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A leading innovation and marketing blog from Braden Kelley of Business Strategy Innovation

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's OK if People Don't Understand Your Idea

by Glen Stansberry

It's OK if People Don't Understand Your IdeaWhen a new idea strikes me for a website, I typically try to run it by a close friend. And usually, I get a really blank look.

It's not that the ideas are bad, it's that the person I'm explaining it to doesn't really understand my idea. Unless he/she sees a prototype, it's incredibly difficult to follow what's inside my head. Why? Because it's inside my head. I'm the only one who can fully grasp the concept.

Truly innovative ideas take a while to get used to, or even understand. History is riddled with inventors who were mistaken for crazy, only later to have made some of the most groundbreaking discoveries. Yet had they listened to their friends, we probably wouldn't have many of the cool technologies that exist today.
  • Alexander Graham Bell: "I'm going to try and make a machine that allows two people to hear each other's voices with a wire."

  • Friend: "Riiiiiiggghhhht."

Fortunately, people like Edison, Bell and a slew of others didn't listen to their friends or critics. They forged ahead because they believed in their ideas. And they weren't afraid of failure.

It's your idea. Nobody understands it as well as you. You are officially the authoritative expert on your idea. I eventually stopped telling people my ideas until I could show them a prototype, but even then I take their opinions with a grain of salt.

A major obstacle in completing ideas is getting over the "is it good enough?" stage. Honestly, you won't truly know how innovative your idea is until you actually create it.

Instead of spending your time asking everyone around if they think your concept will work, spend that time developing the idea. Let it marinate and take shape. And develop the snot out of it. Once you've got a bangin' prototype, then see what people think.

An article was published recently chronicling Zappos and their successess in internet marketing. One of the main reasons for their success is that they stopped listening to consultants to tell them how to run their business.

"You have to avoid falling into the trap of a consultant telling you that, "If you spend a large amount of money with us, all of your problems will be solved, and you'll never have to worry about this again." In the end, they are outsiders and do not understand your business as well as you do."

As originator of the idea, it's your responsibility to see that the integrity of your idea is kept. Don't try and let outsiders tell you what they think of your idea, or how to implement it. Think of the idea as your baby. You wouldn't let somebody else raise your child, would you?

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Glen StansberryGlen Stansberry writes at LifeDev, a blog that helps people make their ideas happen. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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