I attended a workshop last week. It was through an organization that works with veterans of our military, teaching them a number of the skills they’ll need to succeed as entrepreneurs. I was pleased to be asked to participate and I was also pleased that a number of others were there to lend their support and knowledge to the vets who attended.
One point that I think became clear as the conversation progressed was that a great idea is not necessarily a great business. It also became clear that skills beyond hard work were key to turning a good (or great) idea into a wonderful business. While it was very evident that no one was going to outwork the vets in the room who had begun their business journey, it was also very evident that a bit of guidance could make those journeys more productive.
A few of the budding entrepreneurs presented their ideas to the group. They were given only 2 minutes, which is a challenging amount of time even for very experienced presenters to make their case. One person began with the problem and explained the solution his product provided, which is a spot on way to attack this challenge. Another told a dramatic story and told how she came up with the product but didn’t expand what was her compelling problem into a much broader need. The last presenter was just confusing. While he has a fantastic product that could revolutionize small farms, he couldn’t explain the problem and I was left (along with the rest of the audience) wondering what exactly it was he was selling and to whom. As an aside, the more senior folks in the room helped him craft his pitch to make all of those things more clear.
It’s not just a great idea nor is it a willing attitude and hard work. Passion is a prerequisite but it’s not enough. These vets were smart enough to know that and were taking the time to learn the skills required. They weren’t embarrassed to say “I don’t know” or “I need help.” Are you?