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Ideas and Businesses

There is a stark difference between an idea and a business and it's not that one can sell products or has employees. It's much more fundamental than that.

An idea is like a seed. In order to grow it into a business, it needs to grow into a plant, however, the process of growing isn't enough to consider it a business. There are many stages of the idea's growth just like there are many stages of a seed's growth. The seed needs sunlight, watering and a good environment. It takes care and nurturing and is very delicate during the early stages. It takes a certain formula to grow the seed into a plant and if you don't know the formula, you must experiment.

Ideas are free. Everyone has them. They are sprinkled around like a landscaper throwing seeds in attempt grow grass; not all of the seeds make it into resilient blades of grass. They don't all grow continuously after being mowed down and stepped on week by week. The best way to turn an idea into a business? Experiment first.

Start with the idea and launch an experiment. Test if the idea is any good by building a prototype and seeing if people are genuinely interested. Do they actually they use it? That is, they don't only say that they'd use it, but they really do.

Landscapers throw thousands of seeds per scoop, but not all of them turn into grass. Each one of these seeds represents an idea. Each scoop thrown is an experiment. The amount of water is an experiment. Not all of those seeds will grow into resilient blades of grass, but eventually some of them will. And if enough of them do, then you have a lawn.

The outcomes of the experiment lead you in a path of either starting a business or trying a different experiment with the same or a new idea. There's nothing wrong with experimentation. It's smarter, cheaper, and faster to experiment than to skip this stage and try to beeline it from idea to business.

Don't skip the experimentation stage for any reason. If you're afraid to fail because of uncertain outcomes, then either move on or experiment. Some of your experiments will fail and some will be more resilient than others. That's a good thing. It shows that you're trying. There's nothing worse than not trying – there's nothing worse than not experimenting.

Test your hypothesis; see if it floats.

I built Better Invoices because it was a product that I wanted. It's more than an idea, but it's not a business yet – it's an experiment. If it doesn't work out, or I don't keep testing, then I won't lose much time or money and I'll learn a lot (more than I have already). It's fun to experiment. 

You don't know unless you try so don't skip that part.

If the experiment goes well and you're gaining traction? Then you know that your seed can continue growing into a business. You know that it floats.

Thanks to Tom and Greg for reading versions of this.