficient detail to get people to part with their money. This however is only possible if you can buy a page or so of the magazine. I suggest you announce the dream for example “build your house for a fraction of the price that you would pay” or “than 6% on your savings instead of the current half percent” and do the rest of the selling through personal contact.

There is a saying that first of all you sell yourself, then you sell your product or service. I can speak about telephone manners till the cows come home but suffice to say that you put out a lot more information than you might imagine via your voice. Hurry, anxiety, impatience, will all come across loud and clear as will enthusiasm.

I shall be taking a short break in the next few days having written continuously every day since 1 February 2017. I shall be mulling over the idea I have the meanwhile carrying around a notepad so I can write down ideas that turn up to me. I regard ideas as a bird landing on your shoulder. It won’t sit there forever if you take no notice of it.

Finally, new needs are springing up all the time as technology and society changes. They say that most of the jobs that will be around in 30 years time have not even been thought of yet. Unless you can put your whole heart into something, and believe it implicitly don’t even bother to start.

as Noel Coward said

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage
The profession is overcrowded
And the struggle’s pretty tough
And admitting the fact
She’s burning to act
That isn’t quite enough
She has nice hands
Give the wretched girl her due
But don’t you think her bust is too
Developed for her age?
I repeat, Mrs. Worthington
Sweet Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage


I wonder if she knows what she is letting herself in for;  she seems to have the quality of being able to adapt


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