Entrepreneurs are easily distracted by new ideas, often to the detriment of their own businesses. Why?
The simplest explanation is because the creative process can become incredibly addictive. New ideas fire enthusiasm like nothing else. They draw together groups of people and animate conversations. New ideas keep you up at night and get you up in the morning.
But ask yourself, how many new ideas does your business truly need?
Are you in fact just in love with the chase, like a serial adulterous never willing to really commit. More at home with flirting with an idea than comfortable with the idea of settling down.
Stop and think for a minute. When was the last time you sat down with your team and came up with an idea that changed your company? Shocking isn’t it. The reality is, no matter how creative we believe ourselves to be, we rarely introduce ideas that warrant the potentially damaging effect they bring to our organisations.
Where’s the harm in talking?
True story — Over a weekend or during a trip, you come up with this amazing idea. Its literally going to change your world. You feel it welling up inside you and simply have to fire off a few emails to get the ball rolling. You sit frustrated waiting for the responses. Maybe a few replies come trickling in, but none of them seem to get the magnitude of what you’ve said. Why isn’t everyone as excited about this as you are! Are they not as committed to the business as you thought? It dawns on you that it must be the medium. Face to face is so much better for this sort of thing than email. So you set up a meeting with your team. The idea is so big you’re going to need everyone there, you can’t trust others to convey its importance to the same extent as you.
The next business day doesn’t come soon enough. You arrive earlier than usual. Pace the room waiting for everyone to arrive. Why isnt everyone here as early as you? Do they always come in at this time? Maybe need to do something about that, but it can wait until after the meeting. In fact after the meeting they’ll all probably want to work weekends to get this thing off the ground. The meeting starts…..
Its at this point we need to stop and look at ourselves for a moment. Ask ourselves what we needed or more accurately wanted from this meeting in the first place?
- We Love storytelling (hearing our own voices) — Yes it’s true. Entrepreneurs love talking, writing, broadcasting. You name it. Anything that means we are center stage, holding court. A meeting in your own business is 100% the safest place for us to perform. No business owner ever got booed off their own stage.
- We Love getting validation for our ideas from groups — We utilise groups as an extension to our own thought process. As a conversation develops, we utilise all the feedback we receive, both verbal and nonverbal. This process can appear quite confusing to witnesses, but feels perfectly normal to the entrepreneur. In fact an idea can change shape completely with almost no verbal input from other participants. Their presence was all that was needed.
- We Love to sell — Above all else we love to sell. All Entrepreneurs are salespeople. They sell ideas, solutions, products, services, careers, investments. You name it they sell it. A captive audience in which to sell, is an incredibly tempting proposition and one that’s hard to resist. Closing the sale can become VERY addictive.
All this talking helps create the illusion we’re actually achieving something. As James Clear wrote in his great article “The illusion of motion vs action” Talking about an idea is one of the best ways to defer the risk of failure whilst at the same time convincing us we are on the road to somewhere.
Let’s briefly, return to the meeting I described earlier. How many times have we all followed a similar path. Taken our hit of storytelling, validation and sales, only to see the idea fade.
To us, this is part of our normal cycle. Ideas are plentiful. Our friends and lifestyles the source of a never ending supply. In most cases we move on quickly with little or no regard for the past. And its this cycle of behaviour that causes the real damage to our businesses.
Our normal, is not everyones normal. Everyone doesn’t see the world through our eyes (we should be thankful). Just like Peter and the Wolf, we all have a finite number of ideas to share until people stop really paying attention.
Ignoring the impact meetings have on everyday team productivity (number of people x hours in a meeting), this constant introduction of new ideas impacts our businesses in two significant ways.
Commitment & Quality
- Commitment — BIG ideas that monetize are a rare and beautiful thing. So nurturing the ones that already exist (your current business) should be your number one priority. Neglecting your business roots is contagious. Remember, Google still makes most of its revenue from those little rectangular boxes at the side of search results.
- Quality — It takes people off the business of developing your existing products . It instills the belief that nothing is worth doing really well. After all , you’re probably introducing something completely new in a few weeks anyway.
New ideas are the energy drink of Entrepreneurship.
Just like that first hit of caffeine, they fail to provide long term sustainable energy to your business. Like any long term relationship, keeping things interesting takes work. There are no quick fixes. Your business is no different.
This is why I love to write. I get to share new ideas as well as validate some of the old ones. I get to tell my stories and yes sometimes sell my brand. It also ticks an important fourth item on my list. Risk. Putting myself out there on a stage I don’t control, contains risk. Risk of rejection, risk of being ignored, risk of having nothing meaningful to say.
Writing does all this for me, whilst at the same time letting my team get on and focus on what’s important to my businesses and not just my ego