Coming up with a viable business idea is hard. Believe me on this, I’ve spent my entire professional life creating new businesses. I’ve had a few exhilarating successes, one resulting in nine figures of total revenue, and I’ve also had my share of ideas fizzle out as well. One of the things that has always differentiated between these outcomes for me is the level of interest I hold for an idea. Since I think this concept is so important, especially for novice entrepreneurs, I’ve decided to expand on that thought a little more below.
Why interest matters
Building a business takes a lot of time. Even ideas that don’t ultimately succeed can still eat up years of effort as you struggle to reach critical mass. That means that if you throw yourself into any effort wholeheartedly, the chances are good you’ll have to live with it for a while, for better or worse. Regardless of how viable the idea might be on a business level, if you’re not excited by the concept, this can be a recipe for a miserable few years.
Now, let me caveat here, businesses take a lot of elbow grease to get off the ground. That process can be fun and exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting and stressful. That exhaustion and stress can be par for the course and I’m not necessarily saying we can do away with it entirely. But if you’re undergoing those hardships to come to work every day and pour your heart into an idea that you simply don’t care about, well, then that can be a problem. Even if you think you wouldn’t mind a little extra hardship for a few years, you’re not likely to do your best work if you can’t get behind your business one hundred percent.
What speaks to you?
So, then, the question becomes: “How do you ensure that you’re fully interested in your business idea?” I would say the answer there lies in working to find out what business problem you’re trying to solve that really speaks to the struggles that matter to you. The world is awash in problems that need solving — that’s what businesses do. Every entrepreneur likely has a grab bag of potential solutions to a range of problems that they have filed away as future business ideas. Selecting which of those ideas to act on is where the rubber meets the road.
What I’m advocating for here is to be intentional about which business ideas you pursue and to build your own level of interest into that selection process. Now, it doesn’t have to be the entirety of the process, you’ll of course want to weigh ideas based on merit, potential return on investment, and a host of other factors. However, if you build your level of interest in an idea into this initial selection phase you’ll probably end up with a business that you’re much more likely to enjoy and, thus, at which you’re likely to do your best work.
Building interest over time
That’s all well and good, you might be saying, but what if that ship has sailed and you’re now working on an idea about which you’re less than enthused? Well, all is not lost. Even in these cases, you have an opportunity to build interest in your idea progressively. Doing so can help you learn to appreciate the aspects of your business concept about which you are genuinely excited. It can even help you increase that excitement in the long run.
In practice, this can be accomplished like most things in business, through intentionally setting aside time to work towards this goal. You might consider taking time to research the kinds of people whose lives will be positively impacted by your work. Or you may spend time thinking about the problems you’re working to solve, and the negative impacts of their continued existence. Thinking intentionally about your business and seeking out the things you like about it can, over time, help you organically build your level of interest in your idea.
Keep it in perspective
At the end of the day, I’m not suggesting that maintaining a high level of interest in your business is necessarily priority number one. You’ve got customers to serve, an organization to develop, and perhaps even investors to satisfy. The takeaway that I’m advocating for is to just begin thinking about the strategies above and how they might relate to your own work. Doing so might just help you build a better relationship with your business and, ultimately, lead to increased success for your current project and other projects you may take on in the future.