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Holdfast to the Dream or Save the Idea?

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Every business started with a dream, with a moment of inspiration, and with someone’s sweat equity and ingenuity. The idea of business, of selling ones goods, or services has been around since the beginning of time. I suppose that means that businesses have also seen failure from the beginning of time. Some poor entrepreneur in the stone ages invested all of his rocks into selling chicken on a stick to wandering nomads passing by. Of course, as is true with all great ideas before their time, chicken on a stick failed to draw enough attention and the owner had to close down his cave and join back into the ranks of nomadic scavengers.

So why do seemingly good ideas fail? The problem does not start with the idea. It may not even start with the application of the idea. The problem starts with the dream. Dreams are wonderful at providing inspiration, but they can also lock us into an inevitable downward spiral. The problem with dreams is that they tie us to specific expectations and emotions about how our business (dream) should operate. When reality gets in the way of those expectations, we hold on to the exact dream rather than the essence of the dream. The reality of the situation is that the moment a great business idea is launched, the constraints of the real world, outside the dream, start to interfere.

Let’s take our caveman entrepreneur for example. His dream was to sell chicken on a stick from his cave. The dream dictated that he would sell his product from his cave as people passed by. The problem was that not enough people were passing by. His dream told him that if he had to sell chicken on a stick in his cave to constitute success. However, if he would have taken the essences of his dream and adapted it to the constraints of reality he would have realized that following the nomads and setting up a tent to sell his products to the hungry and worn out tribe every evening would have kept him in business.

We get so attached to our dreams, image for image and word for word, that once we start seeing any form of defeat we emotionally hunker down. What we should do is look for innovative solutions even if they don’t conform to our exact expectations. Successful business has to be adaptable. A profitable business takes a great idea and then molds it to fit the needs and constraints of the organization.

Dreams are powerful starting points, but in order to create lasting success, you must take the essence of the dream and figure out how to use it to inspire an ever evolving process.  Pluck the inspired ideas out of the dream and then place them on a well thought out plan. Make your dream’s ideas the focus of your plan, but don’t let your dream overtake the concept of turning a profit. The dream is your starting point, but you will find that you have to let parts of it go so that the ideas can be adapted, sharpened and most importantly profitable.

June 3, 2011 by Staff Writer Mark Zarr.  All rights reserved 2011

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